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Special Episode: Jason Calacanis

Special Episode: Jason Calacanis

Wed, 29 Apr 2020 03:41

We're joined by the one and only Jason Calacanis for this very special episode, wherein we chronicle Jason's journey from a kid porter in the barrooms of Brooklyn to building the largest independent media business in tech, becoming the "3rd or 4th greatest seed investor of all-time" (and the original Sequoia Scout), launching one of the top accelerators in the world, and constructing a one-man empire that may just disrupt the entire capital stack in our industry. We dive into how it all ties together, and where the money and power is shifting in the ever changing sands of Silicon Valley...

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Let me just make a little out here. Yeah. Please. Hi, this is Jason Calicanas for required. FM. Is that the domain? Aware of it? That is it. Yeah. All right. Listen, you're listening to this. You're either a founder and aspiring founder and investor. Or an aspiring investor for $100 a year. You're going to get hours of content that's not available to everybody else. That's also known as an edge. You are in a competition with other investors. You're in a competition with other founders. You need an edge. If I could tell you you get one, two, three good insights a year, even one, which pay $100 for an amazing insight that gave you an edge against your competitors. Of course, you would you pay $10,000. So why wouldn't you pay 100? Because it's content. You're thinking about it the wrong way. The LP program in is not. It's not content. It's an edge and it's an underpriced edge. So buy for 100 now before they raise the price to what it should be, which is 5,000 a year. This is Jason Calcans for See you in the slack. How's that for an ad? You can have that. Mike, you can actually take your mic. You can literally have my ad. You can have my. I swear we did not ask him to do that. Everyone. I just love that. Let's do it. Thank you. Welcome to this special episode of acquired. The podcast about great technology companies and the stories behind them. I'm Ben Gilbert. I'm David Rosenpell and we are your hosts. Acquired is all about stories. And ordinarily we tell the story of a great technology company or a great leader or a great adaptation. Today we are telling the story of someone who doesn't just have one story. He has a whole anthology across all of those categories. The one and only Jason Calcans. So just to give our audience a small sampling of all of the enterprises that Jason has started and is involved with across his career. Yeah, David, I bet you can't do this all in one breath. Oh, no, no. Jason has founded four companies by our account. Silicon Valley reporter, web logs, Mahalo and Do we miss any? No, those are them. Those are the four and is the same captive was just a pivot of Mahalo. So arguably one did not know people don't know that. We'll give them that three conferences, three podcasts, Angel all in. And of course this week in startups, which is now over a thousand episodes. The YouTube channel around all of those. You were the first Sequoia scout. You were literally the prototype of the Sequoia scout. Correct. And still the greatest returner. And still the greatest returner. But who's counting? It's not a competition. But I won. Maybe some time might have something to do. Well, anyway, we'll get into that. You've made over 200 angel investments in your career. You are a blogger. You're an author. You have a newsletter. You started the launch accelerator. The venture fund around that. The syndicate around that. You are the self-provests. We have you on record as saying. We are the either third or fourth best angel investor of all time. For sure. Yeah. For sure I'm out rush more. For Chris Saka, Ron Conway, obviously ahead of me. And then there's a bunch of people. Nobody knows who did incredible angel investments in Google and Apple. But they don't feel the necessity to put it on the cover of a book like I did. Speaking of quote that we want to wrap this up with from your book. This folks think I'm lucky. I'm a complete fraud and a handful. I'm a brilliant hype man. I don't agree with any of them. I agree with all of them. Jason Calcana. Welcome to the show. Big fan of the show. Thanks for having me on. And David, thank you for doing that intro because your voice is so much better than Ben's. I mean, that is a radio voice you have, David. It's so soothing. And Ben and I are just like scratchy records. But Ben's got good inside. So I'm glad to be here. I'm a big fan of your podcast. I'm glad to have some to rely on Jason. Exactly the insights. Thanks for joining me. So okay, today, probably most people listen to subscriber Jason on one of these many channels we've talked about. Today we're going to talk about two sort of less discussed parts of Jason's story. One on the main show here is how Jason has built his whole empire across all these properties and how it all ties together in his mind. And then two, right after this on the LP show, we're going to talk about what the bigger picture is behind set empire, what Jason's secret master plan is, Allah is friendy lawn. And why it might represent a wholesale deconstruction of the entire startup ecosystem. So you can click the link in the show notes or go to slash acquired. I'm a member. I pay 100 bucks a year or something. Well, thank you. We appreciate it. It's worth it. The LP show is like the best parts. It's like you cut the nice like the rib eye and that's like the best part. It's like the New York strip of the podcast. It's great. We hope that the whole podcast is good, but we, yeah, the LP stuff is the tightest I have to say. You guys put the most work into that and people just pay for it. You want good content to exist. Pay for it. If only all of our guests were like you Jason. Our presenting sponsor for this episode is not a sponsor, but another podcast that we love and want to recommend called the founders podcast. We have seen dozens of tweets that say something like my favorite podcast is acquired and founders. So we knew there's a natural fit. We know the host of founders. Well, David Senra. Hi, David. Hey, Ben. Hey, David. Thank you for joining us. Thank you for having me. I like how they group us together. And then they say it's like the best curriculum for founders and executives. It really is. We use your show for research a lot. I listened to your episode of the story of Akyo Marina before we did our Sony episode and it's this incredible primer. You know, he's actually a good example of why people listen to founders and to acquired because all of history's greatest entrepreneurs and investors, they had deep historical knowledge about the work that came before them. So like the founder of Sony, who did he influence? Steve Jobs talked about him over and over again if you do the research to him. But I think this is one of the reasons why people love both of our shows and there's such good compliments. It's not acquired. We focus on company histories. You tell the histories of the individual people. You're the people version of acquired and where the company version of founders. Listeners, the other fun thing to note is David will hit a topic from a bunch of different angles. So I just listened to an episode on Edwin Land from a biography that David did. David, it was the third, fourth time you've done Polaroid. I've read five biographies of Edwin Land and I think I've made eight episodes of them. Because in my opinion, the greatest entrepreneur to ever do it, my favorite entrepreneur personally is Steve Jobs. And if you go back and listen to like a 20 year old Steve Jobs, he's talking about Edwin Land's my hero. So the reason I did that is because I want to find out like I have my heroes who were their heroes. And the beauty of this is the people may die, but the ideas never do. And so Edwin Land had passed away way before the apex of Apple, but Steve was still able to use those ideas. And now he's gone and we can use his ideas. And so I think what requires doing what the founder trying to do as well is find the best ideas in history and push them down to generations. Make sure they're not lost history. I love that. Well, listeners, go check out the founders podcast after this episode. You can search for it in any podcast player. Lots of companies that David covers that we have yet to dive into here on acquired. So for more indulgence on companies and founders, go check it out. So Jason, you've talked a lot about growing up your childhood. So we'll do that briefly here. You're born in New York, right? Brooklyn. Brooklyn. Yeah. You don't say New York. You say not only do you say the borrow, you say the part of the bar. So I'm from Bay Ridge, which is literally the last stop on the trend on the trend. Love it. Tell us a little bit about your family and what growing up was like for you. Yeah, I grew up in the 70s and 80s, which was a fantastically interesting time to grow up as a young person. We were free range kids to the extreme. And Brooklyn and, you know, was not hipsters back then, it was, you know, working class and connected guys and the hells angels and cops and bookies. And it was, it was a little bit more rough and tumble. My dad owned a bar. He was essentially the mayor of Bay Ridge in a way like people loved my dad John the beard and they loved his bar. And I worked at his bar, my brother, my two brothers and I'm an older brother, my younger brother, Jamie and Josh. From a very young age, my mom was a nurse and she ran the emergency room in Brooklyn. At Victory Memorial Hospital and then later ran the ICU, she's a nurse practitioner. She's got, I think, three graduate degrees. So I had this amazing, hardworking mother doing three or four jobs. Had this amazingly hardworking dad. And it was a blue collar lifestyle. We were, you know, we owned our house, but barely. We were always living months to month. But there was a lot of love and a lot of craziness growing up in a bar. I literally grew up in a bar. And made espresso for mob bosses, made bay clams for Tony Bennett. Would go get cigarettes for the Coke dealer, would put balees in copichinos for police officers in uniform coming in at two or three o'clock to have a steak or burger. Because my dad would let them come in at any time. It sounds like not just a bar. There's more like a pub. It was a pub. Exactly. It was kind of like a pub. And the cops would come in anytime they want it. But usually they come in between lunch and dinner. And my instructions were just given whatever they want and just charge them ten bucks each. And they would proceed to drink four or five Irish coffees each. Did they order them as Irish coffees or? Yes. No, there was the wink and then there was the wink. You know, they were in uniform. So they just wanted to have a cup of coffee. Hey, give me a cup of coffee. So whenever I got the bookie, already, Maresca or the guy who dealt cocaine, his pack of cigarettes or whatever, they would just say, here's twenty or here's a fifty sometimes or sometimes even a hundred. Could give me a pack, give me two packs of more and more lights. I go out and get two packs of more lights. It was two dollars or a dollar fifty a pack and they'd keep the change. This is like the Brooklyn version of Bob Eiger's story with the chairman Frank Sinatra going out and getting him mouthwash. Exactly. And so, you know, I basically got exposed to commerce at a very young age and I became very interested in power and money. Perhaps too interested in it. My first real job was a guy owed my dad like two grand. He had lost playing backgammon to him. My dad used to have a backgammon in a poker game and when the bar closed at four, the fun began from four to seven or eight in the morning there had after hours, which was mainly cops and hell's angels and mafia guys and, you know, hippies. All playing together. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I would come and I would do the porter work at seven a.m. so I would come and sweep up the place on Saturday and Sundays when I was 10, 11 years old with my grandfather, rest in peace. And we were the porters who fence away saying janitors and my dad would be there playing cards or whatever. Anyway, this guy got, he was in for two grand, two large to my dad and he couldn't pay and he needed a little time so my dad was like, that's fine. He said, here, I know the kid likes the stalwarts. Here's the Empire Shrecks back. Here's where I shrecks back was in the theaters and he handed my dad a VHS tape and my dad had gotten a VHS player that had fallen off a truck. This is before blockbuster obviously. This is like 1984 or something. I don't know, no, 83, 84 or something like that. They would just like to have video rental stores but something like Star Wars would never be allowed there. Maybe come five years later. Anyway, long story short, I was like, this is incredible. I have Empire Shrecks back and I had my friend bring his VHS over and I made copies of it. The job was Jason's hot tapes. I would make copies of the Empire Shrecks back and sell them for 20 bucks. That's you. I thought you were going to say you started running the screenings. No, that would be a better idea actually. But anyway, before Jason learned about marginal costs, exactly. I was like, wait a second. How much is a VHS tape cost? My math teacher says a calcannus stay after. I'm like, God, I'm going to get pinched. He says, I know your cell in this tape. I said, yeah, because you think that's an okay thing to do? No, I probably shouldn't be doing it. Do you have these tapes with you? And I said, yeah, he goes, how much are they? I said, they're 20 bucks. He said, okay, I'll take one. I said, here, it's on my house. I gave him a tape. It was literally, I mean, when I saved my life, I was watching Goodfellas. I was using this Chrome extension called Scener that we invested in to watch Goodfellas with some fans of the show and I just tweeted. It's like group viewing. There's Netflix party and this is Scener. So now that I've reached home, you can watch Netflix with your family, whatever. So I put on Goodfellas and I was just watching this gig growing up and I was just having flashbacks. I mean, literally my life was like the first act of Goodfellas. Well, Jason, I'm going to deviate from our little outline here a little bit. But I know you're a prolific poker player. I don't know if semi-prose the right word, but you play with pros, your friends with pros. A lot of your investing patterns, sort of match poker patterns. Informed by it. Yeah. So did that start here? When was your early poker game? I was exposed to gambling at a very young age. I didn't participate in it. My exposure to poker came when I was in New York, a friend of mine, O'Day O'Ressi, who started the Founders Institute, just started a $20, $30 poker game. And myself got Hyferman from, Nick Denton had come to a couple of games, Jeff Dodges from Razer Fish, and now One Drop, which I'm an investor in. Just a bunch of the Silicon Alley folks would play cards, and I'd play cards with them. And it was like one of those card games where people said, what's better, a straight or a flush? And somebody had to look it up kind of thing. Yeah. You have the little card next to you on the table or you're sort of referencing it. Yeah, literally. That was like that. It was just an excuse. And we used to play down at a place called Forilini's, which is still down in Chinatown, which is like an Italian restaurant. I'll leave it at that. And we used to play in the back. But then I went when I moved to LA and I spent a decade in LA. A lot of my friends, like Skydatin, was playing cards. And my friend Kevin Pollack, who I was friends with, the actor, he was playing cards. And we just, you know, those games were $200 buy-in or $500 buy-ins. You had to be a little more serious about it. And then I, you know, the stakes started going up. I tried to study the game. I was terrible at it. And then I started getting invited to this game, this woman Molly kept inviting me. And she'd be like, oh, Toby really wants you to come to the Four Seasons. And Leo really wants to see you. And I was like, Toby and Leo want to see me lose 20 grand. Like, they want to see Jason Galgat. So I never went to Molly's game, which he invited me frequently, because I was a fish for a while as we say in the business. But yeah, that's when I got exposed to it. And then one of the, in the early deconferences, myself, Bill Gurley, Mark Pinkis. And Sky Dayton were all there. And I said, hey, you guys want to play cards? And we went up to, I think it was Mark Pinkis' room. We just took the folding table. We started playing cards. And then we started hosting this game at the deconference, which later became recode. It became very famous, this poker game. And then we have a weekly poker game that everybody knows about here in Silicon Valley. You know, that's just my best friends and Phil Helmuth and Dremond from the Warriors, Chimoff obviously, and David Sachs, just a really good group of guys who get together. And we've been playing virtually now, which is kind of fun. And now you have a podcast around it. Well, Chimoff was just like, Chimoff was one of these guests on my podcast who, he just burned the building down. And he, nobody really knew who Chimoff was until he came on my podcast. And, you know, we started having him at the events. And then CMBC got their hooks into him. And now he's just like throwing bombs for a living. Well, I'm sure he gets like just incredible page views whenever he goes on CMBC and trust him. It's just a problem for me, though, because he's like, let me come on your podcast and just say everybody's a fraud in venture capital. I'm like, I know you made your money and you're retired and running a family office not Chimoff, but I'm raising funds right now. It doesn't really help me to have you on the podcast saying that this is a giant Ponzi scheme. And he's like literally pouring gasoline over himself, lighting himself on fire. And I go like step six, we'd back. The Burmese building down. It's great. Because this is the perfect second to the media business. Yeah. So when, so you go to Fordham. Yeah. After Ford was right after Fordham. At night. At night. You start as a reporter. How, so what draws you into the media business? Because to my mind, this is the, this is the, well, obviously you're growing up years and everything with a shape to you then. But starting in the media business is the wedge that brings us all to the Cali-Canis empire now. Yeah. So this is a very interesting thing. What happened was, you know, I would go into Manhattan. I was just in awe of the people in Manhattan and people who were rich or famous and who were powerful. Because I had no power growing up. And I was in a very dangerous situation. And I was watching people who were powerful. And I was like, okay, the book is very powerful. The head of the hell's angels is very powerful. This cop is very powerful. I am not powerful. My dad is powerful. He's got all these people in his bar like, and I was watching money go around and it's just fascinated by these topics. Probably too much. And I saw magazines and magazines are how information was really transferred in the, you know, 80s and 90s. And so I just started subscribing to every possible magazine. In the 80s, I got all the PC magazines and bytes and all that kind of stuff. And then I started, you know, this Esquire, this paper magazine time out in New York. So you were kind of geeking back then. Like, it wasn't just that you were like, you know, reading Esquire or like the source or whatever. Like, you were, you were reading the tech blog. I was reading all the tech stuff and I was really into technology. I had a PC junior computer that my dad had bought me with cash from the restaurant or a parker game. I was doing a little phone freaking, which is like getting phone codes. Anyway, I was about to watch a scams. Yeah. Well, the phone freaking thing was kind of scary because the waste sprint worked in the early days as you just dialed an 800 number and then it asked you put in like a five or six digit number and then you either got a dial tone or it went, it doesn't think of genius to figure out if you put up a war dialer, which is just a random dialer on your modem that dialed all these different random numbers in the morning. You'd have two or three codes. So these are using somebody's code until it got turned off. And so we were doing all kinds of scams and stealing floppy disk and selling chessmaster. Anyway, I got out of all that and I just went into IT. And so I worked in the computer lab at Fordham. I was making 250 an hour, which was the minimum wage in 1987. I think then I went to 350, then I got fired from that job because I had partitioned a hard drive and created a hidden hard drive where I put a bunch of video games and I was selling video games and were entrepreneurial. So you're entrepreneurial. Well, yeah, I was, I was a, I was a criminal. I was selling WordPerfect out of the Fordham computer lab and I got busted. And then I started selling SPSS X or whatever that's called, like the 10 disk, like $400 or statistics package. And this is like, yeah, yeah, this is like a really bad idea because now I'm 17, 18, starting at worse than Star Wars tapes. It's a little bit worse than the stars. So I stopped all that and I realized I could just make six or seven bucks an hour. Then I went to work for Amnesty International. I started making 10, 12 bucks an hour doing IT. And IT just opened my eyes to like, whoa, and I saw the internet early. I saw modems early and it really opened my eyes. And then I thought maybe I'll write a book or whatever and then I was watching this, this Z-Movement hat happened. And so Z-Met, you published on photo copy paper and you called it a magazine and in tower records, they had a section for Z-Mets and I used to go there and look at these crazy Z-Mets and 2600 was one of them. In 2600, they would just self print it, self publish it. And it was just hacking stuff, right? Is that named after like 2600 BOD? Yeah, it hurts. Yeah, I think it was hurts, which is I think that when Captain Crunch made the whistle, that would then give you dial tone. I think it was the 2600 hurts. We can look it up online while we're here. But anyway, they used to always meet in Manhattan and the city, the city bank building and the lobby where the phones were. And there was this sort of culture in New York of hacking and media at the same time. And I started a magazine called Cyber Surfer about dial up because somebody had told me that Starlog and Fangora, that magazine, wanted to create a magazine about CD-ROMs and dial up. So I started Cyber Surfer magazine, which nobody knows about. And I got in a fight with the publisher after five issues. He sued me because I had trademarked the name. He didn't know I trademarked the name. I had no contract with him. It was 23 years old, holding blew up. And then I was like, the Silicon Valley thing's going to become something. So I started Silicon Valley reporter as a 16 page photo copy. And Fred Wilson bought the first ad in it, along with Jeff Dodgers from Race and Fish. No way. He bought an ad for Flatiron. For Flatiron Partners, $250. He bought four ads at once. So he gave me $1,000. Wow, advertising like their services as it was. I put the logo Flatiron Partners, and this is 1995. I got two people to give me $1,000. I printed it up because $2,000. And I just started handing it out of parties. And I didn't understand how silly I looked, walking around town with a luggage cart like I was like a street salesman with a stack of photo copies. And I would drop them off at everybody's offices. Because once I got like a thousand copies of this, I didn't have the money to ship it anywhere. So I would go to Razer Fish's office. I would go to site specific. I would go to I Village. I would go to all these places and ask them if I could put 20 copies in the reception area and they'd say sure. So you're going to these early internet companies? Dropping it off. And they would say, oh, you're dropping it off? And I'd say, yeah, I'm the delivery boy. And they'd say, oh, that's very cool. I said, I'm also the editor. And there was a joke in the magazine. I put a CEO, editor, and delivery boy on the top. And what it was was, it was quite charming to people that I believed in it so much that I would carry it with me. People also thought I was like, this is why when people say like they think I'm a hawkster or a hype man or a fraud, people thought that back then because I would go to parties with a stack of them in my hands. And I'd be handing them out to anybody who would take them. Because I just wanted to be famous. I just wanted to be powerful. I just wanted people to know my name. It's so interesting because it's so akin to the early days of blogging. I mean, it's just analog blogging where I'm sure any real publisher was looking at this, like, oh, it's some kind of joke. I can't believe you're calling yourself a zine. It's not a magazine. It's literally what photo-catching paper. And I said to them, no, I have a full-page photo on the cover. That's what makes it a magazine. And they said, no, it's a newsletter. I said, no, newsletters have text on the cover of the magazine. This is a full-page photo. And then a guy named Carole Martesco emailed me because he saw the email in there. And he said, hey, I do this magazine. I'll call Rez. And I do this filmmaker magazine. He was doing filmmaker magazine, et cetera. And he knew how to do magazines, and he was like 10 years older than me. And he said, I can print this on real magazine paper for you. That's how much I could cost. He says, of course, $30,000. And I said, well, I have like 20,000 in ads now, just by the fifth issue. And he said, don't worry about it. I can put it on my credit. I know the person. He printed it for me just for free just to do it for me. And then he's like, do you have the money? You have to pay the printer. And I was like, yeah, I got to collect the money from the advertisers. And so then I went around and just asked people to give me the money. And I would bring them two or three grand. Thank you, Carole Martesco. Shout out. I was still friends with this day. And he basically mentored me on how to do that. And then at a certain point, my assistant, Linda Miller said, John Winter called. And I said, okay, yeah, from Rolling Stone. And I was like, yeah, it's like you're two of the magazine. And I was like, okay, great. And then I went to lunch and then she came back to you, call you on Winter back. And I was like, no, I'll call him tomorrow. I come back the next day and she goes, did you call you on Winter back? And I said, I don't want to do any press right now. And she goes, no, no, he's not a journalist. John Winter created Rolling Stone. And I said, oh, he wants to meet with you. And so I went out by a man with John Winter and he had all my magazines on his table. And he said, hey, I want you to come work for me and do a magazine with me. I wanted to do like a digital version of Rolling Stone. And I said, no, I want to do my own thing. I was up in his office and he had marked all the pages. But then it made you famous. Like, why wouldn't you do that? I also realized, I know, it realized I would be a number two. And I never wanted to be number two. So it's about the fame and the power. Or I, it wasn't the same. Fame power money, fame power money. That's all I wanted. I just wanted to have fame power money, all of those things. And I just like, number two, no. And then all of a sudden I became the king of New York because the internet hit. Magazine went to 75 full-time people, $12 million in revenue. I built it up my credit cards. I was on Charlie Rose, I was on the cover of the New York Times. And in three, four years, I went from being a nobody to writing for paper magazine. And when I would walk into any club, or whatever, people knew what Siliconire reporter was. And I could get into any party. And then I made a list of, ranked the top 100 people in the industry, and I ranked it just a tweak people. And then people begged me to move up 10 rankings. And I got everything I wanted. Power. The muddys list is still doing that to this day. Yeah. And I did my first event in 1995 called Ready Set Pitch. And you look it up in the New York Times. There's an article about it, Ready Set Pitch. And it was just, I asked people to pitch their best idea for a startup. And Ted Leotus gave the key notes. So it's pretty funny. As you get in all this power, what's going through your minds? Are you already starting to think about more? Are you thinking about, I parlay this into investing or I parlay the exer? I wanted to be the next media mogul. I wanted to be Eisner. I wanted to be like Eiger. I wanted to be, I wanted to be somebody like that. Because media was power back then. It wasn't really about the tech companies. The tech companies were kind of like, this is a little thing on the side. The few little things on the side. Yeah, that's what I wanted to be. I wanted to be one of those media executives. They'd be the CEO of a giant media company. Barry Diller, something like that. So you end up selling Silicon Valley reporter to dadgons, right? Yeah, it kind of collapsed. And we wound up selling, I got two years of salary. But the year before Alan McWiff from it offered me 20 million dollars for it. And I owned like 85% and 90% of the company. So it was like one of the most difficult times of my life. Because I had my chance to be rich. And then I was poor again. Was it the dot com crash? Yeah, the dot com crash. And then 9-11, and I was there for 9-11. My brother is a firefighter. We didn't know where he was. That was the second fire he ever returned to. So it was a very scary day for me. You know, after 9-11, I was kind of left with this. Oh, everything is a fraud. Everybody thinks I'm a fraud. Everybody thinks I got lucky. You had all this power. And it was gone. It was gone. Did it disappear? Did it really disappear? Well, you know, really was trying for me because everything I had done had gone up into the right. And everything I touched turned to gold. And then when you have them, I had to touch. And then you start touching stuff. And nothing changes. It really is humbling. It's literally like you go from feeling like you're Superman. And then you can't fly. And you're like, what's going on? Is it a kryptonite? Am I shoes or something? And it was a very humbling experience for me. And it made me really angry. I remember vividly. I just felt very angry at the world. And at myself, we're not taking that 20 million. So it wasn't just angry about what was happening. It was like you were specifically angry about passing on that. I was angry at passing on that. I was angry that the market collapsed. I was angry about 9.11. It was just angry about everything. But I also had skills at that point and confidence. And so I said to myself, I am coming back. And I'm going to come back. And I'm going to dunk on everybody. And I will show everybody that not only am I not a fraud, that I can do this again. And I can do it quicker, faster, and better. And I started looking for an idea. And I was studying and studying and studying. And two people who worked for me after the whole thing collapsed had moved on and started blogs. And they were doing really well with their blogs. And one of them was Rafad Ali who was doing this paid content that will work. And I had had it monished him because he started it when he was working for me. I was like, listen, kid. I didn't realize Rafad worked for you. That's what I was doing. Yeah, it was one of my writers. I think I was a second job. He had worked for and then for me. And he had only domain at one point. So there's a whole sort of history there of who got to own at the end of the day. And it could tell that story too at the end. But anyway, I was like, and then Shani Jardin went to work at Boeing Boeing. And I found out they were both making like four or five grand. And I was like, wait a second. That's kind of what I think that's more than what I was paying you per month, per month. Yeah. Just on ads on their blogs. Exactly. So I was like, wait a second. These people are working in their underwear to have no editor and don't tell me the right writer and editor is a hindrance. They're taking out what's special about what the person said. This is like taking out the production. It's like Bob Dylan just on stage with a guitar. It's better when it's not produced. It's better when it's acoustic. And there was that thing that I was going on. MTV had unplugged. And I said, this is MTV unplugged for journalism. Blogs. It just clicked in my mind clear as day. When you saw a cocaine on MTV unplugged, you wanted to throw the other records away that were studio produced. And I said, blogging is going to be a thing. So I started looking for other blogs. And this, I knew this kid Nick Tenton who started first Tuesday. And he started Gawker. And I said, hey, Nick, you know, when I have lunch, when I'm for lunch, I said, I think I'm not doing a blogging thing. I think this could be big. If somebody did it for business, it would be huge. You're doing this Gawker. Gosh, that's something I'm not interested in that. But if somebody did a business version, and then he wrote a blog post, he said, the worst thing that could ever happen to blogging is Jason Callacanis bringing his unique brand of like whatever to it. Corporate sellouts. Well, that's what he said. Because I was like, you know, this would be an advertising juggernaut. Because think about it. You get rid of all of the, you get rid of like 80% of the staff. You just have the one great writer and one great salesperson. Did Valleywag exist at this time yet? No, no, no. Valleywag he created much later. He was just Gawker. I mean, I worked in the Wall Street Journal. I mean, you did too far a while, like there, it's a wonderful organization. There are a thousand people in that building. Yeah. It's crazy. You need that to. No, you don't need a building. Yeah. You don't need middle management. I mean, you don't need anything. So I was really taken by, you know, Denton's vision for this. And I was like, are you gonna do more? And he's like, yeah, we're doing this. We're gonna do a political one, I think. And we're gonna do this one on gadgets. Like, you know, like the fetish thing in Wired Magazine, we're gonna just make that into a whole thing. And I was like, oh, that's interesting. So he writes his blog post, trashing me. And I was like, you wanna, you know, like, I'm a pretty aggressive guy. And I was like, so I get my partner, Brian Alvy, where I convince to do this with me, is 2003, none of us had any money. We're doing it all for free. The economy was flatlined. I said, I'm gonna destroy him. Which it turns out you were not the last person to have that thought. No, no, no, I was not the first thing. I was the might've been the first, but not the last. I said, I have to destroy Nick Denton. How am I gonna do this? And I said, oh, I know, talent. Nothing worse than losing talent. Elizabeth Spears, she's writing Gawker. I'm gonna make a run at her. And I had heard that he was paying the riders $1,500. And the MacBook Air had just come out. I contacted Elizabeth and I said, let's have coffee, whatever, and she agreed to have coffee or something. And there's like a photo of it, actually, of me talking to her to par. That somebody took in the early days and she's looking at me like, I am the Antichrist. And I was like, you are a unique talent. Nick Denton will never give you equity. I will give you equity. You will become a millionaire. I'll give you a MacBook Air and I'll give you two grand a month, which is a 33% more raise. She was like, yeah, no, I'm gonna go work for New York Magazine. And I was like, that's the worst career move you could ever make, Elizabeth. Magazines are gonna die. Blogs are gonna take over. There's no way magazines can ever keep up with blogs. Whatever they print is gonna be old news. And you're already proving it. You're number one at blogging and you're gonna become number 500 out of magazine. So she wouldn't do it. And then Shani Jardin said to me, oh, you picked the wrong target. I was talking to her because I was trying to recruit her. She's like, no, no, I love this point point thing. I don't want to do anything commercial. And I was like, all right, that's fair enough. I said, who should I target? She goes, oh, you picked the wrong target. I said, what do you mean? Oh, Nick's not making anyone in Gokker. Gokker doesn't make anyone in Loose's Money. I was like, okay, tell me more. She goes, 100% of the revenue's coming from Gismoto. I said, oh, okay, you go, you know Peter Rojas. I was like, yeah, I've heard of him. That's the one you want. So I went to Peter Rojas. And I called this guy and he was running Jewel Baku, which was like a fancy sushi place in Lorry Side. And he was the owner and his wife. And it was like a pretty hot ticket. And I asked Peter to come have sushi with me. And his wife, Joe, or his girlfriend at the time, can I bring my girlfriend? Of course. We go there and I'm prepared to knock their socks off with his own mokase. And I said, you guys have anything, you know, terms of like, die and like, we're vegans. I said, okay, yeah, that's no problem. I said, give me a second. I go back to the guy and said, listen, I'm trying to close this deal. It's really important. They're vegans. He's like, don't worry about him. He runs to the Korean grocery on the store. He comes back with two big shopping bags full of things. And he makes them the most amazing mokase with vegetables. And so I said to Peter, I said, Peter, you know, Nick Denton is a bad actor. And equity is what you need. And if you join me and you create a gizmodo killer, I'll give you equity in the company. And you will become a millionaire. And we'll be in it together. You'll be a partner. And he goes, well Nick said he's gonna give me acquies. And he'll never give you equity. When did he tell you that? He said, he told me that like six months ago. I was like, yeah, how's that going? I said, I will give you equity on day one, fully vested everything, just like me. And he said, okay, let me think about it. And he came back and he said, okay, I'll do it. That's great. He said, but you know. This is so great, because by the way, at this point in time, this is, I'm probably 17, 18, 19 years old at this point. I'm reading gizmodo every single day. And I always wanted to know what happened how did Engage have become better? I never knew. Yeah. This is the story. My girlfriend Jill made a logo. And Jill made the first in gadget logo. I was like, great. He's like, can we pay her for it? I was like, sure we can. And I was like, what is she charged for a logo? And he's like, 300. I was like, give her 500. It's fine. Cause Mark Cuban had given me $300,000. For 15% of weblogs in. How'd you get to know Mark? I had no mark because I had written is a billion dollars worth of hot air and looking at a reporter. And he, he reached out to you. A little agasket. And I said, well, your revenue is like 10 million. He's like, do you know what the revenue is next quarter? I was like, no, you're a publicly traded company. Of course I don't. He's like, well, why don't you wait? And then revenue went from 10 to like 60, you know, like quarter of a quarter. And I was like, okay, it's not a billion dollars in hot air. And I did a Miyakope kind of situation. And we became good friends, Mark and I for a long time. And he put 300 K in. We started blog Maverick for him. Brian Alvy came up with the name. Brian Alvy came up with all the good names. The best collaborator I've ever had in my life. And, and Peter. And, uh, so Peter said, listen, you know, I just, I feel really bad about the stuff with Nick downtown. I was like, you shouldn't feel bad. This guy promised you equity and he gave you nothing. And you've given him this incredible brand. That's going to become worth millions of dollars. You should feel zero guilty. He robbed you of your vision. And we're going to take it back. And he said, yeah, yeah, you're maybe you're right. And I was like, yeah, because I said, I, I've been in fights. And, you know, if somebody takes a swing and you know, like somebody gets a, if somebody's soccer punches you, you have to teach him a lesson. So they don't do it again. Because if you don't teach them a lesson, what I learned is they'll come back. It has to be such a beat down. It has to be so painful that the person says, I should have never punched that. I should never suck up punch that guy. That's how powerful the beat down has to be. It can't just be retribution of one for one. If they punch you, you have to annihilate them. This is what I learned about violence when I was growing up. And I've since disavowed this, but this is literally what I saw on the streets of Brooklyn in the 70s and 80s. So I said, when are you gonna tell Nick? And he said, well, he's, you know, he's been working so hard for like a year or half or whatever. And he's just burnt out. He's been working seven days a week on this. And he said he's gonna take his first vacation. I said, oh, really? He's like, yeah, he's going down to Brazil or whatever. And all these famous people are going, I said, when is he going? He's like, he's going Sunday. I was like, oh, what time is he leaving? I don't know what time is leaving. I said, okay. We looked up online, like flights to Brazil, whatever. It couldn't kind of figure it out. And I was like, right, well, listen, I want you to write a blog post about this. We're launching the site at 2 p.m. on Sunday. And we literally launched the site, the first day of his vacation. He landed with his people going, Gismoto has no blogger. We have all these advertisers and this is a competitor. Oh my God. And that was the approach I used to take to competition. I don't do that anymore. But well, by the way, and the post script to that is, I think that I became very good friends after that for a long time in Stelar. And I consider him one of the, just the great publishers that he can't praise over that. So how do you become friends with him? He reached out, he reached out afterwards. He wrote a blog post actually saying, Jason really stuck it to me, but we're going to be great competitors. And then I launched Joystick and then he launched Kotaku. Then I launched AutoBlog, then he launched Jolopnik. And when we were ahead to head, we always had three, four or five times the traffic is him. But it created this rivalry that everybody followed. We became Coke Pepsi, it became, you know, oh yeah. Pick Media Company versus Media Company. And everybody was following this great competition between this Brash Brooklyn kid and this aloof, you know, choir problem. What really made you get, made you both better? Oh, I mean, it's incredibly much better. But you know, it's like literally this like, quietly gay, you know, very understated, Brit versus this Brash Brooklyn Bulldog. And it just played really well in the press. And you can, if you type Denton, Cali-Cannison to Google and look at some of the posts from Backman, it's hilarious. And it was just a good time. But you can hear me shout out to me and he said, listen, I think we should have a, you know, Jason, a respect for what you did there. I understand, you know, Peter, past a flock with Peter and we went for a cup of coffee whatever and we're sitting there and he said, I have a proposal for you. And I said, yes, I think that, you know, we're gonna have this spirited competition. That's great to, you know, good for the game and all that and you're a worthy competitor and obviously you've been able to. You're just waiting for the knife to come out. Well, yeah, I'm just like, okay, this could escalate. Yeah. And he said, I'm proposing a no-poach agreement. And I said, what does it mean? He goes, well, just, you know, there's no need for so many writers out there. We're not enemies. We're fighting against the magazines and the newspapers. You know, we're up against the New York Times and to construct. That's enough competition for us. And I said, you know, that makes a lot of sense. So we will, we agree to not poach each other's writers. Well, Jason, I gotta tell you just a quick personal note and this will surprise zero long time listeners of the show. Like, I think the number one website that I checked every single day at high school was the unofficial Apple Weblog. A T-U-A-W. Yep. There's an interesting story to that. We called it the Apple Weblog and Steve got upset. No way. Yeah, and we got a phone call and I said, okay, we actually had called it the unofficial Apple Weblog and Apple called Steve told us people to call. We had a pretty close relationship with Steve, or at least Peter did. And Steve responded to our emails. He always realized the power of the media. Well, yes, I mean, Steve was the master. And I had spoken to Steve in person two or three times and over email half a dozen times during the Engaget time, Peter much more. He really loved Peter. And Steve was really great. And anyway, they had some sort of problem with it and they said, you can't use Apple in the name. And I said, okay, and I just said, you know, it's back when you could buy domain names and I said, the unofficial Apple Weblog. I said, this should make an acronym, TWA. And then just build a logo and I think Joe Farron-Bacher, you know, Peter's now wife and mother of his kids. I think she built that one as well. Took the little leaf of the Apple and just threw it above the TWA and called it a day. Well, that was kind of, I think that was Brian Alvies' joke is like, it sounds like it's French. So let's put it as like an accent to grove on top of it. And I was like, sure, let's troll them. And we do it just like a lot of crazy stories like that. And long story short, that company lasted 18 months. We sold it for $30 million to AOL. And we had a hundred web-logs ink. This is all these. All the web-logs ink, we had $100,000 in revenue to date and probably $200,000 looking forward. So depending on how you count that, they paid three. They played a big multiple. But the real question though is like, looking back now, was that actually a good idea to sell? Of course, yeah. I mean, if you, that gave me the money to become dangerous. And it gave me that foundation. When you get that, you know, the first 10 million is the hardest. And once you get that under your mouth, you're dangerous. Nobody can stop you. I mean, I was already dangerous because I didn't care. But once you get the cash, then you really have the ability to not care. Right. So it's like, if you hadn't sold and that we're still in an independent company, that we were a hundred and a lot more money. I mean, listen, here's the joke. Denton wound up selling, I think, for 150 or something like that. And then half of it went to this new company that had put it in the bridge financing. And then some amount went to Hulk Hogan and Peter T. And then some amount got left over. I think we wound up netting about the same. It just took him 12 years. It took me 18 months. That's right. But you know, you know, what I was, you got to start writing your next chapter. Exactly. The thing is, I had, the great thing about Silicon Valley reporter crashing and burning was I learned very early on that I was more than the brand. Because the brand's looking at a report I got so big and I was so identified with it, that I started, people would call me the Silicon Valley reporter. That was like what people would refer to me as. And because of crashed and burned, I was forced to disconnect myself from that. And Bob Dylan was always my favorite artist. And I had always studied and been obsessed with how he went from like folk to electric and rock to gospel. And this, yeah, he just kept reiterating. And then he started collaborating with Mark Knopfler of Dio Shraids and Did I'm Pire Belasque. And you know, all these other really infidel and these very interesting albums. And I had seen Bob Dylan maybe 20 times, you know, in person. And he was, you know, always my favorite. And I was like, don't look back. And I just told myself you cannot look back. And I never look at my Presbyter's, the amount of press I got in the 90s between being on trolley rose, being on 60 minutes, all that stuff. I knew that I was never gonna top that. You know, like that was a moment in time. And I didn't want to top it. Who cares? Like I put all that press in boxes. I taped it up and it's literally in my brother's garage in New York still. I don't want to ever look at those clips. Don't look back. Only forward. Next brand, next brand, next brand. Don't worry about the last brand. Yeah, and that's how I looked at myself at that point. I looked at myself and I said, you know what? Curacao, did all those samurai films and then he went into Nua. And then Nua's stuff was better. And nobody even knows about the Nua, you know, the film Nua's stuff he did. High and low, Shredog. You know, it's kind of stuff. Is it after then the next chapter, you get money. You're back in the game after. I'm in the game, baby. Is that when you moved to LA? I had been living in LA right after we started weblogs. Yeah. And at this point, do you still want to be famous? Like once you've adopted this mentality of don't look back, are you still fame driven? No, fame wasn't. I really wanted to build things. I had gotten into the mode of building. Not necessarily empire building. Is that for only hanging out with like Silicon Valley types? I think it was. I think also when you get the win under your belt, it takes the edge off. And I always tell that to young founders, like, you know, winning really takes the edge off. And you will be successful and may take two or three companies, you know, of 60, 70% of these things fail. Don't worry about just start 304. You're going to have a head. And nobody remembers. Like we're sitting here. When people meet me, they don't know what Mahalo is. They don't know what Silicon Valley reporter is. They don't even know any of this stuff. Nobody has any sense of history. But people are all caught up in their own history. I for sure had a Mahalo account. Yeah. I mean, Mahalo did really well. I mean, that's a whole nother story, but yeah. That's another one, right? Well, you just, you build a brand that becomes so big and you kind of get associated with it. And then you have a big flame out. And it's like, who cares? Just move on. Next one. We'll get there. But I do want to talk about the Mahalo Pounce Twitter, that sort of Tumblr, like, let's let me put a pin in that. And David, keep running with your line here. Well, okay. So this is a diversion, but we sidetracked, but we got to cover it. When you're in LA, how do you meet Travis Kalanick? Well, when I was doing Silicon I reporter, we had started an edition called Digital Coast Reporter. And I had interviewed Travis when he was doing Scour, which was his first company. Oh, wow, yeah. And he got sued and all that stuff. And he told the famous story. And that was the night allegedly, when Michael Ovid's his people came, and we're in the audience at my event. I used to do a CEO interview and I interviewed him. So that was that famous story. And then he did Red Solution. We'd always been friends. We always liked each other. And that's how I wound up investing in Uber, because he was raising money for it. He wasn't going to be the CEO. He was like, hey, I'm doing this company. It was like a, you know, Ryan and him and Ryan was CEO. Ryan was going to be CEO. And then I was going to invest a little bit of money and I was helping Ryan raise money. And then he said, you know what, I'm going to be the CEO. I said, what happened with Ryan? And I was like, oh, it's just a little shaky, whatever. And then I just made it as the first gap at and I introduced. I think first round and definitely Cyan, we're at the open angel forum, and a little event I used to start where I matched angels. And so at this point, you're running Mahalo at this point. Yep. So I didn't actually really, was Uber the very first scout investment? I think it was the third. I think I had, in the first seven, there were three unicorns. And this is some type of scout. As is a coescout. I had, in the first seven, Uber, Thumbtack, and DataSex. So three companies, three unicorns, one of them public, Decacorn. We'll see about the other two, but I didn't know the two got a chance to go in public too. And so our listeners understand here, and we didn't list all the companies that the you've angel invested in, but we're going to keep touching on them as we go. Like, so when you're investing as a scout, that's not your own money. So how did the economics work on that? It was 50, 50. So it's 50, 50, basically splitting the carry, the profits, not the carry investment. The profits, yeah. Yeah, it's crazy. They since dropped it, I think to 35 or 30, like a normally high carry. How did this happen though? Like what? Did you go to Ruloff? Did Ruloff, or did Ruloff come in? I had lobbied Sequoia. I had email Sequoia and lobbied them to invest in my friend's poker game, Zingapoker. We were interested in the poker game. My friend created a virtual poker game, Mark Pinkham's called Zingap. And our dog, just a little bit of a game. And I invested, I said, hey, you should invest in this and they couldn't get there. But my other friend, Fred Wilson. You were a portfolio entrepreneur. I was a portfolio company and I said, hey, you know, this Twitter thing's gonna be big and this Zingap thing's gonna be big. And I was pushing Ruloff and I have an email where I told Michael Moritz and you have to get the Twitter deal, you have to get the Zingap deals. These are very important companies. And then my friend, Fred Wilson. What did they say? They, I said, they went the next day, actually, and tried to close Twitter, but they couldn't get their head around the valuations or whatever it was at the time. I'm not sure they're exact objections. Both of those cases, Fred Wilson had invested and they actually introduced me to Mark Pinkis and Mark Pinkis and Evan Williams. And I were talking Sequoia or Fred Wilson. And I was a Sequoia CEO and I said, listen, when you are a Sequoia CEO, your phone rings off the hook, everybody wants to do your Series B. I raised my Series B from a hollow before launching the product six months after I had raised my Series A. And I went from an $11 million valuation to a $100 million valuation. Wow. And this is in 2006? Yeah. And Mark Pinkis and Evan were like, how did you go from $11 million to $100 million before the product launched in six months? I was like, I don't know. And they were going for like 30 or 40 million, I think, each. And they were further along and their products were launched. I said, listen, Fred Wilson's East Coast, he's awesome. He's like one of my best friends for a long time. He helped me get in business. His wife, Joanne, worked with me at Silicon Art Reporter. That's his elder. First check. And you know, and also Joanne Wilson, his wife worked with me at Silicon Art Reporter. And the reason it was so successful is she was the salesperson. And she was, I mean, it was two bulldogs. Like she's a tiger. And she's now a great angel investor herself. Absolutely, yes. And just one of the great collaborators I've ever had in my career. And anyway, long story short, I said, listen, you're picking between Fred who's like the up and coming hustler, who will work hard. And, but, you know, he's a East Coast. And a lot of people are, you know, Fred thinks Sequoia's the gold standard. Fred would tell you to take Sequoia's money. But I think Fred is great too. So I actually think it's a coin to us. You can't lose. And they were both struggling to take, which who would take that deal? I think that gave me the credibility with Sequoia that they said Jason keeps sending us these great deals. There's many more companies now. Jason has this collaboration with Arrington for TechCrunch 50. And they broke up and now he's doing this launch festival on his own. And Rulof came up with this idea. What if we raised like a $2,3 million dollar fund and we just gave everybody the ability to make $25,50K checks. And there was this issue of signaling in the industry back then where if Sequoia gave you money and they didn't give you the next round, your company was dead. That was the end of your company. Because you were then. Obviously, the trick is do what you did and just raise your next round before anything even happens. Well, that works too. But, you know, the idea is like, if your venture fund did not follow on, you were damaged goods. And nobody else would. And the higher profile, the fund, the higher profile, the signaling risk. So Sequoia was acutely aware of this. So they just said, the SCOPS program we wouldn't announce, you know, beyond the DL, you can tell people what it is when you make the check. You don't have to. You can. We just weren't sure what to do. And so I just went around town and I said, OK, I started this thing open angel forum. And I tried to kill something called Koretsu forum, which was charging people $5,500. Remember? So I went to work with them. And they got really upset and called Michael Moritz on the phone and told them like, who is this employee of yours? Like, not employee of ours. Well, he said he's going to kill the Koretsu forum. And he's like, why would he say that? And Maritz called me. And he said, did you tell them you were going to murder them? I was like, yeah, you really love these situations where you take a mild manored Brit and you really angrily in a way where they have to have a talk. No, no, Michael Moritz was not angry. He's like, well, why would you tell them? I loved him. I'm just curious. And Maritz is cool as ice. He's the greatest. And I said, well, they're charging founders $5,000 to meet angel investors. He goes, oh, that's terrible. I said, yeah, so I want to kill them. He's like, oh, OK, carry on. So that's the phone call. It's great. So great. So anyway, I started Open Angel Forum. And I just started thumbtack, style seed, data stack, all these signposts, all these great companies just came. And Uber actually, it's open. And Uber came. And Uber came. And on the spot, my self, Saka was there, but Saka knew Travis before. And Siam Bannister invested in them. I introduced Siam Bannister to them. Tag in Uber. She's always been very gracious about giving me credit for that. And I'm at first round, I think I introduced them. But I think that maybe they claim I didn't. Or maybe somebody else in the firm had heard about it as well. Who knows? A success has a million followers. A million followers in our family. OK, so all this is going to your head is this is happening. You're running Mahalo. Mahalo's super high. Yeah, I mean, they anointed me. Sequoia anointed me. Now I became dangerous. Because now I wasn't just East Coast anointing. I was West Coast anointed. You understand? Yep. And nobody really had ever done that. That was a very unique thing. And I knew it. I think a lot of our audience probably has not ever heard of Mahalo. So fill us in real quick on. So anyway, I had this idea. I emailed Michael Moritz, John Doer, and Mark Cuban. And I said, I have an idea for my next company. I didn't know any venture capitalists. Even through all of this, I really didn't know any of the West Coast venture capitalists. But I knew John Doer and Michael Moritz were the number one and number two. Probably in reverse order. Michael Moritz and John Doer. But anyway, this is a argument about that. I had run into Moritz one time at like a conference. He wouldn't remember me. But I emailed Michael Moritz and I said, I have my next idea for a company. I sold my last company to AOL for $30 million, 18 months after I started it, would love to get your advice. Shortest email possible with a little microphone drop in it. And Moritz called both of my phone numbers and emailed me and his assistant called me all within one hour of me sending these. I was going to ask how many minutes to take to rest. John Doer, somebody on his team got me the next day. I was in both their offices next week and also Mark Cuban said, because I think when we sold, we turned just 150 into five or six million. So he said, put me down for a million. Oh, whatever you want, Jason. I think there was actually a second payment coming and he just see it as a turning. He said, whatever the second payment is for the AOL thing, it was like a million bucks. He said, just throw it into Jason's next thing. Which is, you know, very Mark Cuban thing to do. Oh, because here's the question. Did you actually have the idea or did you just say that? I did. I did have the idea. And my idea was I had gone to, Wikipedia was like the thing at that point in time. And I went to Wikimania, which was like their conference up in Boston. And I studied the Wiki software. I started playing with it. And I made a little proof of concept where Google was dealing with web spam at the time. And the order of the links weren't very good. My wife's Korean and I had heard about down. and comprehensive search in Korea. And Korea down on the blogging company and the picture hosting company. And when you did a search, they would show pictures. They would show links, pictures and blog posts on one page. And so I made this comprehensive search. And I said, it's going to be called The top 20 links for any keyword. And I went into the meeting and I put three pieces of paper on the table. And I don't think I've ever told the story. And I said, iPod. Look at these 10 blue links. These are the search results. One's Yahoo. One's And one is Google, which one do you like best? And Maritson rule off pointed to them one. And they turned it over. I said, turn it over. And it's a I said, turn the over to them. Well, I did it again. I said, co-ivocation. And they picked mine again. And I said, they said, how did you? Why is yours the best? And I said, how do you human look at the Google result and make a Wikipedia page? And I said, that's great. And my neighbor said, oh, that's a great idea. What are you looking to do? I was like, I want $3 million for 25% of the company. And he said, OK, work with Rolloff. And he walked out. And he was on the board at Google. And he's like, I can't do this. But Rolloff can. And it's not a competitive with Google. It's a wiki, whatever. That was the start of it. And then my friend Elon put some money in. He was just casual. Working in a rocket company. He just called me. I think you're smart. I'll put some money in. And then Rubber Murdock put some money in. CBS put some money in. And just a bunch of people. And whatever. I was on the top of my game. Got the company $10 million in Google Adsense revenue. And then Matt Cuts felt like we were getting too big. And E-How was getting too big? There was also Cosmix, right? Yeah, Cosmix, wiki, how. There was a whole cohort of us making content. And let's pause for a minute. Just to catch everyone up on Matt Cuts. So Matt solved a really hard problem for Google over the course of a decade, which was basically Lynxbam. It's how do we stop people who are gaming Google and getting too high in the rankings and getting too much traffic and abusing us? Yeah. And I think Matt actually is leading a really important initiative now in the federal government at the US Digital Service. Well, what would happen is our pages were so good that co-ye vacation would rank in the top five. And people would blog about it, link to it, and ask us to update the links. And then we started putting content on the pages. So we had content on the pages. So basically Google, this was all on their roadmap. But I created was on Google's roadmap five years, 10 years before they got there. Because if you Google, go for co-ye vacation on Google. You get that now. So I was five or 10 years ahead of them. And they were going to do it machines. They, Marissa said, I don't think Jason's right. We had this like debate at a conference at one point. Somebody asked her about my college. I don't think humans can scale. We're going to do with robots. Anyway, then they basically took 90% of our traffic away. And the punch line was, they took 90% of their own revenue away because the way we're monetizing was with their tools. And then I said to Matt, and I called up Sergey Brin, and I called up everybody I knew there. And I was like, what are you guys doing? You just killed my site. I have to lay off 100 people. And we got this big public spat. And they're like, yeah, we don't know. And I was like, well, we're partners. And Matt Cuts is like, we don't have partners. And I was like, I forwarded him the email from the Ed Sense team that said partner meeting. And that they, you know, partner lunch and partner this and part of that. And he said, yeah, that's a different group. But you're still Google. And they literally took everybody who would eventually become competitive with them. And they just neutered us. And this is why I think, you know, Google will face antitrust action like they did in Europe, maybe here eventually. And I think he helps write what they do to Yelp. Yeah. The same thing. It was equally bad. I mean, they basically studied us, copied us, killed us. But I mean, I learned a really important lesson there, which is like, don't have a dependency. But the problem was, you know, just think we're so quick. I was like, we're making, we're not $10 million to run away, we're making just a lot of money every day. The peak in Ed Sense, and this is all hunky door. I was like, they'll never shut us off. We're sending, we're giving $0.30 a very dollar to them. Yeah. And I was wrong. You know, they had a long game. They just didn't want and other things to exist. So they killed us. And then I pivoted to 10, said. And it's still going today, 12 years later. And you know, it's actually doing really well for email newsletters. What's old is new again. Exactly. So what's going through your head at this point in time about like, OK, what is your next act like? Well, the Scouts thing I didn't take too seriously, I just thought it was a fun diversion. And then they got about a, I don't know, halfway through the program and rule offset. I mean, nobody else is making investments. I think like Sam did Stripe or something. You did Uber and you did Ford, Sam did to. Sam Altman had done Stripe. And they said, you know, this fun, we might not do another Scouts thing. So you got like a million left in the fun. You know, hey, you have to tell me the fun is Uber, Stripe, Thumbtack, data stacks, data stacks. I mean, that fund is the greatest fund in Sequoia's history on a percentage return basis, I believe. I don't know that for sure. And they're saying to you, not a cash, on multiple cash. On multiple cash. On multiple cash, it's definitely on their top five, I would think. But it's saying to you, we don't know if we're going to do this again. Well, it was very early days. We didn't know. And they're like, we still have all this money left in the fun. So rule of, if you want to make some more. So I did 19 investments. I put 700 to work. It became more of over 100 million in total, largely due to what an Uber. And then my friend, Neval, had been coming to the open angel forum because he was doing venture hacks. And he was an angel investor. And he said, listen, I'm going to start this thing, angel list. And it's kind of competitive. So I was like, no, this is, you're doing online. Online is dumb. Nobody's going to invest online. It's all in person. And I was like, yeah, I disagree. And I was like, yeah, I don't know Neval. I don't think I don't see anybody investing blindly online. He said, well, this is new thing. SPVs and syndicates. And I was like, explain that to me. He explained it to me. And I was like, I don't understand it. Explain it to me again. Explain it to me again. And then he sent me a link. And it was, you know, And he said, you know, send it to syndicate here. And I filled out the stuff. And I tweeted it. And then he called me and said, what are you doing? And I said, what? And he said, you're not supposed to tweet it. And I said, it says on the page, tweet your syndicate. He said, I didn't watch it yet. It's launching on Monday. And I said, oh, I'm sorry. You want me to take that? And he's like, no, don't worry about it. It's not cronched. Got the embargo with the upset. I was like, nobody's going to see it. It's not Twitter. Nobody's on Twitter. And it's also so interesting that like in your head, you're like, this is, I don't get it. Why would people sort of like invest alongside another person without ever meeting the company in person? And that's what Sequoia was doing with you. They were giving you money. Yeah, I'm not saying I'm the smartest guy in the class. All right. I never said that. That's not my claim. Okay. I'm a hustler. All right. That's why I made that self-deprecating joke in the book that you were so nice to read. You know, like, I am a hype guy. I'm not a complete fraud. I'm that's kind of me being self-deprecating. But you know, I'm definitely been lucky and I'm definitely going to hype things. So I mean, that's why the Vols sent me the link. Anyway, a bunch of people joined Tim Ferris launches him. I don't think we should glaze over this. Like the set of people you've already talked about clearly, there's something special about the way you build relationships. I mean, you're fun to spot yourself, like as a hustler, as someone that works hard, as someone that is extremely driven, but lost. And I think the way that you think about this is, oh my God, are you good at building relationships and making it so people want to help you, like helping them, knowing that over the next 10 years, that's going to be a good bet. I think enthusiasm is contagious. So I've always been very enthusiastic about what I do. And I always pick up the check and I always set up dinners with a lot of people. And I always introduce people to other people with no intent of capitalizing on that. Like Tim Moreilie invited me to a food camp early on where Larry Page came in his helicopter and landed it outside of food camp. And I was like, Larry, what are you doing? Like, do she it is to land from helicopters? Like, you think so? It's like, dude, come on, man. Just land it at the airport. I mean, we know you're rich. Like, you don't have to fly your helicopter from Palo Alto. He was like, you're probably right, Jason. I totally acknowledge Larry Page. He was pretty funny. But he did literally have them clear the field so he could land his helicopter. He was taking helicopters lessons at the time at food. So I'm not speaking out of school. He literally land his helicopter there. Anyway, Tim Moreilie said something about like, I can't remember the exact phrase. You'll find it put in the notes. But he said something about like, if you tracked very little from the network you're building, you do really well. Like, you don't need to extract all the value. Yeah, it's like the Bill Gates platform quote. Something like that. Yeah. But he evolved. He said it better. We'll come to it. But this is sort of thing about networks. Anyway, so I was always just introducing people to everybody. In fact, I remember when I was at the top of my game with Engaget, I was at Sundance. And my friend, David Sacks, was producing a movie there called Thank You for Smoking. So we were all there. I just saw Weblogs Inc. Elon, myself, Sacks, we're all hanging out. I'm a wife and his wife at the time and Sacks' new girlfriend is now his wife. And what Mossberg is there and he says, hey, let's have lunch because he knew I was there. I was like, yeah, sure. And I was like, hey, let's meet over here. I'm going to bring my friend Elon. He's like, who? I'm like, Elon Musk. He's doing this thing, whatever. And what Mossberg was very big there. And he's like, he wrote me this admonishing email. I agreed to have lunch with you, not Elon Musk. You forcing me to have lunch with this person. I'm like, just unfair like our friendship, whatever. I was just like, oh, okay, I won't bring him. You know, what was very sensitive at the time? I was trying to get to Walt. And so he felt like I was trying to put Elon in front of him. And Elon didn't even know. I was just like, Elon's here. Elon wasn't running Tesla at the time. He was just an investor and he was doing the SpaceX stuff. I was like, you should be my friend, Elon. So you're good at, I was always good at just connecting people and meeting people together and just hanging out with people. My bookage in John Brockman had introduced me to Sam Harris. Sam was on my podcast and he did like a AMA from a hollow. And they say, how do you do podcasting? I was like, you know, you're a bill for podcasts. You think I should do a podcast? I was like, absolutely, you're a bill for it. He's like, what do I need? I'm like, a guest and a microphone. He's like, oh, I was like, you can use my studio. Anyway, I convinced him to do a podcast and now look, the rest of his history. And I introduced Sam to Elon. And then we all started talking about AI. And Elon is just Sam to the concept of AI. And while this AI stuff going on, the book's super intelligence and all that. And then the people who write Westworld, Christopher Nolan, and Lisa Joy, then met Elon and Sam. And if you like literally the entire season this year, I'm watching it. I'm like, this is a conversation I had with the four of these people I did it like three or four years ago. It's pretty surreal. I always picked up the check and I always brought everybody to dinner. That's why I got good at this. And I'm, you know, we're not doing playbook this episode, but this is the little. Well, that's where many playbook just always by dinner. Okay. So I got to ask the that playbook that mindset, that wanting power and connecting people. Yeah. As Mahalo is, you know, post panda. Yeah. Yeah. The panda is the update that Google did. Why do you not go join a venture capital firm and become a traditional venture capitalist self-awareness? Yeah. I mean, I do. I do. I do. I do, as we all know. Well, here's the thing. It's called the venture partnership and that's not what I do, right? Like, I like to make my own decision and I'm like the solo artist. Like you put somebody like me in a band, the band will break up. Like, not a career deal. Right. You always got Dylan, not like Eddie better. Yeah. You know, I could play, you know, I could play with Tom Petty and the heartbreakers, but I'm going to write my own albums. I want to do my own thing. want to, I want to keep it small and authentic and true to what I want to do. And I did have a bunch of venture firms over the year make runs at me and then maybe want to incorporate my little empire into their empires. You know, it'd be a pretty good feeder. You could plug what I'm doing into something bigger. If you were a billion dollar late stage fund, imagine having, you know, the only real viable Y-combinator competitor out there as the top of your funnel, the only real angel list coexistor competitor. These things are not really competitors, really, I mean, they're really co-existors. But, you know, we're the number one largest syndicate in the world. And angel list is the largest collection of syndicates. But if you took the top two with three syndicates together, they would be smaller than ours on angel list. And then you look at our program, like we're really only people who compete with angel list head with a Y-combinator heads up. Like the only reason we've had people pick us over Y-combinator and people pick Y-combinator of us or go to Y-combinator, then come to us. Like we're really the only, I think accelerator who can say that. Jason, I want to tee this up in this direction. So you want to be a solo artist, not, I am a solo artist, not join a band or I'm sorry, at this point in time, I'm just playing through what's in your head. Yeah, yeah. You want to be a solo artist, but you also deeply understand returns to scale. As you're thinking through this weekend startups, the syndicate, which I want to really understand mechanically how that formed and how that works, how are you thinking about scaling what is working for you? Yeah. So I had started the podcast as Calla Catascast and we did 40 episodes or so of that. Just on an open microphone in a room and I did it with Ron Conway and I did it with Ev Williams because my friend Dave Weiner had started who created RSS, said, Hey, Jason, check this out. You can attach a file to an RSS feed. I was like, Oh, you could put a PDF in there. It's like, yeah, you could put a PDF in there, but that's the same thing. And I was like, Oh, yeah, again, I'm not the smartest kid in the class. He's like, check this out. And it was an RSS feed with MP3s. And I said, Oh, he's like, now check this out. And he sent me a little script and it took the RSS feed and then it wrote the MP3 files as an album into your iPod. And the reason it's called podcasting is because you could sink your iPod on your Mac to an RSS feed that then put it there. So the idea was you would plug your iPod in a night to sink and to charge to your Mac. And also in podcast, it would download at night, all those things. And when you got on your commute, you'd have a couple of podcasts on there. And I was like, wow. And then they could have been Steve Jobs to edit to iTunes to iTunes. And there's a famous clip of me talking with six or seven. Yeah. And there's a famous clip of me talking to Steve at the D conference and asking him a question about it. And I asked him about making money if he'd ever sell advertising on podcasts or whatever. And he said, you know, it's a really good idea. He just emailed me, Jason. And I said, yeah, the email I always email you at. And he said, yeah. And the whole audience left. But I just said it as a joke like, you know, why is this? You know, because I did talk to him on email. And so I thought it'd be funny to say, you know, like do you know, we always talk on, I mean, all these cracks out. It's a very funny clip. But anyway, I did the podcast because I just thought it'd be fun. And to me, it was just a fun way to promote my friends. And so you know, I had Brian Alvion, my long time collaborator as a first guest. David Sax came on early just, you know, Jason Azar was starting a company just having people on when I was in LA. And then that Bing was going to launch it. Somebody from Microsoft called me and they're like, hey, we love this. It's like podcast thing you're doing. We want to tell you about something secret. And I was like, what is it? He's like, we're starting a search and I was like, everybody knows he's like, yeah, it's called Bing. I'm like, well, that's a terrible name. And he's like, well, anyway, we want to advertise on your podcast. And this is 11 years ago. And I was like, okay. You had thought about you hadn't put two and two together. You know, advertising and podcast. It was just like, it was just a thing. But of course, it was just like when you're starting Silicon Valley reporter, web library, it's the same thing. Anytime a new medium comes out, I assume it's going to work. This is my big trick in life. Whatever something comes out, I just assume it is going to reach critical mass and I behave as such. So when blogs him out, I was like, okay, I assume it's going to work. I'm going to go full bore as if it's going to. When podcasting him out, I went full bore. Whatever everything comes out, I just, if I'm interested in it, Twitter, the same thing. I just went full bore on Twitter. When has that not worked? Oh, God, probably more times than I can count. But I mean, it's, but it doesn't matter when it doesn't work. I mean, a tumbler, you know, there's a bunch of sir, a friend feed. There was a bunch of other things. But if you take the Robert's global relentless enthusiasm, like, spastic, like, oh my God, this is going to change. I have a Google buzz, Google plus, you know, like I was all in on their services too. And that was all wasted time. But you know, when it does hit, people remember the hits. I could just the same thing about it that you guys know about investing in. Asymmetric returns, yeah. Yes. Asymmetric returns. Correct. If you get in early and you have the, you know, you're baking in whatever that service is, you got there early, you're going to have a head start on everybody else. And then it just worked for me. And then they bought, they were like, how much of the ads? And I was like, uh, uh, $3,000. And I'm like, okay, uh, parade. I was like, yeah, but you have to buy 10. And I'm like, okay, $3,000. You just sent me $3,000. And they're like, I was like, they're like, what is the ad? I was like, I'll just talk about bang. And so they literally would just pull up bang. And I'm like, hey, check out this feature. Check out that feature. Thanks, bang, bang, bang. And then we'd have to the end of the end. They're pretty funny. They're very nice. So great. Yeah, we just goofed off. And we'd have puppets on the show. We just, it was just this like vaudeville kind of approach to it. But then it started getting a little, you know, went from like, you know, 500 to 1,000 people would see it to 10,000, 20,000. You know how this stuff goes? 200,000, 300,000. All of a sudden it becomes a thing. And what's the listenership on this weekend startups now just to give people over 200,000 per episode, yeah. Yeah. So you guys are running on my tails. It's a niche podcast by design. Like I could make it get bigger by dumbing it down or going shorter or having post production on it. But I just told everybody I'm not interested in that. And you know, Joe Rogan has taken the same approach. The same, you know, Howard Sterling like approach as you put the record is on. As long as it's interesting, you go. And we have three ads slots and we sell them out every year. And it does, you know, a couple of million bucks. And that's enough to pay for a seven eight person team that works on the podcast now. That's awesome. And how does that play into your angel investing? So to take us back to the book. For example, yeah, I mean, yeah, I would say on the podcast, hey, you know, here's a company I invested in. I'm having them on the podcast or in the case of Somebody had told me Alex was like a genius. And I was like, why? And he's like, well, it did the million dollar homepage. I was like, Oh, that was genius. He's like, yeah, he's doing meditation app. I looked at it. It was a web page where you went and I just played a meditation in a loop. And I was like, yeah, I'll have them on the podcast. I need a guest. You know, back then it was just like, can we get any guests? And so Alex came on and this is on the episode. And I said, hey, can I put 25K in, you know, for like 1% or 2% or whatever. And he said, yeah, we talked about that. I did this live on the episode. I did live on the episode. And you know, I was always trying to get somebody to do that and nobody would do it. But I thought it was funny. It was entertaining for me. Anyway, long story short, he, you know, I put 50K in for my fund. And this angelist thing had just come out. And I made it the first deal on angelist. And my expectation was that maybe another 25K would come in or 50K because I have like, you know, I don't know. Like, I don't know. 100, 200 people had signed abs. And $328,000 came in. And the company was worth 4 million or 5 million at the time. We had a six or seven percent position. And that company's worth 1.4 billion now. It's the most successful syndicate in the history of syndicates. In fact, it's probably the top three syndicates combined would be smaller than the composition. And for people that have never used angelists, how does that work? Where you're like, hey, I'm in for 50. How is it that like, well, the original deal was angelists would take 5% of the percent of the carry. I would get 15%. I subsequently negotiated an 18 and 2 deal, which led to a lot of animosity. Now, eventually, angelists and I broke up. That's another sort of tale. But, you know, Naval and I are friends still. But we were just a little too big for it. And that's, you know, like back to being very clear about like, I'm not the bull you want in your China shop. Like, I know that some people think like, wouldn't it be great to buy Jason's company and put it as part of this big venture firm? The answer is no. Because I'm going to do what I want and it's going to knock it over inside your place. Right? Like, it's not good for you. It's not good for your partnership. If you're joined to build a partnership and you want five or six people to sit there and have like a really good conversation and dialogue about an investment, that is the, that to me would be pervert to it. That's what I'm saying. Literally, my nightmare. Like, I want to make an investment because I look at the founder's eyes and I push the chipset. I do not want to have five people sitting in my seat while we discuss if I should go all in on this poker hand. That's the opposite of what should happen in early stage investment. The second you debate it is the second you lose the outliers because the outliers make no freaking sense. So anyway, consensus equals death in the early stage. Consensus that later stage equals protecting downside risk and due diligence and all that stuff is very important. I get it. Certainly. Can we digress for a minute before we pick back up with the story of your empire? But talk to us a little bit about your philosophy because I think it's super, it's super incisive about the difference between bets and like informed by poker shaping your bets experiments versus investing. Yeah. So, here's the thing. Imagine a poker table existed in the world where you would buy it for $10,000 and there were 10 players. There's $100,000 on the table. But every 100 hands, you could win a million dollars or $10 million. So there was uncapped upside, somebody just gifted $900,000 or $9.9 million to that table. It would change the way people played. It would change the game. There would be, and that's called the world series of poker by the way for pros because the world series of poker when they have that series of like 50, 60 games, all these amateurs come from the world, dead money, people who are easy to pick off. It's like for the pros for Phil Helmuth, it's literally like if you started the NBA finals and the Warriors had to play against the high school team, we're like, well, we're just going to win a lot of games here. It's the only way to get asymmetric upside in poker. Correct. There are ways, but yes, asymmetric for sure. So anyway, once you realize that, that frees you from you trying to understand if the idea is going to win or not. That's what trips early stage investors up, which is why I wrote my book, is because I felt I had figured something out and I wanted to share it with the world, which was this is the greatest casino in the world in my opinion. And nobody knows about it and the people who do know about it do not want to talk about it. And then another group of people think it's the stupidest thing in the world and a scam. And why is that? Well, most people come into angel investing who I meet, who think it's stupid and they had $500,000 in their bankroll and they gave 250,000 of it to their daughters, sonaray sisters, boy for ex-boyfriends, brother and the girls are going to build an Instagram competitor that has links in the comments. Because Instagram doesn't support links in the comments. That's the reason they're going to exist. And they put the 250 and the product never gets released. They give that 250 to Devshop in Estonia that never finished. They ask for another 250 and they give the other 250. The product comes out and nobody cares. They shut it down. Those people go work at Blasting Consulting Group or whatever. And they made one bet, so it was literally like walking up to Blackjack and putting your entire stack on one hand. Like it's just not enough. Or like in Pogorlick betting, you'd go in all in before the flop. Yeah, before you look at the cards, you're just like, I'm going to sit at this table and put it all in on the first hand. Which I know some people who do that for fun. For people that are not professional investors, it sounds ridiculous to dumb it down this far. But like, even if you're only making 5, 6, 7 angel bets and you're not really creating a, you know, 12, 15, 20 company portfolio, it's mathematically the same. The same thing. You're taking way too concentrated of a bet. Really and you need to really hit 20 or 30 or 40 in what I've seen in angel investors are succeeded. And you have to be investing in a certain pool of entrepreneurs. If you're a nobody who starts out, any deal flow that gets to you by definition is being picked over by all the qualified people. If you're reading scripts in Hollywood as a first-time director and the script got to you, that means every director. So, it has passed on and never got to the good director. So just understand that. Okay, so this is what I want to go deeper on. Because I think this is a really important insight here. How do you square the, what you said a minute ago about consensus, the early stage consensus kills because you want the crazy stuff. You can't predict with this aspect of you need the high quality. Like, what is the signal in the quality? Yeah, so what I teach, we have a course called Angel University that goes along with Angel of the book. And in that course, I explain to people that when you make your first 20 or 30 bets, make as small a bet as possible, which means using syndicates is a good idea. Forget about mine. Just sign up for everyone because it's free to read the deal now most and you learn. But if you do that, you're playing at the lowest stakes poker table while you learn. Like literally if you could play one dollar blackjack, if you want to learn a blackjack, sit at the one dollar blackjack table instead of the hundred dollar a hand. Because you lose a minimum and it doesn't matter if you lose it's just the education. It's like paying for an educational course. And I tell people only invest in companies, startups that have gotten their product to market and have some customers, hopefully paying customers. But if not customers who are using the free product that you can at least talk to, you've now eliminated, as you guys know, 90% of the failure rate, 90% of the Trishian in startups comes from the never ship the product. Then you get down to that 10% of that 90% of those never get a paying customer. So if you were as you're a starting angel investor to only invest in companies with some amount of revenue, even as little as two to 10,000 a month, you probably have eliminated 80, 90% of the risk. So start there while you're learning. And then as you get more sophisticated, just like in poker, if you want to play under the gun with Phil, how many of the table and you want to play nine, 10 suited, okay, maybe if you've been playing for 10 years, but you don't want to take those kind of risks and bet on a meditation app or a couch serving app when you're just getting started. There's five times you could have invested in calm, maybe three, four, five times a calm, three, four, five times in Robinhood. Even these outliers, Airbnb, you probably have four or five chances to invest in Airbnb as an angel investor. It's a misnomer that you're going to miss the deal. Like what Y-combinator does to angel investors and telling them, if you don't invest quickly within these 48 period, the deals close and you miss them forever, it's like just literally not true. Because literally they try to create a false sense of urgency, they train the founders to do this and it's nonsense. Not only is that round not closing immediately, there's going to be four rounds after that you can get into. No great investor invests at demo date. Well, especially now with safes and not price rounds, like it's rolling. It's rolling. It's not. It's super rolling. There's one thing you said that I think is really insightful when you're not Phil Helm youth and you're playing poker for the first time, like just invest in things that have shipped and have revenue. And then once you get better and better and better and you become Jason Calcanis, you can invest in calm. Why are you comfortable at the level you're at investing in a no revenue meditation website? Why was that? Yeah, so I can take you to the background. It was very simple. I had known Sam Harris. I had done positive visualizations. I had heard that term and I used that in sports because I was a psychology major. I had done positive visualizations to get through the New York City marathon, which I didn't know what I was going to do. I didn't know what was called meditation, but I just positively visualized myself along the route. And then when I did the run, I had had that in my mind how good I was going to feel at each part and how the Bronx and the wall was going to be difficult. Then when I saw calm, I talked to Sam Harris about it because he was studying, you know, he was doing cat scans of brains and he was a meditator and into psychedelics and all this stuff. And he put me in touch when I was doing my research on calm. The woman who ran the mindfulness center at UCLA and I found out that Phil Jackson, who I had known when I was in LA when he was coaching the Lakers, I had become friends with him. And he had Kobe and Shakyel O'Neill meditating and I just, it clicked for me. Wait a second. Phil Jackson, innovator, Sam Harris, innovator. There's something at UCLA around the corner for me in Brentwood. They're studying it. They have a program. They're teaching people this. Oh, they're studying it on PTSD soldiers. This is the future. But unlike yoga, which also started in Santa Monica, this could be delivered through your ears. Wait a second. Yoga you have to do in person and yoga is everywhere. But meditation is delivering your ears. If this does work and it becomes as popular as yoga, there could be 100,000 people paying for this. It could be like a $10 million a year business. It's coming as a $4 million. This could be like the future. And that's when it all clicked for me. And it was like an easy bet for me to make. And then the subscription service came out and Apple allowed subscriptions. And when I think we invested in, when we invested in common, I think they had done 10,000 in revenue, you know, selling a month doing a lot of work. Okay, so was a post revenue startup. They had post revenue. Yeah, yeah, they did. But with Robin Hood, they didn't. Robin Hood hadn't launched yet. So that was another one where I just, you know, I saw them and it made sense to me. So, you know, you can get signaling. I'm not saying you can't do this. But if you want to reduce the amount of pain you're going to go through and you want to have a less painful junior year, like your junior year has an angel investor when you hit the J curve, it's so painful because you think you're an idiot. You've deployed all your money. Nothing's breakout yet. And you don't have any, you can't keep investing. Oh, and half your portfolio can't raise money and shutting down. And the other half can barely raise money and they're begging you for a bridge. Like literally the junior year, everything tells you to quit. And then all of a sudden, you're four, five or six, you know, Travis calls up and he's in six cities and he's closing around with Menlo at 300 million. And you're like, wait a second, five million times 60 and holy. That's a lot of money. You know, you start to start, oh, whoa, this could work. And that's when you, once you hit one of those unicorn type investments, then all of a sudden it clicks in your brain, your brain chemistry changes. You have to have the brain chemistry change from being risk averse and outlier averse to outlier obsessed. I am outlier obsessed. I do not care about losses. I literally, and that took me a long time because remember I was such a rabid competitor. The idea of being fine with losing all the time, like imagine losing 29 nights in a row at poker. 30th night, you hit a 5,000 X or 200 X. Right. It's because you're playing in this very special poker table right now where the losses don't matter. Supposing that you actually are fishing in the right pond where you do find those magical ones. Correct them. I think there's one more layer though that I don't think we've touched on yet that I've heard you speak about before, which is shaping your bets into this. And like as you're making these angel investments, keeping them very small and thinking of them as experiments, to me that seemed as a really good mental trick to be like, it's not a loss. It's a failed experiment. Correct. And this is why I started the launch accelerator three years ago. We have a hundred companies I've gone through and I basically was like, what was Paul Graham's original idea? Oh, six or seven companies? Great. I'll just copy that. Seven companies. And Paul was the draw. Right. And now it's the legacy's the draw. Paul Graham's not the draw. It's the legacy. So I said, okay. And if Paul was the draw, I know I'm a draw. So let's see if it works. And I just said seven percent of a six percent of preferred for a hundred K, which is a $1.7 million implied valuation. So we'll go with that. We'll just start accepting seven people at a time and deploying seven hundred K at a time. But then I added something, which was, you know, YC, imagine if YC and angelless got married or merged. What would that look like? Well, that's what I had. And I had left angel list and I had started the And I took me a while to get that domain name, but I got it covered in that one. I'm a domain name, covered her. I'm a brand. Anyway, the point is I started saying to people, I'll put in 50 K for the original deal was like 50 K for 5%. I'll put in 25 K for 5%. That'll put 25 K, whatever your recent round is. And then I'll syndicate it. And then it was too hard to just syndicate all of them because not all of them wanted to do the syndicate. So then I just said, okay, we'll put in 100 K. It's the same deal as YC. So then we're betting on these that for a 1.7, you know, rather up to $2 million valuation. And then one of the companies raised around, and I was like, I always told myself, we'll put more money in in the seed round and we'll try to get to 10% ownership. And then like two of the best companies raised rounds and the founder was like, well, we have no room for you. I'm like, what? I was like, I introduced you. So I called up those people who are doing the rounds and I read them the riot act. I said, I introduced you to copy how dare you try to muscle me. I said, you're swinging an elbow at me. I said, I'm the point guard. I passed you the ball. And now you're not passing the ball back when you're triple team like, pass the ball, move the rock. And I got both of those people to give me allocations. And then I was like, well, this is not how power is supposed to work. Like, if I'm the point guard, I have the power. I have the power to freeze you. So then I said, okay, now the freezing will begin. So I wrote into our documents that we have the right to do half the next round. It's a hefty pro rat, am I friend? Not if you're Jason Calcannus. And not if you're the founders. It's a feature, not a bug. It's a feature for the founders who we work with because they can start their fundraising with me as an anchor. And they do. And do you? So do you pick winners? Do you say, Hey, you three? You guys are getting the half the round from me. Yeah, we've evolved it over time. So in order to make it more fair to everybody, what I say to them is, if you're tripling revenue, if you're doubling revenue six months, we're likely to just preemptively make you an offer. If your performance is in the top like 5%, and we've done that. And then we'll let other people invest in it, but we'll actually price around and put it in 500 K or 250 K and get them started. I said, for everybody else, if you're not like just crazy outlier, we're tripling revenue, you know, every six months or something during the program, just go ahead and we'll still leave room for other people. When you get your term sheet, give it to us. We'll have five business days or something to make a decision and we'll let you know what our what allocation we want to take. But we'll usually do it in a day or two, which is actually what why combinator announced they're doing now. They're doing now. Yeah. So they switched to my position. And because I think they were experienced the same thing, which was they were getting boxed out of their winners. And so now we just say give us the term sheet. And if it's a reasonable term sheet, it's not like something outrageous or nontraditional. We had one of our successful companies do a deal for common shares at a ridiculous price with some nontraditional private equity firm. And we passed. We said, we'll just stick with our 6%. But other times we'll put in 500 K. And so for a company like Fitbot, a major breakout for us, they came to us with just $2,000 a month in revenue, I think, or maybe a thousand. And they've been public about, you know, hitting eight figures in revenue. They were public about that at the launch festival. They gave a keynote. We offer, and I offer them live on stage, 2 million out of 50 million posts. But anyway, we wanted to put more money in a couple of times. You know, we built our position up to, you know, over 10%. So that's what I'm trying to do now is just get to 10, 15, 20%. And eventually, you know, with our fund, the syndicate, you know, and the accelerator, we can make three or four bets in the company and get to know the founder. And if we can do this three or four bet thing, we'll be the first people to combine Y-combinator, angelists, slash seed investors, that's Republic, whatever crowdfunding, you know, syndicate you like, with a seed fund, like home brew or pear or whatever. So that's what I'm constructing right now. We don't have a proper series A because we don't need to because the fund plus syndicate kind of hits the one, two million dollar number. But you know, the next fund perhaps will be able to do a full A, like a five million dollar A. But I don't need to do that. I kind of like being in the early stage. It gets less interesting for me to, to go and do the, you know, big checks. And there's so many specialized people at that. I'd rather have you off to SACs, work some off or build early or, you know, rule off for somebody like that. So Jason, this has been like so fun. We got to do this more often because it's incredibly fun to riff with you. I think this is a good place to call it for the main show here. And for the LP show, I think we're going to do is we're going to dive into your investing, the way that you're sort of frankly deconstructing the jobs of a VC firm sourcing, evaluating, you know, winning the deal, helping, and then future access to capital. It's really interesting what you're doing. And I also want to discuss the way that all these things tie together and how you sort of view the flywheel or the funnel or how you, how you sort of visualize it. And then I know you've got some good insider stories, good insider stories for sure. The couple you brought up. And also like frankly, the way you see the world. Yeah. I'm sure there's a hot take in there. I got a hot take post corona. Yeah. Yeah. So, right. Listeners, thanks so much for going on the journey with us here. I'll spend the hundred, spend the hundred bucks. You coming LP member like me. All right. Listeners, thanks. See you on the other side.