Ryan Van Wagenen on Recent Trends in the Silicon Slopes

Ryan Van Wagenen is from Cottonwood Heights and is currently a Director at Global Private Equity.  Global Private Equity is a buy side group that is most known for their investments in the technology sector.  The Silicon Slopes continues to have dynamic growth and interesting business opportunity, according to Van Wagenen.  Over the past 10 years, the changes in the economy in the State have been stunning.

Ryan Van Wagenen Silicon Slopes
Ryan Van Wagenen discusses the recent growth in the Silicon Slopes.

The Silicon Slopes are Up and Coming

The Silicon Slopes are definitely on the up and the state is embracing all the growth. This region now has the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit annually every first quarter.  This is a conference that formed to commemorate all the tech expansion throughout the state.  The event is two to three full days and focuses on the future in technology. In addition, the conference features some of the most prominent speakers in the world.

In discussing the movement, Ryan Van Wagenen mentioned that he has seen quite a difference in the mood throughout the Wasatch.  Since joining Global Private Equity in 2009, Van Wagenen has seen a lot of change in the state.  Upon promotion to Director at GPE in 2011, came responsibility of leading the firm’s technology-related investments. The technology sector has seen tremendous growth, especially over the past few years.

From the capital city all the way south to the “point of the mountain” there has been a clear undercurrent of business and growth.  The California Bay Area of Silicon Valley has seen an exodus of numerous new startups now heading Eastward.  The move is to the lower cost and more trendy hip environment at the base of the Wasatch Mountains known as “Silicon Slopes.”  As young urban professionals, the dream life can be found when a work setting is minutes from the slopes.  Not to mention the benefits from living in a place where the cost of living is a fraction of the California lifestyle.  Even established mammoth corporate businesses such as Goldman Sachs, Adobe, and Intel are opening and expanding in the region.  What originally was viewed as satellite office space in the valley and adjacent areas, is now growing into significant offices.

Ryan Van Wagenen is well familiar with the Benefits of the Silicon Slopes

When asked further, Ryan Van Wagenen explained, “USU, the University of Utah, BYU, UVU, and Westminster provide tens of thousands of new responsible cost competitive talent each year within just 45 miles.  It just makes sense that these firms would want to be here and hire these recent grads.  The firms can pay very competitive salaries and the employees are happy because the cost of living is less and the location provides a great place for a family.  Having these companies here locally has been great for our business and we’ve seen a dramatic increase in activity.”

Ryan Van Wagenen, well familiar with the benefits of the Silicon Slopes life, is an alumnus of Westminster and has been working in the area since 2009.

Ryan Van Wagenen Technology Summit

Opportunity for Technology Investment throughout the State

As new technology companies continue to enter the Wasatch, the beehive state presents a natural investment opportunity.  Ryan Van Wagenen points out that there untapped growth in private equity and other related business.  The state’s Business Journal indicates a sharp increase in deal flow in 2018 that could lead to the most dynamic year in the state’s history.  Currently, this information is based on the top 25 private equity firms found within the state.  Typical deal sizes range from $5 million to $20 million.  However, most private equity firms have networks and partners that can pool risk and handle deals exceeding those figures, according to Ryan Van Wagenen.

Sharp Increases in Investor Confidence and Real Estate Activity

Investor sentiment and confidence in the local community is at and all time high according to Zions Consumer Attitude Index.  This uptick in confidence combined with the interest nationwide in outdoor sports has led in part to the job relocation throughout the State.  A winter mountain sport has been directly attributed to an 80% increase in outdoor activities compared to prior years.   Neighboring communities such as the trendy Park City have noticed an increase in tourists, visitors and newly relocated locals to their city.   Local business has embraced the new activity as restaurants are oftentimes overflowing with tourists and locals.  The combination of enjoying the crisp air and majestic mountains is significantly increasing business activity.

Communities throughout the state have noticed sharp increases in real estate activity.  Prices are firming both for residential and the multifamily housing markets.  Nationwide the Salt Lake housing market is touted in the top 10 for the 2018, 2019, and 2020 calendar years.  The local real estate market has popped nearly 6% in 2017.  Additional growth is forecasted in 2018 in excess of 3%.  Some locals fear a “bubble” in real estate pricing but many real estate experts point to the entire State merely playing catch-up to decades long market trends in housing that had previously escaped this area.

The Silicon Slopes Have Formed Interest in Other Tech like Cryptocurrency

In his executive role within Global Private Equity, Ryan Van Wagenen has also become familiar with bitcoin and other cryptocurrency.  This has all taken place due to Global Private Equity placing sizeable investments in the blockchain technology.  This involvement in the blockchain has led to further focus and research into Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency has morphed into the alternative investment of the century.  Digital currency has surprisingly turned into a fragmented market and there is a lot of opportunity.  In just the past 36 months, there is not a sub-sector of technology that has made more millionaires than digital currency.  The doubled edged sword about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency is that the government and banks do not openly manage it. It is not centrally regulated by the government and open to all who are willing to invest.  The cryptocurrency technology allows for opportunity to grow business.  Digital currency has been an innovative technology that has dominated the world.  Meanwhile, cryptocurrency can provide significant and rewarding returns.

The digital currency market is quite interesting and worth taking a look at.  Digital currency has been the most volatile sub-sector in technology the past few years.  Returns will range from 20x in boom years and down 50%+ in down years.  Interest has spiked to know how cryptocurrency works and where it is actually held.  Van Wagenen is quite familiar with the technology and here is what he points out as three ways to get Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies.

Consensus is that the Silicon Slopes Are Here to Stay

The Silicon Slopes are great for the state and the consensus is that they are here to stay.  High profile early stage technology firms such as Snapchat have confirmed the State is putting the right components together.  The hope is that the Wasatch will continue to lure technology firms to the newly crowned Silicon Slopes environment.  Here’s to a great new future of dynamic growth and success for all those relocating to the Beehive State.

What do you think about the Silicon Slopes? Let us know your opinion.

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Ryan Van Wagenen currently resides in Cottonwood Heights and is an American financier that is focused in Private Equity. Since 2009, he has worked at Global Private Equity. Global Private Equity is an international firm focused on private equity. In 2011, he was promoted to Director within the firm. With this move came a shift in coverage to the technology sector. Since becoming a Director at Global Private Equity, Ryan Van Wagenen now has been put in charge of the origination process. In recent years, he has also been given the responsibility of co-managing GPEs deal relationships between the London team and those in the US. Before Global Private Equity, Van Wagenen worked in the operations team at Citi Trends from 2006 to 2009. This job within the operations of a large corporate consisted of being responsible for data entry, accounts payable, payroll, grant report entry, creating organizational and program budgets in collaboration with the firm's executive director. Citi Trends ("CTRN" Nasdaq) is an American retail clothing chain that is headquartered in Savannah, Georgia. Ryan Van Wagenen is an alumnus of Westminster College where he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Finance. He is the youngest of five children. Being that he was the last born in the Van Wagenen family, his older siblings, especially his two oldest brothers, made sure he always lived life to the fullest. Ryan credits this to many broken bones and two near death experiences. Even with these memories, he is still active in the Utah outdoor community and is an avid backcountry skier, mountaineering racer, hiker, rock climber, and mountain biker. Behind all the accomplishments is a caring person that is focused on giving back in the local community.


  1. Agree with the sentiment – There is so much talent coming out of Utah. I hope we continue to see start ups and more tech firms opening up offices out here. And lets hire more Aggies! #USU


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