Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In the early 1990’s, during our first full year of operation, I had the pleasure of meeting Bill Egley in his role as Private Equity Manager for the IBM Pension Fund. Early in our relationship Olympus faced a crisis when our largest investor threatened to shut Olympus if they did not receive an increased share of the profits. IBM, through Bill, offered to assume the investor’s unfunded commitment to which the investor agreed. Four hours later the investor reneged, demanding a large continuing profit interest despite IBM assuming the investor’s funding obligation. I spoke to Bill, who was as dumbstruck as I. I told him the general partners of Olympus would reduce their profit share to accommodate the investor, leaving IBM’s “new” profit interest untouched. The next day Bill and the head of the IBM Pension Fund visited our offices. They shook our hands, declared how pleased they were with their Olympus relationship and asked to be lead investor in our next Fund (to be raised three years later!) with a $50 million dollar investment. Without Bill’s help and confidence in Olympus in 1990 we might never have seen 1991. None of the future arrangements on which we should shook hands that day were ever written down until four years later when they were drafted exactly as we had agreed, an exquisite example of how true partners operate.

As we entered into those early discussions Bill was already feeling the devastating effects of Parkinson’s disease and the array of medicines he took to combat it. Despite the illness, he never complained, it never overwhelmed his great sense of humor and he always maintained his Midwestern earnestness, humility and sense of fair play. After he retired from IBM, Bill agreed to stay involved with Olympus as an advisor. In the early years, before traveling became difficult for him, he would often work in our conference room on various projects he was completing for his many outside activities. His visits gave us a chance to keep in touch with this gentle man whose friendship we had been fortunate enough to share. Although he had the large shoes of IBM to fill, he always left behind soft footprints. He will be missed and will always be our partner.

William H. Egley passed away on September 28, 2010.

A Partner That Was Not Limited