Howard Cox (born February 1, 1944) is an American venture capitalist and philanthropist who also has been active in healthcare innovation and United States national security. He joined Greylock Partners in 1971 and is currently a special limited partner. He is Chairman of the Finance and Investment Committee of In-Q-Tel which brings new technologies to the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Early life and education
Cox was born to Howard Ellis Cox (HBS’ 1939) and Anne Crane Delafield (Finch) in New York City. His father was a decorated World War II pilot, New York lawyer and Long Island real estate developer. His mother owned Ann Cox, Inc a New York fashion design firm located at 23 West 57th Street, Manhattan. His niece Dune Thorne is HBS ’03.
Cox attended grade school at Allen-Stevenson and graduated from Collegiate School. He attended Princeton University at age 16, played on the freshman football team and majored in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He was a member of Cap & Gown Club, President of the Flying Club and a member of Omicron Delta Epsilon, the international honor society for economics. He graduated from Princeton in 1964 as a Distinguished Military Graduate and recipient of the Alexander Hamilton Award of the U.S. Army Reserve Officer Training Program. He graduated from Columbia Law School in 1967 where he was a Stone Scholar and International Fellow. He graduated from Harvard Business School in 1969 and was a member of the Century Club. He was a founding member of the Harvard Business School African-American Student Union in 1968.
Cox joined Greylock in 1971. Cox led Greylock in a number of successful investments, including American Medical Systems (Acquired by Pfizer); Amisys Managed Care, IPO; Appex Cellular (Acquired by EDS); Arbor Health Care (IPO, Acquired by Extendicare); BMR Financial (IPO, Acquired by SouthTrust); Centene (IPO); Checkfree Corporation (IPO, Acquired by Fiserv); HPR (IPO, Acquired by HBO & Company); ISSCO (IPO, Acquired by CA); Landacorp (IPO, Acquired by SHPS); Lunar (IPO, Acquired by GE Medical Systems); Meditech (Private); OTG Software (IPO, Acquired by Legato); Promega (Private); Rehab Systems (Acquired by Novacare); Share Development (Acquired by United Healthcare); Stryker (IPO); United Publishers (Acquired by NYNEX Corporation); VHA Long Term Care (Acquired by ServiceMaster); and Vincam Group (IPO, Acquired by ADP).
Cox is a former director of Brown Advisory, an advisory trustee of a number of Fidelity Mutual Funds and director emeritus of Stryker Corporation where he served on the board for 44 years. Cox served on the board of three New York Stock Exchange Companies—Stryker, Centene and Affiliated Publications (owner of the Boston Globe). He is past Chairman of the National Venture Capital Association.
In addition to the Harvard Business School Healthcare Initiative Howard provided the idea and funding for the U.S. State Department Secretary’s Leadership Seminar to annually bring 50 outstanding State Department career officers to HBS for management and leadership training. He is one of the founding donors of the HBS On-Line Program. As a board member of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders Program he was one of the seed funders for the Harvard Kennedy learning module that enables 70 YGL’s from around the world to attend annually a customized leadership program. Cox serves as a Trustee and on various committees of The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Museum of Fine Arts and Norton Museum; Board of Fellows, Harvard Medical School; Dean’s Councils, Kennedy School and Harvard Business School.
Recently the Cox Science Center and Aquarium was named after Howard for his gift of $20 million. The gift allows for a robust expansion of the Science Center to double the number of visitors, including under-served students from Palm Beach County, and expand programs targeting students interested in STEM, aquatics and oceanics and other science fields. Currently the Science Center serves more than 500,000 visitors annually including 175,000 students. 70% of these students come from Title I schools that have large numbers of students from low-income households.
National Security Career
Cox served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Systems Analysis) during the summer of 1968 while at Harvard Business School and returned from 1969-1971. Systems Analysis was established by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara as a staff function to help him bring change to the Department of Defense. Cox joined the board of In-Q-Tel in 2000. In-Q-Tel was founded by the Central Intelligence Agency to bring new technology to the CIA and other U.S. intelligence organizations. Cox Chairs the Finance and Investment Committee. His other national security commitments include boards of Business Executives for National Security, Brookings Institution, member Council on Foreign Relations and former member Secretary of Defense Business Board of Directors. Cox is an annual invitee of the Aspen Strategy Group.
Various members of his family have been active in national service including Robert Livingston, First United States Secretary of Foreign Affairs and later the United States Minister to France for negotiating The Louisiana Purchase. Delafield Pond at West Point is named for General Richard Delafield, another family member.
In 2002, Cox was the recipient of the Leaders and Best Award for Excellence in Growth Capital Investment from the University of Michigan’s Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance.
In 2003, Cox with the recipient along with the founding Greylock partners of the Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award. By its terms this award is the school’s highest honor.
In 2020, Cox was a recipient of the National Venture Capital Association Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 2021, Cox received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, from the Federal Aviation Administration. The award recognizes 50 years of exemplary aviation flight experience, distinguished professionalism, and steadfast commitment to aviation safety.
In 2022, Cox was a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.