Alliance Voices, South Bay Alliance Leaders Share Business and Life Stories

Date: Friday, March 02, 2018
Location: Santa Clara

Alliance members gained valuable insight from the collective wisdom of our community at the March 2nd South Bay Regional meeting. They were treated to four “Alliance Voices” presentations that ranged on topics from cryptocurrency investment strategy to public relations crisis management. The insights from the presenting Alliance members provided thought-provoking perspectives into the personal experience of being CEO, as well as the cutting-edge trends they see on the horizon.

In his presentation "The New World of Cryptocurrency,Bill Barhydt, CEO & Founder of ABRA, began by describing the changes consumers are experiencing as they invest in cryptocurrencies. Recognizing that technological advances often come with uncertainty, Barhydt described an information gap that is inhibiting the adoption of wider cryptocurrency investment and exchange. He saw an opportunity to make cryptocurrency investing more consumer-friendly, and his app ABRA is the catalyst to that change. ABRA allows users to buy, store and invest in 20 cryptocurrencies. Innovations like ABRA in the cryptocurrency space signal the growing possibilities that the future of currency holds.

Up next, John De Santis, CEO of HyTrust, a cloud-based information technology company specializing in security, described the Alliance as the “AA for CEOs.” In his presentation, "True Stories of Two Company Exits, and a Difficult Personal Journey,” De Santis shared his story of business and personal crisis—and his recovery. After losing his son, De Santis sold his first company to Symantec. He later went on to sell his second startup to VMWare. Today, while leading HyTrust, he describes a balance through the ups and downs, and a deeper discovery of joy in his work.

Next was John Paul, CEO of VenueNext, with a talk titled "Virtual Currency - Changing the Sports Season Ticket Experience.” Paul outlined how entertainment venues host a huge number of people and provide a large variety of services. He pointed out that these people and services are heavily siloed. This situation missed the opportunity to maximize the value that venues offer their customers. Paul created VenueNext to integrate existing services and enhance the event-goer experience. For example, the platform allows event-goers to scan tickets, order food, purchase merchandise and accrue loyalty points. There’s even a Food Find Me feature that allows venues to find their guests’ exact location and deliver their orders.

In “Landing the Plane,” Christy Wyatt, CEO of Dtex Systems, described what she learned after being painted as “the most hated person in tech” because of her role as CEO of Good Technology in 2015. The Unicorn startup board passed on an $800 million dollar offer in early 2015, experienced further setbacks, and ended up selling to Blackberry for $425 million later that year. The hardest part was the unintentional damage to the value of her employees’ stock options. As she sees it, the takeaway from this experience was akin to “landing a plane.” As the CEO of a Unicorn startup navigates the turbulent skies, they need to find the emergency exits before the fire, recognize that things are not always what they seem, and operate as though they are going to be sued. As she puts it, “run your business clean.” She urged the group to educate employees on how to responsibly manage their stock options.

The gathered CEOs left the room not only abuzz with new ideas, but also with a palpable sense of the humanizing connection that can exist between CEOs who candidly share their perspectives. It is this mixing and interweaving of ideas in which Alliance members find so much value.

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