Got back from Miami today, spent a week with friends and family to celebrate a few of us turning 40. Had a chance to speak to some aspiring entrepreneurs on Thursday at Venture Cafe. As promised, I’ll be sending them all copies of my third book, the 10-Year Overnight Success: An Entrepreneur’s Manifesto, How WatchMojo Built the Most Successful Brand on YouTube. Incidentally, I’ll paste an excerpt from the book which is somewhat fitting, marking five days ago to the day!
“Growing up, I always said I wanted to retire by 35. For my 35th birthday in March 2013, I took my wife and two daughters to Miami’s South Beach. On my way back to Montreal, at the Miami airport, I got a call from Tyler Martin, the executive at Belo who was in charge of negotiations to acquire us. They were going to proceed with a term sheet soon.
It was a funny feeling. By no means was this deal going to provide me with any “fuck you” money, and lord knows by then I hesitated selling. But it was still a great deal given everything, and considering that from 2006-2012 my job was essentially flying around North America in cramped coach seats only to be turned down by successful (and some less-successful) venture capitalists and angel investors, it was welcome news.
An entrepreneur’s mantra, is often get rich or die trying. As much as I was never driven by money or getting rich, wealth was the binary acid test that determined if you were successful if you ventured into this line of work. That’s not my opinion, that was a fact that I’d eventually accepted.
A couple of weeks later, on April 1st—April Fool’s Day—I received the actual term sheet. It was an anti-climatic and bittersweet moment.
I began to interview law firms that would potentially help me manage the process. I didn’t even have enough time to consider if I’d seriously proceed with the transaction or not when—on the morning of June 13th, 2013—I received an email on behalf of Belo CEO Dunia Shive. Belo had decided to sell itself to Gannett, one of many companies who looked at investing or buying WatchMojo in 2010.
I turned to Christine and smiled. Later on, I told her the details and she asked if I was disappointed. I replied devilishly that I was going to be ok.
Don’t get me wrong, I respected Dunia a lot and Belo was a well-run company, but before long, we were earning more in profit than Belo had offered to buy us for (in guaranteed terms, excluding the earn-outs). Granted, for what it’s worth, we would have earned 100% of the earn-out had the deal materialized.
Success Variable #7: Being left at the altar when you’re VC-backed is usually a kiss of death; for us, it gave us the freedom and leeway to make WatchMojo what it is today.”
Man, what a difference five years makes. But I’ll leave the details for another day, or another Context Is King show. I’ll be back in the studio tomorrow with Eric, maybe we’ll touch on this.