During the holiday season, our tradition over the last few years has been to post reflections on the past year and some predictions from Southern California's "movers and shakers" in the technology industry. This morning, we have a contribution from investor and investment banker Peter Cowen of Sutton Capital Partners. Sutton Capital Partners is a technology investment banking firm and we are, investors in local SaaS/subscription companies and is well known as the host of the annual Recurring Revenue Conference.
What was the big news for you or your company this year?
It was a big year for us on multiple fronts—we had one of our best years in advising on both selling and raising capital for our clients. We also saw a few of our portfolio companies grow steadily, notably one that made a risky/painful pivot in 2016 that is just starting to show exciting results. Our annual conference—focused on educating our community on growing valuable tech enterprises-- set a record with over 500 attendees and our best attendee feedback to date.
What was the biggest personal lesson you learned from 2017?
To start the day earlier and value routine in the morning. After years I have finally embraced how a morning with a great breakfast, an interval-heavy workout and a time of reflection sets the tone for the day resulting in a markedly more focused, energetic and effective day. It also means going to bed earlier!
What are you looking forward to most in 2018?
I think next year will be a big year for tech M&A and we are excited to be immersed in it. Tech—and the markets overall--has enjoyed a surprisingly long stretch of prosperity. In many sectors, 2018 needs to be the time for many companies to either sell or make meaningfully aggressive moves to expand.
Are there any technology innovations, gadgets, devices, software that particularly caught your eye in 2017?
WhisperSync with Audible became a staple so I can read books at home and seamlessly continue to listen when I work out and travel. The attractive by-product is that I am reading more and working out more.
Finally, what is your prediction for what will have the biggest impact on the technology industry in 2018?
Overall I am optimistic for 2018. Certain sectors I see continuing to thrive, notably augmented reality, AI, big data and several areas of FinTech, deep infrastructure and cybersecurity. I continue to be surprised by some clever SoCal entrepreneurs who are creating out-of-the box companies that are opportunistic and reflect our market’s ingenuity. Also more serial founders are doing their second, third, even fourth companies.
One area with headwinds are non-mission critical SaaS niche solutions showing slower growth. We are seeing SaaS companies more and more are competing against other SaaS companies and experiencing more churn, price resistance and customer demand for customization. This is the natural maturation in these segments.
Peter Cowen is the founder of Sutton Capital Partners (www.suttoncapitalpartners.com), a technology investment bank focused on SaaS, FinTech, Infrastructure and tech-enabled outsourced business services. He is the co-founder of the Recurring Revenue Conference, the largest SoCal tech event focused on innovative business models. Peter cofounded three companies: Data Voice Solutions (computer networks), Biometric ID (biometric security) and TransDecisions (logistics optimization) that all had successful exits. He has been an angel investor in over 50 tech companies, is an LP in 5 seed funds and has served on over a dozen venture-backed boards. Peter has also been on the Faculty of UCLA Anderson for the past 10 years. He has a BA from University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from UCLA Anderson.