Meet the Team: Steve Götz

Q&A with Silicon Foundry’s Coverage Partner

What were you doing just prior to joining Silicon Foundry?

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In 2015 I became Employee #1 of Pivotus Ventures, a company builder/venture studio created by Umpqua Bank to reimagine the role of community banks in the 21st Century and build the necessary digital capabilities to enable that vision. Over the course of three years, we created an environment in Silicon Valley where a trail-blazing group of 40+ team members and an international consortium of banks came together to collaboratively solve shared problems and explore new opportunities.

Pivotus Engage (our first product) was a platform that enabled mid-market, customer-obsessed community banks to provide their clients with a dedicated financial concierge. In 2018 Pivotus was acquired by Kony, a leading digital banking platform, and Engage become a core pillar of their push into customer engagement.

How’d you choose this role for your next professional adventure?

I spent most of 2018 listening to, visiting with and being part of a conversation with 200+ senior executives, VC’s, entrepreneurs and policymakers across the globe and across verticals on one primary topic: how do they remain relevant to their current and future stakeholders?

What I heard over and over again was a burning desire among executives to move beyond the hype around “innovation,” “disruption,” and “transformation.” Time and again I heard CEO’s express a sincere desire to reinvent their businesses to the core, but they frequently cited a disconnect between the prevailing ideas, methodologies and resources, and the pressing demands to create shareholder value by accelerating the process of going from idea, to scale, to impact.

All of these conversations suggested a screaming opportunity for an unbiased entity that:

  • Creates an environment for corporations where ideas are valued, risks are encouraged and learnings are shared
  • Helps corporations make sense of the complex ecosystems (startups, universities, investors, service providers) that they operate within
  • Brings world-leading expertise around the most interesting and important commercial problems they are facing

When I met Silicon Foundry CEO Neal Hansch and team, I found all of those things and more. I’ve been here for two months and truly believe Silicon Foundry is amazing platform to help corporations create new forms of value while also de-risking the future.

What’s your “super power” that you bring to the team?

I used to be embarrassed to admit that I’ve had a non-linear career. Across my twenty five years of experience, there is one universal theme: engaging with corporations in industries that are undergoing some form of transformation, and advising them how best to use emerging technology to maintain and further enhance customer relevance.

I’ve done this in a range of industries (Music, Oil & Gas, Financial Services) in a variety of roles (Investor, Entrepreneur, Corporate Executive, University Researcher). Turns out if you do this enough, at a certain point you start to develop a “super power” for spotting industry fault lines as well as emerging opportunities and the recurring pain points (regardless of vertical) as corporates pursue said opportunities.

What are you focused on in your role?

If there’s anything the last twenty five years has taught me, it’s that corporations can learn a great deal from other peers operating in different verticals. It seems obvious, but based upon observation, we don’t do it nearly enough.

We tend to spend the majority of our time in neatly constructed vertical silos, which are quickly crumbling. When an entrepreneur looks for opportunities to disrupt, they often find them at the edges between verticals and seemingly disparate macro-trends. Corporations have never been better positioned to do the same thing.

Every organization is in a race to be relevant to their current and future customers. Collaboratively learning and exchanging ideas with non-competitive organizations is one of the most impactful ways I know of to proactively shape the future vs. passively react to it.

I’m most excited about working with our Members to explore these kinds of opportunities to catalyze learning and shared values.

In terms of sector expertise, I’ve spent the past several years in Financial Services, so this is a natural area for me to focus on. Financial Services tends to pervade every part of a consumer’s life — and no matter what industry you’re in — connected commerce ties everything together.

What’s a particular example of a great corporate innovation or transformation process that you’ve seen in your past work?

I am fascinated by AAA’s digital transformation strategy. Few would disagree that Automobile Clubs are facing their own ‘Kodak Moment.’ A few years ago AAA Northern California hired a new CEO who recognized this existential threat and committed to reinvesting a significant percent of revenues towards reinvention.

Fast forward several years and the organization is investing in autonomous infrastructure and servicing, while also developing a bold strategy to pivot into connected homes, a fundamental reimagination of how AAA could maintain and further enhance customer relevancy in the 21st century. Recently AAA acquired one of the largest home security businesses in America, an asset which has become a core pillar of their connected home vision.

For me, this one transaction is a brilliant example of how corporations are increasingly comfortable stepping outside of their neatly defined verticals and creatively leveraging assets to build new customer experiences and enabling capabilities.

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