Santa Monica, Meet Melbourne: The Montgomery Summit Goes Down Under
Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior reporter, covering venture capital. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks. Follow him on Twitter.
- The summit expects to attract 200 attendees with financial backers wielding $1 trillion in capital
- Venture investment in Australian startups grew from about $600 million in 2016 to $1.4 billion in 2018
- The Takeaway: The country is primed for growth, boasting world's No. 2 median wealth per adult, 13th-largest GDP, and hasn't been in a recession for nearly three decades.
Jamie Montgomery has never been against taking risks.
He's the longtime Santa Monica investment banker turned venture capitalist who once put up a faux road sign on a San Francisco freeway warning commuters that Silicon Valley was closed. Next to it was another billboard urging drivers to make a 380 mile U-turn to Santa Monica where he hosts an annual tech conference bearing his name.
The cheeky advertising ploy got plenty of buzz on social media. But, right now, Montgomery is focused on what's happening 8,000 miles away from California. Another gamble: The founder and managing director of March Capital Partners is returning to Australia for a second year to host a sort of mini Montgomery Summit Wednesday. Montgomery is expecting up to 200 attendees, four times as many as last year.
Jamie Montgomery, founder and managing director of March Capital Partners.
Courtesy March Capital Partners
"We had six billion [of capital] in the room last time we met," Montgomery said in an interview in Santa Monica before he departed. "I'll have close to a trillion dollars this year. If you have a trillion dollars in a room, you'll find something to do together."
Why Australia? He thinks the timing is right to financially connect L.A. money with Oz startups. The country boasts an impressive economy, the second largest median wealth per adult (trailing only Switzerland), the 13th-largest GDP, and has not experienced a recession in nearly three decades. Australia also is home to successful unicorns like enterprise software maker Atlassian, and job search engine Seek Ltd. Venture investment in Australian startups grew from about $600 million in 2016 to $1.4 billion in 2018, according to Crunchbase data.
"It's a particularly well-run country with about 30 years of growth," said Montgomery.
Australia also has personal resonance for Montgomery. His wife is Australian and his family regularly visits. He has also consulted for the country's government.
It is not a coincidence that the event coincides with the Australian Open tennis tournament, which is in its second week.
"You have this built in audience of investors and executives," Montgomery said. "It attracts an incredible number of interesting people who have nothing to do during the day when the tennis is at night."
The summit is also coinciding with a series of massive bushfires that have devastated the country, mostly in the southeast, where Melbourne is located. Montgomery said he considered cancelling the conference a few weeks ago, but ultimately decided to proceed.
"We made a donation to fire relief," Montgomery said. "And we'll do some more stuff when we're down there."
The program will open with Montgomery interviewing John Chambers, former executive chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems and now founder and CEO at JC2 ventures, about how to build an innovation economy. There are also panels on maintaining high paying jobs in the age of AI and how companies can protect themselves against foreign adversaries.
Montgomery is not sure yet whether he will make the Australia conference an annual event.
"It's going to be great, but it's a lot of work" he said.
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Julie Uhrman, Founder and President at WFC LA (Angel City)<p>Founder and president of Angel City, the consortium who received the rights from the NWSL to officially bring a women's soccer team to Los Angeles in 2022. </p><p>Uhrman was named head of media at Playboy in 2018 after serving as Lionsgate's GM of over-the-top ventures, overseeing the company's Tribeca Shortlist, Comic-Con HQ, Laugh Out Loud in partnership with Kevin Hart and Pantaya. </p><p>Prior to joining Lionsgate, Uhrman worked at VR vendor Jaunt as head of platform business development. She was the founder and CEO of OUYA, an Android-based game console for living room, which raised $8.6 million through Kickstarter and then went on to secure venture funding from Kleiner Perkins and Alibaba before the company was acquired by Razer in 2015. Previously Uhrman held executive roles in digital and game companies including IGN Entertainment and Vivendi Universal.</p>
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Kevin Demoff, Chief Operating Officer at Los Angeles Rams<p>Kevin Demoff is in his 11th year as chief operating officer with the Rams. In this capacity, Demoff serves as the team's top front office executive and liaison to owner and chairman, Stan Kroenke, on all organizational matters.</p><p>Demoff was recognized by the Sports Business Journal as one of its "Forty under 40" class members of 2016 and in 2010 he was named one of the "NFL's 10 Future Power Brokers" by Sports Illustrated.</p><p>Prior to joining the Rams, Demoff spent the previous four seasons (2005-08) with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he served as a consultant before being named senior assistant in 2006. In this capacity, Demoff assisted General Manager Bruce Allen in contract negotiations, salary cap management, strategic planning and both college and pro scouting. During his tenure with the Buccaneers, the team captured NFC South titles in 2005 and 2007 while posting a winning record in three of his four seasons.</p>
Ben Bergman, Senior Reporter at dot.LA
Ben Bergman, Senior Reporter at dot.LA<p>Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior reporter, covering venture capital. Previously he was a senior reporter/host at KPCC, a producer at Gimlet Media and NPR and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times. Bergman was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. He enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.</p>
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