Why the Mayor of Beverly Hills joined a private equity firm

December 1, 2010, 9:43 PM UTC

Jimmy Delshad

Jimmy Delshad, Mayor of Beverly Hills, today announced that he’s joining Los Angeles-based investment firm Pacific Capital Group as a managing director and vice chairman. His focus is expected to be on “smart technologies” that can be implemented by municipalities.

I just spent a few minutes on the phone with Delshad, to better understand what he’s done in Beverly Hills as pretext for his future investment activities. Here is a transcript:

Fortune: How much of your time is spent being mayor of Beverly Hills?

Delshad: Being the mayor of Beverly Hills is not a fulltime job, even though you get elected to the office. There is a general manager of the city, hired by the mayor and the city council to basically act as the CEO.

About 25% of my time is being mayor, while the rest is spent on a variety of boards of directors and as a management consultant. That time spent on consulting will now be spent with Pacific Capital Group.

Your second one-year term as mayor expires in March. Do you plan to run again, or are you also reallocating that time to PCG?

I’m not running for a third term, so yes I’ll be working with Pacific Capital Group with that leftover time. I’ve already been elected to two terms and served on the city council for eight years.

Why Pacific Capital Group?

I met [PCG founder and CEO] Gary Winnick some time ago, and began talking to him when I saw that he was very involved in investment areas that also matched my interests. First was with Global Crossing, which created a private fiber-optic network under the ocean that connected the U.S. to Europe to Asia, and allowed us to have it at a low cost.

One of my priorities in Beverly Hills was to  help it become the first city to connect all of its businesses to the Internet using fiber optics, which is much faster than DSL or cable. I saw what Gary Winnick had done with Global Crossing, in creating a private fiber-optic network under the ocean that connected the U.S. to Europe to Asia. So I was interested in what else he was involved with, and we began having conversations years ago. Our investment interests are very similar.

Today’s press release says that your focus will be on smart technologies for the public sector, based on your work in Beverly Hills. Could you expand a bit on that experience?

In Beverly Hills we created the first parking meters connected directly to City Hall via wireless connections. They are solar powered, accept credit cards and coins and automatically let the city know when they’ve failed. It’s cut down on both theft and damages.

Another is creating what we call automatic license plates. Cars going through Beverly Hills are read instantaneously by cameras, and then compared to police, FBI and Secret Service databases. If the person is wanted – or if the car was reported stolen – then law enforcement acts.

We also have smart traffic lights that we can monitor via cameras, in order to turn on and off in line with traffic congestion.

What exactly will PCG’s smart tech practice do?

We’ll make some investments in emerging technologies. We’ll also will take these technologies to other cities, and try to get those cities to adopt them.

So you’ll serve as an outside consultant, or simply advocate for the companies in which you invest?

Both. It all depends on the type of technology. In some cases we’ll make investments, in others we’ll act as consultants.

Are you able to say how much money PCG plans to invest in the sector?

No, that’s not for public knowledge.