The University of Montana School of Business Administration and the Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs will honor Greg Gianforte, founder of RightNow Technologies, with the 2012 Pioneer in Industry Award. Gianforte will present a talk titled “Improving K-12 Education in Montana” and participate in a question-and-answer session from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, at the George and Jane Dennison Theatre.
Gianforte is a serial entrepreneur in the computer-networking and software industries, and an innovator in the customer-experience market.
Gianforte founded Bozeman-based RightNow Technologies, a customer service and support solutions company, in 1997. Under his leadership as chairman and CEO, RightNow enjoyed continuous growth, with nearly 2,000 consumer-focused companies around the world using its products, including British Airways, Cisco and Sprint. The company had more than 1,100 employees worldwide and more than $225 million in annual revenue. He took RightNow public in 2004, and in 2011 he sold the company to Oracle for more than $1.5 billion.
Gianforte is involved in a number of philanthropic endeavors through the Gianforte Family Foundation, including Bootstrap Montana, a micro-loan program designed to assist rural entrepreneurs with zero-interest loans, and the expansion of ACE Scholarships into Montana, which provide $2,000-per-year scholarships to low- and moderate-income families to send their kids to private schools of their choice.
The Pioneer in Industry Award was created to enhance the entrepreneurship opportunities for UM students and to inspire Montana’s future generation of entrepreneurs. It is presented to pioneers and innovators who have been recognized as leaders in their industry and who demonstrate a sense of social responsibility through positive contributions they make to the communities where they live.