On Friday, April 8, another step down a joint path took place when LMU hosted the annual Silicon Beach Expo at University Hall.
The Expo, which drew approximately 500 people and 40 companies, connects members of the LMU community with representatives from enterprises from the ever-expanding, ocean-adjacent, cluster of innovative tech enterprises often colloquially referred to as “Silicon Beach.”
LMU President Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D., has another moniker in mind, as well.
“At LMU, we are more than located in the heart of Silicon Beach,” Snyder said. “We are the university of Silicon Beach.”
Snyder pointed that out this spring while moderating a discussion about the growth of Silicon Beach. Panelists included executives from Fullscreen, 72andSunny and the Lincoln Property Company.
“Silicon Beach is not only where tech innovation thrives, but it’s also the launching pad for global imagination,” Snyder said. “At LMU, our campus is an incubator of entrepreneurialism, where world-changing ideas are imagined and formed — and then brought to life with our neighbors in Silicon Beach.”
Added Snyder: “Silicon Beach is a game-changer, and LMU has been waiting for a partner just like it.”
LMU’s connections to its cutting edge neighbors are myriad and growing. Alumni and faculty work for firms such as Atari, Activision, Blizzard, Method Studios and more. LMU-Silicon Beach hackathons, case competitions, site visits and student consulting projects are commonplace. Students earn Silicon Beach internships and then jobs through school programs such as LM-UMatch, a student-run recruiting service.
A variety of LMU offices and departments are working to deepen LMU-Silicon Beach relationships. Two of those collaborated to host the Expo — the Career and Professional Development office (CPD), and the College of Business Administration’s Fred Kiesner Center for Entrepreneurship. Professor David Choi directs the latter.
“LMU has the best location that a university could possibly have,” Choi said. “The only other schools I can think of that have similarly good locations are Stanford and maybe NYU, for the finance industry. We have a chance to grow and be identified with Silicon Beach. Our students, alumni and faculty can all benefit by leveraging the growth of the new economy right outside our doorstep.”
Added Choi: “LMU has a once-in-a-hundred-years kind of a chance to ride this wave to prominence. Ninety-eight percent of universities in the U.S. cannot offer what we can offer — the proximity and connection to such a vibrant business community.”
Charles M. Vance is director of the College of Business Administration’s new Talent Management Center. That center and the Kiesner center are among the other LMU groups working to bond the university and the tech firms, particularly through new business development and talent recruitment.
“Silicon Beach is an exciting, innovative economic and technological phenomenon developing around us,” Vance said. “It will increasingly provide valuable learning opportunities for our students, as well as future employment.”
As director of industry partnership in LMU’s CPD, Lucas Bierlein works to facilitate those opportunities and employment. “LMU is a natural and organic part of Silicon Beach,” Bierlein said. “Not just because of its proximity to these companies, but because of the well-roundedness, dynamism and grit that an LMU education develops in its students.”
Saata Bangura ’08 is one of many former LMU students-turned-Silicon Beach professionals. Bangura works as a graphic designer for Rubicon Project, a publicly traded tech company that created a high-speed, cloud-based marketplace for buying and selling advertising. She recognizes the vitality of this emergent and skyrocketing scene, and of the expo itself.
“My company has participated in Silicon Beach events in the past, as we are located in the heart of the advertising and technology space in Playa Vista,” Bangura said. “I think this event in particular is important because it allows for a great opportunity for students to be exposed to possible future careers in advertising and innovative technology.”
And what advice does this Lion alumna offer to the rest of the LMU community?
“There are amazing technology, advertising and start-up companies right down the street from LMU — in your backyard! — that have great opportunities to help you learn and grow in your field of choice,” Bangura said. “Playa Vista is becoming a new hot spot for innovation and creativity, so get out there, explore and don’t forget to network!”