Ryan Marrinan '07, alumnus

One might wonder what a graduate who majored in English and earned a certificate in finance would do with this unique combination of interests. For Ryan Marrinan ’07, the course of study took him first to the Walt Disney Company and later to venture capital.

Marrinan is currently a principal at Harrison Metal, a boutique venture capital fund in Palo Alto, Calif., that invests primarily in early-stage technology business in the Bay Area.

"I report directly to the founder, Michael Dearing, and my job consists mostly of screening new companies and helping existing companies with their products, go-to-market strategies, hiring and fundraising," he says.

Marrinan moved back to his native California after graduation to take a position with Disney’s Corporate Strategy Group. The opportunity was rare for someone fresh out of college. He was one of about 20 professionals tasked with identifying and acquiring growth businesses for Disney and articulating Disney’s long-term strategic vision. While at Disney, he anchored the team that ultimately sold Miramax to a consortium of investors and helped ESPN and ABC Networks develop long-term strategies for monetizing their content online.

“The creative yet rigorous thinking taught in Princeton’s humanities departments, combined with the technical skills afforded by the program in finance, has allowed me to excel in these positions,” Marrinan says.

As an undergraduate, Marrinan was thrilled to have had the opportunity to form close personal and academic relationships with some of the foremost minds in literary criticism, philosophy and creative writing.

During his sophomore year, he and a friend founded the Princeton Gaelic Society to promote awareness of what he calls “the Irish literary genius.” Marrinan, who holds dual Irish and American citizenship, worked closely with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and professor Paul Muldoon, Howard G.B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities, to serve as a liaison between Muldoon’s Fund for Irish Studies and the student body at large.

The high school scholar athlete from Calabasas, Calif., knew he wanted competitive sports to be a part of his college life. A big reason Marrinan chose to come to Princeton is because of sprint football, a varsity sport for players who weigh 165 pounds or less. (The sport was eliminated in 2016.)

There are only five sprint football teams in the nation and Princeton plays them all, even traveling to play Navy on the historic field at Annapolis, Md. Marrinan didn’t mind that Navy usually crushed Princeton; he just enjoyed the experience of high-level athletics and all the great people he met on the team.

“The sprint football team doesn’t recruit at all, which makes for an interesting, eclectic mix of people,” says Marrinan. “There are people talking quantum mechanics.”

A self-described “beach boy” who also races motorcycles avocationally, Marrinan says he was convinced to move to New Jersey by a friend who was already at Princeton. “He absolutely sold me,” says Marrinan, who was particularly impressed by the University’s strong undergraduate focus. Now he understands why his friend was so insistent.