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#61, Rob Ryan, Co-Founder of Ascend Communications— Embracing a bootstrap mentality, picking the right spouse, and handling the mental and physical toll of entrepreneurship


My guest for this episode of From Start-Up to Grown-Up is Rob Ryan, Co-Founder of Ascend Communications. Ascend was acquired by Lucent Technologies in 1999 by Lucent Technologies.

Rob is a fount of knowledge about entrepreneurship and courageous leadership. He’s also a great story teller and a hoot! Check out this clip for a sneak peek into our talk where Rob talks about something important for your company’s long term success: profits. 

As an early internet pioneer, Rob Ryan served as principal architect in developing the V.32 Modem. He also developed the ethernet blue book standards for the first ethernet chips used in server farms as well as establishing the first decentralized network while working at DECNET.

Ryan is the founder, past chairman and CEO of Ascend Communications. Ryan earned national attention when he grew his 1989 start-up company, Ascend Communications, to more than $2 billion in sales. Lucent Technologies acquired Ascend in 1999 for approximately $22 billion in what was termed at the time the “largest technology merger ever.”

Effectively, Ascend helped create the modern Internet by building all of the infrastructure equipment that powered the Internet worldwide. At the end of 1995, Rob won the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for Northern California (including Silicon Valley). Rob also was selected as the Cornell University Entrepreneur of the Year for 2002. Following Ascend’s success, Rob has helped build several start-up and early-stage ventures into multi-billion dollar companies, including Right Now Technologies and Silicon Spice, among others. His entrepreneurial successes have transformed businesses using his Sunflower Model®.

In 2020 Rob co-founded SunVia, a metaverse infrastructure management company helping to usher in the new age of the internet. Rob also is the co-founder of Sunflower Academy, a non-traditional mentorship platform that utilizes the Sunflower Model® to help startup companies and entrepreneurs realize their full potential.

Follow Rob on LinkedIn | Website

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