With Miami signaling as the next big tech hub, Daversa Partners opens Miami office

By Nancy Dahlberg

In the past two years, the Miami area has exploded with startups and venture capitalists moving here, joining an already active tech community. Now to help build all those leadership teams, Daversa Partners, an executive search firm servicing some of the tech industry’s biggest and fastest-growing players, is expanding to Miami and opening an office downtown.

Daversa Partners focuses on serving the founder and funder community, having worked alongside VC and PE firms such as Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, Bling Capital, Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Ventures, Accel, Bessemer, TPG, KKR and Blackstone. Daversa has helped build the executive teams at companies including Twitter, Airbnb, Square, One Medical, Instacart, DoorDash, NuBank, Beyond Meat, Coinbase, and, from Miami, Bored Ape Yacht Club. “Their presence in Miami will help accelerate and attract top talent to the city,” said Ben Ling of Bling Capital, who relocated to Miami in 2021.

Partner Nicolette Hartman will be leading the Miami expansion and new office. She relocated from Daversa’s New York City office and is an expert in building executive teams at consumer and healthcare companies that have included Warby Parker, FIGS, Wildlife Studios, Therabody, GameStop and others. Three members of her team, Jodie Salzberg, Caroline Didelot and Olivia Witmer, will also be joining the new Miami office and there are plans for more hiring.

Daversa specializes in filling roles at the C-suite and VP levels in all stages of venture- or PE-backed firms. With investors backing South Florida founders at record levels — $5.3 billion in venture capital poured into the metro area last year and the pace has continued – that’s a lot of executive teams that need building out. Now three decades in the recruiting business, Daversa also has offices in Connecticut, LA, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orlando, Boston and London.

 “Daversa Partners’ decision to expand to Miami is yet another sign that our city is cementing itself as the world’s Capital of Capital,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, in a statement. “Their track record speaks for itself, and I am confident Nicolette and her whole team will be a great addition to our growing tech ecosystem.”

In an interview with Refresh Miami, Hartman [pictured above] said Miami lit up on the company’s heat map as the next big tech hub for several reasons.  Here are excerpts of our conversation.

What drew Daversa to Miami?

As we looked back on the past two and a half years, South Florida began to see a really crazy infusion of new assets coming to town, which we now know came out to be over a trillion dollars. This was a movement that Daversa began tracking closely and we’ve  seen this play before with Silicon Alley in New York City, the LA market, even in Europe when we opened our London office a few years ago.  We recognized the early indicators of a blossoming tech hub happening in Miami.

We’ve always been early to the scene. We’ve had the privilege now to build over 10,000 tech companies, all of which hold a very shared vision of really pushing the throttle of innovation – and I think Miami has done a great job of positioning itself as that next tech hub.

In addition to all this, the pandemic really forced us all to reflect a lot on aspects of our personal lives – and Miami has become the place where people work and build careers and live very robust, whole happy lives. I think between the weather and the community, the culture, the tax benefits, the connection to Latin America, which is massively booming within Miami, it’s just become an increasingly attractive place for professionals to build lives and careers.

We’ve also found amazing local talent at the executive level in Miami and so we hope to spotlight the already strong local talent while leaning on our network of people in Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley and elsewhere who have already told us that, when the right opportunity comes around, they would be willing to move to Miami.

What are you seeing in Miami specifically? Are there particular areas that excite you?

One of the big trends that we’re seeing in Miami is obviously the crypto space. I think every top 50 o currency company right now is strategically looking at executive talent acquisition, even in the face of layoffs or risks, in order to add expertise or double down on products and platform, and we’re seeing this build out in DeFi, Metaverse. NFT,  blockchain etc. We’re continuing to see really high-profile execs leave companies like Uber Lyft, Facebook, Instagram to join crypto and web3 companies. And we see so much of that happening in Miami. Miami was an early adopter of crypto and has a big presence for blockchain and crypto companies. We’ve worked with the founder of Yuga Labs, which  is based in Miami and the most exciting digital collectibles company out there right now. We think more and more of that is going to happen in and around Miami specifically, and we’re really excited about that trend.

What are some of the companies that you have worked with already in Miami, in addition to Yuga Labs?

We’ve also worked with Lennar, which is the second largest home construction company in the US, a $22 billion public company. We’ve worked with Frida, which is a very mission driven company that is making parenthood more transparent and easier, SmartHop that provides smart trucking solutions to empower independent truck drivers and carriers, and Pipe’s founder and CEO who is transforming recurring revenue and upfront capital.  GOJA creates, buys and grows great brands on Amazon — we’ve done work with them, too.

What do you see as some of the challenges for Miami?

The challenge today is just the fact that it’s a super competitive market. More great companies are growing at an accelerated rate and in need of great talent, and I think that’s where we can add a lot of value by finding the amazing local talent, but there will be a need to bring additional talent from other markets to the Miami area. Daversa Partners is the only search firm globally that has a state of the art data and analytics complex, which is really focused on tracking talent. We do a lot of vertical heat mapping. We track diverse talent. We do a lot of data analysis and research, which is why we were able to identify early on that Miami was going to be the next big tech hub of this generation, but it requires the talent to do that. And so identifying that talent for the great companies that are building there, it’s a challenge because Miami is still early and it takes time to build.

What lit up on your heat map?

All of the great founders and funders that were moving to Miami was a really early indicator for us that there was something very special happening.

How has the downturn been impacting Daversa?

Even the most conservative investors and companies recognize that executive talent is critical, especially in down markets. We’ve been fortunate to not have felt an effect of the down market and I think Miami is mostly the opposite of a down market. There’s so much building happening there right now and companies know that people are their greatest asset.

Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

What I have found to be surprising and amazing in a really great way is just the community of Miami. It is one of the most welcoming, friendly, happy communities I’ve ever gotten to spend time with. Everyone always is like ‘what can we do to help?’

We just want to get down there and immerse ourselves into the community and be as helpful to others as they’ve been to us. And fortunately, we have the endless possibility to help change and shape the world and  make a tangible impact for this generation. Building companies that  leave Miami and this world better than how we found it is something I’m really excited about.


Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg and email her at [email protected]

Nancy Dahlberg