Prior to this contact, I had thoroughly enjoyed our time together in May 2013, when I interviewed Don for his perspectives on Cerent, Cisco, and the telecom talent residing in Sonoma County. Don touched me with his humility and clear recollection of many of the events during the late 1990s. It was then my subsequent pleasure to share some of my thoughts about Don with his researchers working on his bio.
As I outlined in my 2014 book, The Upstart Startup, and through my own recollections of the time, I shared the following key points with Don’s researchers:
- Don is recognized as the “Father of Telecom Valley”
- He supported change agents throughout his career: “[Many] embraced the vision of Don Green—to innovate in areas where old technology in the telecom networks no longer served the telephone companies well.”
- Don has been supportive of both technology (numerous startup investments in telecom companies like AFC, Cerent, Turin, and many more) and the arts (The Don and Maureen Green Music Center) in Sonoma County
- Don and his wife are models for philanthropic giving: “[Don and Maureen] carried on the tradition of giving by local luminaries Charles and Jean Schulz.”
- His nurturing hand contributed to the growth of tech/green jobs (yes, a play on words) as well as local places to enjoy the arts
- Don believed in setting a goal and having his team run at it. This usually worked for him at those companies were he played a big role.
- Don invested in many startups, with Cerent being his biggest financial winner: “AFC was a big winner [because of the Cerent investment too]. The Petaluma access company, headed by Don Green, had invested just under five million dollars in Cerent, yet raked in over four hundred million dollars on the stock swap. Martin [Fornage], a former AFC employee and Cerent hardware engineer and then co-founder of Enphase Energy, believes AFC made more money with that deal than they ever did with their own product, ‘It’s true or close to being true.’”
- Maybe most importantly, Don invested in people: “Don was a great developer of people. Some of these included Ajaib Bhadare (Optilink, Cerent), Mike Hatfield (Cerent, Calix, Cyan), Peter Keeler (Nextlevel), John Webley (AFC, Turin), George Hawley (Diamond Lane, Valo), Chet Stephens (Diamond Lane), Dave Ehreth (Westwave, Alexander Valley Gourmet; pickles), and Paul Elliot (DSC, Cerent).”
Don left a big impression on me when he relayed that by virtue of our extended interview, he was inspired to write his own memoirs. Just over three years later, his life story is brought to print.
I encourage you to pick up his biography, Defining Moments, and attend his book signing being held on October 22nd at, where else, The Green Music Center , Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California.
And in characteristic fashion, Don is donating proceeds of his book sales to the Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestras, continuing a tradition of investing in the local community.
 The Green Music Center, a legacy of Don and Maureen Green’s philanthropy, was recognized in November 2014 with the Best Practice in Architecture and Engineering and the Overall Best Practice Award. California State University management recognized Sonoma State University’s popular Rohnert Park, California facility at CSU’s Facilities Management Conference held earlier that year . . . During the award program, it was noted by The Community Voice, “The vision achieved for the Green Music Center was to have a facility that would become a destination and one of the most sought after music and arts venues in the world.”. . . Ruben Armiñana, SSU President at the time, said, “We are very grateful for the 1,800 investors – most of them from our own Sonoma County community – who shared our vision, as well as Maureen and Donald Green.” He went on to say that the Green Music Center is “a nucleus for the music and arts community in the North Bay Area.”