Hooks Johnston and Phil Gross

Mourning the Loss of Hooks Johnson and Phil Gross

In Memorium of 2 DC Tech Pioneers

Hooks Johnson

Hooks passed over Labor Day weekend at the age of 55 after a long battle with an autoimmune condition. Hooks was well known as a Venture Capitalist, first as a Managing Director of FBR Ventures and then as one of the founding members of Valhalla Partners. Yet hooks roots as one of DC Tech’s real

Hooks was well known as a Venture Capitalist, first as a Managing Director of FBR Ventures and then as one of the founding members of Valhalla Partners. Yet his roots as one of DC Tech’s real startup pioneers run deeper. Hooks was VP of Marketing of local area software giant, System Center… back in the day when DC was the epicenter of Mainframe Software.  He was also the founder and CEO of one of DC’s early startups, Roadshow.

Hooks was well known as a Venture Capitalist, first as a Managing Director of FBR Ventures and then as one of the founding members of Valhalla Partners. Yet hooks roots as one of DC Tech’s real startup pioneers run deeper. Hooks was VP of Marketing of local area software giant, System Center… back in the day when DC was the epicenter of Mainframe Software.  He was also the founder and CEO of one of DC’s early startups Roadshow.

I first met Hooks when he joined FBR and sat in on Call Technologies board meetings with fellow FBR Venture partners Gene Reichers. FBR was an investor in Call Technologies and represented FBR on the board. I didn’t know him well but all my interactions with him were positive and I know no one who would speak ill of him.

9/7/17 Update: The time for the services has been moved from 11 a.m. to 10 a.m. The Johnston family plans on holding a public service for Hooks Johnstonat 10 a.m. Saturday, September 9th, 2017, at the Vienna Presbyterian Church in Vienna.


Closer to home for me was the passing of Phil Gross

Phil Gross

Phil passed on Wednesday, August 30, 2017, at the age of 65 of what was reported as natural causes. Talk about DC Tech pioneers, Phil Gross was the CFO of DCs most influential startup, AOL. I first met Phil, when I joined the board of Ikimbo and Phil was an Ikimbo investor and Board Observer.

People who knew Phil, knew how much he loved his family and how much time he spent traveling to be with his grandhildren. Always the positive force, Phil’s last posting on Facebook was:

I hope it was a beautiful sail, sir.

Phil was wise, generous and helpful. Truly one of the good guys.

December 14, 2016
Left to Right: Glen Hellman, David Samuels, Phil Gross.

A graveside funeral service took place at Judean Memorial Gardens in Olney, Md., on Sept. 1. Memorial donations can be made to Aish HaTorah, 11418 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, MD 20852, phone – 301-881-9010.


The loss of both men is a loss for the DC Tech Ecosystemwhich has taken more subtractions than significant additions in the last 15 years.