Meet Our Team
Mr. Thakur founded Option3Ventures in 2014 after recognizing that cybersecurity innovation required a different, specialized approach to venture investment. Prior to Option3Ventures, Mr. Thakur was a founding partner of Hudson Fairfax Group, a boutique financial advisory and investment firm serving the broader security sector. Mr. Thakur brings 25 years of background in finance, investing and public advocacy, with a particular focus on telecommunications and security. He began his career at investment banks such as Merrill Lynch and SG Cowen, where his responsibilities included managing mergers and acquisitions and private equity and strategic investments, particularly with regard to telecommunications and related satellite and security companies. Mr. Thakur has also worked in the aerospace and telecommunications sectors, having served as CFO of Ellipso, a satellite venture backed by the Boeing Company.
Beyond his work in the investment industry, Mr Thakur has also served as National Security Coordinator for the United States India Political Action Committee, providing geopolitical risk analysis and research into sectors relevant to US–Asia security issues, covering defense ties, terrorism and cybersecurity.
Mr Thakur has an MBA degree from Columbia Business School and a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of London.
Mr. Merrick Andlinger serves as Chief Investment Officer of Option3Ventures. Prior to this, he served as President of Andlinger & Company, Inc., a private investment and management firm founded in 1976 and with offices in the US and Europe. Mr. Andlinger serves and has served on numerous corporate boards (publicly listed and privately held) in the U.S. and Europe in the manufacturing, technology, cleantech and service sectors.
For many years he was an energy investment banker, and has been a small enterprise Chief Executive Officer, a corporate spy, and a college professor. He was the Executive Chairman of AgCert International Plc, a clean development mechanism (CDM) project developer; Chief Executive Officer of Pure Energy Corporation, a bio-based fuel and chemical company; and Managing Director and co-Head of the Global Energy and Power Group in the Corporate Finance department at Smith Barney Inc. He began his investment banking career at Salomon Brothers.
In addition, he serves on the boards of charitable and education institutions, including the advisory board of Princeton University’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.
Mr. Andlinger holds an M.B.A. from Stanford University Graduate School of Business and an A.B. from Princeton University.
Ms. Donnan is widely recognized in the information and telecommunications security industries as a “new business” whisperer. Using her 25-year sales and marketing career background, she works with Option3Ventures’ portfolio companies to help them scale and refine their sales and marketing efforts and with actual sales. Prior to joining Option3Ventures she held positions as Vice President of Strategy and Technology at TASC, Head of Salient Federal Solutions’ cybersecurity business, Executive Vice President of Command Information, Vice President of Client Systems Group Marketing for SunMicrosystems, Chief Marketing Officer of NeuStar, Principal of The Management Network Group, a global telecommunications management consulting firm, and Executive Vice President of Bell Canada Enterprises Inc.
Ms. Donnan serves on the Boards of Directors of George Mason University (where she is also Vice Chair) and the Washington D.C. Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Ramapo College of New Jersey.
Dr. Peter Fonash
Dr. Fonash is a cybersecurity expert who leads Option3Ventures’ technology analysis and evaluation activities. Dr. Fonash was formerly the Chief Technology Officer for the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Communications Office, which is responsible for protecting all federal civilian agencies and the nation’s critical infrastructures from cybersecurity threats. He was a member of the Senior Executive Service for 18 years. He previously held positions as Director of the National Communications System and Special Assistant to the Staff Director, Federal Reserve Board. At the Defense Information Systems Agency, he served as Chief of the Advanced Technology Office and Chief of the Joint Combat Support Applications Division. After leaving federal service, Dr Fonash was a Professor and Associate Director of the Cybersecurity Engineering Program at George Mason University.
Dr. Fonash holds a Ph.D. in information technology and engineering from George Mason University, an MBA from The Wharton School and both Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Ms. Kirazian is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with over 30 years of diversified experience in the financial services industry, the majority spent in the alternative investment space. In 2012 she founded Libertas Accounting Services LLC, an outsourced CFO servicing primarily Private Equity, Hedge Funds and Family Offices. Her association with the founder, Mr. Thakur and his related entities began in 2013 and recently became CFO of Option 3 Ventures LLC. Ms. Kirazian’s background includes serving as a CFO to various registered investment advisers specializing in endowments and family offices. She also served as CFO/COO at Caravel Management LLC and Steeple Capital LP.
Before entering the Buyside, Ms. Kirazian was Principal at Banc of America Securities Prime Brokerage and CFO at Montgomery Securities Prime Brokerage. Her combined tenure at Montgomery/Bank of America Securities was twelve years. She started her career in public accounting servicing the alternative investments industry.
She is a member of the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJCPA) and New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA). Ms. Kirazian serves on the NYSSCPA Family Office, Investment Companies Committees.
Ms. Kirazian earned her Master of Science in Taxation and Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from the Lubin School of Business at Pace University in New York.
Mr. Stenbit is the former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence and its successor organization, Networks and Information Integration, and a former Chief Information Officer of the DoD. His career spans over 30 years of public and private sector service in the telecommunications and the command and control fields. His public service includes four years at the DoD from 1973 to 1977, serving for two years as Principal Deputy Director of telecommunications and command and control systems. Mr. Stenbit previously was an Executive Vice President of TRW, from which he retired in May 2001. He has chaired the Science and Technology Advisory Panel to the Director of Central Intelligence and served as a member of the Science Advisory Group to the directors of Naval Intelligence and the Defense Communications Agency. He is a director at Cogent Systems, Viasat, Defense Group Inc. and Loral Space & Communications.
Mr. Stenbit has served as Chief Information Officer, Department of Defense (“DoD”), as a member of the Advisory Board, National Security Agency (“NSA”), a Trustee of The Mitre Corp. and as an Executive Vice President of TRW Inc. Mr. Stenbit is currently a consultant and member of the Defense Science Board, the National Security Agency Advisory Board, the STRATCOM Advisory Board, and the National Reconnaissance Office Advisory Group.
Mr. Wade retired from federal service at the end of 2005 after a thirty five year career in the Central Intelligence Agency. He retired as Chief Information Officer, a position he had held since 2001. He also served as Chief Intelligence Officer of the U.S. Intelligence Community. He has multiple Meritorious and Distinguished Officer Designations and currently serves as a director of Chiliad Inc., JSI Telecom and LexisNexis. He is on the Board of Advisors for Endgame and DarkTrace.
Mr. Wade received a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering in 1973 from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering in 1978 from George Washington University. He held a series of senior positions at the CIA prior to becoming Chief Information officer, including the Director of Communications, and Director of Security. In his assignment as Chief Information officer, he was dual-hatted as the Chief Information Officer for the United States Intelligence Community. During his career, Mr. Wade’s contributions were recognized several times. He is a recipient of the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, the Director’s Medal and the Distinguished Intelligence Medal. Since his retirement, he has worked with several early stage companies. He served on the boards of Safeboot N.V. (acquired by McAfee in 2007) and Detica DFI (acquired by BAE Systems in 2008). He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Aerospace Corporation and on the boards of several early-age companies. Additionally, he serves on the public sector advisory boards of several technology companies, the Hume Center for National Security and Technology at Virginia Tech, the Advisory Board for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Virginia Tech, and on the Board of the organization of retired CIA officers. Mr. Wade lives in Annandale Virginia, with his wife and two children.
With more than two decades of executive experience, Mr. Akers brings a wide range of technical and security knowledge to the Technology Board. Mr. Akers recently retired as the Senior Vice President of Advanced Security Initiatives and Chief Technology Officer within Cisco Systems Inc.’s Security and Trust Organization (“STO”). A major focus of the STO is to expand security awareness and launch product resiliency initiatives throughout Cisco’s development organization to deliver high-quality and secure products to customers.
Mr. Akers joined Cisco in 1993, where he held a variety of technical, managerial and executive roles prior to his roles at the STO, including networking engineer, Vice President for the Worldwide Technical Assistance Center, Senior Vice President-CTO Services and Senior Vice President-Global Governments Solutions Group. He served as executive sponsor of the Cisco Disability Awareness Network. In addition to his primary role, Mr. Akers was an Internet security and critical infrastructure protection advisor to Cisco customers and to the U.S. government. He holds the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert certification.
He has regularly advised and directed activities relative to technology and security matters of domestic and international importance. In this capacity he has held leadership roles, such as serving as President of the IT-Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC) organization in 2002 and Vice President in 2001. Mr. Akers has also advised the U.S. Department of Defense and the federal intelligence community for more than fifteen years and currently leads and serves on various boards, panels and task forces within the U.S. Department of Defense Mr. Akers currently serves as an advisor to the NSA. He is a member of the National White-Collar Crime Board and the Board of Directors of the East Carolina Infraguard.
Before joining Cisco, Mr. Akers’ career included more than 15 years of designing, building, and running large networks for Fortune 100 companies, holding senior technical and leadership roles at Fechheimer Brothers, a holding of Berkshire Hathaway, and Procter and Gamble. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Akron.
Richard S. Fuld, Jr.
Richard S. Fuld, Jr., joined the Option3Ventures team in November 2019 as a Senior Advisor, with a particular focus on capital raising, structuring and negotiations for the Fund and its Portfolio Companies. Mr. Fuld has been Chairman of Matrix Investment Partners, his family office, since its inception in April 2009.
Mr. Fuld was Chairman of the Board of Directors of Lehman Brothers from 1994 to 2008. He also served as its Chief Executive Officer from 1993 to 2008 and its President from 1990 to 1994. He was a Vice Chairman of Shearson Lehman Brothers from 1984 until 1990 and had been a director of Lehman Brothers Inc. since 1984. He joined Lehman Brothers in 1969.
Mr. Fuld is a member of the Board of Trustees of New York Presbyterian Hospital. He served on the Board of Governors of the New York Stock Exchange from 1997 to 2002 and on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 2005 until 2008. He was also a member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum. In addition, he served on the Board of Trustees of Middlebury College and was on the Board of Directors of the Robin Hood Foundation. Mr. Fuld received his B.A. from the University of Colorado and his M.B.A. from the New York University Stern School of Business.
Chris Woods is a Principal. He began his career as a U.S. Coast Guard Officer, where most of his 5 years of service were in special operations at the Maritime Security Response Team – the service’s only direct-action counter-terrorism unit at the time. He transitioned from service to the private sector to work in finance for GE Capital International. Mr. Woods moved into the technology sector working for a global systems integrator, Insight Enterprises, as part of various business units and also the corporate development team all with a focus on emerging technologies. During this period he began advising several technology businesses. Mr. Woods was recently on the Board of Directors for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association where he chaired and now advises the Investment Committee for its endowment. He is currently a member of AFCEA’s Technology Committee.
Mr. Woods holds an M.S. in Data Science from Northwestern University, an MBA from UNC-Chapel Hill, and a Bachelor of Science in Management from the United States Coast Guard Academy.
Family Office Investor
Managing Partner of VentureLink Advisers
Partner at Baker & Hostetler LLP
Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response, Department of Energy
Sean Plankey is a highly respected cybersecurity and government executive having worked most recently at the Department of Energy as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response. He also served as Director for Maritime Cyber Policy on the White House National Security Council. He is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran and former Global Cyber Intelligence Advisor for BP plc. Sean currently serves as Director of Cyber Missions at DataRobot where he leads efforts to apply their AI Cloud to cybersecurity challenges within both commercial and federal markets.
Sean served for 13 years as an active-duty officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, including a tour as the Offensive Weapons & Tactics Chief at US Cyber Command. In 2013-2014 he completed a joint multinational deployment to Afghanistan to conduct cyber operations where upon return he was recognized by the President of the United States at the White House on the 4th of July. He was the first U.S. Coast Guard Officer deployed to Afghanistan to conduct offensive cyber operations.