Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
The Montgomery Summit (www.montgomerysummit.com), which kicked off on Wednesday, and continues today in Santa Monica, is one of the biggest gathering places for venture capital, private equity investors, and technology executives from around the globe. This year, speakers have included billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, former Cisco CEO John Chambers, Microsoft Ventures’ Peggy Johnson, Accenture CEO Julie Sweet, and many others. We caught up with Jamie Montgomery, who founded the conference and who is now a venture capitalist at March Capital Partners, to hear more about how his conference has managed to attract so [many] out of area investors, how he’s been working to make sure women entrepreneurs and executives are represented, and how things at March Capital have been going. The conference continues this morning with a session focused on Southern California’s venture community.
What’s going on this year at the conference?
Jamie Montgomery: We’re excited to have so many outstanding private companies here, especially in the areas of artificial intelligence, industry 4.0, and related areas that are really transforming larger enterprises. It’s really an opportunity for emerging private companies to work with larger companies as the economy continues to transform. Technology is now cutting across all industries, as you chronicle with your work, and it’s nice to meet the large enterprises, corporate venturing arms, the executives, as well as the venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs. What I’m really enjoying is the meshing of ideas, and those looking for real opportunities to deploy technology in both the near term and longer term.
You do a great job of getting venture capital and private equity investors here. What’s the secret in getting those investors to come down here to Southern California?
Jamie Montgomery: It’s our fifteenth year, and people love coming down to Southern California. They’ve made it a tradition, and we spend all year putting together a tremendous program for them. It’s as good a program as anywhere in the world, and the location helps, too. They also love coming down to see what’s going on in Southern California. Plus, they have a chance to see their colleagues and peers from around the world. There are 1200 people here, and they are from as far away as Singapore, Hong Kong, India, China, London, Berlin, Zurich. All over. We have presenting companies from 27 states in the United States. You could spent all year traveling all around the world to visit all these people and companies, or you can come to Santa Monica for 48 hours.
It looks like you made a special attempt to make sure that women were included, and to help on the whole area of diversity in this area of investing?
Jamie Montgomery: Yes, we really worked hard on that. I think that’s the secret to making sure you have diversity and inclusion, is you have to make a concerted effort. This is the fourth year we’ve had our program around the rising female entrepreneur, and we’ve invited over 30 women CEOs as presenting companies, and we have a number of keynotes. Julie Sweet, the CEO of Accenture North America had a keynote, and Peggy Johnson of Microsoft keynoted a bit later, and it’s funny because they passed each other at the Santa Monica airport as their private jets were coming and going. It’s great to have two high powered women execs like that here. We also had Sue Seigel, the Chief Innovation Officer at GE Ventures. We have over 240 women attending, and over 70 women speaking at the event. Tomorrow, we have another 400 women specifically attending our program for the rising female entrepreneur, and in addition we have 100 Millenial women entrepeneurs for 2 days going through private sessions on innovation and entrepreneurship.
Finally, how do you like the venture capital business, and how is March Capital doing?
Jamie Montgomery: March is doing great. We’ve had a handful of breakout companies, our investors are very happy with us. It’s really been a really successful transition for me over the past four years, coming up on five years. We’re quietly building a good firm. We’re very proud of our portfolio CEOs. Our strategy has been to get into a few good investments, and then double down on our winners. We have three companies that are worth over a billion dollars now, and I think our investors couldn’t be more thrilled. The investment strategy is working, and we’re having some fun. It’s nice to be here in LA.
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