William A. Porter

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William A. Porter
Occupation Founder and Chairman Emeritus
Employer E*TRADE Financial Corp.

William A. Porter was the founder, former chief executive officer, chairman emeritus, and board member of E*TRADE Financial Corp., a financial services firm that combines brokerage, banking and lending. Porter also was a founder (with Marty Averbuch, David Krell and Gary Katz) of the International Securities Exchange, founded in 2000. He also served on its board of directors and executive committee, and was its first board chairman. He died on October 14, 2015, at the age of 86.[1]

In the photo at right, taken in 2005, Porter is being presented with the Billy Adams Award at Adams State College in Colorado. The Billy Adams Award recognizes those committed to Adams State College and its continual growth. Porter and his wife, Joan, donated 250,000 shares in E*TRADE Financial Corp, stock to the Adams State College Foundation. Valued at approximately $5.8 million, this gift brought the foundation's endowment to a total of $14.3 million.[2]

Porter donated $4.6 million worth of stock in E*TRADE to Adams State College, primarily to improve computer inter-connectivity. He also donated large portions of his fortune to businesses and nonprofits benefiting organic farming, recreation and community building on the north shore of Kauai, the Hawaiian island where he lived.

He is the subject of the book Ten Things I Learned from Bill Porter, written by Shelly Brady, Porter's former assistant.[3]


During World War II, Porter dropped out of high school to join the Navy but was expelled when it came out that he was only 16. He re-enlisted as soon as he was old enough and served a tour of duty. He completed his undergraduate degree in three years while working nights as a crew dispatcher on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, going on to work at the National Bureau of Standards, General Electric and Textron Corporation. He also worked on top secret military projects, he told CNN. [4]

Before founding E*Trade, he held numerous senior management positions, including chairman of Trelleborg Rubber Company; president of Tretorn Shoes; and president of Commercial Electronics Inc.[5]

Porter served as E*Trade Group Inc.'s president until October 1993 and CEO, CFO, treasurer and secretary until March 1996. He was the founder of Trade*Plus (subsequently named E*TRADE Group Inc.), serving as chairman of the board from E*Trade Group Inc.'s inception until December 1998. He also founded E*TRADE Securities, Inc. in 1992.


Porter held 14 patents, having developed a number of electronic devices and processes. These include the first shoulder-mounted backpack broadcast color TV camera; the first electronic diesel-electric locomotive check-out system; the first infrared horizon sensor for satellite stabilization and several other breakthroughs still in use today in a variety of fields.[6]


Porter has a B.A. from Adams State College in Alamosa, Colorado, an M.S. in Physics from Kansas State University, and an M.B.A. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a Sloan Fellow.


  1. He was for the community. The Garden Island.
  2. Adams State alumnus gives $5.8 million for science and math scholarships. Adams State College.
  3. Ten Things I Learned from Bill Porter (Hardcover). Amazon.com.
  4. He was for the community. The Garden Island.
  5. William A. Porter Executive Profile. Bloomberg.
  6. "History of Leadership William A. Porter". International Securities Exchange.