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Dendy Young makes smooth transition from CEO to venture capitalist

Dendy Young could have taken a well-deserved
rest after stepping down from his
post at government services provider GTSI
Corp., where he was president and chief executive
officer for 10 years. When he resigned as
chairman of the board in May, he severed his
ties to the company.

But he didn't settle into an easy chair.
"I'm doing new and different and interesting
things," he said in a clear understatement.

A lifelong skier, Young recently dropped from
a helicopter onto a treacherous slope with no
lifts or T-bars. He's also schussed through a
high-altitude forest in British Columbia, which
he said was more difficult because of the trees.
"That scared the ... whatever out of me," he said.
For an easy vacation, Young and his wife spent
two weeks sailing in Tahiti in September.

Now they are planning a hiking trip to
Bhutan, one of the most isolated and least
developed nations in the world. "My wife found
this one and said, 'Let's go to Bhutan.' I said,
'Well, why not?'"

But it isn't all black-diamond skiing and
short walks through the Hindu Kush. Young
still enjoys the challenges of entrepreneurship
and serves on several industry boards, including
the Executive Committee of the Northern
Virginia Technology Council and AFCEA
International.

"Last year, I spent some six months taking
over a venture-backed company that was in serious
trouble," he said, referring to Intelli7 Inc., a
security and network management provider.
In the end, he shut down the company when
he realized that fixing its problems would take
more money and time than the venture capital
investor was able to provide.

Last summer, he raised a pool of money and
founded McLean Capital LLC, a private venture
capital firm based in McLean, Va., where he is
managing partner. For the time being, McLean
Capital consists of Young and Ed Morris, a former
government contractor chief financial officer
who also has a banking background.

Young said McLean Capital will specialize in
spinouts and special situations,
primarily those involving technology
companies. "Normally
you put special situations in
quotes," he said, "because what
it typically deals with is companies
that are in trouble that
need capital to get themselves
out of trouble. So it's ... a financial engineering
kind of business."

As an example, Young cited an unnamed
small contractor that he advised. The contractor
continued to work on a contract after it had
ended and discovered four months later that the
government was not going to pay.

He said McLean Capital is interested primarily,
but not exclusively, in technology companies.
"Obviously my interests, background,
relationships, contacts base and so on is all in
the technology side, and so they tend to be
technology companies." However, the firm, is
looking for any interesting deals and is close to
making its first investments, he said.

Young's years at GTSI have given him
an instinctive feel for business, he said,
which allows him now to look at a company's
situation and see ways to improve it.
"A lot of people don't realize how fragile a
lot of businesses are,"
he said. "As soon as the
momentum stops, they
fall apart."

The CEO's job is a
lonely one, he said,
adding that his more
than 25 years as a CEO have given him great
empathy for any CEO. "Having someone who's
an investor or who's on the board who's been
there, done that is a tremendous asset."
McLean Capital is a different experience than
managing GTSI and its more than 1,000
employees, he said.

"Being on your own, you're much closer to
reality. You're it," he said. "My background has
been with smaller companies over most of my
career, so I am very comfortable in a small environment
where I've got to fend for myself, and if
I don't do it, it doesn't get done."
Young said he doesn't expect McLean Capital
to ever exceed 10 employees. "I'd rather do bigger
and bigger deals [than add] more and more
employees," he said, "if that makes sense."

David Hubler (dhubler@1105govinfo.com) is an
associate editor at Washington Technology.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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