AST hires former Yahoo! dealmaker for drive to expand membership base

AST has appointed former Yahoo! IP executive Ray Strimaitis as vice president, corporate development and global strategy. Although Strimaitis’s role looks like it will be broader, he is effectively replacing Linda Biel who left the defensive aggregator last month and has joined Provenance Asset Holdings, the new platform created by former AST head Dan McCurdy.

Strimaitis will be responsible for recruiting members both in new industry verticals and new geographies. Although AST’s membership includes a range of major tech businesses, such as Google, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, it remains relatively small when compared with defensive rival RPX and it has not been able to recruit many new members from emerging markets such as China or in the small to medium sized corporate market.

“With Ray’s skillset, experience, contacts and his familiarity with AST I felt that we could do a lot of great things going forward,” AST CEO Russell Binns commented. He added that Strimaitis’s background meant that he would be able to relate to operating companies’ needs in patent risk mitigation “on a level that we haven’t had before” and he will bring a significant list of contacts in Asia. He also gives AST a West Coast, Bay Area presence which will help grow its profile in Silicon Valley and beyond.

While his main focus is going to be on growing the membership, Strimaitis will also have a significant strategic part to play. “We’re going to be exploring different options around membership and how we can grow it in different ways and different value add-ons that we can add to AST for not just current members but prospective ones too,” Binns commented. The aggregator has been in the patent-buying headlines over the last couple of years thanks to its role overseeing the patent-buying initiative IP3.

Strimaitis left Yahoo! in the summer following the sale of the company’s search and media business to Verizon. While at the tech giant, where he was a deputy general counsel, he oversaw a monetisation programme that generated $600 million in patent sales. He also helped establish Excalibur IP that was created to sell off a large portfolio of Yahoo!’s non-core patents but which has failed to find a buyer except for one small package of assets that was sold to Dominion Harbor.

Before Yahoo! Strimaitis spent several years at IBM and so many might have expected him to move to another high-powered corporate IP role. “I could have done that, in fact I passed over some attractive offers,’ he commented. “But I just think there’s a lot of opportunities at AST to inter-face with other IP officers and to do something different in my career.”

Richard Lloyd’s IAM article may also be found here.

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