Timothy Cook Draper (born June 11, 1958) is an American venture capital investor, and 1985 founder of the firm that would become Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ). Draper is also the founder of Draper Associates and Draper University. In July 2014, Draper received wide coverage for his purchase at a US Marshals Service auction of seized bitcoins from the Silk Road marketplace website.
Background and early life
Draper is the third in a familial line of venture capitalists. He is the son of Phyllis (Culbertson) and William Henry Draper III and the younger brother of actress Polly Draper. His father is the founder of Draper & Johnson Investment Company and former chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. His grandfather, William Henry Draper Jr., founded Draper, Gaither and Anderson in 1958.
In 1985, Draper left the bank Alex, Brown & Sons to start his own venture capital firm; former colleague John H.N. Fisher became a partner in 1991, and business student Steve Jurvetson became the third partner in the firm.
Hotmail and viral marketing
Although the history of the term is not fully clear, it is commonly argued that Draper and Jurvetson "invented viral marketing" in 1996, due to their idea of automatically attaching a brief advertising message to the bottom of outgoing Hotmail emails, though the neologism itself is documented as early as a 1989 edition of PC User.
On June 27, 2014, Draper purchased, for an undisclosed price, nearly 30,000 bitcoins which had been seized by the US Marshals service and auctioned to the public. The accumulation of bitcoins was estimated to be worth US$19 million at the time.
On January 27, 2015, Tim Draper wagered about $400,000 (which is 2000 bitcoins with $200 price) that the bitcoin will rebound from its recent plunge.
In 2000, Draper spent $20 million on a failed measure to support school vouchers.
In early 2014, Draper filed a petition which was accepted by California's Secretary of State Debra Bowen to begin collecting signatures to divide California into six smaller states, arguing that California is "increasingly ungovernable" as one state. However, on September 12, 2014, it was announced the plan fell short of the required amount of valid signatures to land it on the 2016 ballot. Draper spent in excess of $5 million to try to qualify the proposition for the ballot, with nearly $450,000 for political consultants.
In 2013, Draper launched Draper University of Heroes, an educational program that offers a crash course in entrepreneurship. The university's residential program is based in San Mateo, California, and the curriculum is designed by Draper.