James O'Connor

Managing Director, Head of Venture Capital Group

About Mr. O'Connor

Jim O'Connor is the global head of William Blair’s Venture Capital Group and joined the firm in 2014. Jim draws on his deep experience and relationships throughout the technology and financial industries to connect today’s most innovative companies with visionary sources of capital. Prior to William Blair, he worked for MVC Capital, Motorola Ventures (Co-Founder), U.S. Treasury Department (White House Fellow), A.T. Kearney, Ariel Capital Management, and Sidley Austin. Jim also serves on William Blair’s WillBlairCo Committee and Community Impact Steering Committee.

Community Involvement

  • 1871, Chairman, Co-Founder & former President
  • Chicago Community Trust, Trustee Finance Committee Member
  • Field Museum, Trustee, Founder - Field Associates and Founder - President’s Council
  • Adler Planetarium, Trustee
  • Millennium Park Foundation, Trustee
  • Big Shoulders Fund, Board Member

Awards and Affiliations

  • Entrepreneurial Champion Award, 2017 – 1871 Momentum Awards
  • Richard J. Daley Medal Award, 2013 – Illinois Venture Capital Association (IVCA)
  • Crain’s Chicago Business 40 Under 40, 2005
  • Crain’s Chicago Business Tech 50, 2015
  • Top 40 Under 40 American Venture Award, 2007


  • White House, 1998–1999
  • Henry Crown Aspen Institute, 2003–2006
  • Leadership Greater Chicago (LGC), 2002
  • Chicago Council on Foreign Relations Young Leadership Fellow, 2008
  • U.S. Japan Leadership Fellow, 2000


Northwestern University, M.B.A.
Georgetown University, J.D.
Georgetown University, B.A.

Notable Transactions

Rigorous pursuit of your success. Every transaction. Every time.

Our investment bankers are 100 percent committed to your organization’s sustained success. By drawing on our deep industry and product experience as well as our dedicated global resources, we provide advisory and financing services that allow you to capitalize on today’s opportunities and anticipate tomorrow’s challenges.

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Venture Capital

Our Venture Capital Group is focused on strengthening William Blair’s relationships with leading venture firms around the world and developing new ways to create value for venture investors and their portfolio companies.

The group leverages William Blair's capabilities across M&A advisory, equity and debt capital markets, and equity research, as well as our strong relationships with financial sponsors and strategic acquirers, to bring new ideas and opportunities for venture firms. We have built leading franchises in technology, life sciences, healthcare IT, and other high-growth sectors, giving us unique insight into the investment criteria, roadmaps, and behavior of strategic acquirers and providers of growth equity.

More about our venture capital investment banking expertise

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About William Blair

William Blair is a premier global boutique with expertise in investment banking, investment management, and private wealth management. We provide advisory services, strategies, and solutions to meet our clients’ evolving needs. As an independent and employee-owned firm, together with our strategic partners, we operate in more than 20 offices worldwide.*

*Includes strategic partnerships with Allier Capital, BDA Partners, and Poalim Capital Markets.