I worked with Derek when he advised Machinima on our venture capital financing . Derek proved himself to be a trustworthy and highly capable advisors delivering his deep network of venture capital Partner relationships to Machinima and completing a successful financing on our behalf. Derek made the mandate of raising venture capital a smooth and very efficient process from start to finish. He takes the time to understand the unique needs of the company, and market conditions, and aligns himself with full force and commitment. Bottom line, he gets things done, and has a tenacity and unbending focus on achieving successful results on behalf of the companies he works with. These skills, along with his extensive and senior network of relationships in the technology, internet and digital media sectors, makes him a trusted partner and mentor for entrepreneurs and investors alike.
Allen DeBeviose, Chairman Machinima
I’ve known Derek for well over a decade, and have had ample opportunity to work with him closely in many contexts. First and foremost, Derek truly understands entrepreneurs because he is one himself. That means a lot when he is dealing with early stage, high growth companies. Another aspect which draws entrepreneurs close to Derek is his work ethic. I don’t think Derek ever turns off. He is, truly and remarkably, 24/7.
I have found Derek to be attuned to venture capital and the decision makers within that overall community. He relates well to the needs and tempo of M&A, and always acts to facilitate solutions rather than presenting obstacles.
He is well aware of the trends and dynamics shaking up both the technology and media sectors, and knows what’s happening before most others. Coupled with his deep operational experience, and network for relationships this makes Derek a unique advisor to companies and entrepreneurs in the consumer internet, mobile, digital media and technology industry.
Kevin Mayer, EVP Corporate Strategy, Business Development & Technology
The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS)
Acquired, February 2011 by:
Derek brings a valuable and unique set of expertise as an advisor in the venture business. Having spent his career on both sides of the table, Derek has a sharp, insightful, 360 degree understanding of the venture capital fundraising process from start to finish. Derek is very hard-working, always available, and leverages his clients’ time in an extremely focused and productive fashion. Derek also brings deep and targeted industry knowledge at the intersection of Media and Technology where he has focused most of his career. As a result, he maintains a fresh and insightful perspective around the industry and an equally deep and relevant set of relationships at the decision-maker level that he has culminated for many years.
Brandon Beck, Founder & CEO of Riot Games
Acquired by Tencent (SEHK:700) February 2011
Acquired, December 2010 by:
I have worked with Watertower Group and directly with Derek in a retained capacity for approximately 8 years. Derek has advised Widevine on several fund raising mandates and corporate development initiatives. Derek’s contacts throughout the technology and digital media industry are deep and extensive. He has delivered and continues to bring high value strategic positioning to Widevine in key industry segments. Derek’s experience as an entrepreneur provide him the capability to operate with a sense of urgency and a single minded focus on execution. My working experience with Derek has always been positive and he is a key contributor to the market success of Widevine. I believe him to be a highly valuable asset to any entrepreneur, startup or established company looking to raise capital or considering M&A opportunities who operate at the crossroads of technology and digital media.
Brian Baker, President and CEO, Widevine Technologies
Acquired By Google (NASD:GOOG) December 2010
I had the pleasure of working with Derek as our formal advisor on the sale of Vuze. We interviewed many advisors, but Derek was able to understand and appreciate the unique nature of the mandate from our first conversation. Derek is an entrepreneur just like those he works with. He applied the right amount of creativity, focus and tenacity to maneuver through the numerous twists and turns we encountered and that are a part of nearly every M&A process. He was instrumental in helping us achieve the best outcome for the sale of the company. In addition to exuding a high level of professionalism and integrity, Derek is extremely personable which help make it both a productive and enjoyable process. He is a trusted advisor and I hope to work with him again.
Gilles BianRosa, CEO, Fanhattan
Derek understands entrepreneurs. He worked with me through a very challenging period and was instrumental in rebuilding the financial foundation of my business – in the face of tremendous odds and the widely misaligned expectations of various stakeholders. He was tireless, resourceful and respectful of the circumstances and personalities involved….and remained the voice of optimism throughout. Derek provided valuable guidance and insights as to the fundraising process and materials and made navigating the corridors of VC power a more relaxed, casual process than I anticipated. He made good on his promise to gain audiences with decision makers allowing for a more efficient experience and enabling us to gain valuable feedback throughout. Following our successful raise, Derek remained involved as an advocate of the company in many influential business circles while working closely with our BD team. I would recommend him highly and say this – he will match your work ethic, if not exceed it – for those of us destined to sweat the details 24/7 that comment should be all you need to know.
Keith Kocho – Founder ExtendMedia
Acquired by Cisco (NASD:CSCO) July 2010
Derek has as keen a sense to the market as anyone in the business. He’s a “hands on” banker, whose knowledge and relationship has made him a valuable asset for companies he represents and industry leaders. I’ve worked with Derek on both sides of the table. He’s introduced numerous companies to our fund. We invested in Generate in part due to his work there. I know when Derek calls, it’s a company worth seeing. We’ve also had portfolio companies retain him to help them execute on their strategies. He’s a tireless competitor who understands the trends of the market, the needs of the buyers and the desires of the sellers, and always gives frank, candid and insightful advice. I highly recommend Derek as both a valuable business ally and a friend.
Ross Levinsohn, Formerly of Guggenheim Digital Media & Yahoo
It is rare to find someone in the investment community who can appreciate and accommodate the needs of both those seeking capital and those looking to put capital to work, but Derek has the understanding and experience necessary to meet the needs of parties on either side of a funding event. Derek himself is an entrepreneur who understands entrepreneurs. While tirelessly providing focused insight into venture capital and strategic M&A, he draws upon his own operational experience to offer advice that resonates. Always available and accessible, Derek is committed to conducting business as a true professional. One who shares his deep knowledge of digital media and consumer behavior to frame opportunity within a larger historical context. He understands how technology serves as a catalyst for change and is driven to know what is happening before others. It should come then as no surprise that Derek nurtures a deep network of relevant relationships at the decision maker level serving as a trusted advisor for all.
Jordan Levin, Founder & CEO of Generate
Former CEO of The WB Network
Acquired by Alloy Digital December 2012
I worked with Derek Norton and Watertower Group during the most crucial phase in the development our company: the decision to raise more capital or explore corporate M&A. With such an important choice ahead of us, having a trusted advisor was the single-most important factor that resulted in our successful acquisition by Adknowledge Inc., one of the most valuable privately held technology companies. We couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
Derek is an invaluable asset to technology companies looking to navigate complex market conditions. The amount of attention and diligence provided by WTG was the single-most important variable in our process. WTG took the time to understand, market, and successfully match us with the best corporate partner for our company. We’re grateful and huge advocates of the work Derek and Watertower Group do for the entrepreneurial community.The relationships, industry knowledge, and determination is unrivaled. As an entrepreneur, you will never regret getting to know and working with Derek and WTG.
Shane Walker, SocialWeekend
Acquired by AdKnowledge April 2013