Thomas J. Davis Jr., an investor who played long odds but picked the right companies in helping launch many Silicon Valley electronics companies, has died at a Northern California convalescent hospital at age 77.
Davis died Tuesday and a cause of death was not given.
Davis, founder of the Mayfield Fund and a venture capitalist in such high-tech companies as Scientific Data Systems, Teledyne Inc. and Tandem Computers, died at University Convalescent Hospital in Menlo Park. His health had deteriorated over several years, Mayfield general partner Gib Myers said.
"For the venture capital industry, he left the imprint of his vision, dedication and, most importantly, his character," Myers said.
Davis, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, joined fellow venture capitalist Arthur Rock in 1961 to found Davis & Rock, one of the first venture capital firms. Their first investment was $200,000 in Teledyne. Within six years that became 26,600 shares worth nearly $3 million.
Davis once said that "the most valuable things came out of peoples' heads." His Mayfield Fund is credited with developing a procedure by which institutions could take part in venture investment, giving rise to an explosion of investment capital that ultimately led to new technologies and businesses.
Davis served as a captain in the U.S. Army and was counsel for the National Labor Relations Board. He also was vice president of Kern County Land Co. and founded the International Hospitality Center in San Francisco.
Davis, who lived in Woodside, is survived by his wife, Shirley, a sister, a brother, six daughters and 11 grandchildren. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.