Every year my firm HedgeCo sponsors over one hundred hedge fund conferences around the world. I have the option to attend many, but only typically attend a few. The reason is, frankly, there are few conferences I feel I can learn from or have enough networking/business opportunities to merit my time away from the office. And then of course there is the added expense, including travel, hotels and meals. This said, there is one conference I have attended the past two years that has more than exceeded my expectations, SALT.
SALT, the Skybridge Alternatives Conference, is run by Skybridge Managing Partner and marketer extraordinaire Anthony Scaramucci, and is held every year in Las Vegas around the beginning of May. The past two years the conference was held at the opulent Bellagio, and I would estimate there were probably over two thousand people there for the conference, most registered, some crashing.
There are several reasons why I feel this conference is a ‘must attend.’ First, the production quality of this event is second to none. SALT really takes the time to make sure every minute of your time in Vegas is filled with hedge fund rich activities. This may seem boring to some, but Scaramucci and his team have figured out how to make work fun, and include activities like a San Gennaro feast style outdoor networking event, lunch with Ben Mezrich (author of The Accidental Billionaires and Bringing Down the House), and a private concert with Maroon 5. And then of course there are the panels. Unlike most conferences, SALT gets the big guns and has panels with titans of the industry like Dan Loeb, Phil Falcone, Eric Sprott, T. Boone Pickens, Pierre LaGrange, Leon Cooperman, and Whitney Tilson. Also celebrity politicians like Al Gore, Sarah Palin, Karl Rove and Robert Gates. Additionally, most major providers are hosting events/parties around SALT and so every night there is another club/event to go to and network with investors, other fund managers, etc. I saw Pitbull perform the first night for example, a few steps away from me at 1Oak and was hosted by the guys from BAML Prime at their table.
Another reason I feel SALT is a must attend, is the conference gives you the ability to network with hundreds of industry participants all in one place. In addition, Skybridge provides you with an online system to do so in advance of the conference. Using Skybridge’s in-house online Facebook-like system called SkyConx, registrars can communicate with one another directly via internal messaging to get the most out of their networking efforts while in Vegas. You can sort by investor type, fund manager, provider, etc. For fund managers looking to link up with investors, you can even sort by investor type (family office, FOF, institution) and then contact these people directly to set up a time to meet. With thousands of people, the chances of a fund manager setting up twenty plus meetings is pretty good.
For investors, this is an amazing conference to hear from the larger fund managers about what is on their mind and where they think the markets are going. It is also obviously a great time to meet with these hedge fund firms one on one. You can interview a good deal of funds and conduct a lot of due diligence, all in a few days time. You can also meet up with the funds’ providers and interview them, because most major providers have some sort of presence at the conference (I would call in advance to make sure).
Lastly, for the few service providers that are allowed to attend, the opportunity to brand yourself alongside an incredibly large audience at the premier hedge fund event of the year is a no-brainer, provided you can afford it.
With all of these amazing activities going on and of course being in Vegas (by far the best place for a conference IMHO) with a bunch of fund managers and wealthy individuals, SALT is an all around great time. Now if Vegas is too far, or if the timing does not work for you, SALT is throwing their first event in Singapore Oct 17-19 and I would imagine this event will be as enjoyable a time as their Vegas conference (Singapore is quickly overtaking Vegas as the world’s Sin City) and I would probably recommend checking it out if you are on that side of the globe and available in October.
So to sum up, great networking opportunities, interesting panels, amazing parties and Vegas, need I say more? See you at SALT 2013!