International Program: Eastern/Central Europe



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    The International SIG presents: Eastern/Central Europe:  Opportunities and Challenges

    Topic: Eastern/Central Europe: Opportunities and Challenges

    It's been nearly 20 years since the Berlin Wall tumbled. During this time the countries in Central and Eastern Europe have made tremendous strides forward and are now greatly contributing to the global technology knowledge base.

    The panelists will discuss what countries are fairing best and how Silicon Valley companies can foster advantageous relationships with former Eastern Bloc technology firms. Opportunities abound, but understanding the unique cultural, economic and political landscape can help you bridge alliances, while avoiding the pitfalls.


    -Deborah Magid, Director, Software Strategy, IBM Venture Capital Group

    -Sonja Markova, Vice President, Keiretsu Forum

    -Russia: Lev Saks, CEO, Luxoft USA

    -Emese Toth, Optionetics

    -Gary Byrd, President, FortyThree PR

    Speaker Bios:

    Deborah Magid, Director, Software Strategy, IBM Venture Capital Group

    Deborah Magid represents IBM’s $18B Software Group in the company’s 7-year old Venture Capital Group.  Her expertise spans across several industries.

    Deborah is responsible for building ecosystems for IBM by sharing insights about emerging markets, technologies, and business models with venture firms and entrepreneurs.   She also brings insight form the venture community to the development of IBM’s growth strategies.  She introduces venture firms and their portfolio companies to IBM's strategy, scouts for emerging business opportunities, and shares views on innovation and growth areas of the market.   Deborah is a frequent spokesperson on topics of relevance to entrepreneurs and investors, and is on the board of SDForum, the Silicon Valley emerging technology network.

    Previously in IBM, Deborah managed the portfolio for the global small business group, was a program director for the WebSphere business, led a Java product development department, and launched the Developer Domains on  Deborah came to IBM through the Taligent subsidiary, where she directed the human interface design organization, led product marketing, and ran the corporate web site.  Previously, Deborah held positions in product management, marketing, and user-centered design at GE Information Services and at AT&T.  Deborah holds degrees in cognitive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Connecticut.

    Sonja Markova, Vice President, Keiretsu Forum
    Sonja has been involved with Keiretsu Forum since 2001. Her contribution was critical in growing what is now the largest network of private equity (angel) investors in Northern America. Since September 2000, Keiretsu Forum members have invested over $145mm in 161 companies in technology, healthcare/life sciences, consumer products, real estate and other segments with high growth potential. The Keiretsu Forum community is strengthened through education on angel investing, as well as charitable and social activities.
     Sonja has previous work experience with the Contra Costa Software Business Incubator, Marketing Communications, and ICDF Equity Investment Fund for small and medium-sized enterprises in Macedonia, South-East Europe. She holds a BS in Management from the University of St. Cyril and Methodius in Macedonia and MBA in Finance and New Ventures Management from California State University. Sonja is an alumni Ron Brown fellow. The Ron Brown Fellowship is a U.S. Department of State program that supports young professionals from Central and Eastern Europe.

    Lev Saks, CEO, Luxoft USA

    With two decades of proven technology, outsourcing and financial industry expertise Lev Saks serves as CEO of Luxoft, USA.

    Lev is responsible for corporate sales strategy and client relationships in the U.S. and combines a classic, solid approach to management with a passion for technology and keen attention to quality and excellence. Beginning his career as a software developer and then ultimately becoming an entrepreneur, he brings a true hands-on understanding of the challenges and opportunities his clients encounter.

    Over the course of his career, he has served as a trusted technology and business advisor to many top financial institutions including Citicorp, Bear Stearns, Depository Trust, Drexel Burnham Lambert, Chemical Bank and others.

    Previously Lev served as president of ITCI Inc., until it was acquired by Luxoft in 2006. Lev co-founded ITCI in 1993 to provide IT outsourcing, on-site staffing and project management services for Fortune 500 and middle market businesses, and was a driving force behind its success.

    He began his U.S. career in 1982 with the Irving Trust Bank and joined Merrill Lynch three years later as a Programmer/Analyst. Lev holds M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Moscow Institute of Technology.

    Emese Toth, Optionetics
    Emese is a native of Hungary and moved to Silicon Valley four years ago after receiving an MBA from IESE Business School in Barcelona. In Budapest Emese worked for a Hungarian investment company, Equilor Investment Ltd. as a stock broker on the  Hungarian Stock Exchange, then in corporate finance. In the past few years, she's been working in International Marketing and Business Development for Optionetics, a  financial education company based in Redwood City.

    Gary Byrd, President, FortyThree PR

    Gary established in 1996 the Central European news bureau for Knight- Ridder in Prague and served as its bureau chief. His responsibilities included providing timely business and technology news about the region to global markets. Before joining Knight-Ridder, Gary was a correspondent for The Economist based in Prague covering technology, retail and consumer markets. He has written for a variety of publications, including London Times, San Jose Mercury and USA Today.

    His background in journalism was a stepping stone to his current public relations profession. Today he heads FortyThree PR specializing in designing, managing and executing domestic and international public relations initiatives for start-up and Fortune 500 companies consumer technology companies. He previously held the vice president position at one of the most prestigious public relations firms in Silicon Valley where he headed the consumer technology division. His expertise ranges from online entertainment and consumer electronics, including VoIP phones, MP3 players and TV- to-PC devices.

    SIG Chair: Jeannine Athas
    SIG Co-Chairs: Alex Sousa and Zhahoui Li

    Pillsbury Winthrop
    2475 Hanover Street
    Palo Alto, CA 94304



    6:30-7:00 Registration/Networking/Refreshment

    7:00-9:00 PM Program


    $15 for SDForum Members; $0 Platinum Pass Members

    $25 for Non-SDForum Members

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