Rising from the ashes of scandal, former Silicon Valley Organization CEO Matt Mahood has a new gig — working for himself.
The business executive founded a consulting firm called MRM strategies in January, three months after a racist attack ad was published on SVO’s website under his watch. The ad sparked outrage from lawmakers and community members alike and led to the dissolution of the organization’s political action committee.
The ad sought to criticize San Jose City Council candidate Jake Tonkel’s stance on police reform during the November election. It read: “Do you really want to sign on to this?” and featured a picture of Black protestors surrounded by tear gas.
An investigation revealed Mahood was not aware of the image and had it immediately taken down before leaving SVO, though critics say the group has been guilty of dog whistle politics for years, including darkening Latinx candidates’ faces.
Mahood told San José Spotlight he is confident in his ability to move forward with a new business, despite the controversy.
“After I left the SVO, I received hundreds of emails, texts and phone calls of support and encouragement from members, board members, community leaders and elected officials,” Mahood said in a statement. “I believe that my reputation, community leadership and body of work over the last 18 plus years at two of California’s largest chambers of commerce will speak for itself.”
He said consulting is a short-term project that allows him the flexibility to explore future career opportunities.
Mahood founded MRM Strategies in January. He created the website over the holidays and launched the website a few weeks ago. Mahood said like any new business enterprise, MRM Strategies is still a work in progress.
According to its website, the firm specializes in executive management, organizational development, public affairs, public relations, communications and business development solutions. Mahood promises “positive outcomes” for clients by using techniques he learned though managing political and public policy campaigns.
Prior to leading The SVO, Mahood spent 15 years in management, marketing and sales roles at a handful of Fortune 500 companies including United Parcel Service, FedEx, BAX Global and Webvan.com. He became president and CEO of the Sacramento Metro Chamber, where he helped Mayor Kevin Johnson keep the Kings basketball team in the city.
Mahood was responsible for rebranding the Chamber of Commerce, the largest in the area, as The SVO.
“I have 30 plus years of management experience in the for profit and not-for-profit sectors at various levels,” Mahood said. “I intend to transfer that experience and skills to help clients in the short term — and maybe longer-term — but if an opportunity comes along that looks exciting, interesting and fun, I will go back to work in the private sector sooner rather than later.”
Contact Carly Wipf at [email protected] or follow @CarlyChristineW on Twitter.