Board of Directors

Peter Norton Chairman

Retired computer software entrepreneur Peter Norton is active in civic and philanthropic affairs and is a collector of contemporary art. He serves on the boards of several scholastic and cultural institutions and currently devotes his time to philanthropy, through a private family foundation. Raised in Seattle, Washington, Mr. Norton made his mark in the computer industry as a programmer, businessman and author. He is best known for the computer programs and books that bear his name. Mr. Norton sold his PC-software business to Symantec Corporation in 1990 to devote time to his family, civic affairs, philanthropy and art collecting. Mr. Norton serves on the board of directors of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); as well as Reed College, California Institute of Technology and California Institute of Art; and other institutions.

Dennis J. Cagan Director

Mr. Cagan is a high-technology industry executive and successful entrepreneur for 43 years, having founded over a dozen different companies.  In addition to his entrepreneurial and management activities Mr. Cagan has been a c-level executive (both public and private companies), consultant, venture capitalist, private investor, and professional board member (44 corporate Boards) for over 33 years.

Dennis is an internationally recognized authority in information technology, including: Internet, software, hardware, and communications, in the disciplines of strategy, sales, distribution channels, marketing, services, logistics and distribution. On more than one occasion Mr. Cagan has been responsible for international sales and has actively done business in 35 countries.  He has authored dozens of articles and spoken frequently.  In 1979 he was the Keynote Speaker at the first COMDEX Show in Las Vegas. In 1976 he founded the David Jamison Carlyle Corp. (his 5th start-up), turning it into one of the country’s largest distributors of computer peripherals, and taking DJC public (NASDAQ) in 1981.

Over the years Mr. Cagan has had consulting relationships with companies large and small including AT&T, IBM, Digital, BellSouth, Kodak, Xerox, General Electric, TRW, Wang, U.S. West and others.  Since 1985 Mr. Cagan has often served as an interim C-level executive – usually for companies where he was already a member of the Board.

Mr. Cagan is currently the CEO of SureBooks LLC, based in McKinney, TX, a SaaS company providing financial services and processing for small-medium size accounting firms.

Mr. Cagan moved from Santa Barbara to Dallas when, from May 2006 to July 2008, Mr. Cagan stepped in as a Board Member and served as the Chairman, CEO and President of TWL Corporation (TWLO.OB).  Prior to running TWL Dennis founded, and still runs, the Santa Barbara Technology Group, LLC, a private incubator and investment firm engaged primarily in working with, and investing in early-stage technology companies.

Mr. Cagan currently serves on three outside corporate Boards of Directors.  He attended the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) where he majored in economics, and he has an honorable discharge from the USMC.  Mr. Cagan and his wife Angelia live in the Dallas area with their youngest daughter, and are active in their Church – Parkway Hills Baptist.

Dr. Thomas E. Everhart Director

After serving as Caltech’s president and as professor of electrical engineering and applied physics for 10 years, Everhart stepped down to pursue other interests in 1997. During his tenure, Everhart oversaw the construction of the Beckman Institute, the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, the Braun Athletic facility, the Moore Laboratory of Engineering, Avery House, and the Fairchild Library, and the successful completion of the $350 million Campaign for Caltech.

In November of 1998, Everhart was elected to the Caltech Board of Trustees.

Everhart has received numerous honors and awards and has been a member of various national and international societies. He was elected to the Council of the National Academy of Engineering in 1988, and he served as chairman of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board from 1990 to 1993. From 1990 to 1996 he served as vice chairman of the Council on Competitiveness – a private, nonprofit group of prominent leaders that addresses growth and the competitive position of U.S. corporations in global markets – and he continues to serve on its executive committee. He has also conducted continuing dialogues with federal agencies concerning their support of research and teaching on campus, and with NASA in support of JPL. In addition, he sat on the boards of several large corporations including General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, and Raytheon Company.

Everhart came to Caltech from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was Chancellor and professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering from 1984 to 1987. From 1979 to 1984 he served as dean of the College of Engineering and professor of Electrical Engineering at Cornell University. After earning his PhD in 1958, Everhart spent 20 years on the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley.

Professor Everhart’s research has concentrated on the generation and application of very-small-diameter electron beams, first to scanning electron microscopy and later to microfabrication. Research conducted with graduate students explored the spatial extent of electron energy dissipation in matter, secondary electron emission, electron backscattering, computer-controlled scanning electron microscopy, and other topics. He is one of the pioneers in the fabrication of electronic devices using electron beam lithography. Building on his early work in the field of scanning electron microscopy, his research provided much of the basis for forming microstructures using scanning electron beams to form desired patterns on substrates. Everhart-Thornley detectors are still used in scanning electron microscopes even though the first one was used in 1956.

In 1978, Dr. Everhart was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering for contributions to the electron optics of the scanning electron microscope and to its uses in electronics and biology. In further recognition of his scientific work he has also been elected a member of the Böhmische Physikalische Gesellschaft. He is a Fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He received the IEEE Centennial Medal in 1984, and the ASEE Benjamin Garver Lamme Award in 1989 and Centennial Medallion in 1993. He was elected a foreign member of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1990, and received the IEEE Founders Medal and Okawa Prize, both in 2002.

Dr. Alvin M. Despain Director

Dr. Alvin M. Despain was formerly Chief Technology Officer of Acorn Technologies before his retirement in 2008. He co-founded Acorn Technologies while on leave from the University of Southern California. At USC, he was Powell Professor of Computer Engineering. In 2001 he become Professor Emeritus at USC.

In 1996, he became a Fellow of the I.E.E.E., the major professional society in the electronics and computer field, for his work in computer architecture. He has also been a Professor at U.C. Berkeley, Stanford University, Utah State University and the University of Utah. He has founded three enterprises to develop basic university research into commercial products.

Dr. Despain has a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Utah.

Dr. R. Stockton Gaines Director

Dr. R. Stockton Gaines founded the company He has had a distinguished 40-year career in research, industry and investments. Prior to founding Acorn, Dr. Gaines directed a research program at the Information Sciences Institute of USC, addressing issues in parallel computing system architectures, software operating systems and support. He managed the FAST Electronic Broker project, a successful demonstration of electronic commerce using a novel approach to brokered purchasing via E-Mail.

His work in industry has included consulting on general corporate issues, strategic planning, and management of specific hardware and software projects for numerous high technology companies such as IBM, EMC, Storage Technology, Silicon Graphics, Honeywell, Unisys, Olivetti, Control Data, Philips Data Systems, and Northrop among many others. He has also consulted to a number of venture capital companies including Paragon Venture Partners and Brentwood Associates.

Dr. Gaines holds a B.S. in Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University.

Tom L. Horgan Director

Tom has been CEO of Acorn since 2001. Tom has over 25 years of experience in commercializing technologies and services, in multiple market segments. Prior, Tom was CEO of Maxwell Technologies, a long time San Diego company listed on Nasdaq. Maxwell pioneered the ultracapacitor under his guidance, and launched several innovative technologies that arose from more than 30 years of R&D in the defense sector. Barrons described Maxwell Technologies’ transformation from a defense technology company into a commercial one as one of the best in America under new management during that period.

Previously, Tom was a Vice President for Conner Peripherals, a multi-billion dollar disk drive manufacturer, which was acquired by Seagate in 1996. He has held senior management positions at Quantum and Digital Equipment Corporation where he led in establishing the company’s Information Security service and product initiative in Europe. Tom is involved in the investment community in San Diego, and serves as a director on a number of boards of privately held companies. Mr. Horgan holds a B.E. in Engineering, and a M.I.E. in Industrial Engineering from University College Dublin, Ireland.

Bill Walker Director

Bill Walker retired in 2004 as the senior vice president and general manager of Motorola’s Semiconductor Products Sector (SPS), the world leader in embedded semiconductor solutions.  As the chief operating officer, he was responsible for driving the sector’s strategic direction and profitability, on a global scale.

Bill oversaw a business that averaged $6.5B in sales during the past five years.  During that period, his duties included the operation of 38 semiconductor factories globally.  The capital value of those factories exceeded $8B, among the largest and most dynamic of the businesses within the Motorola Corporation.

He successfully managed Motorola’s semiconductor business through some of the industry’s most turbulent times, including the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, and the chip industry’s worst-ever global downturn, in 2001.

Bill’s responsibilities as the chief operating officer included the coordination of 24,000 employees at laboratories, technology/design centers, sales offices and manufacturing facilities around the world.  Bill worked directly with such key customer accounts as General Motors, Nokia and Apple.

Bill worked with Motorola for 36 years.  He joined the company in 1968 as a technician in the Integrated Circuit Research Development Lab.

Bill served on the Board of Directors of Guaranty Financial Group. He also served as a council member on the External Advisory and Development Council at Texas A&M University.  Bill has served on the SEMATECH Board of Directors, the Texas Skills Development Panel (appointed by the governor) and on the Management Board at the University of Texas’ MBA Concentration in Operations Management.  His commitment to supporting the community has been reflected by his involvement with the Austin Independent School District’s Partners in Education and the South Austin Hospital Board of Directors.

Bill has maintained active participation in the International Trade Partners’ Conference and is credited with the initiation of the worldwide effort to develop manufacturing capabilities for 300mm wafers.

Bill attended the University of North Texas.


Press release
Acorn Technologies, Inc. © 2013

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