HOLLY SPRINGS – Triangle entrepreneur Brian Hamilton is backing a new Triangle-based company called LiveSwitch, and it has a major goal after raising $15.9 million to expand operations of Frozen Mountain, which Hamilton acquired in January: Build a product that will compete with Zoom in providing videoconferencing services.
Though an SEC filing from LiveSwitch that was dated last week stated that the $15.9 million raised from four investors by the company was used to acquire the Surrey, British Columbia startup that is headed by two North Carolina State University graduates, a spokesperson for Hamilton confirmed that the funds are intended to be used to grow the company, including adding additional jobs, which could be based in the Triangle.
The company, fueled with the investment, is planning a product launch later this year for a new videoconferencing tool that aims to connect people on a more intimate level than currently available platform options, says Hamilton, who is the registered agent of LiveSwitch Inc., which is the holding company that has acquired Frozen Mountain for an undisclosed amount, confirmed a spokesperson for Hamilton.
Hamilton confirmed his involvement in the deal and in the company in an interview with WRAL TechWire this week and noted that the process to identify the right company to invest in or acquire began nearly a year ago. He registered a company with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office on April 30, 2020, later updating the name to LiveSwitch Inc.
“I knew that I would be investing in some company, and that that would be the structure,” said Hamilton regarding the formation of the holding company. “We spent a year searching for a company to invest in, and we looked at 5,000 companies and sent out two term sheets, and of course we closed on one.”
The Brian Hamilton Foundation and Frozen Mountain confirmed the acquisition in a press release in January. The SEC filing was completed at the end of last week.
“It was a lot of work to find this company,” said Hamilton, noting that he was specifically searching for a company poised for rapid growth. “We’re not a venture firm, we’re entrepreneurs, we’re rolling up our sleeves and doing something.”
But more important than being poised for growth, said Hamilton, was identifying a company with a knowledgeable, impressive, driven management team and impressive company culture.
“Everything you build comes on top of the culture, that’s the foundation,” said Hamilton. “The investment was made based on the quality of the current team and the current staff, they’re brilliant tech guys, and they’ve built a wonderful culture.”
All current Frozen Mountain employees will retain their position, and the company will continue to have an office in Surrey, British Columbia, said Hamilton. But the company also plans to hire in the Triangle, and has already brought on board Monte Mauney, formerly the vice president of human resources at Sageworks, as the head of people and talent for the company. Hamilton founded and later sold Sageworks.
“We wanted to be in a big industry that is growing fast,” said Hamilton. “My personal take, with respect to the impacts of COVID, is that I think that COVID was sort of a beta test for the United States with regard to communications tools, especially with regard to video conversations.
“This is a great company, with world-class engineers,” he added. “Some of the implementations that they’ve done on WWE, Fox News, they’re amazing, world-class, and we’re going in to help them with growth.”
From now until the end of the year, said Hamilton, “we’re going to need a lot of people, we’re going to have to hire people like crazy.”
In Raleigh, he’s directed Mauney to focus on product and marketing roles. His role will be to focus on the product development of the “Zoom competitive product,” and to support the Frozen Mountain founders, Jerod Venema, CEO, and Anton Venema, CTO, both of whom attended North Carolina State University and studied computer science.
“My role at the new organization is very specific around product,” said Hamilton. “And also helping Jarod and Anton out around the 10,000 mistakes that I have made as an entrepreneur.”
Even with plans to hire in the Raleigh area, Hamilton does not yet know where the company will be based, only that it will be somewhere in the Raleigh area. According to the SEC filing and real estate tax records, Brian Hamilton Management is the owner of real estate along Raleigh Street in Holly Springs, but Hamilton did not confirm that could be a viable location or is a location under consideration.
Yet talent acquisition may take place on an international scale, noted Hamilton. “A lot of work can be done remotely, and I’m not as tied to that emotionally as I used to be,” said Hamilton. “If anything, the pandemic has proven that, and that is also our business model.”
Hamilton is also the co-founder and former CEO of Sageworks and the founder of the Brian Hamilton Foundation, which operates programs designed to increase business ownership globally, particularly those that remove socioeconomic barriers to opportunity. Hamilton led Sageworks through the acquisition of the company by Accel-KKR, a private equity firm based in Menlo Park, California, in a 2018 deal that Hamilton said at the time was “one of the largest transactions in the Raleigh area and North Carolina in the last couple of years.”