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An entrepreneur and businessman known for the co-founding of Octel Communications with Peter Olson in 1982, the company that commercialized voice mail and was largely responsible for making it ubiquitous on cell phones, in companies and on residential phones. Octel started shipping product in 1984, became profitable and started generating cash in 1985, and went public in 1988. Octel was the first technology company to go public after the stock market crash of 1987 and it adopted many of Silicon Valley's successful cultural concepts such as employee sabbaticals, 100% participation in stock option plans, comprehensive employee performance reviews and career planning, an internal fitness center, and Octel University to give all employees new skills and ongoing training. Octel was among the first to offer AIDS education, and universal medical coverage including pre-existing conditions. He served as Chairman and CEO from its inception until the company was purchased by Lucent Technologies in 1997. He then served as an Executive Vice President of Lucent Technologies, Inc. and retired April 30, 1999. Lucent Technologies acquired Octel for over $2 billion in cash and assumption of options. Lucent's Audix products were combined with Octel's to create the Octel Messaging Division based in Milpitas, California. Revenues of the Octel Messaging Division in the year Octel was acquired exceeded $1.2 billion. He was made an Executive Vice President of Lucent Technologies and President of the Octel Messaging Division. From 2002-2004, he was a partner with Sequoia Capital. Before Octel, he held positions with McKinsey & Company, and Banque Rothschild in France. He has a BS degree in mathematics and computer science from the University of Florida and an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. He serves on the board of Charter Communications, Right Hemisphere, Market Live, Taboola, and AirQC. Cohn is a trustee of Robert Ballard’s Ocean Exploration Trust, and a Board Member Emeritus of Business Executives for National Security, a volunteer organization of business leaders that works with the Department of Defense. He has previously served on the boards of Octel, Trimble Navigation (GPS navigation), Electronic Arts (video games), Ashford.com (high-end online retail), Digital Domain (special effects for commercials and feature films) and Blue Lithium (internet advertising). He was a member of the Board of Governors of NASDAQ from 1990 through 1993 where he also served on the Executive Committee; a member of the Advisory Council of the Stanford Graduate School of Business from 1993 to 1999; a board member of the National Conference for Community and Justice (a national organization devoted to addressing the issues of bigotry, bias and racism in America). He was a trustee of the Ballet San Jose and Castilleja School, the International School of the Peninsula, and has previously been a member of the American Business Conference, the Council of Competitiveness, and the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he was also an industry governor in the Data and Communications sector for 5 years.
Noted For:Co-founder of Octel Communications, the company that commercialized voice mail and was largely responsible for making it ubiquitous on cell phones, in companies and on residential phones
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