A New York VC Spotlight: James Robinson III



James D. Robinson III, Director of The Coca-Cola Company since 1975, is a veteran of the venture capital and business management industries.

Prior to his work with Coca-Cola, Robinson was the CEO of American Express.  He held the position for 16 years, starting at the age of 41.  As CEO, Robinson helped the company acquire additional companies; a business strategy that Businessweek reported as, “Widely considered the most successful financial services diversification drive of the 1980s.”  After faring many tumultuous years with the company, Robinson left in 1993.

In 1994, Robinson founded RRE Ventures LLC, a New York-based technology investment firm.  The firm currently has $850 million in assets under management.

Robinson has stayed active in the technology and venture capital industries, serving on the boards of investment firms On Deck Capital, PrimeRevenue, Inc., Revolution Money, SkyGrid and all private companies in RRE’s portfolio.

Before Robinson’s successful career in the business world, he entered the army, where he honed his competitive drive.

“When I found something that interested me, I pursued it aggressively.  But, I think I got a little more focused when I went into the Navy.  Whatever water I drank, it made me a little more competitive than some others,” Robinson told the Georgia Tech Alumni Association.

Robinson is a member of the Business Council, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Committee for Economic Development.  He is a chairman of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Business Roundtable and the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.  Robinson is also Chairman Emeritus of the World Travel and Tourism Council and an honorary trustee of the Brookings Institution.

Robinson holds a BS from Georgia Institute of Technology and an MBA from Harvard University.

VC Firm:

Co-Founder and General Partner at RRE Ventures (Founded in 1994)
President at J.D. Robinson, Inc. (Founded in 1969)


Software, Internet, Mobile, Financial Services and Environmental.


Business Council
Council on Foreign Relations
Committee for Economic Development
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Business Roundtable
Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations
World Travel and Tourism Council
Brookings Institution
RRE Ventures LLC
On Deck Capital
PrimeRevenue, Inc.
Revolution Money

Expertise Areas:

Technology Investment, Venture Capital Investments, Seed Funding and Business Management.

Blogs, Twitter & Websites:


Memorable Quotes:

On his competitive drive:  “When I found something that interested me, I pursued it aggressively.  But, I think I got a little more focused when I went into the Navy.  Whatever water I drank, it made me a little more competitive than some others.”

On 16 years as CEO of American Express:  “I think there is a limited useful life for a CEO – 10 to 12 years at the outside.  Seven or 8 years is probably better.  I stayed longer at American Express than I intended.”

On the competitiveness of a CEO within the company, and CEO turnover:  “The reason for burnout is both the freshness of capacity to look at what’s going on and the ability to keep up.  As you go along, there are always hotshots who are as good or better than you.  It’s tremendously difficult to maintain momentum.  The other aspect is that the world in that league is so competitive and aggressive, you’ve got to make it clear that there is room at the top for new blood or you’re going to lose your young talent.”

On companies’ boards of directors:  “Boards of directors probably are feeling their responsibility more.  Some of them try to prove that they are tough.  But, sometimes change for the sake of change is okay, too.”


About the author: Meredith Lee

Meredith is currently studying Journalism and English at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where she focuses on blending new and traditional medias to enhance communication for a future career in digital media. She enjoys everything related to new media, investigative journalism, international communications, cooking, traveling and music festivals.

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