85 Advisors is a strategic and financial advisory firm that helps technology companies plan, analyze and execute successful growth and M&A strategies

 

We work closely with our clients' senior management and board of directors to evaluate, plan and execute myriad strategic alternatives, including mergers, acquisitions, financings, joint ventures, and divestitures. Our focus and expertise extend beyond traditional investment banking services and, accordingly, we serve as a trusted and objective advisor to growth-stage and middle market technology companies on a variety of investment, growth, and operational matters. Our recommendations are informed by our extensive domain expertise paired with rigorous analysis of relevant macro, industry, company- and situation-specific factors. To this end, we have a strong track record of anticipating disruptive trends and changes in the competitive dynamics within the IT sector, and advising our clients on how to exploit these shifts proactively. We operate with a singular focus to help our clients achieve their long-term strategic objectives. 


Selected Client and Corporate Experience

 

Steven Freitas
Founder and Executive Managing Director

Steven Freitas has nearly 20 years of investment banking, strategic advisory and technology industry research experience. Prior to founding 85 Advisors, he was Managing Partner at a leading technology-focused investment banking boutique in New York City where he oversaw all aspects of client engagements and transaction execution for a global client base of enterprise software, security and communications companies. Previously, Steven was Director of U.S. Communications Technology Research at BMO Capital Markets. In that role, he was widely recognized for his forecasting accuracy, domain expertise and prescient sector commentary, having predicted multiple disruptive trends affecting the communications, networking and infrastructure software sectors. Steven earned an M.B.A from Wake Forest University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Financial and Economic Studies from the University of Western Ontario. 


John Oh
Executive Managing Director

John Oh has more than 20 years of experience building the marketing and go-to-market capabilities for some of the most highly regarded IT infrastructure companies. Prior to 85 Advisors, John served as Vice President of Worldwide Marketing for F5 Networks where he led its entry into new product categories and grew Company revenues to $1.5 billion. He has served as CMO/VP of Marketing for multiple disruptive early and growth-stage venture-backed companies, including NetScaler (acquired by Citrix Systems), FireEye (IPO), Radiance Technologies (acquired by Comcast), SweetLabs (Google Ventures), and StackIQ. In these roles, John helped define and create new IT segments that are now mainstream, such as Application Delivery Networking, Identity Management, Virtualization, and Datacenter WAN optimization. In addition, he led the M&A positioning and post-acquisition integration of five transformative M&A transactions that collectively generate more than $2 billion of recurring product revenue (as of 2016) for their acquirers. Earlier in his career, John held various senior management roles with Citrix Systems, Edelman PR Worldwide, and Oblix (now Oracle). He studied physics at U.C. Berkeley.


Derek Schwartz
Managing Director and Head of Client Development

Derek Schwartz has more than 25 years of enterprise software industry experience as a CEO, sales leader, and strategic business development executive. A citizen of the world, Derek has led, built, and grown disruptive technology businesses in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, and South Africa. Prior to 85 Advisors, Derek served as CEO of Safe-T Group North America, spearheading the Company’s U.S. expansion and successful IPO. Previously, he oversaw the financial services sales practice at SEEBURGER of Germany and Axway of France where he was responsible for the integration of Axway’s acquisition of Tumbleweed Software. Derek earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. 


Mark Kovarski
Head of Emerging Technologies

Mark Kovarski has more than 25 years of experience driving growth and innovation within Fortune 2000 technology, communications, and financial services companies. Prior to 85 Advisors, Mark served as Senior Managing Consultant at Cisco Consulting Services where he advised some of North America’s largest financial institutions regarding technology strategy, implementation, and digital process transformation. While at Cisco, he was a key member of the strategic development teams responsible for defining Cisco’s M&A and competitive strategies in (Big) Data Analytics and Blockchain. In that capacity, Mark also provided strategic guidance to promising FinTech startups as a Barclays’ Rise NYC accelerator program mentor. Previously, Mark held multiple leadership roles within BMO Financial Group’s IT organization, including business technology strategy and strategic vendor management. Earlier in his career, he led IT operations management teams at Rogers Communications and AT&T. Mark is passionate about using technology to address humanitarian challenges, leading him to co-found The Humanized Internet, a non-profit organization with a mission to provide persistent, secure, global intelligent digital identity to the world’s population, including the 1.5 billion people who currently lack legal identity.


Amy Jones
COO and Head of Education Technology

Amy Jones has nearly 20 years of education leadership and administration experience. Prior to joining 85 Advisors, she was Chief Academic Officer and Deputy Chief Executive for Special Education for the New York City Department of Education, the largest school district in the United States with 1.1 million students and a $24 billion operating budget. In this role, she directed professional development for more than 100 thousand staff members supporting more than 290 thousand students with disabilities. In addition, she oversaw numerous projects to reengineer instruction and systems for the multi-billion dollar Division of Specialized Instruction and Student Support, including learning management systems, management information systems, analytics, student information systems, inventory and ERP, personalized learning, assistive technology and accessibility of education materials. Amy was widely recognized for her strategic vision and leadership of large-scale change efforts to transform schools and ensure better learning outcomes for all students. Earlier in her career, she served as a teacher, a school principal, an adjunct professor for online graduate courses, and Director of University Partnerships for Teach For America. Amy earned a M.A. in Organization and Leadership from Columbia University and a B.A. degree from Washington University in St. Louis.