Tom Keffer has worked as an oceanographer, a CEO of a public software company, an investor, and with non-profits.
After receiving his PhD from Oregon State University in 1980, he worked at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, first as a Postdoctoral Fellow, and then later as a member of their faculty, focusing on the oceanography of the oceans during the last ice age, and on how atmospheric gases get absorbed into the ocean. From 1985 to 1989 he was on the faculty of the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, again, focusing on climate studies. He is the author of thirteen refereed publications in journals such as Science, Nature, and the Journal of Marine Research, as well as the author of many technical reports and talks.
In 1989 he co-founded Rogue Wave Software, Inc, in Corvallis, Oregon, becoming its Chairman, President, and CEO. The company did an IPO on the NASDAQ exchange (sticker RWAV) in 1996, followed in 1997 by a secondary offering. He retired as CEO in 1998.
During the 2010s, he focused on angel and venture investing in Oregon-based companies. He was president of 1000 Friends of Oregon, a land-use advocacy organization. He also worked as an advisor to Mercy Corps on their economic development programs, an experience which took him to Indonesia, Gaza, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Mongolia, and other places. In his spare time he enjoys racing his J/42 sailboat.