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Gary Swart

Gary Swart

Entrepreneurial thought leader, Silicon Valley VC, and former CEO of oDesk


North America

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A veteran Silicon Valley executive and Venture Partner at Polaris Partners, Gary Swart is considered by many a thought leader in the field of entrepreneurship. He has over thirty years’ experience as a business leader and is credited with building the world’s largest online marketplace. oDesk had over eight million freelancers and over a million clients. He managed to guide the company through difficult times, going through a successful merger with Elance in 2014, and creating what is today known as Upwork. Then, as now, Gary is a champion for both entrepreneurship and workplace innovation.

Gary, after completing his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration at the University of Maryland, started out with a number of sales, management, and leadership positions at Pure Software before becoming a Business Unit Executive for IBM’s Rational Software Group. He later, before joining oDesk, joined Intelibank where he was the Vice President of Worldwide Sales responsible for building the direct and indirect sales organisation and channel development.

These days, Gary Swart is a Partner at Polaris Partners, a company that invests in technology and healthcare companies. He represents Polaris on the boards of SimplyInsured, Quantcast, and CliQr while mentoring business leaders at innovative companies, working to change the way we live and work.

Amongst the many keynotes he has delivered thus far, Gary counts the Inc. Leadership Conference, SCSW, GigaOm Net:Work, HBS, the Economist’s Ideas Economy Panel, and a host of others. His commentary has appeared on LinkedIn, where he is considered an influencer, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Next Web, and TechCrunch. He has also appeared on numerous radio and television outlets, including Startups Uncensored, Fox Business Network, CNBC, BBC, NPR, and National Public Radio. He is also a faculty member at the Alchemist Academy and a StartX Mentor.

Gary Swart – Speaker

Gary Swart has sat on a number of boards of some of the most innovative, fastest growing companies to be found in Silicon Valley. Gary has translated his myriad experiences into an inspirational, forward-thinking, collaborative approach when it comes to building and motivating business minds. Able to draw on three decades’ worth of experience as a business leader and entrepreneur, Gary offers audiences strategic, practical advice on succeeding in a dynamic, constantly changing business environment.

Speaking Topics

  • “Strengths were ability to motivate and vision for innovation. Ability to motivate was combination of creating sense of urgency as well as an ability to recollect statistics to "show" success. Innovation was evidenced by round trip marketing campaign created. We were able to track and measure incoming lead flow to determine the best campaigns, resulting in greater revenue for the company.”

    Doug Golliher, Vice President, Inside Sales and Customer Success, Agile Business Unit at CA Technologies

  • Gary Swart “Strengths were ability to motivate and vision for innovation. Ability to motivate was combination of creating sense of urgency as well as an ability to recollect statistics to "show" success. Innovation was evidenced by round trip marketing campaign created. We were able to track and measure incoming lead flow to determine the best campaigns, resulting in greater revenue for the company.”
    5 / 5
  • “Gary did a tremendous job integrating a large team with many different responsibilities into a cohesive, well organized, and productive unit. I learned a great deal as a direct report to Gary due to his ability to motivate and challenge.”

    Larry A. Irvin, Vice President, Sales | Major Accounts | Enterprise Software | Solution Selling | Sales Operations |

  • Gary Swart “Gary did a tremendous job integrating a large team with many different responsibilities into a cohesive, well organized, and productive unit. I learned a great deal as a direct report to Gary due to his ability to motivate and challenge.”
    5 / 5
  • ”Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to speak at Amplify last night. I go to a lot of these talks and I found yours to be the most insightful discussion yet.”

    Amplify Event

  • Gary Swart ”Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to speak at Amplify last night. I go to a lot of these talks and I found yours to be the most insightful discussion yet.”
    5 / 5
  • “Gary is an exemplary executive - high energy, very professional, skilled at what he does, and an excellent communicator. He contributed in so many valuable ways at Intellibank, building a top notch sales team, improving our management processes, closing key deals, and keeping spirits up during the tough moments. I'd love to work with Gary again someday.”

    Patrick Leung, Engineering Lead, Operations at Google Duplex

  • Gary Swart “Gary is an exemplary executive - high energy, very professional, skilled at what he does, and an excellent communicator. He contributed in so many valuable ways at Intellibank, building a top notch sales team, improving our management processes, closing key deals, and keeping spirits up during the tough moments. I'd love to work with Gary again someday.”
    5 / 5
  • “Gary is an excellent CEO and communicator. He has a myriad of excellent business contacts and is definitely a leader that his peers respect. Based on my dealings with Gary at oDesk, he is extremely straightforward and honest. In addition, he is genuinely concerned about the fiscal and psychological wellness of his employees. If he ever summons my talents in the future, I will definitely respond positively.”

    John Kellgren, Lead IT Architect, DC Department of Health (Contract)

  • Gary Swart “Gary is an excellent CEO and communicator. He has a myriad of excellent business contacts and is definitely a leader that his peers respect. Based on my dealings with Gary at oDesk, he is extremely straightforward and honest. In addition, he is genuinely concerned about the fiscal and psychological wellness of his employees. If he ever summons my talents in the future, I will definitely respond positively.”
    5 / 5
  • “You were the perfect kick-off speaker, setting the tone for the event wonderfully. I loved how in depth you got, especially with each audience question; I feel like attendees really could walk away with some important information.”

    Unleashed Talent Event

  • Gary Swart “You were the perfect kick-off speaker, setting the tone for the event wonderfully. I loved how in depth you got, especially with each audience question; I feel like attendees really could walk away with some important information.”
    5 / 5

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