eMerge Americas, the Miami Beach technology conference founded by South Florida entrepreneur Manuel D. Medina, has secured a major investment from growth equity firm Orkila Capital as well as Medina and a group of high-profile local partners.
With the investment, eMerge Americas will become a for-profit entity. Medina will continue to be chairman of the board, Xavier Gonzalez will remain as CEO and its partnership with NBCUniversal will not be affected.
Other investors joining the financing round announced Friday include Armando Christian Perez (also known as Pitbull), baseball player Alex Rodriguez, serial healthcare entrepreneur Mike Fernandez, lobbyist Brian Ballard and Bob Dickinson, former CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines. eMerge Americas wouldn’t disclose the size of the investment.
eMerge Americas will use the funding to continue building the event’s size, content and brand, said Medina, who also runs Medina Capital. The conference, which drew about 10,000 attendees in 2015, returns to Miami Beach Convention Center on April 18-19 for its third year. The event will include an expo, keynote speakers, a Startup Showcase, a Women, Innovation & Technology Summit and an eGov track, with additional programming planned for future years.
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“We’re thrilled to see our baby grow up,” said Medina, speaking about eMerge. “The spirit of eMerge won’t change; it will be augmented with experts in operations. [The investment partnership] will strengthen everything we do.”
Orkila Capital, based in New York, invests in the media, entertainment and live event sectors, and recent investments include Recognition Media, owner of the Webby Awards, and Crash Line Productions, owner of music festivals such as Boston Calling and Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival.
“We are big believers in the value of iconic events and are confident that eMerge Americas will continue to strengthen its position as the must-attend technology event that links the Latin American, North American and European technology markets,” said Jesse Du Bey, founder and managing partner of Orkila Capital.
Also announced Friday: Frank Anton, vice chairman and former CEO of trade show industry leader Hanley-Wood, has joined the eMerge board.
eMerge Americas was the first initiative of the Technology Foundation of the Americas, Medina’s nonprofit with the mission of advancing the technology ecosystem in Miami. The TFA will continue, with a focus on new projects, said Medina, who founded and sold Terremark before launching the foundation.
“It was the right time to bring in the right tools to grow,” said Medina. “eMerge has been a labor of love for all of us. Having a group like Orkila come in helps us get to the next stage.”