Forum highlights Pittsburgh region’s ‘big deals’

This year’s group represents some of biggest funding, acquisitions winners here in ’13


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Business owners seeking strategies for game-changing mergers and record-breaking exits will have a chance to pick the brains of some of the region's most successful players.

The ups and downs of IPOs, major acquisitions and multimillion-dollar investment rounds will be outlined this evening by executives with firsthand experience during the Enterprise Forum Pittsburgh’s “Big Deals in the Region: Told by the People Who Made Them.”

Now in its third year, the forum has previously featured panels that include officials from Strip District-based 4moms, which raised $20 million in venture funds from Bain Capital in 2012; North Shore-based Cohera Medical, which raised $17 million in venture capital in 2008; and Downtown-based AllPoint Systems, which was acquired for an undisclosed figure in 2013 by San Rafael, Calif.-based Autodesk.

Moderated and co-organized by Raul Valdes-Perez, co-founder and former CEO of Squirrel Hill optimized search company Vivisimo, this year’s panel will feature Christine Robins of Downtown-based BodyMedia, Glen Meakem of Downtown-based Forever, John Irvin of North Huntingdon 3-D printing manufacturer ExOne, and Martin Barkman of Downtown-based SmartOps.

The group represents some of the region’s biggest winners in terms of funding and acquisitions in 2013, with body monitoring company BodyMedia’s $100 million acquisition by San Francisco wearable technology company Jawbone last May; supply chain management company SmartOps’ acquisition by Walldorf, Germany-based SAP in February 2013; cloud-based storage site Forever.com’s December Series B round of $8.6 million; and ExOne’s February 2013 initial public offering that raised $95 million.

The forum is picking up steam during a time when the region’s technology companies are coming off of five years of solid exits.

According to a report by South Side-based state investment program Innovation Works, since 2009 the Pittsburgh region has seen 34 IPOs or acquisitions totaling more than $3 billion. Last year’s eight exits represented a slight dip from 2012, which saw 11 transactions among regional tech companies. However, the first regional IPO since 2010 helped the region’s tech companies amass a total of $638 million in deals and exits for the year.

“This is a showcase of successes in the region of sorts,” said Reed McManigle, event co-organizer and senior manager of Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise. “This is an opportunity to see we’re a solid region economically and to feel good about ourselves. Good things are happening,” he said.

Mr. Valdes-Perez, who oversaw Vivisimo when it was bought by IBM for an undisclosed figure in April 2012, said panelists offer insights that go beyond snagging the actual big deal to discuss the preliminary process of making the right connections and the aftermath of making the most out of any infusion of funding.

Most importantly, he said, entrepreneurs will learn how successful small businesses readied themselves for big deals by focusing on their own internal goals.

“Our company took all of its exit signs down to drive home the idea that we’re building a company and building value and the exit will come if we do the right things,” he said.

Registration for the forum runs from 5:30 to 6:30 at 11 Stanwix St., Downtown. General admission is $45, and student admission is $20. For more information, visit www.enterpriseforumpittsburgh.com.


Deborah M. Todd: dtodd@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1652. Twitter: @deborahtodd.

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