L. Owen Brown
An Engineer at the Forefront of the New Economy
Inducted in 2001
L Owen Brown has made an imprint, distinguishing and indelible, on the technology sector of the American economy. The president and CEO of Owen Brown Enterprises, Ltd., a consulting group for start-ups, he is also managing partner of Technology Strategies & Alliances, an advisor on corporate partnering. Mr. Brown chairs Migration Software, a software engineering company serving the Fortune 100; is a board member of SDR Financial Management, IBT Financial Inc., and Telsoft Corporation; and a limited partner in four venture-capital firms. Many of his companies now trade on the NASD market, including the successful Network Appliances, whose SAN devices have been critical in the evolution of the Internet.
Mr. Brown’s management and engineering skills are consummate, but what his peers envy is his unique ability to see emerging technologies that will have profound and pervasive influence on people’s lives. The insight Mr. Brown cultivated over decades of hard work helps ensure that the best of technology reaches the market and becomes a factor in our daily lives.
Mr. Brown is a 1964 graduate of Auburn University, where he earned the B.S.M.E. degree. Later he pursued the academic foundation for his interest in business. He attended the M.B.A. program at the University of Chicago in 1970 and completed Dartmouth College’s Tuck Executive Program in 1981.
His career was launched in the U.S. Navy, when he was chosen by Admiral Hyman Rickover for the Navy’s nuclear power training program. His five years’ active duty aboard the USS Queenfish comprised its construction in a Virginia shipyard and initial operations in the Pacific. Mr. Brown saw combat service in Vietnam, earning the battle star. As a Navy officer, he also pioneered submarine operations below the polar ice cap. He retired as a captain with 25 years of active and reserve duty.
Out of the Navy, Mr. Brown joined Nuclear Data Inc. as national sales manager for the Scientific Division. In 1974 he began his fruitful association with Digital Equipment Corporation, then the leading manufacturer of mini-computers. Hired as a sales representative, he earned rapid-fire promotions through the sales management ranks. In 1982, at corporate headquarters, he accepted a key role in designing and implementing the reorganization of the firm’s U.S. strategic business units. This accomplished, the company reached new heights in profitability. Its rising star Owen Brown was recruited to the helm of Sun Microsystems, one of the great success stories of the past two decades. Mr. Brown set its course early on. During start-up, he secured a stellar senior management team, redirected the computing manufacturer into a systems business selling both direct and indirect channels, and built a sales organization that continues to dazzle the industry.
Today, with Silicon Valley’s Band of Angels — 80 entrepreneurs united to share their expertise — Mr. Brown pursues his calling to turn engineering dreams into market realities. The Band of Angels is the foremost such group, sponsoring, funding, and nurturing local start-up companies. Mr. Brown was among the first to join the Angels, and he remains one of its most active enthusiasts. He is an effective motivator of young management teams, whom he also provides with judicious advice.
Mr. Brown and his family are noted philanthropists, having raised significant sums for schools, hospitals, and cancer research. Mr. Brown serves on the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council and its Executive Committee, and chairs the Research Committee. He chairs the Technology Development Committee at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, California, and is a member of their Venture Development Fund. He also heads the Western U.S. for the Sovereign Order of St. John, a chivalric order dating back to the Crusades and dedicated to serving the poor and sick in Christ. Mr. Brown married Brookes Hutchinson of Palos Verdes Estates, California, and they have four children.