Silicon Valley’s powerful software-developers organization, SDForum (, has named Susan Lucas-Conwell (picture right) its Executive Director with the goal of pursuing the organization’s growth strategy and strengthening its international ties. She extends a warm welcome to French developers. SDForum is a unique place in Silicon Valley. A catalyst in the area of emerging software technologies, the software developers organization was founded in 1983 by entrepreneurs and developers wanting to strengthen their connections, do business together, and share their experience. Beyond providing information to its members, SDForum also brings them knowledge and know-how through its vast coaching network.

The organization has taken the lead in this environment where business is largely developed through personal networking. That network is what powers SDForum’s Companies in Residence program for start-ups. One of the program’s most recent success stories is SugarCRM, a rising Silicon Valley star in CRM and Open Source.

With 2000 active members, the organization hosts about twenty events a month around different areas of interest within the community: Open Source, Java, security, marketing, international issues, etc. It also organizes a number of major events including the Visionary Awards which, each year, honor industry leaders who have pioneered innovation and fostered the spirit of entrepreneurship. Winners include: Bill Gates, Marc Andreessen, John Chambers, Carly Fiorina, Gordon Moore, Robert Metcalfe and two Frenchmen, Eric Benhamou (3Com) and Pierre Omidyar (eBay) or like Vinton Cerf (Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist, Google); Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.; John L. Hennessy (President of Stanford University); Terry Semel (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Yahoo!) who got the price this year.For its continued development, SDForum can count on prestigious sponsors. Venture capital firms are drawn to the association as a great place to find companies in need of financing. Major Silicon Valley corporations like Oracle, Sun, IBM, eBay and Microsoft, are constantly in search of new talent and companies to acquire (Microsoft snapped up 10 last year), and ways to enhance their image in this community essential to their growth.

Susan Lucas-Conwell, SDForum’s new high-powered Executive Director, will be responsible for pursuing this winning strategy and more firmly anchoring the organization internationally. After spending 20 years in France, Susan decided to return to her native USA to take up this new challenge. A graduate of the prestigious Wharton School in Philadelphia, Susan dedicated her career first to marketing at major corporations, then to business development and organizational management, particularly in France.

She also founded and chaired the European section of Forum For Woman Entrepreneurs. Susan aims to bring SDForum in a decidedly global direction, opening its doors wide to developers throughout the world and intelligently partnering with as many similar organizations as possible outside the United States. She also wants to bring more media visibility to this great Silicon Valley success.

And France? Susan likes to point out the strong ties between France and Silicon Valley—that there is a significant French community here, and Palo Alto has at least three French patisseries that rival the best of Paris! More seriously, she highlights the recognized quality of French engineers and the excellent technologies we develop. Susan emphasizes that the doors of SDForum will always be open to talented French developers and entrepreneurs drawn to the United States. SDForum is thus a must-see for L’Atelier readers visiting the Bay Area.

By Dominique Piotet