Board of Directors
John Chu is an advisor and operating partner who has worked within private equity firms for the last several years. Mr. Chu focuses on guiding companies in the areas of IT, finance, and strategy. Previously, he was the Senior Vice President, eBusiness & Technology for The Hartford’s Property-Casualty operations where he was responsible for technology strategy and operations. He also served as VP, Strategic Business Development and CFO for The Hartford’s Personal Lines Division. Prior to The Hartford, Mr. Chu held the position of Managing Consultant for Tillinghast - Towers Perrin, managing engagements with Fortune 100 financial services companies.
Michael A. Roe
Michael A. Roe joined the FirstBest Board of Directors, leveraging his insurance and technology expertise to help guide FirstBest’s business
Michael has a 23-year record of success in high-growth software and IT consulting industries, with a focus on the insurance and annuity vertical markets. He is the former founder, chairman and CEO of NaviSys, a leading insurance software and consulting firm acquired by Accenture in 2006. Mr. Roe led NaviSys for fifteen years, where he focused on providing innovative solutions that increased business performance through all phases of the business cycle, including the previous market downturn in 2001. Michael speaks at insurance conferences and has been published in
and LOMA Resource.
Neil Spector is president, Verisk Insurance Solutions – Underwriting. Verisk Underwriting helps property/casualty insurers improve underwriting performance throughout the policy life cycle.
Mr. Spector is responsible for the strategy and success of Verisk Underwriting. He leads a senior management team charged with developing innovative services for automobile and property insurers with a focus on personal lines. Verisk Underwriting is dedicated to delivering measurable performance improvements in four key areas: policy acquisition costs, customer experience/retention, classification integrity, and exposure to fraud and other hazards. Several of the well-recognized Verisk Underwriting product brands include LOCATION®, A-PLUS™, 360Value®, VINMASTER®, QuickFill®, and RISK:check®.
Previously, Mr. Spector was vice president and chief sales officer of Verisk Insurance Solutions and of ISO, a Verisk Analytics company. Before joining ISO, Mr. Spector served as head of sales for ISO's AscendantOne division in Nashua, New Hampshire. Before joining AscendantOne, he spent 12 years in sales and sales management positions of increasing responsibility with Automatic Data Processing (ADP), Compuware Corporation, and IBM.
Mr. Spector holds a bachelor's degree in business management and marketing from the State University of New York at Binghamton.
Michael A. DiPiano
Michael DiPiano is a General Partner of NewSpring Growth and the Managing Partner of NewSpring Capital. Prior to joining NewSpring Capital, Mr. DiPiano was a serial entrepreneur and investor. He led or co-led the investment into six companies in the business services, healthcare and information technology industries. During that time, he was affiliated with Safeguard Scientifics (NYSE:SFG) and their related Funds. Prior to 1996, he spent six years as a division CEO and director of Chemical Leaman Corporation. Mr. DiPiano started his career in 1980 with Baxter Healthcare Corporation (NYSE: BAX) where he held numerous positions culminating as Vice President responsible for Operations and Sales of the Industrial Scientific Products Division. He currently serves on the boards of Femme Pharma, Continental Bank, iPipeline, CyberShift, Bluenog, Message Systems, ACG Philadelphia and the University City Science Center, where he also sits on the Audit Committee. Mr. DiPiano has a B.S. from Penn State University and an MBA from Stern School at New York University.
Chip is a General Partner at Flybridge Capital Partners whose investment interests and experience are in the information technology sector.
He currently represents the firm on the boards of 1-800-FREE411 (Jingle Networks), FirstBest Systems, Infobright, mValent, Placemark Investments, Reveal Imaging, and SupplyScape and was previously a director at Bowstreet, which was acquired by IBM.
Chip’s blog on opportunities in enterprise IT markets can be read at
Before joining the firm in May 2002, Chip was a General Partner with Greylock Partners, a leading venture capital firm he joined in 1994. While at Greylock, Chip led or participated in numerous successful investments in the enterprise information technology field including Narrative Communications (acquired by @Home), Idiom Technologies (acquired by SDL), iPhrase Technologies (acquired by IBM), IBA (acquired by ServiceSoft/Kana), Storage Networks (IPO), Totality (acquired by MCI) and the Vincam Group (IPO in 1996, acquired by ADP). Prior to Greylock, he was with Company Assistance Limited, an investment and consulting firm in Warsaw Poland; and Bain and Company, an international management consulting firm.
Chip received a BA with honors from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School where he was a Baker Scholar and a Ford Scholar.
Michael Toporek is the co-founder and Managing General Partner of Brookstone Partners, a private equity firm. He is responsible for investment decisions as well as portfolio company management and development. In addition, Mr. Toporek is a director of Glowpoint, Inc. (GLOW), a Delaware corporation, based in New Jersey that provides IP-based video communications services and has appeared as a commentator on CNN and CNBC.
Prior to co-founding Brookstone Partners in 2003, Mr. Toporek was both an active principal investor and an investment banker. Over the past 10 years, Mr. Toporek has invested in growth equity and industrial buyout situations which yielded over $1 billion in capital returned to investors. Notable investments include eToys, The Theory Center, Advanced Mining Systems and Blacor Steel.
As an investment banker, Mr. Toporek worked extensively with Fortune 100 companies to formulate and execute complex merger, acquisition and financing strategies in diversified sectors such as manufacturing, building products, medical, analytical instruments, environmental services, technology and transportation/logistics. He has also structured innovative debt, equity and equity-linked financing in the U.S. and European capital markets.
Mr. Toporek began his career in Chemical Bank’s Investment Banking Group, later joined Dillon Read, which became UBS Warburg during his tenure, and SG Cowen. He received a B.A. and an M.B.A from the University of Chicago.
Mr. Belizaire is an accomplished enterprise software visionary and entrepreneur. He has a proven track record of new venture development and operational management success.
Prior to co-founding FirstBest, he was Senior Director of Business Development and Strategic Planning for BEA’s Ecommerce Applications Division. He developed sales strategy, strategic partnerships, and customer interaction for the division, growing annual revenue to over $150 million.
Before BEA, Mr. Belizaire co-founded The Theory Center, a leader in Java-based component software for enterprise applications. As CEO, he grew the company from inception to $10M in revenue with 43 employees. BEA Systems acquired the company in 1999 for over $160M.
Prior to co-founding The Theory Center, Mr. Belizaire served as a Lead Architect for Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group, where he was responsible for the industry’s first implementation of network quality-of-service technology for personal computers.
Mr. Belizaire holds a Bachelor of Science and Master’s degrees in Computer Science from Cornell University. He has completed the Wharton Business School’s Executive Development Program at the University of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Pilkerton has over fifteen years of experience directing enterprise software development, and has held positions in executive management, professional services and sales.
Prior to co-founding FirstBest, he was Senior Director of Professional Services and Training for BEA Systems. In this role, he was responsible for building the consulting practice and training capacity for BEA’s e-commerce application division.
Mr. Pilkerton came to BEA with the record acquisition of The Theory Center, where he was co-founder and Executive Vice President, Professional Services. Prior to founding The Theory Center, Mr. Pilkerton directed large-scale enterprise application projects for clients such as Hertz Corporation, Citibank, Lockheed Martin, and McDonnell Douglas.
Mr. Pilkerton received a B.A. from Catholic University, and an ALM in Information Technology and Management from Harvard University. He also holds a MBA from Northeastern University.