Alumni & Friends Profile

Mark Siegel ('90),
Patrons of Physics Fellows

Mark Siegel, Patrons of Physics Fellows
Mark Siegel, Patrons of Physics Fellows

Majoring in physics was not a hard choice for Mark Siegel when he entered MIT as a freshman.  The hard decision was choosing to leave academia for a career in industry.  Mark was accepted to MIT early decision and joined the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity.  To this day, Mark’s very best friends are from ADP and he remembers many great professors from his undergraduate days.  As far as he’s concerned, the “amount of information I absorbed in those four years is probably equal to everything I have learned since.”  He’ll also tell you he’s never been with a group of people as intellectually gifted as those students at MIT.

From MIT, Mark went to Stanford to business school where he learned that the most challenging problems in business do not have clear-cut right or wrong answers like an MIT problem set.  “At Stanford I met people who were especially creative and resourceful, some with incredible leadership ability or charisma or powers of persuasion.  It was a very rounding experience for me.”  But it was at MIT that he learned how to think, how to solve difficult problems and how to “work like a dog.”

After positions with Oracle and Netscape, Mark is now a Managing Director at Menlo Ventures, one of Silicon Valley’s oldest and largest venture capital firms.  As an early stage venture capitalist, Mark evaluates the feasibility and potential of many new and diverse technologies.  There is no question that, “physics provides a great foundation for understanding at least the basic principles underlying almost any technology.”  One of Mark’s recent investments is a company building revolutionary electronics that operates at terahertz frequencies.  The entrepreneur, in this case, found Mark because of his background in physics.

“The amount of information I absorbed in those four years [at MIT] is probably equal to everything I have learned since.”

Mark and his wife, Annette, find it extremely gratifying to create opportunities for talented individuals.  “It’s a way for me to repay the generosity I received from a scholarship to MIT and a fellowship at Stanford.”  They support graduate fellowships in the Department of Physics because “the basic sciences are critically important to the advancement of human knowledge and the success of our society.  Advances in these fields ultimately lead to commercial innovation and long-term prosperity.  If MIT is to maintain its excellence in physics and other basic sciences, it is essential to be able to attract and retain the best talent.”  We couldn’t agree more!  The Siegel’s have created an endowed fund in support of graduate fellowships. 

Mark loves his job as a venture capitalist because he spends every day working with intelligent, optimistic, high-energy entrepreneurs.  “It’s about the closest thing to being back at MIT that you can experience in the ‘real world!