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SALT 2013 – A review of the SkyBridge Annual Hedge Fund Conference in Vegas

New York (HedgeCo.Net) – SALT is Skybridge’s annual hedge fund conference held in Las Vegas each year. This May marked my fourth SALT conference. Now 2 weeks after it ended I’ve finally caught up with all my emails, and it’s time to digest and relay the experience on to my readers.

The SALT Experience

Stepping off the plane, it becomes obvious that SALT is a different experience than other conferences that the average hedge fund manager or investor will go to this year. The difference is the passion that organizer Anthony Scaramucci has put into not just running a  hedge fund conference, but running THE hedge fund conference.

In the last 5 years since the SALT conference started, nobody can argue against the impact that it has had on the industry. This is mirrored by Market Watch who announced that “A guy named ‘The Mooch’ is becoming the face of the hedgefund industry.”

This 4-day event is truly one of a kind, and the experience is a must for any hedge fund, investor (institutional or otherwise), or firm that services the hedge fund industry.

The People

SALT is all about access, the type of unique access that you get, summed up nicely by Charles Gasparino’s tweet ”One of the best things about going undercover at #salt2013 is that I can break stories hours before CNBC.”

With industry leaders roaming the halls of the Bellagio, world leaders such as George Papandreou, Ehud Barack, and Nicolas Sarkozy doing one-on-one discussions, and visionaries and futurists such as Michio Kaku speaking at lunches, being at SALT is a truly unique experience in the hedge fund industry.

There were so many speakers that literally hundreds of articles covering the various hedge fund leaders and topics, but in a followup blog entry, I will compile my notes and give you specific information on the individuals who spoke at SALT.



Apart from the distinguished speakers, with over 2000 attendees you didn’t have to look far for a familiar face while roaming the hallways of the Bellagio. In fact, SALT attendees became easily recognizable by what was jokingly referred to as “the SALT uniform”, which consisted of a suit jacket, no tie, top shirt-button undone and the ever-recognizable SALT lanyard.

Since SALT is all about access, it was a great time to meet up with hedge fund professionals to discuss the industry, enjoy a drink, or play a couple rounds of blackjack (often simultaneously).

Cutting Edge Technology

Trying to set aside the distractions of Vegas in order to accomplish some business can prove to be a challenge, but thankfully, SALT provided a great tool in SkyConX.

SkyConX, referred to as the “Facebook for SALT” is the easy-to-use web-based tool provided to attendees to facilitate access to the speakers and conference schedule, as well as connect with other attendees, send messages through the system, and share/view calendars to schedule times to meet.

Thanks to SkyConX, the networking started before the attendees touched down in Vegas and provided a great way to connect and stay in touch with attendees.

Entertainment

Even conferences in Vegas are not complete without planned entertainment, and at SALT this year, no expense was spared to bring some great after-hours activities for the SALT attendees.

In the evening before the first day of sessions, we were treated to a welcome Reception & Cocktail party hosted by McGladrey. The event was held in the Monet Hall that provided both an inside and outdoor area for the attendees to mingle.

After the second day the SALT, attendees moved down to the pool for Fiesta Latina sponsored by Citigroup. This was a followup to last year’s event, and included lively entertainment, food, drinks, and cigars around the Bellagio Pool.

The event that everyone was talking about after SALT was “Starry Night: A Night of Cocktails & Entertainment Featuring Grammy Award-Winning Band TRAIN”. The very intimate setting with gave Anthony Scaramucci the chance to introduced his “all-time favorite band”, Train, to the few hundred people in attendance.

As always, Train provided great entertainment to the audience, playing both their old favorites as well as a variety of their more recent hits. The ever-energetic Pat Monahan engaged with the audience, bringing attendees on stage with him to both support the band in their songs and sing the crowd-pleasing “Don’t Stop Believing”. TRAIN finished with a powerful rendition of Aerosmith’s “Dream On”.

SALT 2013 was a great success!

No event of this magnitude is possible without the help of the sponsors and the large team that handled all the logistic and organization. Kudos to the Skybridge team for once again pulling off a great conference.

Even though SALT 2013 just ended, I imagine that the Skybridge team is already laying the foundations for SALT 2014, and on behalf of the hedge fund industry, I can say that we are collectively looking forward to getting back together in Vegas for next year and can’t wait to see what the line-up is for SALT 2014.

Evan Rapoport
Founder of HedgeCo Networks

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