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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Transaction Network Services Named Entrepreneur of the Year by Rensselaer

November 8, 2002

Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Transaction Network Services Named Entrepreneur of the Year by Rensselaer

Troy, N.Y. — John J. McDonnell Jr. ’61, founder, chairman, and CEO of Transaction Network Services (TNS) in Reston, Va., was named the 2002 William F. Glaser ’53 Rensselaer Entrepreneur of the Year by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. McDonnell’s company is one of the world’s leading providers of fast, reliable data communications services for transaction-oriented applications.

McDonnell was honored by the Paul J. ’69 and Kathleen M. Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship at Rensselaer’s Lally School of Management and Technology at a breakfast meeting this morning in the Heffner Alumni House. He delivered a keynote address to Rensselaer students, faculty, staff, and the community during the event.

“Jack McDonnell is a superb exemplar of the entrepreneurial spirit,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “We note with pride that his achievements model well that hallmark of a Rensselaer education: the application of science to the common purposes of life.”

McDonnell founded TNS in 1990, and quickly developed the company’s main service of providing high-speed, secure electronic fund transfer for credit card transactions. Today, TNS’ secure and efficient proprietary network connects the credit card-swiping machines of 300,000 merchants to the corporations that verify credit accounts. It commands 70 percent of the U.S. market in its sector, and continues to grow its presence overseas. In addition to facilitating credit and debit card transactions, it transports transactions for health care and authorization services, telephone calling card authorizations, inventory control, and automated financial exchange.

After spending the decade building TNS and its network, McDonnell sold it to Internet service provider PSINet in 1999, and purchased it back again in 2001. His success with TNS and in the industry has been the subject of numerous articles in various media outlets, among them the Washington Post,, and Washington Business Forward magazine.

Immediately prior to launching TNS, McDonnell was president and CEO of Digital Radio Network Inc., an access bypass carrier for point-of-sale transactions. He also served as group vice president for the Information Technologies and Telecommunications Group of the Electronic Industries Association, and helped found the Electronic Transfer Association, on whose board he currently serves. He was the recipient of KPMG Peat Marwick LLP’s High Tech Entrepreneur Award and sits on the boards CyberSource, Ecutel, and InteliData.

McDonnell graduated from Manhattan College with a bachelor’s of science degree in electrical engineering, and earned his master’s degree in electrical engineering from Rensselaer in 1961. For his master’s project at Rensselaer, he built a mechanical computer that solved Boolean equations.

Established in 1990 by 1953 Rensselaer graduate William F. Glaser, the Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes successful entrepreneurs and role models. The program also brings the world of entrepreneurship into Rensselaer classrooms so honorees can share wisdom, experience, and encouragement with students. Past winners include Paul Severino ’69, founder and chairman of Bay Networks; William Mow ’59, founder of Bugle Boy Industries; and Nancy Mueller, founder of Nancy’s Specialty Foods.

Contact: Caroline Jenkins
Phone: (518) 276-6531
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Reeve Hamilton
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Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.