Stanford law grad Jay Last, said VC wunderkind who helped launch Kleiner Perkins, dies at 92

Jay Last, who helped launch the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and whom friends and colleagues called the general partner in charge, died on Friday. He was 92.

The cause was natural causes, according to his son, Brian Last.

A Stanford University graduate, Last left his native Pennsylvania, where he had worked for General Electric and J.P. Morgan, to study at the prestigious law school of the University of Chicago. He graduated in 1953, just as the University of California system was beginning to establish the fledgling University of California at Berkeley.

In 1956, Last left his job at the University of Chicago to become a research assistant for Mr. and Mrs. George Kaufmann, a prominent philanthropists. One of Kaufmann’s interests was venture capital, and he encouraged Last, who was a working-class kid from Pennsylvania, to get into the field. So Last did, and in 1960 he joined Kemper Securities, the later name of Kaufmann’s business.

“Kaufmann not only succeeded in nurturing investors for the first 30 years of Kauffman’s life but taught him to succeed, teach,” Jay Last wrote in an e-mail to a colleague last spring.

At Kemper, Last made his mark as a portfolio manager, bringing highly skilled women to the firm and establishing both a pool of corporate equity as well as a hedge fund. He left in 1966 and went to work for Fidelity Management and Research, where, he recalled, he started to see the possibility of more money flowing to entrepreneurs.

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