Santa Barbara tech companies raised nearly $300 million in venture capital in 2018, and just a few years before our region was ranked in a nationwide Martin Prosperity Institute and Thomson-Reuters study as the 4th best for startup capital.

We’ve had some of the most notable IPOs of the past years – Inogen, Appfolio, The Trade Desk and Sonos. And now we’re seeing mergers and acquisitions: Hewlett Packard buys Eucalyptus; LinkedIn buys, Amazon buys Graphiq.

Heike Schirmer, a returning board member of the MIT Enterprise Forum and a manager at Amazon was our moderator for an evening discussing the ins and outs of M&A with Daniel Lender, CFO, QAD, Kevin O’Connor, venture capitalist at ScOp and founder of Graphiq and Mike Pugh, M&A veteran from nearly two-decades at j2 Global. They were joined by Camilo Becdach, Partner, McKinsey & Co.

Traditionally, companies have acquired other companies that are similar to their own organization to drive synergies. However, this has changed; today, technology is the number one driver for merger & acquisition (M&A) deals. Companies are acquiring others to pursue technology assets or digital strategies they do not possess themselves and to keep them away from competitors. For startups, this provides a unique opportunity since being acquired is one of the most favorable exit strategies.

But how to find the right partner? How to look attractive as a start-up to be considered as a target? What comes after Day 1? How to make an integration culturally successful?

This MIT forum will shed light on tech acquisitions. It brings together M&A experts and experienced buyers and sellers to explore success factors in the M&A space and how to manage successfully through an acquisition.


  • Kevin O’Connor, Entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist
  • Mike Pugh, Tech Industry Leader, Mergers & Acquisitions Veteran
  • Daniel Lender, CFO, QAD Santa Barbara

About the Speakers

Kevin O’Connor, Entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist

Kevin O’Connor is a serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist at ScOp Venture Capital, and the former CEO of Graphiq – a data aggregation and visualization company that got acquired by Amazon in 2017. Kevin’s earliest tech entrepreneurial endeavor was DoubleClick, an internet advertising technology company that he started in 1995. DoubleClick was acquired by Google in 2007 for $3.1 billion. Prior to DoubleClick, Kevin founded and served as the vice president of research for Cincinnati-based Intercomputer Communications Corporation (ICC), which was acquired by DCA in 1992. When Kevin is not building his own companies, he is investing in companies such as Procore, Internet Security Systems,, HotJobs, and MeetUp.

Mike Pugh, Tech Industry Leader, Mergers & Acquisitions Veteran

Mike Pugh is a tech industry leader and M&A veteran. As part of the founding team at eFax (NASDAQ:EFAX), and later as a GM and head of marketing at j2 Global (NASDAQ: JCOM), he built a highly-profitable $300M SaaS business and worked on more than 50 M&A deals. Next, Mike ran the collaboration business at RingCentral (NASDAQ:RNG). Now he advises on change management, leadership development, and reorganizations with a focus on marketing and product teams in his work with Radical Candor. Pugh got his BS in Marketing from Cal Poly and his MS in Systems Management from USC.


Daniel Lender, CFO, QAD Santa Barbara

Daniel is the CFO of the Santa Barbara based technology company QAD. As CFO, Daniel is responsible for helping shape QAD’s financial strategy. Daniel joined QAD as Treasurer in 1998, after nine-years with Republic National Bank of New York. Daniel earned an MBA from Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and a BS in Applied Economics and Business Management from Cornell University.



This program will be moderated by Heike Schirmer.

Heike is a Product Manager for Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa where she is focusing on international expansion. She came to Amazon via the acquisition of Graphiq, a Santa Barbara based start-up, where Heike was Director of Product focusing on new products and new markets. Before Graphiq, Heike was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company in Los Angeles, Berlin, and Munich. She consulted tech and public sector clients on organizational and strategic topics.

Heike obtained a PhD from the Free University Berlin, Germany, in the area of Social Entrepreneurship focusing on cross-sector partnerships. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Physics from the Technical University in Munich, Germany.

Event Details

When:  Wednesday, February 20, 2019, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Where: 670 Mission Canyon Rd., Santa Barbara, CA 93105

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