Founder and Managing Partner
Derek is a serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist with over 25 years of business building, operational, and investing experience in the technology, internet and digital media industries. Derek is the founder and managing general partner of the Watertower Ventures Early Access Fund, a seed and early stage venture capital fund investing in innovative entrepreneurs building products and services for the connected consumer. He is also the founder and managing partner of Watertower Group, an industry leading boutique investment bank advising technology, internet and digital media companies through a differentiated approach to fund raising and M&A. In his role at Watertower Group, Derek has advised over 200 companies including Widevine, ExtendMedia, Envivio, Riot Games and Machinima through their business building processes and has been an active investor for over 18 years. Prior to founding Watertower Group, Derek was a partner at Entertainment Media Ventures, a Michael Milken backed, $120 million seed and early stage venture capital fund focused on investments in the broadband infrastructure, consumer internet and digital media sectors. Before EMV, Derek founded both Jeffries Technologies, which became one of Inc. Magazine’s 500 fastest growing privately held U.S. companies, and Digital Boardwalk, which became Netscape’s second commercial application partner. Derek holds a BA in Communications from the University of Southern California and is a frequent speaker and panelist on the subjects of technology, consumer internet and venture capital. He serves on several corporate boards, and is an active advisor and mentor to numerous startups. Derek is the founder of the Innovators Collective, an ongoing event for entrepreneurs, investors and senior executives. He supports charities focused on improving the lives and education of under-privileged youths, is a former member of the board of directors of The Fulfillment Fund, and previously served as Vice President of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Contemporaries.
Advisory Committee Member
Jeremy Milken is CEO of Workspace.cc an industry leading real estate software as a service platform. Jeremy has over 15 years of operational and investment experience in the technology industry. Prior to WorkSpace, Jeremy was the founder and managing partner of Pinetree Capital Partners a technology focused investment firm. Prior to Pinetree, Jeremy was CEO of Medium Click an on-line lead generation company. Jeremy has also served as a Director in the Venture Capital Group of the Yucaipa Companies and as a Corporate Finance Associate at Warburg.
Advisory Committee Member
Barry Porter is a co-founder and a Managing General Partner of Clarity Partners. Mr. Porter began his professional career as an attorney at the Los Angeles firm of Wyman, Bautzer, Rothman Kuchel and Silbert. He moved to Wall Street in the mid-1980s as an investment banker with Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. Mr. Porter became a Senior Managing Director of Bear Stearns and amongst other responsibilities was co-head of the media and communications practice, head of the gaming industries group and an active participant in the firm’s high-yield activities. While at Bear Stearns Mr. Porter became involved in the private equity business and he joined Pacific Capital Group in late 1993 to help focus that firm’s media and telecommunications investment activities. Mr. Porter led Pacific Capital’s investment in OpTel, which he and his partners (including Clarity’s other co-founders David Lee, Rudy Reinfrank and Steve Rader) helped grow into the leading provider of competitive cable television services to large multi-dwelling units. While at Pacific Capital, Mr. Porter was a co-founder of Global Crossing and he was involved with many of that company’s early activities.
Michael E. Kassan, Chairman and CEO, is an internationally recognized business strategist operating at the intersection of the media, advertising and entertainment industries. He is the founder of MediaLink LLC, a leading Los Angeles- and New York City-based advisory and business development firm that provides critical counsel and direction on issues of marketing, advertising, media, entertainment and digital technology. MediaLink provides strategic marketing and brand development, implementation roadmaps, technology solutions for media, media sales and revenue generation, business development, organizational planning and competitive analysis to many of the Fortune 100’s biggest global brands.
Previously, Kassan was the President/COO and Vice-Chairman of Initiative Media Worldwide. In 1997, he was named one of the top media executives in America by Advertising Age Magazine. He joined Initiative Media Worldwide in 1994, and helped grow media billings from $1.5 billion to over $10 billion. Prior to Initiative, he was President and COO of International Video Entertainment (Artisan Entertainment).
Kassan is often called upon as a speaker and commentator to share his insights on the media and advertising industries, changes within them, growth, and the places in which tangible opportunities exist for marketers. He is a regular keynote speaker at the world’s major media conferences.
In addition, Kassan has served on the Board of the Hollywood Radio and Television Society, the Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy and the Cultural Affairs Commission – City of Los Angeles and has been Chairman of the State Senate Select Committee on the Entertainment Industry. Kassan is also a strong supporter of community and not-for-profit programs, and currently serves as Chair of the UJA-New York Marketing Communications Committee. He also plays an active role in children’s education and mentoring, having been involved in both the H.E.L.P. Group, a non-profit organization serving children with special needs, and the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program of Los Angeles.
Clark Landry is an entrepreneur and investor with several successful exits in the online advertising, enterprise software, and consumer internet sectors. Clark recently co-founded Maple Media, a private-equity-backed owner and operator of mobile applications. Prior to that, Clark was co-founder and executive chairman at SHIFT, a leading social media marketing platform, which was acquired by Brand Networks. Previously, Clark was co-founder and CEO at Minds & Machines (MMX.L), a publicly-traded company on the London AIM. Clark was co-founder of TagWorld, a social networking company that was acquired by Viacom, and a founding investor of Adconion Media Group, which was acquired by SingTel, Gradient X, a mobile DSP which was also acquired by SingTel, and Traffic Marketplace, a leading advertising network which was acquired by Vivendi. Clark is an active angel investor with positions in over 70 companies, including TheTradeDesk, Scopely, and many more. Clark holds a BA from Yale University.
Bringing further perspective to a 30-year career distinguished by a string of entrepreneurial successes, including his role in producing some of the world’s most ambitious, media-convergent live musical events, Kevin Wall is founder and chief executive officer of Live Earth. Wall is best known for producing events seen by a billion or more people across the globe.
In 2005 Wall founded Control Room to create live entertainment accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime. On 07/07/07 Wall produced “Live Earth,” the 24-hour, seven-continent concert series which reached an estimated global audience of two billion. Inspired by the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, Wall conceived a groundbreaking musical event that sought to deliver an urgent yet hopeful call to action on global warming. He designed the multimedia architecture, enlisted over 150 headlining artists and forged a matrix of strategic partnerships, including one with former Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore and his organization, the Alliance for Climate Protection. One of the most recognized productions was the Opening Kickoff Concert for the FIFA World Cup in South Africa in June, 2010, which was seen in over 180 countries worldwide. Most recently, Wall produced The Sound of Change Live in London on June 1st, 2013, which was the first-ever global concert event to bring girls’ and women’s issues to the world’s largest stage.
Previously innovating the “digital, platform-agnostic approach” now followed by major television networks, Wall executive produced “Live 8,” tapping three decades of experience in music promotion and production, live television, the Internet, and venture capital investments in convergence technologies. The massive live event earned Wall an Emmy Award as it motivated millions of viewers worldwide to pressure Western governments to take action on African aid and debt relief. Wall’s long career developing and producing hundreds of live musical shows also includes Bob Dylan’s “30th Anniversary Concert Celebration” featuring Eric Clapton and George Harrison at Madison Square Garden, Michael Jackson’s “The Dangerous Tour” live in Bucharest, “The Wall: Live in Berlin,” “Amnesty International: Human Rights Now,” “3 Tenors Live in Concert,” and specials for Prince, Eric Clapton and Elton John. Early in his career, Wall established the first portable staging company to accommodate the staging, lighting and outdoor production needs of large stadium and arena concert tours by The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and The Who, among other artists.
In other business sectors, as vice chairman of iXL, a global Internet consulting firm, Wall led the strategic acquisition and organization of 42 Internet design and consulting companies to build a venture with 3,000 employees, 38 offices and annual revenues of over $400 million. Wall was an early advisor to Facebook and serves on the boards of the Alliance for Climate Protection, Global Water Challenge, and the UCLA Hammer Museum as well as being a member of the Producers Guild of America. Wall is currently invested in more than a dozen companies as an angel investor in the semiconductor, software and convergence sectors. He is also a General Partner in Craton Equity Partners, a clean tech private equity firm in Los Angeles and a founder of Sustainable Holdings, which partnered with Dimensional Fund Advisors on 2 public equity funds.
Kevin is an Emmy Award-winning producer, activist and new media entrepreneur. As founder and CEO of Control Room, which produces and distributes live music concerts across the internet, radio television and mobile phones, platforms, Wall pioneered the platform-agnostic digital media model making entertainment content available on all mediums and devices.
Sam Englebardt is a media and technology investor and content producer who has created, acquired and/or financed a broad range of traditional and digital businesses and dozens of films and television shows over the past decade.
An active early-stage investor, Englebardt conceived of and implemented the venture capital investment strategy for Demarest Films and Lambert Media Group, managed over 30+ venture investments, with a focus on digital and emerging media. Englebardt was an early investor in Eyefluence, a leading eye-tracking technology company (recently sold to Google) and he remains an active advisor (and was formerly Interim COO and CSO) to The Void, a VR company that combines proprietary hardware with its leading software development team to create untethered and fully immersive out of home virtual experiences. He speaks frequently at conferences and on panels addressing the intersection of media and technology.
Englebardt is also a partner and managing director at Lambert Media Group (LMG), where he’s been responsible for developing new investment opportunities and overseeing a portfolio of investments that includes Rave Motion Pictures (recently sold to Cinemark), Gold Class Cinemas (sold to iPic Theaters), Concord Music Group (sold to Wood Creek Capital), Village Roadshow Pictures and Demarest Films.
Prior to his career in media and technology, Englebardt worked for some of the world’s largest law firms and was a Vice President at Alliance Bernstein, a global asset management company with over $750 Billion under management. A licensed attorney in California, he earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School and studied philosophy, political science and economics at Oxford University and the University of Colorado at Boulder, from which he graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Englebardt contributes to a number of non-profit, non-governmental organizations and is an active member of the Advisory Council of the International Crisis Group.