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AZ Tech Beat | August 19, 2019

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Pat Sullivan on “Building Silicon Desert” – VIDEO

Pat Sullivan on “Building Silicon Desert” – VIDEO
Tishin Donkersley

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Pat Sullivan, founder and former CEO of ACT! and SalesLogix is quite familiar with the Arizona entrepreneurial scene. With his new company Contatta, he is passionate and pumped to grow his business in Silicon Desert.

Contatta recently announced the completion of a $3.25 million financing round led by Grayhawk Capital Venture Fund II and Kickstart Seed Fund II.

According to Contatta, all of their current board members reinvested in this round, including Grayhawk, bringing total financing to date at $6.4 million. Read more about Contatta’s raise here.

Sullivan sheds light on what it will take to build up Silicon Desert.

Watch this 1-minute video on Pat’s response to “Building Silicon Desert” here.

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  • Derek Neighbors

    Pat is a good guy, but he hasn’t been truly _active_ in the scene that has been emerging for a better part of a decade. Feels like the recent activity is just a way to push Contatta.

    • Hamid Shojaee

      Pat’s recent activity and involvement in the tech community does help increase awareness for Contatta, but it’s WAY more awesome for the rest of the local tech/software community. I think we need him to be involved way more than he needs us to be aware of Contatta.

      Unlike services companies, most AZ-based software companies have very little revenue that comes from Arizona. In Axosoft’s case for example, it’s less than 2% of our revenues. It doesn’t help software companies in the same way it helps services companies, but even so, it would suck if anybody implied that all the awesome you do at Gangplank and local tech community is just a way to push Integrum Technologies. Why diminish the person’s contributions to the local tech scene?

      • Derek Neighbors

        Who said it wasn’t a good thing? It is good that he is getting involved regardless of the reasoning. The reporting just seemed inaccurate. The article should have been tech giant back on scene or such. Perhaps my criticism was poorly articulated. I have to keep remembering the Silicon Desert (sic) is not Silicon Valley and no one can take any form of feedback or criticism. :/

        • Hamid Shojaee

          Since the criticism in your original comment wasn’t towards me, there was nothing for me to “take.” I was just criticizing your comment and it seems like you couldn’t take it, so you’re probably right that most people can’t take the feedback or criticism. 😉

    • Pat Sullivan

      Derek, my involvement since selling SLGX in 2001 has been more than you perhaps are aware.

      I ran Attachsoft raising $7MM of VC and shortly after shuttered it and gave the money back because the product was not what was billed.

      I also ran Flypaper for 2 years raising another $7MM of VC. It was sold to Trivantis.

      I invested in and was on the BOD of Infusionsoft for over 2 years. Clate says I helped teach him how to raise VC and he has done a great job of raising a BUNCH of $$.

      i also have and mentored a few tech CEO’s. I am currently involved in 2 other startups here in AZ both as an investor and advisor; ReplyBuy and EventDay. My goal is to help create big successes here in AZ so the wealth created stays here.

      I certainly am promoting the heck out of Contatta as any good CEO should do, but in my mind I am not “back”. I’ve been very active all along. I do maintain my 5 handicap as best I can though!

  • Thom Brodeur

    While I have enormous respect for Pat and his success as an entrepreneur, as a person who has spent countless hours, days, weeks, months and years in this Valley listening to ‘brands’ being bandied about including: Silicon Desert, Tech Oasis, Sun Corridor, Second Valley, Biozona, etc. I think all of them fail for one reason or another. Anything with Silicon or Second in the name, naturally positions us “behind” someone else. Anything with a specific industry sector attached to it, automatically excludes another sector (or… as my friends in Economic Development refer to them…”cluster”) in its own self interest.

    Why not take a look at what consistently the Kauffman report, Inc. magazine, Entrepreneur magazine and others note about Arizona – we have a very rich resource of ENTREPRENEURS. Even when we fall below the #1, #2 or #3 spot, we still maintain Top 10 status in most of these areas (entrepreneurial activity, new business starts, Inc. 500 / 5000 rankings)…for the last decade.

    Even Silicon Valley and Tech Alley (NYC) VCs and others have shifted their investment biases toward “jockeys” (entrepreneurs) vs. “horses” (companies) or even “races” (sectors).

    So, why should Arizona keep playing from behind by slapping “1.0” monikers on ourselves. Why not instead, create a brand around the PEOPLE who invent, innovate and create. What about Entrepreneur Valley – a place where entrepreneurs bring their ideas and get those ideas matched to a burgeoning (and strengthening) ecosystem of resources. An ecosystem that gave birth to startups and success stories like iCrossing, InfusionSoft, Blackboard, 41st Parameter, GoDaddy, LifeLock and countless others?

    Why not talk about this being the best market in the country for “betting on jockeys”?

    Silicon doesn’t resonate with me at all. And Desert typically connotes death, dry, hot or desolate. Why attach ourselves to that?

    With all due respect.

    • Hamid Shojaee

      Thom, those are really good points. I agree with many of them. I’m not particularly fond of the name Silicon Desert either. The name doesn’t do much for me. I also wonder how much the name contributes to the success of what’s being done. I suspect it has very little to do with the success of it. All the past failures weren’t because the names sucked. It’s because the community wasn’t thriving or ready yet. This time around it’s different. We could call it “Tech Basketcase” and I think the local tech community is still going to thrive and grow rapidly.

      Our last Silicon Desert event was a huge success, not because of the name (we got criticism about the name even at the event), but because of the people who attended.

      So far, I haven’t heard of any good names. 🙁

      • Thom Brodeur

        Silicon Valley is a brand that was originally built not because the ‘name’ drives the brand, but because silicon chips were the foundation of the economy from Fairchild Semiconductor to National Semi to Intel, etc. From chips all things technology flowed including the modern-day Internet economy. That region made a bet on a name that spoke to an INDUSTRY they wanted to build.

        We’re not inventors of ‘silicon’ anything here in AZ. So, my point is, the brand doesn’t fit. Not because the name is bad. But because it’s simply not true unless we think that because we’re the 4th largest exporter of semiconductors from non-homegrown chip companies (other than Microchip and a few smaller companies whose names nobody remembers or knows).

        My point is this. If we’re good at creating entrepreneurism; housing entrepreneurs, and helping them, regardless of the innovation the create, build companies…perhaps we should look at a brand name that leverages THAT asset. Instead of one more time, showing up as an ‘also ran’.

        Thanks for the opportunity to speak up.

        • Hamid Shojaee

          I agree with all that. Lets come up with a good name. In our sessions with about a dozen different people, we couldn’t get anybody to agree on any names. There were 2+ people in favor of Silicon Desert (I wasn’t one of them :-). One good thing the name does have going for it is that it implies technology. Entrepreneur Valley would suck in that respect. What else should we consider?

        • Pat Sullivan

          It was Fairchild and HP that started making Silicon Valley what it is today. Success breeds success as thousands of spinoffs of those successes made SV happen.

          All we need is more successes here. We all need to work together to make that happen.

      • Pat Sullivan

        I am one of those who happen to like the “Silicon Desert” name. From a marketing perspective it is almost always better to associate with something that is already established in the mind like “Silicon Valley” but push off of it with a differentiator like “Desert”. It allows someone to quickly understand and hopefully grant you that new “position” in the mind.

        It would be great to come up with something totally different but if you have to spend a lot of time and money making that actually MEAN something to people you are asking for a hard and expensive task. Silicon Desert avoids that. Perhaps not perfect but names rarely are today.