Richard Melmon, Managing Partner
Richard Melmon has lived in and around Silicon Valley his entire life. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in Physics in 1961, and from Stanford University with an MBA in 1973.
His early career was spent doing research into the physics of electrostatic printing systems at Monsanto Corporation. He joined Hewlett Packard in 1970 to develop new businesses out of silicon-on-sapphire microwave semiconductor technology.
Melmon has made a career out of finding and exploiting “the next Googles”, long before there was a first Google.
Having foreseen the future impact of the microprocessor while at Stanford, he convinced Intel to hire him as their first strategic planner. In that role he participated in the early market development of the microprocessor. He then marketed the first LCD digital watch, which required adopting consumer electronic sales techniques within the context of a high technology company. This led to the idea that small computers could be built and sold to consumers at low enough cost to create a mass market, i.e., the vision that the personal computer was inevitable.
Melmon joined with Regis McKenna, Chairman of Regis McKenna, Inc., then the premier Silicon Valley advertising agency, to become the firm’s general manager. He leveraged his consumer electronics expertise and belief in the eventual rise of personal computing to help a small, new client of RMI—a company called Apple Computer. Melmon hired Dick Cavett to be Apple’s spokesperson, which led to the successful radio and TV campaigns that made Apple a house-hold word, and contributed directly to the company’s successful IPO, which at the time was the largest IPO ever out of Silicon Valley.
Melmon managed, organized, and built a new PR division within RMI, which grew to become the pre-eminent public relations firm in Silicon Valley. Early public relations clients included Intel, Apple, Genentech, 3Com, and many other well known Silicon Valley companies. Melmon introduced and explained Silicon Valley to European business publications, which led to the growing reputation of the Valley across the world.
In early 1979, while at RMI, Melmon was approached for his opinion about the merit of a software product… VisiCalc, the world’s first spreadsheet. He immediately understood its potential impact. He left RMI to introduce and market VisiCalc, which became the product that demonstrated the power of personal computing as a business tool, and single-handedly ushered in the era of the widespread acceptance of the personal computer.
Melmon left VisiCorp to found Electronic Arts with Trip Hawkins in 1982. Both were convinced that computer games would become a larger business than the movies. (Games are much larger than movies today.) A dispute with Hawkins forced Melmon out of EA prematurely. He joined with Tom Tawa, a well known and highly respected advertising creative talent, to form Melmon Tawa & Partners. This advertising and marketing firm worked for Sun Microsystems, Adobe, Frame Technology, Xilinx, Chips & Technologies, Stratacom, and many other prominent firms. It was sold to Livingston & Company in 1990.
Melmon conceived, funded and incubated a small software venture called Objective Software. The product was SpreadBase, which shipped in late 1992. The product anticipated the data mining explosion that happened a half decade later. The company was sold to Asymetrix, a Paul Allen company, in 1993.
In 1995, sensing the rising importance of the internet, he rejoined Regis McKenna as a partner in The McKenna Group, specializing in developing corporate strategies for growth in the internet age. Melmon’s clients included IBM, Ameritech, Procter & Gamble, Sony, Matsushita, Fujitsu, Toshiba, and many smaller start-up companies. His focus was helping these firms deal with the overwhelming impact the early beginnings of the internet were having on businesses.
Melmon founded NetService Ventures, a small venture fund, in late 1999. It’s most successful investments included Commerce One, Inktomi, Satmetrix, Broadware, Serus, and Big Fix. This fund eventually led to the formation of the current partnership, NSV, founded in 2002.