Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com. I always smile extra when I have a guest on who’s heard this intro millions of times. Anyway, Mixergy is home of the ambitious upstart. The reason I’m smiling so big is joining me is one of the first Mixergy listeners. He started listening back when I thought nobody was listening, except I know he was because I’ve got a bunch of emails from him from back in the day.
Well, the guy started a video ad business, came close to bankruptcy and then eventually he persevered and he sold the business and I invited him here to talk about how he did it, to find out what he sold it for, to find out what he learned from all that process. I’m excited for you guys to all meet him.
His name is Jay Gould. He is the founder of Yashi, which allows video advertisers to micro-target their ads to viewers. So, for example, Yashi could allow an advertiser to reach a trendy mom who’s living in the East Village, New York, and happens to be watching specific video. That’s what they do.
And this interview is sponsored by Toptal. If you need a developer, later on I’ll tell you why you’ve got to check out Toptal. And it’s sponsored by Acuity Scheduling. I’ll tell you more about why if you need to easily schedule with people, you’ve got to check out Acuity Scheduling.
Jay: Thanks. Thanks for having me.
Andrew: Do you remember the day that you sold Yashi?
Andrew: What did you do that day? Tell me about it.
Jay: It’s interesting. When you go to sell a company, it’s not like it’s a surprise to you. So, everybody else in your life it’s confidential, so you can’t tell your close friends and stuff. So, there was an influx of people coming to me asking me, “I can’t believe this.” To you, it’s old hat. It’s old news. You’ve been working on this for months with the buyer. So, it was a relief and it was really kind of an interesting story in our case because the old saying is it’s not closed until you see the money in the bank.
Andrew: Did you get to see the money in the bank?
Jay: Not the day it closed.
Andrew: When did you get to see it?
Jay: We did later. It’s a funny story. We basically signed the documents on a Friday and they couldn’t do the wire until Monday and it was supposed to hit first thing in the morning. So, like for an hour we’re waiting. It didn’t hit. Plus you’ve got to get like an investment banker, wealth management people, that kind of stuff.
We’re waiting and where’s the money? Where’s the money? So, we’re contacting the buyer. “Did you guys send the money?” “Yeah, of course, we sent the money. You didn’t get the money?” We’re like, “Hmm… That’s weird.” We had a couple of investors that were larger amounts too. So, those guys didn’t say it.
So, our investment bank that we had was like, “What’s going on?” Finally, the investment bank says, “We saw it. We don’t see who it’s from, but we see that there is an incoming.” So, we’re like good, its’ going to happen. So, everyone got their money and the last one to get their money were me and my wife and we were the largest amount by far.
Andrew: What did you guys sell the business for?
Jay: It was close to $35 (million) with all in. So, it was $33 (million) reported and then there was like some other stuff.
Andrew: And you and your wife owned what percent of the business?
Jay: Over 80 percent.
Andrew: Wow. So, life-changing moment there. Did it hit you in that moment? Did you start to see, “All right. Finally, all these years from doing everything from selling candy to creating social networks to pivoting a million times it paid off.” Did you get to at least take a breath?
Jay: Yeah. We haven’t gone on a vacation yet, actually. But yeah, we were making good money along the way. We ran a very profitable business. We had control stock in the business, dual stock. It’s a very common thing. Years ago with like Ford and some of these old legacy companies and then Mark Zuckerberg did it and Reid Hoffman from LinkedIn, a lot of other folks, Zynga and Groupon did it too. We learned from that. We had control stock. We made great bonuses along the way. We made millions of dollars running the company.
So, it wasn’t like we were these poor entrepreneurs. When we sold, we already had a bunch of money. It was life-changing, no question, but we had already made millions of dollars. It was a great event. It was amazing. It was really great because I had some friends that worked for me that I grew up with. So, they got a little liquidity too. So, that was nice.
At the end of the day, it wasn’t like this is the most profound thing. It was just finally I got the exit. It’s almost like you’re trying to win a trophy, a Super Bowl or something. In some ways it was like, “Okay, it’s affirmation. We got our exit.”
Andrew: I get it. Before we talked, you said, “My process was very iterative. I’m an iterative entrepreneur.” I’m looking at a list of different things that you started. I wasn’t even sure where to begin in telling your story. Why don’t we go a little rapid fire through the iterations that eventually got you to Yashi and then talk about how you built it up? We can start with Social Tree. What was Social Tree?
Jay: Social Tree was a social network. Before that, I had a dating site, basically. It was kind of what Tinder is today except it was a desktop version. I copied Hot or Not. Hot or Not, people rate 1 to 10. I started a site RateOrDate. If you matched, you could meet each other. They had a meet me feature, but it was very clear what this was.
Then I sold that within like maybe less than a year. I sold it to MatchNet plc. They owned JDate, AmericanSingles, a bunch of dating sites. And it was disruptive. This whole dating industry is charging people to date. They were charging $20-$30 a month and I was giving it away for free. They wanted to buy this one, probably just to kill me, get rid of me. Then there are plenty of fish and other people that come along.
Andrew: What did you sell that for?
Jay: That was undisclosed. So, I can’t disclose that.
Andrew: That was not life-changing?
Jay: It was not. It let me know, it was an early success that wow, there’s a there there. Oh my gosh there’s something here. It was a great thing to be able to do that. But it opened my eyes. Social Tree was the next thing. I saw Friendster was kind of coming up. It wasn’t huge yet. It was like ’03. I did Social Tree.
I wanted to get away from the dating stigma and then did the social network. I kind of built Social Tree for quite a while. It was about a year or so and it wasn’t gaining traction. I was like, “Shit, I shouldn’t have sold RateOrDate.” That had a lot of traction and was growing really quickly.
Then Myspace really became popular and surpassed Friendster. I think I was telling you earlier, basically Warren Buffett is like sell fat kids cake. Myspace, the fat kids were all the users and the cake was this early website, this profile with all this crap going on all over it. It was a mish-mosh all over the page. I wanted to resist that, but the old saying, “If the fat kid wants cake, give him cake.” So, we let them change their backgrounds and the colors and they put the glitter text on.
A kid came on our page and he put a music video on. Obviously for the last ten years, I’ve been on the video train in one way or another. It opened my eyes. So, we created a different website called Music Video Codes. We put every single music video that’s ever been created in a directory, easy to fine. Within six months, we had 40 million views a day for Music Video Codes on the website and virally.
Andrew: You personally uploaded the videos to your site?
Jay: When we created Music Video Codes, we basically created a directory. We scoured the internet. Actually, initially what we did, before we had the videos on the website hosted, we went to Yahoo Launch and we basically created a script and we found every single video on their page and we deep linked it into our code, which later changed the link to the videos that we hosted ourselves.
But in the beginning, I was like, “How do we do this?” To download all these videos and then upload them at those Internet speeds would take forever. The thought process there was, “We’ll just let them host it. They’ll never know. Would they even know? Would it even work?” They could block if they wanted to, right? They didn’t. They had to see the bandwidth cost go up and the amount of views go up but then not seeing the traffic on the site. We did that for a while, actually.
Andrew: So, if somebody wanted to watch a music video of, say, Motley Crue, they could come to your site and watch a video of “Girls, Girls, Girls” on your site, watch the video. That’s the idea. Eventually, you guys added it. Was it a directory where anyone could upload their favorite videos to?
Jay: What happened was within a few months, Vimeo was popular. YouTube wasn’t actually popular in the very early days. I don’t even think it was around when I first started Music Video Codes. It was very early days. It was like ’04 when we did Music Video Codes. I don’t have a timeline in front of me, but really early.
So, Vimeo was around and I was familiar with Vimeo. This very popular early days was cats running into fans, things like that, funny stuff and then skateboarding and BMX and stuff like that was really popular because the friend would videotape them with a flip phone or something like that and they’d download it. They had the old camcorder thing.
So, basically we get requests all the time, “Vimeo lets us upload it, you guys let us take the video for the music video. Can we do that on Music Video Codes?” I started a site called MyVO, very similar to Vimeo.
Andrew: Vimeo lets you upload but My Video Codes lets you embed. So, they were saying, “Let us upload and embed, create the combination?”
Jay: Correct. We were doing the embedding of the music video only. So, I said, “Should we put it on Music Video Codes?” It doesn’t make sense. We had two sites. We just cross-promoted it. So, we basically had links all over it, pop-ups, everything. Within days we had tens of thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people within a month, it was crazy. It grew over night.
It was called MyVO. I thought, “This is a bad name. Phonetically it’s terrible.” People were saying, “Is it my video? How do you spell VO?” You were doing MyVO. It was a mess. I was like, “We’ve got change the name.” I went to Pool.com and looked up domain names. I actually found a name that I later bought back–I’ll tell you the story on this, but I bought Yashi.com for $5,000, good investment–$5,000 turned into $33 million a few years later.
So, anyway, we bought Yashi.com, rebranded MyVo and about a year later I sold both businesses to a company in New York that was the first social network, Bolt.com.
Andrew: I see. Essentially you had what YouTube was before YouTube.
Jay: I always say that they copied me, but they’ll never admit that. They copied the embedding. Nobody wants to admit that. They sell for $5.5 billion. They’re not admitting that.
Andrew: You’ve really documented your life really well. You showed me what My Video Codes looked like back in the mid-2000s, so 2005 I’m looking a page here with a lot of text. You showed me what Vimeo looked like at the time we launched. It was just an upload site, not upload and embed and all the things that we’re familiar with today.
Jay: I actually have a press release that’s on Archive.org where I knew I was onto something that nobody was doing.
Andrew: So, what did you sell to Bolt for, how much?
Jay: So, Bolt was an interesting story because I had cash offers to sell Music Video Codes. I had a $2 million offer, all cash. I had $1 million and $1.5 million. There were people competing, basically to buy it. There were companies that were trying to buy it, Guerilla Nation was one of the companies. There were a bunch of people trying to buy it at the time.
Bolt was interesting. They were in New York City. I’m from Toms River, New Jersey, the Jersey Shore. I’m not in the Silicon Valley. I’m not in New York City. I was working out of my grandfather’s basement. I didn’t know what I was doing. I had VCs calling me.
I didn’t know anything about this stuff. Like what the heck is venture capital? I’m Googling, “What’s venture capital.” I had no idea, right? These people are like, “You should raise money.” I’m like, “I wouldn’t even know what to do. I didn’t go to business school. I don’t know any of this stuff.” I was very naïve. I was timid.
These guys in New York, I go up to New York. They found me on comScore. I also didn’t know what comScore was. I had massive traffic, tens of millions of people. They’re like, “This kid’s wet behind the ears. We’re going to take this kid for a ride.” I’m thinking, “I’m going to take them for a ride.”
You’ve got Lou Kerner, who was Goldman Sachs, Stanford graduate, Goldman Sachs and then he starts .tv, the domain extension, sells it for $60 million. He’s now co-owner of Bolt.com and investor in a lot of other companies. It’s like I’m looking at his network. Bill Gross is in his network from Idealab. I’m like, “This guy is really connected.” And then you’ve got Aaron Cohen, who was the founder of Bolt in 1996 with Dan Pelson, the first social network.
They’re massively connected people, right? I’m in Toms River, New Jersey. These guys give me an offer for like a few hundred thousand dollars in cash, mostly equity. I’m a business partner with them and on a moving forward basis I may get a few hundred thousand dollars a year. I’m making less than I was making when I was running the website, but the all-cash offer is cash today and then there’s nothing. Then I’m back in Toms River.
So, for me, it was like opening a door. So, I didn’t care that I left money on the table in the short term. When I sold to them and we ran the business for a few years, I met my then girlfriend, now wife with two kids and we started Yashi together right after we left Bolt.
Andrew: So, actually I’m looking at an old Gigaom article about it from 2006 that says that you sold the two sites, you were 26 years old and you sold it to Bolt, which itself is probably being shopped around. Was Bolt on solid footing at the time or were they trying to sell themselves?
Jay: They had about maybe $6 million in revenue at the time, which was really interesting. They were a revenue kind of business on the East Coast. You talk to people on the West Coast. I got to meet people in my stint while I was there. I developed a lot of relationships.
That was why I went there. Nobody really cared about revenue on the West Coast. They care about the scale, the audience, “Let’s grow.” You’re seeing a lot of that now in ad tech, actually. People were really going for a land grab. They didn’t care about profit. They cared about the scale of what their sales and their team and their tech.
But there’s a big shakeup right now. We can talk about that in the ad tech industry. Those guys were really keenly aware that you need to be profitable and cash flow positive. So, they ran a good business and they had an investment bank, I think, when I met them. So, they were shopping around to raise money and potentially see what their options were.
Andrew: Okay. And you had 40 million visitors a month. Is that right, at the time?
Jay: 40 million uniques a month on site and off site combined.
Andrew: Including the embeds. That makes sense. Okay.
Jay: 2005, it wasn’t like Facebook group. People watching us that grew up with Facebook that are a little bit younger don’t realize there were all kinds of social networks. There’s BlackPlanet.com, AsianAvenue–there were all these different social networks. My music videos were everywhere and also the Yashi videos, they were all over the place.
Andrew: I’m so fascinated by BlackPlanet. I’d love to find the founder just to hear the story behind it. I used to have people who worked for me who were getting carried away with BlackPlanet in the middle of the day and nobody was like out in the open looking at social networks instead of working, but this thing was so captivating that these guys couldn’t put it away.
Jay: Do you really the TheDilly.com? There was a FaceTheJury.com. There were so many of these profile websites like that. All of those sites that allowed embedding, we were getting views on those.
Andrew: What happened to Bolt and what happened to your equity in Bolt?
Jay: It pretty much went to zero. So, the early days of Music Video Codes–they bought the liabilities, right? So, in the end, it was all or nothing. They put their chips in and I had massive reach in audience and in 2006, there was a takedown notice sent from NBC to YouTube. YouTube was smart, what they did with that. They publicized it.
People get takedown notices all the time. They were really smart because I think they understood it was a marketplace. We didn’t recognize that. That was a big mistake. So, all marketplaces, it’s network effect and usually the winner will take all.
Andrew: So, why does publicizing their takedown notice…?
Jay: It became mainstream. I remember sitting in my apartment in New York City in Chelsea. I’m sitting there with my girlfriend, now wife, Caitlyn, and I’m flipping through the channels and what comes up, I’m watching NBC or CBS or CNBC and they’re like, “YouTube, which is a popular video sharing website has got a takedown notice from NBC.” “Are you shitting me? We should have done that with our takedown notice.”
Andrew: Frankly, a takedown notice is not a lawsuit. It’s not dangerous. It’s just a request to take it down. I see by publicizing it…
Jay: They were protecting their DMCA, right? We knew we were protecting our DMCA. So, they sold their company to Google. This is the story a lot of people don’t realize. In fact, we got sued–I’ll tell you the story. They sell their company for $1.5 billion. And the next Monday after they sold it, I think they sold it on Thursday or Friday.
A few days later, Google gives a $50 million settlement for any past or future infringements to Universal Music. Within a week, they sued us, Myspace and Grouper, which was owned by Sony. They thought Bolt had $60 million because there were finding announcements, but they recapped the company a few years before. They thought, “We’ll get some kind of settlement out of these guys.”
So, in that whole process, I’m emailing with Mark Cuban. Mark Cuban is like, “Maybe I’ll come in and I’ll work with you guys and I’ll try to help you negotiate with” – I forget the CEO’s name from Universal Music. He was like, “I know the guy really well.” I was like, “Sure, I’ve love to have you involved.” We have tons of emails with Mark. Mark has totally communicated through email. I’ve never talked to him on the phone. In the end, he wanted like 75 percent of the company. I was like, “Peace.” He’s a shark. So, this is ’06.
Andrew: Meanwhile, you met your wife and you also found a problem, the problem that led to the new version of Yashi. What was the problem that you noticed?
Jay: Well, I was a publisher. What I saw–it was just an opportunity. It just seemed obvious. All these things were converging. Broadband was getting cheaper. It was being more proliferated around the world. So, more and more people were adopting broadband on a daily basis. As a result of that, more websites were now putting video on their websites. So, it seemed obvious to me that there’s going to be a need to monetize as a video ad network. So, in the beginning, we started in a very small niche. It was GamersMedia. So, the company’s name initially was GamersMedia. We didn’t have Yashi. So, basically both went bankrupt. We got sued. We went bankrupt. All of the assets including the name Yashi and MyVO and Bolt.com went to the bankruptcy trustee. We started GamersMedia. Two years later, I bought Yashi back because I wanted to rebrand the business. So, I bought it back.
Andrew: So, the problem you saw was, “Look, video is spreading everywhere and it’s going to go even bigger now that broadband is spreading. The problem is it’s not making any money and somebody needs to ad ads to it and by doing that, it will make money and I’m going to be the guy to do it,” right?
Jay: Exactly. It was obvious you had these game sites like BigFish Games and stuff where they would do teasers where you pay for like two minutes and then you had to upgrade and you had to pay an upgrade or monthly fee. I was like, “That’s not sustainable.” We saw this with online video. CNN used to charge people a subscription. That’s not going to work. So, let’s give these guys a monetization capability to try to empower them to become free.
It was us and BBE, Broadband Enterprises and a couple of others that were doing that. For games, we specifically said let’s be different than the three–I think Tremor was around at the time, BBE and there was another company that was really focused on video ad network. I was like, “Let’s just do it for casual game sires.”
Andrew: Hold on real quick for a moment. I’m going to do a sponsorship message and then we’ll go back and I’ll ask you a jerky question before that, but I think I have enough rapport that it’s okay for me to ask it. And then I wanted to know why you decided to go after a niche instead of being broader when you started. Finally, you’ve got all these ideas that are working out. Where are your freaking ideas coming from? What’s your process.
The ad is for a company called Toptal. Top as in top of the mountain, tal as in talent. Do you know about these guys, Jay?
Jay: I’m not familiar. No.
Andrew: We haven’t talked in a while. You must not have been listening to Mixergy for a while. You must be super busy.
Jay: Head down, focused.
Andrew: The reason why they started advertising with me a few months ago is because they have got this great business but what they need is more recognition in the tech space. Here’s the deal. They have a network of top developers. They know they’re top developers because they test them, they vet them, they put them through the ringer to make sure they got the top three percent only. 95 percent of people are rejected, top 3 percent. And they have all kinds of developers. We’re talking about WordPress developers, Stripe developers, Ruby on Rails–whatever you need.
Andrew: So, as an entrepreneur, you can just go to them, tell them what your work is like, tell them what project you need the developer for and they will find the right person to match you up and you can hire them part time, full time or just for a project. Let me ask you this, actually, instead of me telling you about the business–if you had nothing today except for 80 hours of developer time from Toptal, meaning any language, they could find the right person for you, what brand new business would you start with nothing but that 80 hours of developer time?
Jay: I know exactly what I would do, but I don’t want to say it.
Andrew: What is it?
Jay: I have an idea that I would develop right now that I think I would do something after two years of being with this company. I probably had an idea that I would probably develop at some point.
Andrew: So, you’re really not going to say what the idea is?
Jay: No, I don’t want to say it.
Andrew: Because ideas are so good? It’s not execution?
Jay: it is execution. The problem is today that there are so many entrepreneurs that use to just be employees and they’re all entrepreneurs now. I think there’s a tremendous amount of talent out there that can execute. If you give out an idea, everyone says it’s not idea, it’s execution. If you tell it to your audience as a very captivating entrepreneurial audience, they’re going to develop it.
Andrew: They’re going to develop it.
Jay: Five people might try it and one might succeed and twenty might.
Andrew: How about one of the ideas you can’t do because you’re going to pursue this idea?
Jay: I think more important than any of that, running Yashi, even today, it’s such a competitive market these days, particularly with all the venture capital that’s come in over the last seven years, recruiting is one of the hardest things. Depending on where you’re located, it’s even more difficult. So, where we’re located, it’s not as bad, but if you’re in San Francisco or New York, recruiting is extremely competitive and difficult.
Andrew: That’s exactly the problem that they’re solving. Frankly, even if you can find the right person, which is really hard and you can pay them, which is very expensive, it takes for freaking ever to find that right person. When you need a project done now or when your team is starving for an extra great developer to join them, you can’t wait for that whole drawn out process to happen.
Jay: One of the things we think about is like rather than going through that process, which is a difficult process–a lot of people are doing this too nowadays–is to buy a business that’s failing that has extremely–
Andrew: Actually, I’ve got a friend. I won’t say the specific process he uses, but basically he goes thorough AngelList to try to figure out which companies are starving for money and not going to make it. Then he went and started proposing acqui-hire deals to those guys. That’s how tough it is. All right. You don’t have to do that. That’s a good option. But you don’t have to do that. You can go to Toptal.
Jay: You need some money to do that.
Andrew: If you go to Toptal.com/Mixergy, they will give you 80 hours of free developer time when you pay for 80. In addition, they will get on the phone with you like they do with everybody. They will understand your issues. They will go to their network and find the right person. They will introduce you to them. If you like them, you get to work with them. If you don’t, you can find someone else.
If you do start to work with them and after a week, you say, “Andrew misled me. Toptal isn’t as good as I think it is,” well, they will not charge you. Just let them know within two weeks. They won’t charge you, but they will still pay the developer because that’s the right thing to do.
There’s a reason why so many companies including Airbnb use Toptal. If you go to Toptal.com, you will see more companies who are using them, more of the languages they will work with, more the platforms and you’ll find out more about the–actually, there’s not more to find out about the 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. Here it is. If after two weeks you’re not 100 percent satisfied, you will not be billed. It’s that simple.
All right. There’s a reason why Andreessen Horowitz supported them, why they keep sponsoring Mixergy–they are good. I urge you to check out Toptal.com/Mixergy.
That’s actually a pretty good idea. Imagine if you hired a Toptal developer to scrape AngelList to see who is nearly running out of money and you put together a report based on that and then you sell that to the startups who are eager to hire people. Boom.
Jay: It is the biggest challenge in tech, right? Finding good developers. It is really difficult.
Andrew: Yeah. All right. Here’s the jerky question. Up until now, it was you–you building an idea, you figuring it out, you trying to make something of your life. Suddenly you meet this girlfriend and it becomes we–we own this company we started it, we built it out. Why did you include her in it? Why didn’t you just say, “Hey, I’m the guy who sold his business. I’m the man here. Work for me and you’ll eventually learn how you can start the next business on your own. You’ll work for me. You’ll sign a prenup with me and then we’ll talk after this.”
Jay: Love is a crazy thing. It makes people do things they would never–I’m just kidding.
Andrew: Really? I was actually buying it for a second.
Jay: You have to understand. It’s funny though. The concept was a brokerage in the beginning. So, somebody’s got to be out there going to get the advertisers. Supply and demand–somebody’s got to get supply and somebody’s got to get demand. I can’t really start an ad network by myself. There were literally two people when we first started GamersMedia.
So, Kate, my wife, she went out and spoke at all the ad agencies and she had relationships. She was a sales person at Bolt. So, she had that. I went to all the publishers. I resonate with them because I’m very similar to them. I have the entrepreneurial stories and all that stuff. We connect on that level. It made sense. I’m going to focus on supply and all the business stuff. Then she’s going to focus on demand, get us demand.
The trick was when we started the business in the very beginning, you go to the supply sources and you say, “I want to sign you up.” I want to be able to go to the advertisers and they say, “Do you have ads?” “Not yet, but we will.” They’re like, “I don’t think so. Come in when you have ads.” You come to the agencies and they go, “What have you got?” It’s a chicken-egg.
Andrew: I see. So, you needed Caitlyn to work on one part of marketplace and you were going to work on the other part of the marketplace. But why not then just say, “I’ll give you a big share of the commissions that we get or something?”
Jay: I just thought it’s great to have a cofounder that’s invested, somebody that has some skin in the game and is going to go after it. We weren’t 50-50 because I had a lot more experience than she had. It just made sense. A lot of people say you really shouldn’t start a business with your wife or your girlfriend or whatever, my perspective is no matter who you start your business with, you’re essentially married to them for 8 to 10 years.
Andrew: But you can get away from them.
Jay: No you can’t.
Andrew: If you start a business with someone else, you can at least at night lay in bed, watch some TV with your wife.
Jay: In that sense, correct. I thought it was too our advantage that we didn’t get away from each other. I used to be an acquaintance with Max Lebjin, right? The most obsessive person I’ve ever met. This guy was always working, always on instant messenger. He still is today. He’s sold lots of companies for a lot of money. You watch these entrepreneurs. You’re living this stuff. There’s no go home at 5:00.
Andrew: Did you really talk in bed about business?
Jay: We would talk about it all the time. Basically, we would wake up. There was a time for about a year where we probably worked 18, 19 hours a day in the house. That’s all we did. We would call in for dinners and lunches and stuff like that. We just constantly worked.
Andrew: To me, that is very romantic. I know a lot of other people would picture a great restaurant or an opera or a trip to Paris as romantic. I don’t think they’re unromantic, but for me, what you’re talking about–battle together for 18 hours, not able to leave the house or leave the desk and have food brought in, that’s romantic. That’s a bond.
Jay: All of my friends that are married, have kids, they don’t have the war stories that we have. They don’t have the ups and downs and have that bond that we have to go through the things we did, they have their own stuff. We have that stuff too. There’s a different element when you start a business with them–a lot of people say, “I can never work with my wife.” I’m like, “You need to reevaluate that.”
Andrew: Reevaluate the relationship?
Andrew: The other question is why games? Why place ads on gaming sites instead of music videos, where you saw they were already spreading or skateboarding videos where you saw they were spreading?
Jay: So, at Bolt, one of the things that Bolt did, they had the social network, Bolt.com and then they had audience extension. So, they had Runescape, which was a popular game site and they had MiniClip. They were the exclusive sales team. It was direct sales. The founders were overseas. So, Rob Small was overseas and stuff. We were their exclusive sales team. So, I already had experience with casual games and gaming as a result of being at Bolt and Kate did too selling it.
Andrew: I see. You guys were selling ads on their websites, not in video and you said, “What if we do video too?”
Jay: No, we did videos in front of the games on their sites. So, we saw that there were a lot of other companies–
Andrew: Bolt was already doing ads?
Jay: We did it when I got there, but yeah.
Andrew: You were taking an idea they already were doing and said, “I can build a whole business out of it?”
Jay: They purely did it for an additional profit to fund the operations rather than going and getting more venture capital and diluting. So, it was a smart thing they did.
Andrew: What I’m getting at is it wasn’t a wholly original idea that you found because you saw a problem. You saw this problem because the business you were working with is already addressing it. They were already selling ads on game sites. You said, “What if this can be bigger?”
Jay: Guerilla Nation was doing it. A lot of people were doing it. They didn’t just to video. They did banners and adver-games and all kinds of other stuff. So, when we started GamersMedia, we said nobody is solely focused on grouping and aggregating hundreds of game sites and making it a vertical. So, there was a thing at the time called Glam. I don’t know if you remember Glam.
Andrew: I don’t remember what they did but…
Jay: It was basically women-type sites. In the early days, we called it Glam for gaming. If we knew you were in the industry, we say, “It’s Glam for gaming.” My mom wouldn’t know what that means, but Glam for gaming. So, we just grouped up. I went to all these people I kind of new through passing and I said, “If I did have the ads, I know you won’t go exclusive for me, but can I represent you on a deck when I go to an agency?”
I went to like [inaudible 00:29:17] free online games and this guy Shazad Mohammed who owned Flashgames247. Through them, I met other people and through those people, I met other people. We had 40 websites at launch for 20 million uniques grouped up. We went to the agencies, got deals and we had a business.
Andrew: I see. Wow. That’s really solid. No expenses, just a lot of hustle to get both sides of that marketplace going.
Jay: Profitable from day one. We were always profitable.
Andrew: It was called GamersMedia.
Jay: We did that for about a year and a half two years. Then I said, “Now that we have a business and we have advertisers, we want to go outside of gaming. We want to get bigger. We started another brand called Create Reach. And then about two years after that, I said, “This is convoluted. We have two different brands.”
People are like, “Are you the same people doing GamersMedia?” We consolidated it into Yashi because I went back to the bankruptcy trust and I said, “You guys got those domain names still?” They still did. They didn’t know what they were doing trying to sell it. I said, “I’ll buy Yashi from you.”
Andrew: What did you buy it for the second time?
Jay: A few grand. It was like $3,000 the second time.
Andrew: All right. So, now you had this whole thing and you were starting to build it. It feels like things are going easy. What’s the first big challenge you had?
Jay: There was a ton of challenges. One of the things we had that was a scare, I would say–we had a local accountant. Great advice here–if you’re starting a business, get really good legal and accounting advice.
So, I had a local accountant and he says, “You guys are so profitable, you’re growing that over time, you’re going to have a double taxation because you can only bonus yourself so much and you might be on a trajectory to get to $50 million to $100 million in sales someday if these compounded effects, these keggers keep continuing. He says, “You should convert to an LLC.” So, we converted form a C-corp to an LLC.
I didn’t realize this. We got a really good accounting firm, like regionally ranked on about a year later. They said, “Look at your tax returns. I see you converted. But I don’t see your built in gain tax.” I’m like, “What’s that?” He says, “At the time of the conversion, you’ve got to value the business. Did you get a valuation?” I’m like, “What the fuck?” I’m like, “What would the tax be?” “It could be a couple million bucks or something?” “What?!? You’re going to wipe me out. What is going on here?”
Andrew: That’s where you came close to bankruptcy.
Jay: The bankruptcy, I came close to bankruptcy there personally. On Bolt, we went bankrupt essentially right? It was an assignment for the benefit of creditors. Personally, I didn’t get sued.
Andrew: My understanding was that one of the first things you did when you wanted to start this business was you went to Caitlyn’s father and you said, “I’m going to start a business with her,” and he said what?
Jay: That’s good research. Yes. Actually, I went to–so, I’m dating her. I’m like, “We should start this business.” I convinced her. I was persuasive. She’s like, “We should talk to my dad about this.” So, I brought him to lunch down in SoHo where our office was at Bolt. I said, “We’re about to imminently file for bankruptcy on this business. I want to start this new company.” He’s like, “Okay.” We’re having lunch. I go, “I want your daughter to be my partner.” He’s like, “Excuse me, what? You just went bankrupt. You just told me you’re going to go…” “That’s okay. I will not fail.” He’s like, “But you just failed.” He goes, “Kate, listen, you can do whatever you want. You’re your own woman.”
He was a teacher. He’s like, “I’ve got some kids that work at Google and stuff. Why don’t you work at Google? I can sure get you a job interview.” I’m like, “Google? You’re not going to get rich going to work at Google. That already happened. You’ve got to make the next Google.” He’s looking at me like, “This kid is nuts.” He’s a teacher. Her parents were in education. So, he was a principal and her mom was a teacher. He said ultimately it’s her decision, “I would think this is not a good idea.”
We sold the company a few years later, obviously, the first person I called, “I was like hey Bob, what do you think of that decision?”
Andrew: What did he say?
Jay: He was obviously very happy for us, for the grandkids. He was extremely ecstatic. He laughed and chuckled it off.
Andrew: When you were telling him how confident you were, was that true? Did you really believe that even though you were about to go bankrupt with one company the next one would probably succeed?
Jay: In between that, I actually started another company called WikiYou and I raised a half million dollars. Those investors included Josh Kopelman from First Round Capital, Raj Kippor, who was at Mayfield at the time. I don’t know if you know Chammath. He went to Facebook and he runs social plus capital now.
Andrew: I remember all the press around that business. The whole idea there was, “We should be able to look each other up online and find out about each other.
Jay: Here’s the pitch–to this day, I hate telling this pitch because I want to do this. But this is the pitch, right? What’s your father’s name, Andrew?
Andrew: Daniel Khalili.
Jay: What’s your grandfather’s name?
Andrew: This is a very Persian name Shicola Khalili.
Jay: What’s your great grandfather’s name?
Andrew: I have no idea.
Jay: There you go. Shouldn’t your great grandchildren know who you are? That was the premise, right? It’s a biography of every person on earth. We have the ability to digitally document our lives today.
Andrew: I see. It wasn’t in case I go to Meet Jay Gould in person I should look him up in one easy Wikipedia-like site for their regular person. It was for my grandchildren.
Jay: So, here’s the thing. My mom goes to type me in because I do internet shit. The first person you see on Google is a guy with a beard in a black and white photo that’s responsible for Black Friday. My name, Jay Gould, is the robber baron. So, I don’t think when my mom searches for that that’s what she’s looking for. So, Google hasn’t figured this out yet, which is amazing to me.
Andrew: Let me see if that comes from me. I also sometimes, when I see you, I think of two things. First of all, your phone photo that you must have used forever, which is a good idea. I hate that I grew the beard just because I can’t keep the photo consistent. It’s stuck in my mind.
Jay: There’s the yellow background. Yeah.
Andrew: The second is the robber baron. Let me see if that comes up for Gould.
Jay: You probably see the robber baron first.
Andrew: Yes. All right.
Jay: Even today, it’s a problem. You want to talk about problem. Yashi didn’t solve a problem.
Andrew: So, what you’re trying to say is even though I had these two other things that didn’t work out, I still believed.
Jay: So, Raj Kapoor came to us. He was at Mayfield. He was an investor in a company called Tagged. I think it’s If(We) or something now. So, Greg Tseng is the founder. So, he comes to us. He comes to New York City, meets with me and Aaron. I’m like, “What’s up? What’s going on?” He’s a venture capital guy. We’re like, “Maybe we can raise money from this guy.” And he’s like, “I’m not interested in investing in Bolt, but I know you guys are being sued by Universal Music right now. Would you be interested in merging with Tagged? We could bankrupt liabilities and buy the assets. Would you be interested? We have a lot of respect for what you did.”
I said, “I don’t think that’s going to work…” just from an ego perspective with me and Aaron and the founders of Tagged. I go, “I’m just being honest with you. I don’t think it’s going to happen.” But I’m happy to fly out to San Francisco and meet these guys. He goes, “I really want to do something with you guys.” He really got to like us over this lunch. Aaron goes, “Jay, tell them the Wiki thing. Tell him the idea.” I say, “Myspace is your autobiography, then Wiki You is your unauthorized biography.” He’s like, “Okay.” I go, “It’s a biography of every person on earth.”
My mom looked me up. She sees this guy with a beard. He goes, “You do know my name, right?” I go, “Raj?” He goes, “Raj Kapoor.” “Who the fuck is Raj Kapoor?” He goes, “Dude, in India, it’s a famous actor. I have the same problem. I have an identity crisis just like you.” I was like, “No shit.” So, he goes, “Go out there. Meet with them for the Tagged them. Then I want you go to meet Reid Hoffman.” Now, LinkedIn is like a $10 million business at the time. It’s not the LinkedIn that people think of today. I’m like, “Oh yeah, the online resume guy. Okay.”
So, I go down there. I we go to the office. I tell that exact pitch. Reid goes like this when I tell the Myspace autobiography. I was like, “Okay…” He goes, “Go ahead, what else?” I go, “A biography of every person on earth. Let me show you.” He goes, “No, hold on. I get it. I’m in. How much do you guys want?” I was like, “What?” Aaron is with me and Aaron is like, “Let’s not show the laptop. You don’t sell someone who’s sold.”
Andrew: Yeah. What was that business with going bankrupt and then we can pick up the assets? How does that work?
Jay: Oh, for Bolt. So, basically Bolt had the lawsuit. We could fight it. We already had about $1.5 million in legal fees fighting with Universal. So, the option there was do we find a home for it. Do we give the assets to somebody and then you basically bankrupt all your liabilities, which would be anybody you owe money to or potential lawsuits, right?
Andrew: So, you would sell Bolt to this new business. The new business would go bankrupt.
Jay: It’s an asset purchase. It’s not the business.
Andrew: I see. That wouldn’t work because then they would say, “Hey, you just stole the assets. You moved them out before…”
Jay: No, it’s a common thing. Actually, I had one job in my adulthood and I worked for Micro Warehouse. Micro Warehouse, if you remember like Mac Warehouse, the magazine and stuff, I worked there. I sold IT equipment right out of college. They basically had the same thing. They bankrupt their liability, sold the assets to CDW and they bought this huge sales team and everything like that, which is amazing to me.
Andrew: Does that asset sale happen first and then the bankrupt of liabilities?
Jay: I don’t know the mechanics of it, but basically that’s what they say. It’s an asset purchase and they don’t take the liabilities.
Jay: So, we would be shareholders stuck with the liability and having to fight with no money.
Andrew: I see now. I see. I see why. You just believe in yourself. You’ve got all these ideas. The fact that one business of Bolt wasn’t going so well doesn’t slow you down. So, where was I with this story that got me to that? We were talking about–oh, right…
Jay: The father.
Andrew: So, your father in law says, “Look, you just went bankrupt. What are you going to do?” And you still start the business. Here you are, about to go bankrupt because of an accountant’s stupid mistake where he transfers you from an LLC to a C-corp without paying the proper taxes on it.
Jay: That was GamersMedia that that happened, the accountant. We were being sued by Universal Music. It was a huge publicized lawsuit. It was in the Financial Times, the New York Times, all over the place.
Andrew: That was Bolt?
Jay: That was Bolt and that’s when we were going bankrupt. He’s looking at this going, “I can’t believe you want to start…”
Andrew: I get that. He’s saying to you before you got married, before you started Yashi, “You just went bankrupt. What are you about to get my daughter into?” You start the business. It goes well. Here with the stupid account mistake, his worry is about to happen.
Jay: That’s right.
Andrew: Did you freak out?
Jay: We didn’t really tell him about that. That we didn’t talk about until it was all settled.
Andrew: But did you internally freak out at that point? Here’s why I’m asking–
Jay: My wife was pregnant with our first child during that.
Andrew: Yeah. So, let me ask–did you freak out?
Jay: No. My perspective is like the obstacles keep coming to you, so you just have to figure out–you can’t dwell on the problem. You’ve got to find a solution. I never worry about that.
Andrew: Never? There’s no part of your mind that goes, “I can’t believe it. No.”
Jay: No. You’ve got to think about it, most of the things you do in life aren’t going to work. I think Mark Cuban is famous for saying you’ve got only got to be right once. And it’s true. You just have to have a positive mindset. The funny thing is in high school I was the class pessimist in the year book. It’s not the I’m pessimist. I’m a realist. I look at it for what it is. I just say what it is. I view everything in a realist kind of manner. So, most things aren’t going to work. You have to be cognizant of that.
Andrew: That’s a very intellectual way of seeing things. At the moment, we don’t believe it and it’s hard to live like that. When I couldn’t go and approach girls in New York City and say hi to them, intellectually I know what’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? They’re not going to kick me in the nuts, right?
It’s going to be okay. They might turn me down, but I could survive it. It’s just words. Everything is okay. I still couldn’t get myself to do it. There’s that internal part that even though it knows nothing is going to happen still doesn’t act. Even though you know it’s okay to make a mistake and go bankrupt, still freaks out. Did you have any of that?
Jay: When Music Video Codes got sold to Bolt and I took the equity and I wanted the relationships and all that. I realized I had millions of dollars in value. What do they say, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get,” right? So, I got all this value of being at Bolt. I met Reid Hoffman. He became an investor in my company and all these amazing people that I got to meet through all of them and all these people that today, it’s like it’s amazing.
I met Garrett Camp. Funny story about Garrett–Garrett is the StumbleUpon guy–I meet him. I’m at a party in Silicon Valley. He needs a ride back to San Francisco. We’re hanging out in Palo Alto. His ride leaves and he goes, “Do you have a car?” He goes, “Do you have a car?” I go, “Yeah, I rented a car out here.” So, he’s like texting with some girl the whole way and I’m asking, “How did you meet Meg Whitman? How did you get this eBay deal?” He’s probably like, “This kid is so freaking annoying.”
I still to this day say I deserve some equity because I had to be part of the reason how he came up with Uber. You don’t want to drive with people I know, some wannabe entrepreneur. But my perspective was those relationships, all of that stuff to me is worth way more than what the event may have been, right?
Andrew: I don’t want to beat this topic to death, but you saw me talk about True Mind, which is my realization that there are two parts to my mind. I want to do something, there’s always a part that gets really excited about the possibilities and another part that thinks about, “Here’s how you can screw this up.” The part that says you can screw this up sometimes is louder for me. Does any of that resonate with you? When you saw me talk about that? Did it feel like your reality at all?
Jay: No. I think Peter Thiel–what important truth do you know that very few people agree with you on? My view of the world is that there are so many things that I recognized early on in my early 20s that I knew were so true about social networking, online video, the WikiYou. I finally got to meet a crowd of people in the industry that had their own truths that nobody agreed with them on and when they went out and they started doing these things, it came to fruition and they were right and everyone else was wrong.
So, I never worried about what the masses thought. I didn’t worry about the failures along the way because there’s a lot of luck. There’s serendipity. It’s lighting in a bottle, to some extent. So, timing is everything. You can’t manufacture your success, otherwise I would have sold Bolt for hundreds of millions of dollars, right? So, you know that you’ve got to have the right timing.
I think when Brian from Mixergy, the guy who talked to me and was like, “Do you want to do a lesson?” I was like I really don’t want to do a lesson because I could tell you all my lessons. I can teach you all the things. I think being disruptive is very important. I think building something upscale is really important. You have to think about the early on.
You also have to be defensible but you also need luck if you’re looking for liquidity. Timing is everything. We sold Yashi and within a month or two, if you go to like Google Finance and you look at Tremor and YuMe and all the ad tech companies, etc. Their stock started to decline and they’ve been declining ever since. I am like the oracle that I figured that out? That’s luck, right? You don’t know that. How do I know that ad tech companies would be on a steady decline ever since we sold in January. That’s unbelievable.
Andrew: All right. Let me do a quick sponsorship message for Acuity Scheduling. Here’s the cool thing about Acuity Scheduling. Jay, when you started out talking to all the early gaming sites, you would actually talk to them on the phone, right?
Andrew: A lot of times, sales happen on the phone. Partnerships happen on the phone. Ideas come together on the phone. The problem with that is especially when you’re trying to schedule with–what did you get, 30, 40 people in the beginning and then eventually hundreds of these sites?
It’s really tough, you can send out to somebody, “Here’s the time I’m available. Are you free then?” They’re probably not going to be free then. You can’t send out five different times because until they book one of those five times you email them about, someone else might have booked it. So, now if they book the exact same time as someone else, it becomes this big problem.
Here’s the solution that makes it really easy when you want to talk to your customers or partners or anyone. It’s called Acuity Scheduling. With Acuity Scheduling, what you do is you connect your calendar do Acuity Scheduling so that they can see when you’re free and when you’re not. Then you just paint on the calendar when your availability is and then you have a special link that you could hand out to anybody and they could book a call with you.
Actually, they could tell you their phone number. They could answer a couple of questions ahead of time. They could add themselves to your calendar. Once they do, it’s on your calendar so the next person that comes to try to schedule with you doesn’t have the opportunity to double book and screw things up. It’s really amazing. That’s a basic thing about it.
Here’s what’s incredible about it. They have all these extra features that are easy to use, things like send a reminder 48 hours before the meeting. Send a reminder a half hour before the meeting or whenever you want so that people actually show up. It stinks to actually sit there waiting for a call and then find out that the person forgot about it. In fact, it’s easy to send someone a link so that they automatically add it to their calendar so that it’s on their calendar and their calendar reminds them and their calendar makes sure they show up.
You can do things like send a follow-up email automatically. You can take their name and email address and add it to a database or follow up by sending them a special set of emails using your email system. All these extra features are easily attached to Acuity Scheduling. Tons of different software works already with Acuity Scheduling, works really well.
We haven’t even gotten to how you can actually sell it. If you want to do a one on one consultation with people and you want to sell your time, you can add that on there too. So many different features, really easy to use. I tried these guys years ago and I loved them and we started Mixergy–not started Mixergy, but soon after we started Mixergy, I started using it to book interviews. Since then, man, they have added so many freaking features.
You have got to check out AcuityScheduling.com/Mixergy. Why add the /Mixergy at the end? Because they’re going to give you 45 days free time to try them, to use them, to book your meetings with them, to actually start seeing how effective they are. Then if you don’t want, you can cancel. If you do, you can keep using them and their prices are much lower than their competition. Go check out AcuityScheduling.com/Mixergy.
Why did you grow so much bigger than others who could have seen the same idea.
Jay: I’m just thinking about something. Before I answer that and we get to how we did what we did–when you were talking about the girl in New York City. All these little -isms from the people that you admire, so you have all these mentors that you never met. Probably the best advice I ever got was from my grandfather. I was early adulthood and I said, “I want to be rich someday.” I asked him how to get rich. He was a carpenter. He’s like, “Don’t ask a carpenter how to do electrical work.” He goes, “I’m not rich. How am I going to teach you to be rich.”
Andrew: Great line.
Jay: He’s 91 now. I said, “Grandpa, I grew up in this blue collar area. I don’t know anybody that’s rich. What do I do?” He said, “You should read all the books rich people wrote.” I know you talk a lot about this too, Dale Carnegie and stuff like that.
Jay: I did all that. So, it was the best advice I ever had. So, I started to adopt the thinking. One of the things I’m thinking as you were talking–Warren Buffett, “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” I think I just knew. In my mind, I knew what I was doing. Whether or not the ideas worked or not, there will be new ideas. You have to believe in yourself.
So, how did we scale? How did we get bigger and all that stuff–we eventually at some point [inaudible 00:47:55]. So, early on, we were being disruptive to gaming because there were a lot of sites that did have paid games and we were trying to be disruptive to the BigFish Games of the world. That was helpful. We scaled it up and what we kept doing is you have to keep finding a pivot, right? We went away from games and then we did just video. So, we were more generic.
And then we were doing millions of dollars in revenue at some point, a few years in. I said to my wife–we had a one year old and she was pregnant with our second in 2013–I said, “We should go on vacation. We haven’t gone on vacation in forever. Let’s go do it.” So, we go down to Jamaica.
In Jamaica, we’re there. I’m like, “This is great.” I have all these employees at the company now. I’m running the business. We’ve finally got a business. It’s like Robert Kiyosaki, the Four Quadrants. Now we’re in the business mode. This thing is running itself. When we get back, I’m booking a trip on my laptop right now, we’re going to Hawaii for two weeks. She’s like, “You’re out of control. That’s like three weeks out of the month.” I’m like, “We’re doing it.”
I bring a book with me. It was called “Built to Sell.” I don’t know if you ever heard of that. It’s a good book. I’m out there reading this book while we’re sitting in Ko Olina in Hawaii. It was an epiphany for me. We were already Yashi. We were a video ad network. We had programmatic technology and stuff. We were missing the differentiation of the messaging. The book was really interesting because he says build a company to sell it. It doesn’t mean you have to, just build it where someone wants to buy it because you’ve got to be bought. You can’t sell.
So, I built the business and I said, “Now, we’ve got to reposition ourselves around something that resonates with people.” That’s when we focused on local. We decided in 2013 to refocus ourselves on local.
Andrew: What do you mean something that resonates?
Jay: So, something that resonates with buyers, not buyers of a company but demand advertisers. People have targeting for geotargeting, but if that’s all you obsess about and you build your tools and technology around that–
Andrew: You had targeting by then?
Jay: We had the targeting, but then we started to really obsess about it. I go back to the company. Everybody thinks I’m a crackpot there. I go back and I tell all the employees, “We’re the local video DSB now. This is what we are. We’re a demand side platform for local.” Everyone is like, “Here we go.”
I’m like, “Listen to me. Nobody’s doing it. Think about it. It’s an open opportunity. Nobody’s focusing on the customer that’s local. They may have a national customer that targets locally, like they might do a Pepsi campaign in certain markets, but who’s going,” and this is an epiphany, right? “Who is going after the local car dealership? If you go to CNN.com, are you seeing a local car dealer ad with a guy next to the pool with his dog? I don’t think so. But you see it on cable when you’re watching Monday Night Football on ESPN. Why is that?”
They were like, “Maybe they don’t want to do it.” I’m like, “No, they want to do it. They don’t know what they want.” If you ask Henry Ford, if I ask the customer what they want, they want a faster horse. People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. So, we’ve got to build tools and visualizations and all the stuff around what these local customers want.
So, let’s go in market, hired a guy from Comcast Cable Spotlight, which is the local cable sales team from Comcast. We hired a guy in. I sat with him in meetings. We went to all these local car dealerships, which is a very interesting buyer, by the way. It’s like the guy who owns the business and has full ownership makes the decision. It’s totally different than national advertising.
I sat there and I listened to the needs, the feedback loop. I was like, “Okay, thank you very much.” He’s like, “Do you have these things?” He was 71. I’m like, “No, but we’ll build it.” We went back. We built things, went back to more customers, got more things. Other people said it wasn’t was important. We did this customer development thing. We just kept doing this. We built a business around that.
Nobody was going after it. So, everybody was asking, “Why do you think it is that Tremor and YuMe aren’t going after it?” I go, “Because they’re over-capitalized. They’re broken. They’re broken businesses.”
Andrew: What do you mean? Why does an over-capitalized business have a harder time talking to those customers?
Jay: Because they hire a kid in New York City or San Francisco as a sales person and pay them over $200,000 base with their commission all in. Are you really going to spend the same time on a sales cycle process to try to close a $5,000 monthly campaign when you’re really trying to close a $200,000 monthly campaign or $100,000? It didn’t make sense for these guys.
Andrew: I see. It made sense for you to go after the smaller advertiser who had less money and if you figured it out, then you could get more of them.
Jay: That’s correct. We also paid our people less because we were in a rural area. We weren’t in the city.
Andrew: Where were you guys?
Jay: We’re in Toms River, New Jersey and the Jersey Shore. We were like, “Okay, we’re going to build a team here. We’re going to have 100-200 sales people over time.” At the time we were like 30-something people. I said we’ll grow to 200 people. All these sales people will be talking on the phone, a lot of tele-sales and flying out to the larger customers.
We found there were a lot of obstacles along the way. There are always a lot of obstacles. You realize that larger car dealerships are actually using agencies a lot of times too, even though they’re involved in the sale process, but neither here nor there. We had local dentists. We had all this stuff that were buying. We had cable TV and just watched locally for the first months. We were like, “Just write the names of the customers down.”
Andrew: And then you would go into them and you would show them, “Here’s what we have. Do you want to buy it?” How basic was the first version?
Jay: My opinion was your dollars are being wasted on television. You’re buying a whole DNA, a DNA, this larger area of a territory. If you’re a local dentist, there are probably like 30 other dentists outside of your radius that you’re at that you’re targeting against for the customers. They’re not going to come to you. It’s a ten-mile ride. You’re going to go to a local dentist, right? It clicked for them. It made sense.
Andrew: How far would someone drive to get a dentist?
Jay: I don’t know for sure.
Andrew: We’re talking about like a mile I’m happy too.
Jay: The car dealerships are a prime example. All around the country you see “Guy’s Last Name Toyota.” Here’ the big one is Lester Glen. They have 11 dealerships throughout New Jersey. If you have a Lester Glen Hyundai dealership and you live in Ocean Township, which is ten miles away, why would you go all the way down here? You go negotiate with that guy there, right? That’s what people do.
Andrew: How basic was this? The software as it is right now is pretty intense. When I said at the top of the interview that you could target moms in Greenwich Village, New York, that’s something that I got as an example off of your website. That’s not where you started. The very first version, what did that look like?
Jay: So, the first thing we did was the concept came to me. I was like, “We should do this.” We were more of an ad network at the time and I said, “We have the technology.” We had our own ad serving technology. “So, why don’t we call up all these exchanges?” They call them video exchanges.
We had relationships for years working with deals with people. I said “Let’s just tap in and we’ll be a DSP, demand side. We’ll choose a side. The exchange, you’re on both sides. You have supply side, you’re getting the websites and you’re on the demand side, you’re getting advertisers.”
We’re basically like that for the whole existence of the company. In 2013, I said, “Let’s go to everybody else that’s doing that. It’s an undifferentiated competition there. Let’s just say we’re going to be on the demand side.” But to do that, you have to have something differentiated for the demand customer. And that was the localization that we built all the tools around.
So, they came to our platform and then we had all the exchange inventory from all the various exchanges out there and we had 70 billion video ads, opportunity on any given second of any day, there were 25,000 ad calls a second. By the way, you’ve got to have the chops to be able to build this stuff. We had a good tech team we built over years. We built it. I think we were doing like under 30 milliseconds each ad call we were making our ad decisions.
Andrew: Let me break this down. In the beginning, it sounds like you guys went after both sides of the market. You’re saying at some point you have to focus on one side or the other. You either have to focus–
Jay: In ad tech, I think that’s right. Yeah.
Andrew: I see. So, you stopped going after both publishers and advertisers and you said, “I’m going to focus on getting the advertisers,” what you call you the demand side.
Andrew: We’ll know that these ad networks will link us up to all the publishers that have the video views that we need that our advertisers want. So, how do we make it so they get something that’s special?
Jay: Remember we talked about the marketplaces? Our marketplaces–in ad tech, it has not actually happened. But the closest thing to the center of the universe is AppNexus at this point. They’re huge. At one point it was Ripe Media. So, we recognized that all the ad networks we’re being ad exchanges because of the programmatic technology.
At some point, somebody’s got to take lion share, whether it’s Google, double click or whatever. They’re going to take a lion share of all the inventory on the demand and the supply. So, we want to be able to tap into them plus everybody else to get all of the inventory. We have all the inventory. Inventory is a commodity. What is it that you do that’s different? That is the sales tools that you have within the platform.
Andrew: But if you don’t have access to the publishers because you’re getting them through an ad network, how can you then micro-target their–
Jay: We do. We have the access to the publishers through the exchanges. That’s the point. They’re basically all the exchanges and all the SSPs. We have I think it’s like 80 billion ads a month that we have opportunity to bid on. So, it’s very important to be a DSP in local.
Andrew: So, how do you figure out where someone is if you’re not directly talking to the publisher who’s reaching that someone?
Jay: The publisher puts their inventory into the exchange.
Andrew: Including the location?
Jay: Yes, all that data is available.
Andrew: Oh, I see.
Jay: Within milliseconds.
Andrew: I see. If I’m about to watch a video somewhere online, it’s the publisher that knows who I am.
Jay: Your ISP tells us. Right now, if you’re doing a video ad, you would flash it, we would be able to see within a millisecond or so what your ISP location is. If you’re grouped in through an IP address, that’s like a shared IP address but you’ve used like your Facebook account on there, you’ve used your Facebook on your phone as well, then we can map together where your lat-long is based off that. So, there are all kinds of things that we can do.
Andrew: Unreal. If you can do it, why weren’t other people able to do it?
Jay: Again, I don’t think they were focused on this. It wasn’t an important objective or initiative for them.
Andrew: I see. They could have figured out the software too.
Jay: They may have been able to, but it wasn’t something on their radar. The mindset is it’s a $5,000 campaign per month. I don’t want that. I’m paying this kid $400,000 a year in total cost. This is crazy. You’ve got to go after the national dollars. We were like, “Thank you for not going after that customer because it’s a huge opportunity for us.”
Andrew: So, what does the sales team look like that allows you to go after so many strong advertisers?
Jay: So, this is the thing. We were at a point where we were like okay, we want to grow the business now. So, we hired an investment bank. We wanted to go raise $20 million-$40 million, just like you see a lot of these ad tech companies. They raise tremendous amounts of money. Part of it is everybody else is doing it. It’s a good time in the market. Money is free. Let’s go get it. Our valuation was high as a result of that as well. Valuations of tech companies are high because there’s nowhere to put your money.
So, we’re like, this is a great opportunity for us to get a tremendous amount of money, take some liquidity off the table in the money raise and infuse the rest of the capital in the business to grow it and hire a huge sales team. A lot of executional risk on a moving forward basis because you have to hire hundreds of people.
As we talked about earlier, it’s not easy to find the right people. It’s the biggest challenge and risk in a business. So, I hired an investment bank and we start the meeting with all these private equity firms. And we have term sheets. I don’t like most of these term sheets.
Jay: There are all kinds when you’re trying to raise money–liquidation prep, for instance, stuff that doesn’t even make sense to me. Like, “Here’s the dividend that accrues on our money every year at 8 percent.” It compounds. When somebody you sell your company, we just get additional equity as a result of that. What? So, the valuation isn’t really the valuation that we’re agreeing on.
They have things like this guy Naval who started AngelList. He was a really brilliant guy. Years ago, he was running Venture Hacks. He talked about all these venture hacks, the option pool shuffle and stuff. And you see it for real when you’re getting term sheets for $20 million-$40 million. They’ll let you have any valuation you want because they have all kinds of hooks in there that increase their valuation over time.
I was sophisticated and layman enough to see what was really going on and I’d go talk to other entrepreneurs, guys with startups like RockYou and stuff, Lance Tokuda. I had conversations with him. I’m like, “Lance, when you guys raised $80 million across your rounds, did you have these things?” He’s like, “Yeah, for sure, everybody does.” “Why the fuck did you do that?” It made no sense to me. He’s not there anymore as a result. The guy who started YouSendIt, Amir, right? Same thing. He lost control of his company to his VCs. So, I was always conscious of this over the years.
When I got the term sheets, I thought, It’s different for us. We’re profitable. We hold the cars.” It didn’t matter. They kept giving us the same term sheets. Then we go to a conference that our investment bank AGC, this guy John Guido. He was holding a conference in New York City. So, he invites me there. He goes, “It’s like speed dating. You’re going to meet a bunch of these investors. You go one by one for 20 minutes each and you talk to them. I’m like, “I don’t want to do that.” I’ve never put myself out there. He said, “Just do it. Just do it.”
So, I come there. He twists my arm and I go. I said I guess I’ve got to whore myself out with these guys. I meet with four or five of these guys and I said, “This feels dirty. I don’t even want to do this.” They’re not even listening to you. They’re on their phone like, “Uh-huh…” It was ridiculous.
So I leave and go into another area where they have a breakroom. Then there was another room in the back where they had a panel going up. I walk into there. Everybody’s drinking coffee. Everybody’s drinking coffee. I never had a sip of coffee in my life. I don’t need coffee, as you can see.
So, I walk in and I’m sitting in the back of the room and there are 100 people there and there are like 5 people on stage. One of the guys is the head of M&A for AOL. He did AdaptTV, which was a competitor of us, to some extent. He did TechCrunch. He did all these deals. So, I’m looking at this guy on stage and there was another guy from Nexstar on the stage. His previous background, he gives his bio. He’s like, “I was at NBC for many years, 20 years at NBC. He’s talking about what they do.
So, my banker comes over and is hosting the whole event. He said, “What do you think so far? Is everything great?” I was like, “Dude, I don’t think we’re going to raise money from these guys. The terms that people talk about don’t make sense.” He goes, “Just keep talking to people. You’ll find the right deal. You guy shave a great business. It’s a great market.”
I go, “What about this guy on stage?” He’s like, “What about him? They buy companies. They don’t invest.” I go, “We should talk to him.” He’s like, “They buy TV companies. It’s more of a roll up for TV companies. They started with one in Scranton in 1996 and they have like 100-something stations now. He’s a head of digital, maybe you’re right. Maybe have a conversation with him.”
I don’t know. I was like, “Maybe he’ll invest, dude. Who knows?” So, I go downstairs in the hotel. There’s a bar. I have a drink with the guy. Within ten minutes, I recognized, “This is the guy that’s going to buy our company.” What are the chances of that in life? So, I was sitting there having this conversation with the guy.
His name is Tom O’Brien. We’re BSing about what we do and what they’re trying to do. He says, “Why are you here to raise money. Why don’t you just sell the company?” I said we were trying to raise money because they old saying is you got to be bought, you can’t be sold. So, I don’t want to sell the company. If somebody made me the right offer, but we’re trying to raise a lot of money, man, probably like $30 million to $40 million. Now, the valuation might have been $30 million to 440 million giving up half the company.
Then he says, “What are you going to do with the money?” I said, “Hire a lot of people.” He goes, “Sales people?” “Yeah. We have like 650 local sales people selling TV cable advertising so that your customers which are car dealers right now. You should talk to us.” I was like, “Okay.” I went back to the banker and was like, “I think we have someone who wants to buy the company. I think it was like, “Do you want to sell it? It might make sense because the executional risk in hiring hundreds of people from zero to wherever. I don’t know, maybe.
Andrew: That’s who bought it. You said at the end you owned 80 percent of the company. Who owned the rest?
Jay: Over 80 percent. We had an early investor in the business. The guy’s name is Bill. He invested. He’s a Wall Street guy, really interesting background on him. He was introduced to me from Lou Kerner, remember, the same guy who bought Bolt. This was a guy who offered me mostly equity for my businesses, Music Video Codes.
So, Lou introduced me years before to this guy Bill. So, I became friends with Bill, just kind of kept in touch. He sees that we’re growing the business and it’s evolving. So, by 2010, he’s like, “I want to invest.” He was out of the market from Wall Street because they were all displaced. He says, “I’d love to invest in your business.” I said, “We really don’t need your money. We’re really profitable.” He’s like, “I know you don’t need the money. I just want to be involved. I was like, “Okay.” He was like 48 years old, whatever it was.
I’m like, “Okay, let me talk to my wife.” I talked to Kate. I said, “Should we do it?” She said, “We could probably use more connections. Why not?” He invested in the company. He got like 10 percent for the business at the time. And then about a year later, Lou Kerner, he raised the fund and he gave us $1.5 million. So, then he got a little bit of equity.
Then they introduced us to some other people, Mitch Tice is the vice chairman of Bank of America, another one of our investors that we got to one of these guys. He’s married to the princess of Sweden. It was the coolest thing ever. We had all these different investors in our business. So, we ended up diluting to the investors and then we had a little bit of options for our employees as well. So, that’s where the other some-teen percent went to.
Andrew: So, I asked you about the sale in the beginning of the interview. You told us what it was like but that it wasn’t as exciting as people thought it was because you worked so hard on it and you know that the sale was coming where everyone else kind of was surprised and to them it was like an exciting lottery almost that you hit.
Andrew: But you told our producer Brian that wasn’t a huge one. You did celebrate by going to Atlanta City as a company, right? What you did remember maybe even more was hitting the first million and then the ten million. Ten million what? One million what? Is it sales? Is it profit? Money in the bank? What were these memorable milestones for you?
Jay: Well, like I said, when I was younger, I wanted to become a millionaire. It was a focus of mine. I came from a very modest, humble beginning area. My dad was a carpenter and stuff. I have a biological dad that’s also a painter, very blue collar. I didn’t really know anybody that was rich. I used to read like Wired magazine or I’d see like Jonathan Abrams from Friendster on the cover of Inc. and I was like, “Dude, I want that.’ That’s so fucking cool. I would love to be able to be in a position like that.”
Andrew: I know that people who are listening to this interview who are saying the same thing. I know there are people who are too young to be listening to this and are still listening to it and they’re the perfect listeners and they’re thinking, “I like Jay’s life. I want to do that.”
Jay: Yeah There’s a part of me that I always aspired to want to be like these other people. I looked up to them. I still do. The people you have on the show, I look up to all these guys. I told you the story of meeting Garrett. The guy is worth $5 billion or something today, Forbes says.
It’s so fascinating that in the tech world, you can do stuff like that. It just amazes me. I never thought the billions was even a possibility. So, hats off to Zuckerberg for opening the doors for everybody. It’s amazing. I was never really that fascinated about trying to make the money. I think the money would follow.
What I really wanted to do was affect millions of people. The scale of the internet is just amazing what you can do. If you look at all the businesses that you’re surrounded with in your offline life, your real life, they don’t have the opportunity for scale. The local donut shop that you go to every weekend to get your bagel or something, they’re not going to ever be a $100 million company. It’s not going to happen. They might be able to. Starbucks started in one coffee shop, but most people don’t think of that.
Andrew: It was grown by a guy who had a vision to go beyond the few coffee shops. So, tell me about the $1 million and the $10 million. What happened there?
Jay: I guess when we first made our first million–I guess I’ve never been flashy about it. We never went on vacations or did anything crazy or bought a Lamborghini. I just don’t do that kind of stuff. I have like a Jeep Wrangler and I have a Mercedes but it’s an E350. It’s not like a real expensive one, you know? So, we’ve made good money along the way, but we never flaunted it like that. We do have a nice house now.
Andrew: I see. It was you being aware that you made $1 million in profit and that was something that stood out in your mind.
Jay: Once you had $1 million and you could look at it and you had no more debt, it felt like a little bit of a relief, but it wasn’t like you scratch off a lotto ticket and there’s this euphoria. You’re building that wealth over time. So, when you build the wealth over time, I’ve talked to other people in the ad tech business because in the ad tech business, there are a lot of people who built their wealth over time.
They don’t sell a company, eating ramen for ten years and then selling a company and getting 45 million. So, you’re kind of making hundreds of thousands and then millions of dollars a year and you get a bunch of it all in one lump sum too.
Andrew: I see. This was you actually earning it from profits of the business.
Jay: Brian, I don’t think I told him about the ten. The ten, he’s going off a blog probably from my blog. What is was I basically was worth $10 million and then it went away. That was the Bolt thing. I think he’s mincing a little bit. It’s fine. Always knew I would get it back. It was never really there, but it was an implied value you have based on what your investors and people are saying it’s worth. But you can’t buy into that.
The only thing that really matters is when it’s wired in the bank and you have it. Even then it’s not real. Money is fake. We used to use tulips and shit. It’s all fake. You’ve got to be really grounded about money. It’s not like a real thing. All it does is it buys you things and these things can go away tomorrow. The whole government could collapse. You don’t know, right?
Andrew: Probably not, though.
Jay: Probably not? You make this money and then what do you do with it? That’s another problem. Today, actually, as we’re talking is a historic moment. Ten years since they went to zero on interest rates. Today they’re supposed to put them up 25 basis points. We’re actually excited about 25 basis points because I can’t buy stocks in the stock market. I have no stomach for that stuff.
Andrew: You’re saying you put your money in safe investments, not even the stock market, even if you get just a few basis points.
Jay: I’m happy to get 25 basis points, right?
Andrew: I get that.
Jay: Knowing that in six months it will go up to 50 basis points and in two years we’ll be at 2 percent. I love two percent.
Jay: We took it.
Andrew: All right. I want to just close out with this one thing. I feel that there are kids who are really entrepreneurial like you and me who are suffocated by the school system that doesn’t want them to do anything. So, I’m interested in how when you were a kid, you went to Woolworth’s with your grandmother–I don’t know her well enough to call her your grand mom. What would you buy and what did you sell?
Jay: So, I don’t know why I came up with this idea, but she used to go in there and they used to have Blow Pops. They would sell them $0.25 for ten of them. You exchange a quarter for a bunch of them. I’m dating myself because Woolworths was even around. I said I would like to buy these. I had a fanny pack and I would go on the playground and I would sell them $0.25, UI was flipping all this money. I would save the dollars and the quarters I would get from their lunch money excess and put it in my fanny pack. When we got back, we had the flip desk and we used to put it in there.
One time, I got caught and they sent me down to the principal’s office. I must have gotten in a lot of trouble. They didn’t know where all the money came from. They were like, “What are you bulling people?” I’m like, “No, I sell Blow Pops.” They’re like, “Where are they?” “…I sold them.”
I was like, “I swear to get, do you ever see these kids with Blow Pops?” It was a big thing in our elementary school. People would break off the stick and put them in their mouth and they come back from recess and not say anything. The teacher would look around. I was the Blow Pop king. I sold baseball cards. I did a lot of things like that.
Andrew: And they shut you down?
Jay: Yeah, they did, actually. It was like selling drugs to these kids. It was sugar. It’s the drug.
Andrew: That’s the thing that gets me. Instead of encourage you to do it, they shut you down. You’re one of so many entrepreneurs who interviewed here on Mixergy who for trying to sell candy. I don’t know where everyone gets it. It’s not like we’re all reading the same magazine that says, “Here’s the way to get rich in school.”
It’s like an instinct to sell. I wish that schools would encourage it. I’d like to, at some point, get together with a few people who listen and start a program that encourages kids to sell stuff in their schools to other kids and works with the school to get permission to let them do it. If the kids were singing in the hallway they’d let them do it.
Jay: My dad bought me a Tony Hawk skateboard when I was a kid. I was a big fan of Tony Hawk. He was probably in his 20s at the time. I used it for about a year and then there was a kid that was like, “I want that skateboard. I want to buy it off you. And my dad bought it for like $100 or something like that. He’s like, “I’ll give you $150. I really want the skateboard.”
I went back home and I was like, “Dad, this guy has $150. I could sell it for a new skateboard for $150.” He goes, “What do you mean? You can’t sell that. I bought that for you.” I was like, “I can go buy another one and pocket $50,” right? He’s like, “No. You can’t do that to someone you know.” I go, “Why?” They don’t even make this one anymore.” They kept making different limited editions. He goes, “But it’s got all the skids on the back where you put your foot down.”
So, he felt bad about making money on someone. This is a common thing among even adults. My dad was a young parent. He was 19–he was my stepdad. He was 19 years older than me. So, he just felt bad that like I’m ripping the kid off. I’m like, “I don’t think I’m ripping him off. He can’t get the skateboard anywhere.” So, it was a mindset that I innately had and he didn’t and other people don’t. It’s just something some people have and sometimes some people don’t have it. They view the world a different way because of the experiences they had growing up shapes the way they think.
Andrew: That’s what’s so great about reading books, listening to interviews like this and hearing other people’s stories. You start to realize, “Hey, I’m not alone. I’m not a freak. I’m not trying to rip people off. There is a world of possibilities here that other people are fighting against, not because they’re evil, but because they just don’t understand it.” It’s so good to be understood by people who are going through this.
All right. We’ve talked for so long. I’ve really just been enjoying talking to you. I could talk to you for so much longer. I’d love to have you back anytime. I was going to come up with excuses. You did interviews, partially, right?
Jay: I watched your interviews early on and I was like so fascinated with what you were doing. Like I said–
Andrew: You watched me do interviews and you were so into it you said, “I’m going to do interviews too?”
Jay: Yeah. I met all these people in person and I said, “You’re meeting people virtually so you’re meeting them at a more rapid pace.” I’m like, “This is so cool.” You’re not physically meeting them, but you do have a bond and a rapport that you build with people through the web like this. I was like, “This is interesting.” So, you did this thing where I guess a lot of people were asking you, “How do you do it?” You showed the lights and this and that–by the way, still got the lights.
I started my own thing. It was called Foundville. I did it in 2011. It was four or five years ago, maybe 2010 to 2011. I forget. I interviewed 75 people. The problem is I’m always too giddy. I’m totally obsessive compulsive on stuff. I started to do this. You’ve been doing it for a long time, so you must have at this point, obviously, in the beginning it was more of a passion that you might want to turn into a business.
Andrew: I didn’t want it, I fought it.
Jay: Exactly. So, I did it and I definitely didn’t want to make money on it. I already had a business that was making money. It was really more about how do I meet more people? How do I raise my profile? Larry King and Charlie Rose are famous for interviewing famous people. I was like, “This is a way for me to raise my profile.”
I’m like, “I’ve got a great business. Nobody fucking knows about it. I’m in New Jersey. Nobody knows what we’re doing or why.” How do I raise my profile? So, let me go to people I met like Gil Pencina, Raj Kapoor, all these people that I knew and then they introduced me to some other people and I had a pretty good list of entrepreneurs that I brought on.
Andrew: Did it help you to do all those interviews?
Jay: It was very helpful. What I did initially was I wanted raise my profile and my business’ profile. I wanted to raise the personal brand and the company brand. But I also recognize I’m going to learn a tremendous amount from these people. They talked about books I ended up reading I never heard about. They said different phrases. They open your eyes. Three of the most impactful people that I’ve ever met personally was Naval Ravikant–
Andrew: You met him through those interviews?
Jay: No. I met him in person. I’m just making a point here to the audience. People can really touch your lives in a big way. So, I met Naval. He was just so articulate and smart and witty and quick. This was before AngelList. I was like, “Wow this guy is going somewhere.” I was like, “This guy is so fucking smart.” Chamath was another one. He runs Social + Capital. At the time, he was at Mayfield. He ran instant messenger at AOL for a period, really quick, smart dude. And then Reid Hoffman. Reid was so articulate, so smart.
And then when I interviewed people on the show, they were all like that. These were all successful people. You don’t meet these people in your everyday lives. So, I encourage everybody to do what you’re doing for their own benefit. People want to get their message out there. It’s like a talk show. People want to get their message out, whatever it is they’re talking about, or they want to help people.
I used to ask everybody at the end of the show and I created a sizzle reel, which I still have in my computer. It was really cool. I think I have it on a YouTube page somewhere. Everybody said a really similar thing. It’s reciprocity. I boil it down to reciprocity. People want to give back because people came to them. That’s why these shows are great.
Andrew: It’s so cool to have you on here. In the early days, I would say, “My dream is that people would eventually be using what they’re learning, build incredible companies and then come back here.” At the time, I wasn’t really sure that anyone would end up coming back. I didn’t even know who was listening. I didn’t know there were people listening. It’s so cool. Obviously you’ve been influenced by lots of people, much more than just Mixergy.
Jay: You too in all your interviews. You were a big influence. To your point, I never got to do the come back, but there are interviewed like Sean Rad. At the time he was running Adly. Now he’s the founder of Tinder. It’s amazing when you look. I think you had Gagan on your show. I had him on when he was doing Udemy and now look what he’s doing. It’s amazing some of these guys. They’re not going to stop. These guys will keep going.
Andrew: You mentioned one other person that I want to bring up. You talked about John Warrillow’s book, “Built to Sell.” He was fantastic. He reached out to me a little after you did. I had him on here to do an interview. I’d really urge anyone who’s building a business with the idea that they eventually will sell it or structuring it so it can run without them if they’re going to go to Hawaii or get into an accident or just need some time to think about the next step of their business, build a business that outlives you.
John’s process is the one that influenced you, Jay. I urge people to check out his interview on Mixergy. He came back a few weeks ago and taught a course on Mixergy and said, “I want you to build a business that you can sell and one of the pillars of that is having continuous growing revenue.” Then he taught a course where he taught people to do that. The guy is a good, solid thinker. I never heard of him before Mixergy. I’m glad that I did.
Jay: He reached out to you because he was a fan?
Andrew: I think he saw my work. I don’t know how much of a fan he was. I don’t like to throw the word fan around unless he’s been listening to a lot of interviews. I believe he reached out to me because he saw my work.
At the time, he was writing for Forbes and there weren’t a lot of people who were writing for Forbes back then. Now it feels like everyone can. It was a really respectable column that he had. I thought, “Wow, this guy heard of me just because of Mixergy? That’s really cool.” So, I got to know him. I did a bunch of prep. I did an interview with him. It still holds up.
Jay: If you read “Rich Dad”–you probably read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.”
Andrew: I did read “Rich Dad.”
Jay: I was like 20 or something when I read that. You talk about the educational system. He talks about that quite a bit in that book. It’s a great book for understanding that you’re no different.
Andrew: Strangely, I heard about “Rich Dad” from women I was trying to pick up in LA. I don’t know how, they would talk to me about business books they read and suddenly instead of trying to date them I was into whatever books they had in their collection. Probably that’s the problem that I had at the time.
All right. Thank you so much for doing this interview. If people want to follow up with you, what’s a good place for them to go? Obviously Yashi.com is still around. You’re still at Yashi.
Jay: If you’re interested in buying advertising, go to Yashi.com.
Andrew: Yes. If they just want to follow you or want to see how you’re thinking, do you have a website? Are you blogging?
Jay: I’m not very active on Twitter. But people always say, “What’s your next thing?” I’m glad you didn’t ask that, by the way. Everybody always says, “What’s next?”
Andrew: I never care about what’s next because who knows what’s next.
Jay: Exactly. It’s like the most common thing and people feel compelled to have to ask you that. So, I’m actually very happy you didn’t say it. Thank you. Right now, because we spent so much time building the business and we have two-year old and a four-year old spending time with the kids.
So, I’m basically home every day. What’s next is what’s happening right now with my kids. James Huang, who brought on the show because I copied him and I brought him onto Foundville, I said, “What are you doing next?” He had sold it years before. He goes, “Dude, I’m like Mr. Mom now. I’m home with the kids every day.” I totally respect that. That’s kind of what I’ve been doing for the last ten months or whatever. I have no idea what next would be.
Andrew: Thanks for coming on here and doing this interview with me. I hope to get you meet you in person. Thank you all for being a part of Mixergy. The two sponsors–wow, it’s been so long since I even talked about the sponsors–we went really long here. I don’t care. I heard Tim Ferriss go long with Jamie Foxx and it was about music and I listened to it because I like Tim, but I don’t care that much about Jamie Foxx, to be honest with you.
For me, the person I’d go long with you is you. I’d spend hours just talking to you about where you came up with the original ideas about how you came onto the internet, all that stuff. You had a great story that we couldn’t even fit in here.
Andrew: Right. The sponsors–the first one was Acuity Scheduling. If you’re booking with people, you need an easy way to do it, they’re much more likely to say yes to you if you make it easy for them. Acuity Scheduling will do that for you. If you need to hire a developer, go to Toptal.com Thanks, Jay.
Jay: Thanks a lot.
Andrew: Thank you all for being a part of Mixergy. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast. When you do, you’ll get every single interview directly delivered to whatever device you have for free. Go ahead and subscribe. See you. Bye, everyone.