The financial chief of Yahoo told local technology entrepreneurs Wednesday that being passionate and offering unique and compelling services can put their Web-based startups on the path to success.
“You have to offer something that doesn’t already exist, something different and problem-solving,” said Ken Goldman, Yahoo’s recently hired CFO and a software industry veteran.
Goldman spoke to an overflow crowd of about 160 people, many involved in tech startups, at the Z80 Labs business incubator located at The Buffalo News. The attendees were seeking knowledge of the industry and advice on how to grow their ventures.
“It’s great to be able to give local entrepreneurs the opportunity to get information from someone who has this amount of experience and has worked in Silicon Valley,” said Dan Magnuszewski, chief principal innovator at the Z80 Labs.
Goldman detailed his career and touched on different areas of the technology industry, including funding startups. Ideas that stand out and serve a need tend to get the attention of prospective investors, he said.
Goldman was the fourth presenter in the Z80 Labs speaker series, which began in July and aims to connect local tech entrepreneurs with veterans of the industry.
“This way we can bring Silicon Valley to Buffalo and bring New York City to Buffalo, so local entrepreneurs can have access to their knowledge and experience without having to travel to those places,” Magnuszewski said. He added that Goldman’s talk attracted the largest crowd to date for the series.
Martin Babinec, founder of Upstate Venture Connect, interviewed Goldman, who then took questions from the audience.
Goldman, who was hired last October by Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer, has more than 30 years in the financial management side of the industry, and served as CFO of Fortinent, a maker of computer security software, and of Siebel Systems, which makes business software.
He encouraged the crowd to be innovative in areas of the tech field that have the potential for growth.
“The key is finding areas where there aren’t a lot of activities going on,” he said.
About a half-dozen of the Z80 Labs startups are going to New York City in April to make pitches before representatives from SoftBank Capital, Union Square Ventures and other leading venture-capital firms.
Jay Moeller, CEO of decision pace, a web service and community app store, located in the incubator, will be making the trip to New York. His company is three years old and is approaching its second round of funding and will be seeking investors. He said Goldman’s talk, especially the parts about getting funded, resonated.
“He spoke about getting good investors, who will care about the company,” Moeller said. “Good investors will make sure the company does well.”
Goldman’s visit also included a stop at Yahoo’s data center in the Town of Lockport, which opened in 2010.