Meet Ike Lee, a successful businessman and venture capitalist who came to Seattle looking for peace and quiet. Ah, the greenery, the clean air, and relaxation… no way! Ike has had a tremendous track record of finding unique business opportunities. Now, these opportunities are finding him – even here in Seattle.
For people like Ike, however, doing “nothing” is not possible. It’s in their blood to do “something” – “something special”. By 2002, Ignition Partners, a prestigious local venture capitalist group, talked him into joining their team as a senior advisor and venture partner. Last year, Ike was involved in more than $300 million worth of mergers and acquisitions activities through his company, Lee Technology Consulting. “I wasn’t really looking for these opportunities,” Ike said. “Lots of requests came in looking for my help.”
Well, that is not surprising given Ike’s impressive track record. He came to the United States in 1980 working for the Korean conglomerate LG International. Two years later, he started his own defense electronics company, Amtech, in Los Angeles. When that industry suffered a downturn, he refocused the company on microchips. By 1986, he put angel investment into the then emerging microprocessor company, Cyrix, which later listed on the NASDAQ in 1993. “Once I got a taste of an IPO, I switched my focus to becoming an investor,” Ike recalled.
Ike eventually moved north to Silicon Valley and was involved in six IPO’s, including the hugely successful listing of Netscreen Technologies in 2001. Goldman Sachs voted this as its IPO of the Year after raising $160 million from the offer, well above its target. Netscreen Technologies continued its success story when it later sold to Juniper Networks for $4 billion in 2004.
Do “nothing”? Currently, Ike is working on his seventh IPO, as the company prepares for its road show. Meanwhile, the business plans continue to pour in for his review. And he just can’t seem to resist reading them. “I’ve noticed that some companies really grow during difficult economic times,” he said. “Actually, these tough times often present a lot of opportunities. We have a two-year window to make good investments.”
How can he do “nothing” when he enjoys so much helping young entrepreneurs? In this regard, he especially would like to help young Korean-American entrepreneurs. He has noticed a lack of venture-backed Korean-American entrepreneurs in the Seattle area, compared to those in California. Ike has volunteered to be a panelist on a session about “Harnessing the Entrepreneurial Opportunities” for an upcoming Korean-American Coalition (KAC) National Convention that will be hosted in Seattle September 26-28.
Ike’s successes are truly an inspiration to all. His willingness to help young entrepreneur is a tremendous gift to all those who take advantage. As much as he has tried to avoid the spotlight here in Seattle, those in the know understand what he can contribute to the local business community. In fact, he recently has been nominated as a Business Ambassador by the State of Washington.
As for his original goal of spending time with his children, his daughter is now in a boarding high school on the east coast and his son is in Junior high school becoming ever more independent. As for lowering his golf handicap, he unfortunately suffered a back injury that required surgery. Well, I guess it has turned out well that business opportunities keep following this charmed man.