|Board of Trustees
Sean O ’Sullivan ’85
Founder, Managing Director
Sean O’Sullivan runs SOSV, a venture capital firm that operates the world’s leading accelerator programs for technology start-ups in China (Chinaccelerator, in Shanghai); in hardware, consumer electronics, and robotics (Hax, in Shenzhen); in synthetic biology and biodesign (IndieBio, in San Francisco and Cork, Ireland); and in disruptive food (Food-X, in New York City). SOSV helps create and fund about 120 start-ups every year, funding $50 million in seed-stage and follow-on venture capital annually.
While earning his electrical engineering degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, O'Sullivan and three other students founded MapInfo, the originator of “street-based” mapping for personal computers. After seven years as MapInfo’s president, O’Sullivan left to start a rock band, Janet Speaks French. He went on to launch other technology companies, including NetCentric, where he is credited as co-coining the term “cloud computing” in 1996.
In 2003 O’Sullivan founded JumpStart International, an NGO that grew to become the largest humanitarian organization operating in Iraq during wartime, with a vision to empower Iraqis through employment projects rebuilding the country, employing 3,500 Iraqis at its peak; and working in other trouble zones in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, in Kenya, and in Georgia (Caucasus).
His venture capital fund SOSventures has backed over 300 companies, several of which have gone on to become public companies or divisions of public companies. He earned his master’s degree in film production from USC, and created a handful of award-winning independent films.
O’Sullivan serves on the board of directors of Rensselaer, Coderdojo, and the Khan Academy; and has previously served on the board of directors of the Massachusetts Software Council, net.Genesis, MapInfo, and other technology companies. He is also founder and chairman of the O’Sullivan Foundation, which since 2003 has given millions of dollars annually to a variety of causes dedicated to education, economic development, and empowerment.
Sean met his wife Tish Durkin, a foreign news correspondent from New Jersey, while living in Iraq. He now lives in Princeton, New Jersey, with his wife and two children.