• Thank You

    It has been an honor to chair the 2nd Annual Ocean Gala. We were thrilled to be able to share the evening with you and present four world class speakers for the ocean, Sir Richard Branson, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Bertrand Piccard and Rob Stewart. Our event brought together over 400 attendees, beautifully dressed in gowns and tuxedos, from over 10 countries. What an absolutely dynamic group of people. Your generosity helped us raise over $800,000 to support the ocean. That is really something to celebrate! We owe a debt of gratitude to our dedicated team of committee members, volunteers and ambassadors who worked tirelessly to make this an unforgettable evening. And to our amazing sponsors and donors, who have enabled OceanElders to continue their mission and MaiTai Global to continue their support of other non-profits like Mission Blue, whose inspiring programs drive public awareness, access and support for a worldwide network of marine protected areas. Thank you for attending the gala and being part of the magic. Once again, we proved that together we can make a difference in causes we are passionate about. We look forward to seeing you again next year for another successful Ocean Gala.


    Maria Stermer - Gala Chair

  • 2016

  • The Gala

    MaiTai Global and OceanElders are proud to present the Second Annual Ocean Gala, a fundraising event to support ocean conservation. Immerse yourself in interactive virtual reality experiences, then step into an evening filled with music, dancing, and insight from the most prominent people in ocean conservation. As a collaborative community of passionate men and women, these organizations have partnered to bring together today's and tomorrow's global leaders in a collective effort to protect, value and celebrate the ocean and its wildlife.
    The Ocean Gala
    Saturday, December 3, 2016
    Keynote Speaker: Sir Richard Branson


    Cocktail Reception - 7PM

    Dinner, Program and Live Auction - 8PM

    After Party with DJ Alex Cruz - 10:30PM

    Palace Hotel | San Francisco, CA
    2 New Montgomery Street
    San Francisco, CA 94105


    This is an Invite Only event


  • Our Cause

    MaiTai Global and OceanElders are committed to support efforts in conservation and protection of the world’s ocean and its wildlife. The members of these organizations are dedicated individuals who strive to prevent further damage to the ocean. They seek to support proactive programs and organizations who produce meaningful results in the field of ocean conservation. They encourage, endorse and collaborate with influential leaders pursuing the protection of the ocean’s habitat and wildlife, its ecosystems and species biodiversity.
    Proceeds from The Ocean Gala Auction will provide financial support to MaiTai Global and OceanElders, whose collaborative work to tackle critical issues with other ocean organizations and world leaders have profoundly impacted efforts towards protection and conservation of the world's ocean and its wildlife.



    - Organizations Funded -


  • Special Guests

    Sir Richard Branson

    Founder of Virgin Group

    Richard Branson founded the Virgin Group in 1970 as a mail order retailer and shortly thereafter opened a record shop in Oxford Street, London. The first album created from Virgin Records went to sell over 5 million copies. Today, Virgin is one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands. Virgin Group has expanded into air travel, mobile, financial services, rail, health & wellness, radio, hotels and resorts, space travel and renewable energy; investing through more than 200 companies worldwide.


    Bertrand Piccard

    Chairman and Pilot at Solar Impulse, United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, Motivational Speaker

    Bertrand Piccard is the initiator and visionary behind Solar Impulse, the very first airplane capable of flying perpetually without fuel. It is in his DNA to go beyond the obvious and achieve the impossible as he did with his two round-the-world flights, recently in a solar-powered airplane, and before that non-stop in a balloon. The ocean depths and the stratosphere attracted his father and grandfather; the challenges of our time fascinate him. Since he launched the first flight around the world in a solar airplane, his ambition has been to leverage a pioneering spirit for a useful contribution to the cause of renewable energies and clean technologies. With his dual identities as medical doctor and explorer, Bertrand has become a voice heard among the most distinguished institutions across the globe as a forward-thinking leader for progress and sustainability.

    Jackson Browne

    Singer-Songerwriter, Musician and Activist

    Jackson Browne has written and performed some of the most literate and moving songs in popular music and has defined a genre of songwriting charged with honesty, emotion and personal politics. He was honored with induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2007. He was also nominated for a Grammy in 2007 in the category of Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album. Beyond his music, Browne is known for his advocacy on behalf of the environment, human rights, and arts education. He is a co-founder of the groups Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE), Nukefree.org, and Success Through the Arts Foundation, which provides education opportunities for students in South Los Angeles.



    Dr. Sylvia Earle

    National Geographic Society Explorer in Residence Dr. Sylvia A. Earle, called Her Deepness by the New Yorker and the New York Times, Living Legend by the Library of Congress, and first Hero for the Planet by Time Magazine, is an oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer with experience as a field research scientist, government official, and director for corporate and non-profit organizations.  She has led more than 100 expeditions and logged more than 7000 hours underwater including leading the first team of women aquanauts during the Tektite Project in 1970, participating in nine saturation dives, and setting a record for solo diving in 1000 meters depth. Her research concerns marine ecosystems with special reference to exploration, conservation, and the development and use of new technologies for access and effective operations in the deep sea and other remote environments.

    Captain Don Walsh

    Captain Don Walsh USN (ret), PhD is an oceanographer, explorer, and former submarine captain. A graduate of the US Naval Academy, he holds graduate degrees from Texas A&M (MS and PhD) and San Diego State University (MA). His professional life has been almost entirely in the design, manufacture, and operations of undersea systems. In 1960, he was designated US Navy Submersible Pilot #1 and was the first submersible pilot in the US, having descended in the Trieste to the deepest point known in the ocean, the Mariana Trench. His half century of contributions to undersea engineering were recognized in 2001 when he was elected to the US National Academy of Engineering. Currently, he is the Honorary President of the Explorers Club.

    Rob Stewart

    Biologist, Conservationist, Documentary Filmmaker

    Rob Stewart is an award winning photographer, filmmaker and activist. Trained as a biologist in Canada, Jamaica and Kenya, Stewart spent four years as a wildlife photographer before embarking on the journey to make his first film Sharkwater. One of the biggest documentaries of 2007, Sharkwater broke box office records, spawned conservation groups and was seen by 124 million people, changing government policy worldwide. Stewart’s second film Revolution brings the plight of the oceans and ultimately humanity to the masses. Revolution and Sharkwater have won more than 50 awards at top film festivals around the world. Stewart is on the board of United Conservationists, Shark Research Institute, Wildaid and Shark Savers; has written two books – Sharkwater: An Odyssey to Save the Planet; and Save the Humans.

    Yuan Yuan Tan

    Principal Dancer with the San Francisco Ballet

    Yuan Yuan Tan is regarded as the greatest Chinese ballerina of all time. She joined San Francisco Ballet in 1995, the oldest company in the United States, as a Soloist... just two years later, at the age of 20 she was promoted to Principal dancer, the youngest in the history of the company, and the first Chinese ballerina in the world to achieve that level. She has danced with the legendary Bolshoi and Hamburg Ballets as a guest performer and, in 2008, she joined the Hong Kong Ballet as a Guest Principal Dancer.


    Alex Cruz

    DJ / Producer

    Alex Cruz is a Deep House DJ from Amsterdam whose “Deep and Sexy” podcast with millions of downloads on Soundcloud has garnered him one of the most sought after house DJ's out there. He has performed at hundreds of venues and events around the globe, including a special performance in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics. He will be the special guest DJ for The Ocean Gala Afterparty at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco on December 3.

  • Organizers

    MaiTai Global
    MaiTai Global is made up of a group of extraordinary entrepreneurs, innovators and athletes. Participants in MaiTai events combine their energy, network and resources to help each other achieve professional success, pushing the limits of work and play while also fueling philanthropic activities around the world. The MaiTai Global mission is to marshal the support of extreme innovators, entrepreneurs and athletes to support environmental causes related to the ocean and related ecosystems. www.maitaiglobal.org

    OceanElders is an independent group of global leaders who have joined together to serve as a catalyst in the conservation and protection of the ocean and its wildlife. These individuals use their collective influence, supported by science and data, to promote ocean conservation, pursue the protection of the ocean’s habitat and wildlife to preserve its ecosystems and species biodiversity. www.oceanelders.org

  • Committee

    Bill Tai

    Co-Founder and Chairman of MaiTai Global

    Bill is an investor & entrepreneur who has served as a Board Director of  7 publicly listed companies he initially funded as startups.  Bill established CRV's Silicon Valley office and is a backer of ScribdWish.com on their behalf.  In a personal capacity he co-founded Big Data provider TreasureData and Linux company IPInfusion as Chairman and iAsiaWorks as Chairman &CEO.  He is a Board Director of BitFuryLuluVoxer and an early personal backer of fun startups including Canva, Shoes of Prey, Tango.meTweetdeck (Twitter), & Zoom.us.



    Susi Mai

    Co-Founder and President of MaiTai Global

    Susi is a kite-boarding legend. She is one of the premier Red Bull athletes and during the 2003 Red Bull King of the Air competition, she was given the sports highest female honor: Red Bull Queen of the Air. In April 2012, she became a Patron of the Kite Right Charity, which uses kite-sports to help change the lives of individuals with physical, mental or learning challenges.



    Gigi Brisson

    Founder and CEO of OceanElders

    Gigi is Founder and CEO of Ocean Elders. She created the organization in 2011 to be a locus of collaboration in the field of ocean conservation and sought out global leaders who have a personal passion for the ocean and its wildlife, including Captain Don Walsh, Dr. Bertrand Piccard, Dr. Frederik Paulsen, Dr. Rita Colwell, Dr. Sylvia Earle, E.O. Wilson, Gerry Lopez, Graeme Kelleher, Her Majesty Queen Noor, HSH Prince Albert II, Jackson Browne, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Jim Cameron, Jose Maria Figueres, Nainoa Thompson, Sir Richard Branson, Sven Lindblad and Ted Turner. Prior to OceanElders, Gigi co-managed Attractor Ventures, a technology investment firm, for 20 years. She holds an MBA in Finance from NYU and a B.S. in Economics from Northwestern University.



    Maria Stermer

    CFO/Treasurer of MaiTai Global

    Maria is the CFO of MaiTai Global, and also serves as a financial consultant to various companies. She is currently the external CFO for Los Angeles-based real estate developer, Daniel Bernstein & Associates, and is responsible for financing all projects including JV, preferred equity and debt instruments. Previously, she was the external CFO for Permacity, a leading solar company in California, and a partner at Hoffman, Stermer & Associates, a public accounting firm. Maria is a certified public accountant, and has a B.A. degree in English Literature from UCLA, where she also studied Economics. She has worked with nonprofit organizations for over sixteen years, including starting her own from the ground up, and has served on numerous boards.

    Gala Chair

    Colette K. Young

    Entrepreneur in Residence with MaiTai Global


    Colette is an entrepreneur with an enthusiasm for solving problems and creating meaningful experiences. She is currently building out the sales division at Float, an enterprise mobility company that services F100/500 companies. She is the founder of Coco Zaza, a boutique consultancy specializing in technology, retail and hospitality. Through Coco Zaza's hype, she launched her own fashion blog in May of 2014 to keep track of her personal style, adventures and travel. Colette built her first business at the age of fourteen, a women’s fashion boutique, and has been coined one of the top young entrepreneurs by The Today Show, Forbes and MSNBC. Colette previously worked at o9 Solutions, FirstMark Capital and Prada Corporate and has been educated at The Fashion Institute of Technology and NYU Stern.



    Silent and Live Auction Director

    Daniela Colton

    Director of Publicity and Marketing for The Ocean Gala


    Daniela has been working in the motorsports and action sports industry for the past 7 years. Her experience in sports marketing has taken her around the world executing tours, trade shows and other launch events in the United States, South America, Germany and China. She now works as a private consultant; connecting athletes through authentic partnerships and managing relationships with brands to connect consumers through social and organic outreach. Her creative spirit and dedicated work ethic, allow her to have a career in what she feels most passionate about. She is an avid motorcycle enthusiast and regularly rides her motorcycles at home in Santa Monica. She holds a B.A. in Advertising with a minor in Graphic Design from The Art Institute of California - Orange County.



    Marketing Director

  • Sponsors

    We have teamed up with a group of amazing companies who value our cause as much as we do whose generous support has helped make our event possible.


    For Sponsorship Opportunities,

    Please Contact Maria at gala@maitaiglobal.org

    Download Sponsorship PDF

    Virgin Unite


    Virgin Unite is the entrepreneurial foundation of the Virgin Group and the Branson family. Virgin Unite started with the aim of bringing people together to encourage them never to accept the unacceptable, to turn challenges into opportunities and to always push boundaries that make both business and the world better. Overhead costs are covered by Richard Branson and the Virgin Group, meaning that 100% of all donations received go directly to initiatives we create or support.



    Other World Computing


    OWC is a leading manufacturer of flash memory and SSD upgrades, external storage, and connectivity solutions for Mac users and creative professionals everywhere. Since 1988, we’ve provided tools for Mac users to do their best work and get the most from their computers.




    MacSales.com is the premier online resource for upgrade and expansion products for Mac and iOS device users around the globe. For over 25 years we’ve offered outstanding DIY upgrade solutions and expert support to help our customers get more from their technology.



    The Bitfury Group is the leading full service Blockchain technology company and one of the largest private infrastructure providers in the Blockchain ecosystem. The Bitfury Group develops and delivers both the software and the hardware solutions necessary for businesses, governments, organizations and individuals to securely move an asset across the Blockchain. The expertise of The Bitfury Group ensures successful, easy, fast, secure and cost-effective connectivity to the Blockchain.




    FairWarning strives to protect the health and wealth information for every person on Earth. www.fairwarning.com



    Breathometer is the leader in breath analysis technology. Our mission is to build the world’s first portable breath analysts platform to help people make smarter decisions, improve healthcare and to save lives. Founded by Charles Michael Yim in September 2012, Breathometer develops innovative breath sensing technology combined with superior design, and usability to deliver the best of breed digital health products.  



    Events.com is a mobile-first online event registration and ticketing platform that helps event organizers better manage, market, and monetize their events — from simple pancake breakfast fundraisers to complex marathons and festivals.

    Setili & Associates

    Setili & Associates advises global business leaders on their most critical strategic decisions, using a focused, fact-based approach that brings fast results. Partners Amanda and Rob Setili have a passion for kiteboarding and ocean conservation.



    Nowboat is the first all-in-one platform for travelers, operators and NGOs.
    Creating a new ethical standard in the industry. Giving operators free business and management tools. Giving travelers the first global platform. Consolidating the best sea adventures worldwide.


    Unofficial Cardboard

    Unofficial Cardboard was one of the original partners of Google to manufacture and distribute Google ‘Cardboard’ virtual reality viewers. They are the most recognized brand in the mobile VR space and are leading the movement to bring the virtual reality experience to everyone!


    Ultra Capital

    Ultra Capital finances sustainable real asset and infrastructure projects in water, waste, energy and agriculture. Ultra’s mission is to accelerate the flow of capital into projects that help sustain core resources the world needs.


    Tutor Group

    We want to give a special thanks to Mr. Eric Yang

    and the China Women's Vertical for XTC


    Tutor Group is a global online education platform that changes the way people learn and thus democratizes access to education. With more than 5,000 teaching consultants in 60 countries around the world, iTutorGroup is the largest online education platform that provides real-time interactive language training and easy access to experts on-demand through tens of millions of classes annually.



    Known Audio

    Since 1998, Know:Audio has been providing the finest audio production services in the region. Recently we've expanded our services to offer our extensive catalog of audio production gear for rental, and provide sales for a select number of manufacturers. Our engineers are some of the best in the area, with an average of 10 years experience in the industry. We are highly focused on not only providing the highest-quality PA reproduction possible with current technology, but also giving our customers unparalleled service in any situation.


  • We want to thank our Ocean Gala

    Launch Party Hosts!

    Meet some new faces, toast to the gala, and make deeper connections. These intimate launch parties gave our ocean gala attendees an opportunity to meet before the larger event. Because it's hard to say hello to 400 people.

    Daniel Bernstein & Associates (New York)


    Modernist Club (San Francisco)



    Permacity (Los Angeles)






  • VIP Table Hosts

    Bill Tai

    Co-Founder and Chairman of MaiTai Global

    Susi Mai

    Co-Founder and President of MaiTai Global

    Dr. Sylvia Earle

    Founder and Chairman of The Mission Blue Foundation, OceanElder

    Bertrand Piccard

    Biologist, Conservationist, Documentary Filmmaker

    Rob Stewart

    Biologist, Conservationist, Documentary Filmmaker

    Gerry Lopez - aka Mr. Pipeline

    American Surfer, journalist and film actor

    Jessica Stam

    Canadian Supermodel

    Yuan Yuan Tan

    Principal Dancer with the San Francisco Ballet

  • Athletes

    The Ocean Gala is fortunate to have these extraordinary extreme sports athletes supporting our cause, giving their time and effort to help bring awareness to the issues that are important to ocean conservation. We want to thank each athlete for their continuos support!

  • Table Ambassadors

    Special Thanks to The Ocean Gala Table Ambassadors. Your support is a huge contribution to the success of the gala!

    Sacha Levy

    Steve Chen

    Kristina Roth & Chandra Jesse

    Jeff Kafka

    Bob More

    Cindy Mercer

    Peter Kravtsov

    Alexander Lloyd

    April Peebler

    Chance Barnett & Sierra Campbell

  • Auction

    Live and Silent Auction

    The 2016 Ocean Gala raised over $800K thanks to the generous donations and contributions of our Sponsors and guests. Over 100 individuals and companies donated items to make this possible.
    Proceeds from The Ocean Gala Auction will provide financial support to MaiTai Global and OceanElders, whose collaborative work to tackle critical issues with other ocean organizations and world leaders have profoundly impacted efforts towards protection and conservation of the world’s ocean and its wildlife.
    Give your company great visibility to our unique community and help support our cause at the same time!



    The Ocean Gala 2016 Silent Auction



    We have curated a list of exclusive items and packages donated by the MaiTai Global, OceanElders and other generous organizations helping to make a difference in ocean conservation.

    We invite you to browse through the items and place bids on those that interest you between now and 9:30PM PT on Saturday, December 3rd, 2016. At that time, or the end of the silent auction time at The Ocean Gala, the auction will come to a close and the winners will be notified.

    Special Thanks to our Auction Donors, whose generous support has helped make our event possible!




    Andre Sariva

    Andrei Matorin

    Ben Meyer, Axon Kiteboarding

    Beneath the Waves

    Bertrand Piccard

    Bethany Halbreich from Awakened Art

    Bianca's Bikini

    Bill Tai

    Blue Tree Marketing

    Bonaire Beach Villa

    Brian Zisk

    Carefree Lifestyle

    Classic Car Club


    Daveed Frazier

    Dee & Ricky

    Doing Things

    Domingo Zapata

    Dr. Sylvia Earle

    Drew Lakatos

    Drury Babcock

    Emilio Perez

    Fella Swim

    Further Future

    Gigi Brisson

    Greg Stokker

    H2O NinjaMask

    Halland Chen, MD

    Hey Lady

    Hope Levin

    Hotel Wailea - Relais & Châteaux

    Ink Salon

    Issac Slade

    Jared Heyman

    Jason Mercier

    Jeff Gross

    Jesse Richman

    Jessica Stam

    JK Nicholas

    John dill

    Jose Pasillas

    Kevin Wolf

    Kristy Petrillo

    Leo Fitzpatrick

    Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic

    Luol Deng


    MaiTai Global

    Maui JIm

    Michael Loeb

    Millennium Resort & Spa + LEK

    Miriam Meima

    Montana Sporting Club

    My Beachy Side



    Oliver Stone

    Patrick Demsey, Sam Snyder

    Peter Ruprecht


    Pokerstars, Liv Boeree, & Igor Kurganov

    Richard Branson


    Robert Lee

    Schiller Bikes

    Scooter LaForge

    Sean De Clercq

    Steve Chen


    Susi Mai

    Ted Turner Expeditions

    The Philip Stephenson Foundation

    Tom Katis


    Torsten Durkan

    Two Row

    Uri Dotan

    Victor Douieb

    Virgin Galactic

    Winklevoss Capital Management, LLC


  • VR Challenge

    Deadline for submissions is September 30, 2016

    MaiTai Global, Extreme Tech Challenge and Virtual Reality Festival are exciting to announce the Extreme Virtual Reality Challenge, a sub-competition for VR/AR Game Creators and 360 Filmmakers wishing to use their creativity to support environmental causes involving the ocean and its related ecosystems.

    The top winner in this extreme competition will win a $10,000 cash prize and have their work featured at The Ocean Gala in San Francisco on December 3rd, 2016, featuring Sir Richard Branson as the Keynote Speaker.

    For More Information visit: Extreme Virtual Reality Challenge

  • VR Ambassadors

    Gregg Katano

    VR Ambassador of MaiTai Global

    Gregg is VR Ambassador of MaiTai Global. He also currently oversees the business development strategy of the very first and leading creators of Google’s ‘Cardboard’ virtual reality viewers and has been one of the biggest evangelists in the VR community. Prior to virtual reality, Gregg spent 25+ years in post-production, visual effects, and most recently in 3D production, where he was producer on X-Games 3D: ‘The Movie’ and Red Bull Media House: ‘3D Rampage’. Gregg is also a member of both the Producer’s Guild of America and the Advanced Imaging Society, and since 2001, a senior instructor for Digital Media at Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles.


    Chris Crescitelli

    Director of Virtual Reality/ Augmented Reality

    Christopher Crescitelli has been a career freelance creative artist, writer, producer and director for 28 year. His creative collaborations cover the spectrum of artistic expression from film, television and theatrical projects to newly emerging 3D, 4D, AR and VR endeavors.

    Ryan Pullman

    Co-Founder & CMO, Specular Theory

    Ryan Pullman is the Co-Founder and CMO of Specular Theory, an award winning immersive entertainment company based in Venice Beach, CA that creates premium virtual reality content and proprietary technology to drive the next generation of storytelling. Ryan brings an extensive agency and client side experience in digital marketing and brand strategy. As a next generation thought leader on digital media strategy and a gatekeeper to large networks in the entertainment, technology and new media sectors, Pullman is consistently creating opportunities for long-term growth and value from customers, markets and relationships. In her role at Specular Theory, she focuses on delivering customer success and building relationships based on a deep understanding of needs and technology requirements.



    Nitin Gupta

    Software Engineer and Technical Program Manager / Google VR Team

    Dr. Nitin Gupta is first and foremost an engineer. He has lived his life with the following motto:My goal is to always push the boundaries of technology and make the impossible possible. Rather than asking "Why?", I'd rather ask "Why Not?" If we are to advance technology from science fiction to reality, then we must be prepared to ask the difficult questions.


    Embedded engineering has always been his forte given both his software and hardware background. He is a technology enthusiast and currently an advocate in all things VR/AR/Wearables. Presently he serves as a Software Engineer and Technical Program Manager within the Google VR team where manages a number of VR initiatives. Previously he worked for Qualcomm Technologies Inc. where he helped lead an embedded software team to commercialize and patent boot software for all of Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors. He also held an embedded position for Pebble Technologies, where he developed firmware and helped commercialize the Pebble Time series of smartwatches. He holds a BS degree from Cornell University where he majored in both Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, and holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Manchester, UK.


  • Media Contact:

    Valentina White - vwhite@bryte-box.com

    Juliana Ruiz - jruiz@bryte-box.com | 954.361.5236

  • Photos

    By Peter Ruprecht

    Peter Ruprecht is an award winning NYC based photographer. Best known for his captivating images of the annual Burning Man festival, Peter has made a name for himself with his stunning photography of landscapes, travel and capturing individuals in their most natural moments. Thank you Peter for joining us again. Peter's Instagram

    By John Dill

    Fellow MaiTaier and creative artist, John Dill was on hand at the Second Annual Ocean Gala. He captured the evening with his candid style, bringing his own fun energy to each shot. When you see Dill with the camera, you can’t resist a smile! Thank you Dill for documenting the night through your lens. John's Instagram

    By Sarah Son

    Sarah Son is a core member of the MaiTai community and no event is complete without her. You can always trust her to have her camera ready for the shot. Her photography has made it to the pages of action sports and travel magazines. Her elegance is carried over in her imagery. Thank you Sarah! Sarah's Instagram