Inspiring genius in us all
If ever there exists someone to inspire the inner genius in us, it is Robert (Bob) Duggan. Bob lives his life in a genius way. He has taken chances in the plural, succeeded, learned, pivoted back and forward, and continually asked the tough questions critical to success in life and business. But to understand who he is and his approach with Genius Inc., Bob will tell you that the words that describe the concept of genius and how they are defined truly matter. New understandings precede novel considerations as well as bold action.
“When we look at the origin of the word genius, we see that genius is a compound word, the prefix ‘gen’ and the suffix ‘ius’ translates into an innate, inborn, inherent characteristic. Imagine if everyone you knew was just a little more genius. Next imagine everyone on the planet—7 billion+— a little more curious, more honest, more willing to take chances to experience losses as important as learning moments.”
— Bob Duggan
Drive, hard work, and curiosity
The son of a well-educated European immigrant industrial engineer father and University of Nebraska graduate nurse mother, Bob learned the value of hard work from his parents. He grew up as the third of five children in a lower-middle-class household in Silicon Valley. While his family often scrambled at month’s end to pay the bills, Bob had a front-row seat to the emerging world of high technology and innovation that would change our world. Little did he know the impact he too would make on technology innovations that would serve as the gateway to the Internet, or breakthrough cancer drugs, or robotic-assisted surgeries. But first came getting an education and accumulating knowledge, learning as much as he could, feeding his curious mind.
After graduating cum laude from St. Francis High School in Mountain View, California, Bob attended the University of California at Santa Barbara and then UCLA, majoring in business and economics. While at UCSB, his enthusiasm for investing began in a corporate finance class. He also met his mentor, Herbert C. Kay—a Wharton Fellow and acclaimed Stanford alumnus. Under the guidance of Kay, Bob completed a full-time, three-year apprenticeship during which his roots as a venture capitalist took hold with the invaluable assistance from his UCSB fraternity brother and longtime business associate Reece Duca.
Courage and devotion to goals
Daring to do things others might find impossible or not see as a real opportunity, Bob has remained tenaciously devoted to his goals in every aspect of his life. He knew what he wanted and was ready to go for it. He had the drive to focus on his future success and keep going.
Fast forward five decades, Bob has played instrumental roles in founding and growing startups. He has created profitable business ventures and turned around failing ones. His success has included the “Cookie Muncher Paradise Bakery” that started with one location and grew to 70 locations in 10 states; Sunset Designs, a manufacturer of stitchery and needlepoint kits for young women emulating what they saw their grandmothers do with their leisure time; Computer Motion, one of the earliest robotic surgery device ventures that later merged into Intuitive; Computer Machinery, the world’s third Ethernet company; and Pharmacyclics, a patient-friendly pharmaceutical company offering medical innovations—decidedly true patient allies (friendly).
An indefatigable entrepreneur with a talent for uncovering opportunities, Bob co-led with Dr. Maky Zanganeh the 2015 sale of the biotech firm Pharmacyclics to AbbVie for $21 billion in cash and stock. The success of the Pharmacyclics cancer drug, Imbruvica, has changed patients’ lives worldwide. Today, he continues to contribute to the causes he believes in, such as social betterment, human rights, education, and drug rehabilitation. What’s key to his success? He believes it’s the many geniuses he has encountered and worked with over the years coupled with a strong urge to make a difference for the betterment of all mankind.
“Surfing is the most blissful experience you can have on this planet, a taste of heaven.”
— John McCarthy, Irish pro surfer
Bob’s essential joie de vivre, dynamic energy, philosophy on life
A lifelong commitment to excellence can encourage lifelong success—and it has for Bob.
Growing up near the Pacific waves on the coast of California inspired one of Bob’s greatest passions: surfing. His love of surfing has taken him on adventures in some of the most beautiful parts of the world. For Bob, surfing is also a family affair. His children have often accompanied him, learning early surfing skills starting as young as age three. Riding the best waves requires patience, persistence, dynamic energy, optimism, and the essential joie de vivre. And these are the characteristics that make Bob quintessentially Bob.
Robert Duggan—timeline of key accomplishments
Studied Economics and Philosophy at the University of California, Santa Barbara
Studied Business Management and Corporate Finance at University of California, Los Angeles
Investor and Board Member in Sunset Designs (Jiffy Stitchery)—a needlepoint kit company, later sold to British multinational consumer goods company Reckitt & Colman—growing the investment from $90,000 to approximately $14 million
Founder, Investor, Chairman of Paradise Bakery, ultimately sold to Panera Bread Company
Founder and Investor, Government Technology Services—helping government agencies acquire computer technologies, later acquired by UNICOM Global
Investor and Chairman of the Board, Communication Machinery Corp—third company in the world to create and sell Ethernet node processors, acquired by Rockwell International for approximately $50 million
Presented the United States Congressional Medal of Merit by Texas Congressman Dr. Ron Paul
Board Member, Santa Barbara Museum
Executive Vice President, Santa Barbara Symphony
Investor, Chairman, CEO at Computer Motion—one of the first robotic surgery, high-tech medical device companies, later merged with Intuitive
UCSB Board of Trustees since 1989 and has funded two chairs in mathematical, life, and physical sciences, and religious studies
Founder, Investor, Chairman of Metropolis Media—a media company helping former communist countries transition to capitalism
Awarded Knight of the Legion of Honor by French President Jacques Chirac for his work on robotic surgical technology
Computer Motion merged with Intuitive and became a worldwide leader in medical robotics on a 1/3 – 2/3 basis
Investor and board member, Intuitive Surgical (now Intuitive)
Investor, 2004 initial open market purchase of PCYC
From 2004 to 2008, accumulated more than 30% of PCYC shares
Director, Pharmacyclics (PCYC)
Chairman and CEO, Pharmacyclics—a pharmaceutical company now part of AbbVie
Delivered the commencement address at UCSB
Investor, Pulse Biosciences
Founder, Investor, and CEO of Duggan Investments—investing in the world’s next great innovations in the biosciences field
Founder and CEO of Genius Inc.
Presented the Venky Narayanamurti (Harvard Business Professor) Entrepreneurial Leadership Award for demonstrated high-tech entrepreneurship in these areas:
- Ethernet networking
- Robotic surgery
- Voice recognition OR
- Drugs serving patients and physicians as true allies
- Drug value efficacy + duration = trauma squared
Investor and Chairman of the Board, Pulse Biosciences—a bioelectric medicine company
Bob Duggan becomes investor in Summit Therapeutics
Bob becomes CEO of Summit Therapeutics and has operational authority
Built ‘Genius Bridge’ in Rural Costa Rica. Assumes accountability to educate the youth and all members of the Costa Rican community of Herradura
Genius Inc. publishes its first book, To Be a Genius!, showcasing the 24 characteristics that all geniuses have in common