Executive Team

Successful startup veterans providing capital, advisory services, and long-term business alliances to entrepreneurs and their backers. We roll up our sleeves and put skin in the game to offer full lifecycle value creation to our partners. Stepping Stone Capital Partners has an Executive Team with over 100 years of combined experience in both the financial and entrepreneurial sectors.

Brendan Burns, Managing Director

Brendan Burns has spent over 20 years at leading technology and financial institutions in various capacities, including founder and C-level executive. Brendan began his career with tenures at Moody’s Investor Service and Salomon Brothers. After graduating business school, Brendan co-founded AdOne, a leading early Internet classified advertising solutions provider. At AdOne, Brendan raised $55 million from a mix of investors including leading venture capital firms and strategic investors, such as major media companies like Hearst and Advance/Newhouse. Having grown AdOne from founding to over $20mm in sales and 150 employees, Brendan successfully drove an exit. Brendan subsequently served as CEO of EIS Inc, a leading innovator in highly targeted media messaging, where he drove a 5x increase in enterprise value during his two-year tenure, and CFO of a $35mm information security software and services provider.

Brendan earned a MBA in Corporate Finance and Entrepreneurship from Columbia University and his BS from Fordham University.  In addition, Brendan serves at an adjunct professor of Entrepreneurship at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, and is on the advisory board of the Lang Fund.

Hal Polley, Managing Director 

Hal has nearly 20 years experience investing in technology-enabled growth companies primarily as a principal investor, including substantial experience in operational and finance capacties, with some of the foremost institutions in the world. He has completed dozens of growth investment transactions totaling over $900 million. Hal began his career at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, where he participated in public offerings of debt and equity, M&A advisory deals, and principal transactions with DLJ Merchant Banking. From there, he went on to work at the Carlyle Group in Washington, DC, where he managed numerous principal investments including buyouts and minority investments in fields such as media, e-commerce, retail and healthcare. After business school, Hal became a Principal at Bessemer, consummating dozens of investments in companies at various stages of the growth cycle. For the last six years, he has taken executive-level operating positions at portfolio companies including as General Manager and Corporate Development officer, successfully driving double-digit sales and profit growth, with a focus on media, information technology, retail and healthcare. In addition to being a Managing Director of Stepping Stone, Hal is currently serving as Chief Financial Officer for DataRoket, Inc., a next-generation business intelligence software company and Stepping Stone portfolio company.



Hal earned his MBA from Stanford University and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Georgetown University. 


James Fox, Venture Partner

Jim has over two decades of experience leading high-growth information technology organizations, driving strategic development and cultivating executive management. After his career as a US Naval officer, he joined McKinsey & Co., where he employed his extensive capabilities for clients in company-level and business unit strategy, unit turnarounds, new business creation, and post merger consolidation. Since then, Jim has served as founder, president and CEO for various venture-backed technology companies such as Equal Footing and Equidity. Under Jim’s leadership, Equidity raised over $20mm from leading venture capital groups such as New Enterprise Associates, and was sold to publicly-held Sanchez Computer Associates, later acquired by Fidelity National Financial, Inc. (NYSE:FNF). Jim also served as a founder and CFO of Devas Multimedia, Inc., which has raised over $100mm in funding from leading VCs including Columbia Capital and strategic investors like Deutsche Telekom. In addition to being a Managing Director of Stepping Stone, Jim is currently serving as Founder and CEO of DataRoket, Inc., a next-generation business intelligence software company that is also a Stepping Stone portfolio company. 

Jim earned his MBA from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the US Naval Academy.



   

George Peng, Vice President

George began his career at NatWest Securities, where he participated in transactions including mergers and acquisitions, as well as private placements of capital. Later George worked for William E. Simon & Sons, a prominent Los Angeles-based private equity group, and was an investment banker at Credit Suisse First Boston, where his team financed LBOs and other large-cap investments in transactions for private equity sponsors and large public corporations, including Blackstone Group, LP , American Securities Capital Group, and Lincoln Electric. Subsequently George has served as an operating executive for growth companies, including as Chief Financial Officer of Girlshop, Inc., an online fashion retailer.

George earned his MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA, where he was awarded the Sigoloff Scholarship. He earned his AB from the University of Michigan. George is also a Chartered Financial Analyst.
 

Clifford J. Schorer, Senior Advisor

Cliff Schorer is a serial entrepreneur who specializes in the start-up, acquisition and development of small and mid-sized companies. He focuses on businesses with unique ideas or technologies that are in need of guidance during their initial growth phases. Currently Cliff is co-founder and co-CEO of Greenwich Energy Solutions, a company that delivers energy efficiency solutions to commercial and multi-family buildings. Cliff has been involved with multiple high-tech companies including, most recently, as founder and CEO of GeoVideo Networks, a Lucent Technologies Venture. Prior to that, his career included businesses in the real estate, software, office-supply and health care industries. During the early 1990's Cliff spent a considerable amount of time in the former Soviet Union using an American, entrepreneurial business approach to assist the new Russian government in the privatization process. During his extensive professional career, Schorer has lectured in numerous business and academic forums both in the United States and abroad and consulted for many Global 1000 companies. Since 1993, Cliff has been a professor at Columbia Business School. In 2000, Cliff conceived and launched the “Greenhouse Program” a unique Masters-level class whose sole goal is to guide graduating MBA students in the process of launching sustainable companies. Cliff serves as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Columbia Business School’s Lang Center for Entrepreneurship and is on the Board of the Lang Fund.

 


 

 


 


 

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