Bidding farewell to venture capital expert Tracy Lefteroff, dead at 59

Four times a year, my e-mail alerts me that the MoneyTree report is about to land. The roundup, compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, tracks venture capital investment trends and forms the basis for the Mercury News’ VC Quarterly.

Those seasonal data downloads have given me frequent occasion to speak with Tracy Lefteroff, head of PwC’s global private equity and VC practice. This morning, I was shocked to see his photo in the Merc’s obituary pages. He died earlier this month in his Portola Valley home at age 59.

In my dealings with him, I found Tracy to be knowledgeable, unfailingly prompt and ready with an opinion. His obit told me he’d lettered in three sports as a high schooler in Tucson before enlisting in the Air Force; his three sons are athletes in their own right. Tracy earned an accounting degree from Boise State and met his wife while both worked Coopers & Lybrand, which later became PwC.

All told, he spent 25 years at the firm, developing an expertise in the life sciences industry. He served on the boards of the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the Stanford Venture Laboratory, among others.

I last saw Tracy a few weeks before his death, when I spotted him at the National Venture Capital Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco. I waved as I passed by, deep in conversation with an entrepreneur; I later emailed to say it had been nice to briefly see him. “Sorry we weren’t able to chat,” he responded. I certainly am too.

Ironically, I saw Tracy’s obit the same day the NVCA named its new president, which means the next MoneyTree report will be full of new names and faces. The venture association’s spokeswoman told me, “We were deeply saddened to hear of his passing.”


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