Raduchel, 67, earned a doctorate in econometrics (statistics for economists) at Harvard, where his oral final exam featured questions by two Nobel Prize winners, including the
real Dr. Strangelove, Thomas Schelling.
He taught a Harvard econometrics class that included Ben S. Bernanke and a pair of future “micros”: Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy and Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer.
Raduchel, who lives in Great Falls and teaches at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, also spent six years as assistant dean of admissions at Harvard and Radcliffe College.
He met Facebook President Sean Parker when Parker was still poor, and Bill Gates when he was rich — and getting richer. He made a weird sales call on Steve Jobs and got a job with McNealy’s Sun Microsystems while they were stopped in traffic.
I usually write about entrepreneurs and companies. But after sitting next to Raduchel at a recent Terk Tech dinner hosted by former Washington Post chief technology officer Ralph Terkowitz, I wanted to share some of his story. There will be more of our chat, including how to predict success at Harvard and the state of the media industry, in an upcoming Sunday Business section.
How do you know Sean Parker?
I was nice to him when he was poor.
Sean was thrown out of Napster [the music-industry disrupter]. He came back home. He lived in Fairfax County. He showed up at AOL looking for something to do around the spring of 2000.
He literally came to the receptionist and asked to talk to somebody. He didn’t know anybody. He was a high school kid that went off to do Napster. The receptionist sent him to Ted Leonsis, then the AOL vice chairman.
I was chief technology officer at AOL, and Ted walked him into my office and said, “You should talk to him.” And that’s how I got to meet Sean.
He never took a job. I gave him advice, took him to dinner.
Why did you give time to some kid off the street?
I have always had this principle that talent comes as talent comes. And he was talented. Just talking to him for three minutes, you realized he had an understanding of the world and where it was going. I don’t think his presence was overpowering, but his brain was. Sean is unbelievably clever and perceptive.
I talked to him probably 100 times over the next four years. We had dinner all the time.
I was an admissions officer [at Harvard]. You learn pretty quickly how to sort through who is truly different and who isn’t. And Sean was.
Sean asked questions about AOL, what AOL did and where it was going. He was still a bit perplexed from Napster. He was a young kid all of a sudden caught up in lawsuits, being sued for every penny he will ever make. It had to be a brutalizing experience for any 20-year-old.