Harry Weller, a prolific technology investor known for shepherding some of the East Coast’s most successful technology companies to fruition, died Nov. 19 at his home in Washington. He was 46.
A spokeswoman for the District of Columbia medical examiner’s office said determination of the cause of death is pending further tests.
As a partner at New Enterprise Associates, a multibillion-dollar technology investment firm with an office in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Weller scouted for promising technology companies in emerging hubs outside Silicon Valley and made strong investments in the Washington region, among other places.
Weller was an early investor in daily deals giant Groupon and online telephone provider Vonage as well as niche cybersecurity companies such as Columbia, Maryland-based Sourcefire, which was acquired by Cisco in 2013 for $2.7 billion. He was an early backer in Northern Virginia’s Cvent, which grew to hire thousands of employees and trade publicly on Wall Street, despite a rocky start that at one point necessitated mass layoffs.
“He played a pivotal role in putting D.C. tech on the map, and was active in supporting people and organizations throughout the community,” Steve Case, co-founder of the internet company AOL, said in an email.
Harry Richard Weller was born in Manhattan on Dec. 23, 1969, and he grew up in Marietta, Georgia. He was a 1992 physics graduate of Duke University, which he attended on an ROTC scholarship, and served in the Navy before receiving a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School in 1998. He worked in management consulting before going into venture capital and joining New Enterprise in 2001.
His first marriage, to Kristin Rudolph, ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife of 13 years, Rachel Moore Weller of Washington; two sons from his second marriage, Luke Weller and Cash Weller, both of Washington; his mother, Regina Weller of Atlanta; his father, Harry D. Weller III of Cleveland; and two sisters.
Often jeans-clad in business meetings, Weller excelled at asking seemingly commonplace questions of a new company’s technology and extracting a strong sense of its potential.
“He would ’get it’ beyond just understanding what was explained to him,” said John Czupak, an early executive at Sourcefire whom Mr. Weller mentored and helped finance. “He could form opinions and a vision around not what something is, but what it could be.”
For the past nine years, Weller made the Forbes Midas List - an annual ranking of technology investors that is typically dominated by Silicon Valley luminaries. According to a 2012 Forbes profile, Weller had a passion for remixing electronic music and attended the annual Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert.
“I think the hole that he’s going to leave is much bigger and deeper than people have thought through yet,” said Wayne Jackson, a technology executive who led three companies that Weller helped fund. “I worry that he was kind of the beacon of light for the region.”