In addition to getting insights on all of the most relevant issues in unified communications and collaboration, Vyoptaverse guests will have an up-close encounter with two of the leading thinkers on international business and finance, sharing their views on prospects for the post-pandemic world.
The Expert Fireside Chat session at 3:30 p.m. CDT on May 25 will bring Saemin Ahn, managing partner of Rakuten Ventures, and Haim Zaltzman, partner with Latham & Watkins LLP into a conversation moderated by Vyopta CEO Alfredo Ramirez. As expert investors, Ahn and Zaltzman bring a global perspective to the gathering and will discuss global trends that will impact companies of all sizes as they adapt to the aftermath of the challenges presented over the past year plus.
While leading Rakuten Ventures, Ahn works out of Singapore and works on behalf of the Japan-based e-commerce giant in search of investment opportunities with beneficial deal structures, while also mentoring young entrepreneurs working to grow their companies. To date, Rakuten Ventures has focused on sectors such as advertising, artificial intelligence, and on-demand business technologies.
As of earlier this year Rakuten’s fund was $285 million total, with 24 total portfolio companies and a typical investment stake of $1 million to $10 million.
Zaltzman has some of the most sophisticated and educated views on business finance. He has been featured by Bloomberg, CNBC and CFO Magazine, and through his career has focused primarily on technology and healthcare-related private equity, growth equity and emerging growth debt transactions.
One of the trends Zaltzman has paid close attention to is the move startup companies are making toward taking advantage of debt products as a way to fuel growth rather than trading equity to access more funding. In recent talks Zaltzman has identified four primary categories of growth debt: venture-backed debt, structured debt, royalty-based financing, and any other debt taken on by companies that aren’t yet cash flow positive.
Zaltzman sees the current availability of capital as one of the biggest causes for the rise in growth debt deals, with the venture capital world slowly growing used to financial products that have long been favored by private equity companies, especially for startups that are headed for an initial public offering.
Ahn has said recently that the pandemic acted as an accelerant for long-term business plans, which is a trend seen in the UC world as companies moved en masse to UCaaS platforms last spring during the shift to remote work. Some of the lasting effects he expects to see, especially among startups, is more scrutiny on operational expenses to improve cash flow by lowering burn rate, and renegotiating every deal possible since, “having cash in the bank is far more interesting than it has ever been.”
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Chad Swiatecki is a business writer and journalist whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Billboard, New York Daily News, Austin Business Journal, Austin American-Statesman and many other print and online publications. He lives in Austin, Texas and is a graduate of Michigan State University. Find him online on LinkedIn.