Initiative to Boost SoCal’s Startup Scene Teams With GV Founder

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another’s opportunity. It has historically been a problem for the local technology ecosystem, but all the seeds are here.

“There is a unique opportunity in Southern California which stems from the concentration of world-class research institutions and universities, opportunity to build a vibrant venture community, and individuals who have an entrepreneurial spirit,” Maris continued. “But at the end of the day, anything I can do to speed the transfer of technology from the lab into the real world where it can help people is something I am interested in doing.”

So far, the San Diego-based Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine has joined the alliance, along with seven Southern California research universities: The California Institute of Technology; UC San Diego; University of Southern California; UCLA; UC Irvine; UC Santa Barbara; and UC Riverside. The alliance also has entered into a collaboration agreement with EvoNexus, the pro bono tech incubator based in San Diego and Irvine, CA.

Steve Poizner (photo used with permission)

Steve Poizner

In a statement last week, the Alliance said it also has engaged on a pro bono basis the Boston Consulting Group, a management consulting firm where Poizner worked, to assess the relative strength of Southern California’s innovation economy.

To strengthen the Alliance itself, Poizner has enlisted Eric Schmidt, the former Google CEO now serving as executive chairman at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, and Oracle vice chairman Jeff Henley to serve as strategic advisers on best practices and lessons learned from the Bay Area. The Silicon Valley lawyer Larry Sonsini, CalPERS chief investment officer Ted Eliopoulos, and Gene Sykes, a Goldman Sachs managing director in Los Angeles, have also joined the advisory committee.

Aside from Poizner, the Alliance board of directors includes Irwin Jacobs, Qualcomm’s founding chairman and emeritus CEO; Michael Yanover, head of business development at the Los Angeles sports and talent agency CAA; Marc Stern, chairman of the Los Angeles asset management firm TCW Group; Scott Wolfe, a partner in the Latham and Watkins law firm’s San Diego office; Thomas Gewecke, chief digital officer of Warner Bros. Entertainment; and Sherry Lansing, the former Paramount CEO who served as a Qualcomm board member for 10 years.

As a serial entrepreneur, Poizner’s big deal occurred in 2000 when Qualcomm paid $1 billion to acquire San Jose, CA-based SnapTrack, a GPS software technology startup he founded with Norman Krasner. After Qualcomm acquired his educational technology startup EmpoweredU in 2014, Poizner said he moved to San Diego with his wife, working initially as a senior vice president with Qualcomm’s emerging business portfolio, and later on the startup selection committee for EvoNexus (San Diego’s nonprofit tech incubator) and at UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management.

“I’ve gotten a really good sense of the startup world in San Diego and Southern California, and to be able to compare that with Silicon Valley,” Poizner said by phone last week. He contends that Silicon Valley’s big companies, like Google, Apple, and Facebook, make it a tough place for startups to thrive.

Poizner also has demonstrated an abiding interest in politics. He was elected in 2007 to a four-year term as state insurance commissioner, and ran as a Republican for California governor in 2010. He lost in the Republican primary to Meg Whitman, who then fell to Jerry Brown. Last year, Poizner supported Ohio Governor John Kasich’s presidential campaign.

Poizner said he’s now campaigning to boost the startup ecosystem from Santa Barbara to San Diego because he enjoys “spearheading big/bold positive change.” He wrote in a recent e-mail, “I do all of the work here as a volunteer, and have no/zero financial interest.”

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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