A New Orleans native educated at the California Institute of Technology, Stanford, and Columbia Business School, Rosen introduced Steve Jobs to Morgan Stanley and financed Compaq Computer, Lotus Software, and Electronic Arts. With his older brother, Harold, Rosen co-founded in 1992 an electric car company that employed J.B. Straubel—long before Straubel helped start Tesla Inc. In an interview at his home in Kent, Conn., Rosen, 86, looks back over his pathbreaking career and describes what excites him today. Here are some highlights.
MARTY SCHENKER: You were there at the crossroads of some historic developments.
BEN ROSEN: The timing was fortunate. I just happened to cross paths with some people who were really important in our lives. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates when they were 22 years old. And then Gordon Moore. He was my teaching assistant—when I was a freshman at Caltech, he was a first-year graduate student. So I’ve known him since 1950, and we stayed in touch. Later, Compaq was Intel’s No. 1 customer. The inventor of the spreadsheet, Dan Bricklin, and his associate Bob Frankston, I knew. They showed it to me in the beginning. And Mitch Kapor, who took it to the next step. Bob Noyce and Jack Kilby, who invented the integrated circuit. Kilby got the Nobel. Bob didn’t get it—only because he was dead.
MS: And Morgan Stanley’s position as an underwriter of technology