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    Paul Folino, Orange County tech executive and philanthropist, dies at 75
    • October 16, 2023

    Paul F. Folino, a longtime tech executive and philanthropist in Orange County, died after battling cancer. He was 75.

    Raised in poverty in Seattle, Folino would go on to make a fortune in computer networking technology, working for Xerox in the 1970s and eventually as chief executive of Emulex Corp. in Costa Mesa.

    Emulex, notably, fought off a hostile takeover by tech giant Broadcom in 2009, and was bought six years later for $609 million by Avago Technologies – the same company that acquired Broadcom for $37 billion.

    Folino spun his own fortune into contributions to local causes. He gave and raised money for a broad range of causes including Orange County Performing Arts Center, South Coast Repertory, the Mind Institute, Project Tomorrow, Chapman University and Cal State Fullerton.

    Considered a rainmaker for his ability to land seven-figure donations, Folino and his wife in 2009 were honored with the Spirit of Philanthropy Lifetime Achievement Award.

    Daranne Folino told the Register that Folino “grew up with nothing.”

    “He truly believes he’s been extremely fortunate and blessed and wants to give back,” she said at the time.

    Giving back meant helping Cal State Fullerton expand its College of Business and Economics – even if Folinio never attended the school.

    Professor Anil Puri, who was dean of the university’s business school from 1998 through 2016, recalled Folino responding to requests in the early 2000s for help with the school’s fundraising. Puri noted that while Folino was not a Fullerton graduate, the CEO had discovered he had many employees and people in his personal circle who had gotten business degrees from Fullerton.

    Puri said that Folino not only contributed, but he became an active advocate for the entire university within the Orange County community. The school honored the donor by renaming the street next to the new business school building “Folino Drive”.

    Folino’s donation, Puri says, “was not his biggest contribution, his biggest help was bringing other people on board.”

    One of Folino’s tactics was to enlist the help of celebrities.

    For example, actor Kevin Costner, a CSUF alumnus, made a fundraising video and hosted dinners at his homes in Santa Barbara and Hollywood.

    Or when Chapman University needed money to build out its film school, Folino persuaded Arnold Schwarzenegger to throw pre-release screenings of his movies “Collateral Damage” and “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.”

    Education meant a lot to Folino. His Folino’s parents never finished high school. His two brothers didn’t go to college.

    Folino got to go to Central Washington University on a basketball scholarship. He majored in psychology, sociology and political science. He then earned a master’s in business administration in organizational behavior at Seattle University in 1970.

    After graduation, he went to Xerox Corp., where he volunteered to join the copier company’s early foray into computer networking. He left Xerox in 1984 to build and sell two tech companies before joining Emulex in 1993.

    When he arrived, Emulex was worth $19 million on Wall Street and had no money in the bank. When it was sold 22 years later, its value had grown 30-fold.

    Folino also served as chairman of another local tech company, Landtronix, as well as heading the board of directors at Commercial Bank of California and NCAL Bancorp.

    Much of Folino’s giving focused on forwarding the lives of children.

    He told the Register in 2006 that he would take prospective contributors to the 13th floor of the Performing Arts Center where they could look down on all the buses delivering thousands of youngsters to see a live show.

    “When I start really glowing inside is when I see these kids,” Folino said. “The next Paul Folino is going to come out of that group because I know that’s where I come from.”

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    ​ Orange County Register