Franklin "Pitch" Johnson

Franklin "Pitch" Johnson
Contact Info

Teaching Statement

Franklin "Pitch" Johnson, Jr was a pioneer in Silicon Valley venture capital and has been active in that field since 1962. He developed and taught a course in entrepreneurship and venture capital at Stanford for 12 years from 1979-1990. It was the first venture capital course taught in a graduate school of business. Since that time he has been an advisor to students creating entrepreneurial plans as Business 390 projects. He continues to work as a venture capitalist in his 49-year-old firm, Asset Management Company of Palo Alto.


Franklin Pitcher Johnson, Jr, a native of Quincy, Illinois, graduated from Palo Alto High School in 1946, received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford in 1950 and an MBA from Harvard in 1952. He served as a maintenance officer in the U.S. Air Force from 1952 to 1954, and was an open-hearth production executive for Inland Steel Company from 1954 to 1962.

Mr. Johnson was co-founder in 1962 of Draper and Johnson Investment Company, a venture capital company, and became an independent venture capitalist in 1965 as the founder of Asset Management Company, with which he is still associated. Asset Management Company manages two venture capital funds based in Palo Alto, CA.

Mr. Johnson is a director of several private companies. He is also a past director of the National Venture Capital Association, a past president of the Western Association of Venture Capitalists, and was a trustee of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District for 12 years. He taught a class in entrepreneurship and venture capital at Stanford Business School for 12 years and is still active on the faculty there. In other Stanford activities, Mr. Johnson is a member of the advisory board of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and serves on the board of overseers of the Hoover Institution.

In the area of entrepreneurship and privatization, Mr. Johnson has served as an advisor to several eastern European countries since 1990. In conjunction with ABN Amro Bank of the Netherlands, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and a group of entrepreneurs and venture managers of Polish, Czech, and Slovak origins, Mr. Johnson helped form a venture investment company, European Renaissance Capital, to invest in and assist new and young companies in Poland and the Czech and Slovak Republics. He has also been active in the formation of a buy-out fund in Romania and venture capital funds in Russia, Norway, and New Zealand. He serves on the board of international advisors of the IESE Business School in Barcelona.

Mr. Johnson has been an active jet pilot, is a close follower of the sport of track and field, and has attended 12 Olympic Games. He also previously served as chairman of the board of San Francisco Opera Company.

Academic Degrees

  • MBA, Harvard University, 1952
  • BS, Stanford University, 1950

Academic Appointments

  • At Stanford University since 1979

Professional Experience

  • Venture Capitalist, Asset Management Co., 1965-present
  • Faculty member, European Foundation for Economic Research, 1992-1994
  • Vice President and Treasurer, Draper and Johnson Investment Co., 1962-1965
  • Open Hearth Production Executive, Inland Steel Co., 1954-1962

Awards and Honors

  • Gold Spike Award, Stanford University, 2007
  • Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2006
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Institute for International Education, 2005
  • Venture Capital Hall of Fame, Dow Jones Corporation, 2005
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, National Venture Capital Association, 2002
  • Distinguished Achievement Medal, Stanford Athletic Board, 1994
  • Open Hearth Conference Award, AIME, 1961


Journal Articles

Franklin "Pitch" Johnson. Hoover Digest. 30, 2005, Issue 1.
Franklin "Pitch" Johnson. Institute for International Research. 1997.
Franklin "Pitch" Johnson. Red Herring Magazine. 1994.
Franklin "Pitch" Johnson. Upside Magazine. 1990.

Working Papers

Conferences, Talks, and Speaking Engagements

  • The Entrepreneurial Climate
    Talk given widely and published by Harvard Business School in 1984. It describes the conditions necessary to further entrepreneurship in any society, area or country.
  • Bio Forum 2015, Health-Care Entrepreneurship in Poland PDF

Stanford University Affiliations

Service to the Profession

  • Chairman, San Francisco Opera Association, 1999-2008
  • Trustee, Foothill-DeAnza Community College District, 1971-1983

Insights by Stanford Business

January 16, 2013
Lecturer “Pitch” Johnson taught the first venture capital course in a graduate business school and shares how and why Silicon Valley thrives.