Interview with Executive Committee from TechCouncil of Southern California

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Yesterday the SIIA Software & Services Division (SSD) announced that is has acquired the Technology Council of Southern California (TCOSC). As a chapter of SSD, the Tech Council will provide events, networking, information and resources to help companies in LA and Orange Counties grow and succeed.

Since its founding in 1991, TCOSC has a long history of supporting technology companies throughout the region with the support of a strong executive committee. It was with the guidance of those executive committee members that TCOSC decided to relaunch as a part of SSD. I had a chance to sit down and talk with those executive committee members; Uri Blackman, CEO, GIDEON Informatics and Chairman of TCOSC; Feyzi Fatehi, CEO, Corent Technology and SSD Board Member; Richard Neff, Partner, Neff Law Firm; and Rick Sharga, CMO, Ten-X.

See my interview below and hear how the deal came to be, what it means for TCOSC and SSD, and why Southern California companies should be excited about the new Council. For more information on TCOSC and SSD membership contact me or Valerie Forbai.


Rhianna: Uri, the Tech Council has been around since 1991, why did you decide it was time to make a change and look towards a strategic partner?

Uri: Our long time executive director decided to move on and we were faced with a choice of hiring a new executive director, or seeking an experienced partner that could push our vision forward more effectively. SIIA was a match made in heaven. They have a long history of supporting technology companies nationally. They have lots of experience with running events at a national level and were looking to expand at the local level. Southern California’s booming tech scene made sense as the first step for them to make a mark.


Rhianna: Feyzi, you are also a member of the SSD Board of Directors. Why did you feel SSD was the best match for the relaunch of the Council?

Feyzi: At the executive committee members of the Tech Council, we assessed possible synergies with some top notch local, state, and national organizations. We found SIIA’s SSD organization to have the best fit due to congruity of our common objectives to enrich the technology community, promote innovation and fostering robust business environment by sharing best emerging practices and expose members to both career and business growth.  


Rhianna: Why did you decide to remain an active member of the board?

Richard: I guess you could make a somewhat tenuous military analogy: sometimes you’ll do for your fellow soldiers or peer group what you might not do for yourself: a core group of 4 Board members, who always saw value in the TechCouncil, came together and supported each other, to try to preserve something that had both value and importance.  In a sprawling and diverse region, like Los Angeles and Orange County, the TechCouncil was a haven for those seeking information (e.g., good programming) about the tech/ecommerce/media sector, or seeking jobs, or seeking funding for a startup (via VentureNet).  It was a meeting place and more, good for networking by tech executives and all of the professions that support them.  During a few years when it was operationally dormant for personal reasons, the Region lost something. 

Rick: I thought that the Technology Council provided benefits to its members that simply weren't available elsewhere. It was my hope that we'd find a way to revive the organization, and be able to help support and grow the Southern California technology ecosystem.


Rhianna: What are you most excited about with regards to the new council?

Feyzi: As someone who has had the privilege of serving on the board of SSD along with executives from Cisco, Oracle, Red Hat, PWC, Deloitte, Accenture and other movers and shakers in the industry, as well as serving on the board of the TCOSC with similarly consequential companies in SoCal, I am excited that we are Broaden SSD’s Industry outreach to Southern California’s thousands of technology, media and E-Commerce companies as well as bridging the SoCal member companies to the wealth of resources and opportunities the SSD and its global members offer to any regional organization. The classic 1+1=3 approach!

Richard: It seems so much more resource rich than if the core group had just hired a new Executive Director and tried to merely replicate what had been done before.  Since we were and are all busy volunteers, it seems that we can do so much more with the great professional staff of SIIA/SSD, which already has impressed all of us.  Plus, there is a built-in membership, which eases the goal of reviving a great brand and organization.

Uri: I’m really excited about the renewed energy with our board and the amazing infrastructure that SIIA provides. Going through this process has reenergized us to push forward the original mission of the Tech Council. It has been a pleasure working together with the SIIA Software and Services Division team towards the relaunch of the tech council.

Rick: Honestly, what I'm most excited about is our relationship with the SIIA, and the resources it can bring to bear on behalf of the Technology Council. We'd been operating on a shoestring budget - largely supported by volunteers - and unable to invest in growing the organization. Having a stable, established entity like SIIA involved, with bits’ wealth of experience in managing and growing associations like ours, gives us a much stronger foundation to build on. Now we can focus more on creating networking and educational programs and events, and spend less time worrying about administrative issues.


Rhianna: Why should companies join the council?

Rick: First, we all need to support each other in the Southern California technology community, which is far more diverse - and much more widely dispersed - than other technology hubs. Joining the Technology Council is a visible and meaningful way to provide this support. But there are practical reasons too. Having a non-threatening, non-sales environment to network with other tech executives. Finding funding sources or strategic alliances if you're a start-up company, or access to emerging technologies if you're an established enterprise. Keeping your finger on the pulse of what's happening in the region, and across different tech segments. All sorts of reasons - and opportunities - for executives from tech companies and the professional service firms that support them.

Richard: The relevance of TechCouncil is really “now more than ever.”  The LA Region has become the major content provider for Silicon Valley, with all of the new campuses and businesses being established in Santa Monica, Venice, Playa Vista, El Segundo, and other parts of the Region.  Orange County always has been very strong in technology and software, and has plenty of games also.  But we’re still large and diffuse, without any Sand Hill Road to unify us.  The TechCouncil can play that role, you learn what’s going on, you meet the movers and shakers, and you have opportunities for personal growth, exposure, job opportunities and even funding.  It fills a void in this powerful Region which is always in the Top 3 metro areas in tech/ecommerce/media startups and venture funding, especially when you include content creation.

Uri: Southern California covers a large area with many technology companies in various clusters. The Tech Council provides a platform for connecting executives in Los Angeles and Orange County around subjects that matter to them. The events are high quality and relevant. The people involved are of high caliber. It’s a great way to stay connected with people you may work with in the future.

Feyzi: The Tech Council has been and will continue to be a premier forum for the region's technology leaders. As the saying goes, people fall into three categories, those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wondered what happened! For those who want to be in the first category (or even in the second category) and avoid the third one, I strongly suggest for them to join the Council! perhaps start by attending some of the upcoming meetings and decide how they can benefit by custom crafting their own engagement!

Rhianna Rhianna Collier is VP for the Software Division at SIIA. Follow the Software team on Twitter at @SIIASoftware.