Need to Meet: Gary Moon, Managing Partner, Nfluence Partners

  • Founded, sold wireless company, then entered M&A
  • Tech team spun out of Headwaters MB to form boutique
  • Advised Meetup on its recent sale to WeWork

In the wireless industry’s early days, Gary Moon started a business based on research he’d done as an engineering student at Stanford. “There were companies making products, but nobody could really figure out how to put them together with software and make them work in systems very effectively,” Moon said. “I ended up building a nice business around that over the years.”

“Like many, I probably should have sold the company in 2000,” he added with a laugh, “but I didn’t.” When he did go through an exit process, “I became familiar with how that can go well and not go well.” As he considered what to do next, he thought of the dictum “do more of what you like all day and less of what you don’t like.”

That thought process brought Moon “over into the deal universe,” he said. “I started in investment-banking advisory in 2002, at the bottom of the 2000 bubble cycle, and just built a career from there.”

In 2006 Moon joined Ridgecrest Capital Partners, seeking a firm poised for growth. “Ridgecrest did a lot in mobile and wireless, so that was a good sector fit, and they also did a lot cross-border between the Europe and the U.S., which is something I was interested in.” Four and a half years later, his entrepreneurial bent led him to Headwaters MB, which offered the chance to build out a tech practice.

“I like to call it a sorcerer’s apprentice business,” said Moon. “At this point, I’d done eight years of apprenticeships, so I was ready to do something a little more of my own.”

Starting in 2011, Moon’s team worked on deals involving giants in the technology, media and telecom space, including Alibaba, AT&T, Comcast, Cisco, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft. Now they’ve spun out to form San Francisco-based Nfluence Capital Partners, a boutique investment bank focused on tech.

Moon says Nfluence will eventually “move into a more merchant banking model, where we deploy capital ourselves.” That’s one reason he wanted to spin out; the other was a desire to do more work with “purpose-driven, mission-aligned companies.” He pointed to the recent sale of Meetup, an online platform for organizing real-life gatherings. At a time when “messaging products were blowing up,” the company faced pressure to keep its users online for longer to drive growth. It was important when approaching the capital markets to find an investor who wouldn’t abandon the original mission.

WeWork is a very community-oriented company,” Moon said, one that understands the value of getting people together out in the world. And there was “another, very synergistic element” to the deal: “One of Meetup’s biggest challenges was space: Where do you host a meetup? One of WeWork’s fact patterns is the spaces are very busy during the day and they’re not very busy in the evening. Well, meetups happen in the evening.” WeWork agreed to acquire Meetup, reportedly for around $200 million, late last year.

Phone: 415-766-3860