Sam Wick — UTA Ventures

Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Sam Wick joins to talk about UTA Ventures. Sam clarifies how and when startups can best approach UTA’s clients and the role of the Ventures team.

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I am excited to get to chat with Sam Wick, Sam leads UTA’s Venture Group. He has deep experience in the media and technology space, including senior positions at MySpace, AOL, mp3.com, and most recently on the management team of Maker Studios, The UTA Ventures team builds companies and invests in companies  at the intersection of entertainment, commerce and technology. They have a great portfolio that includes Masterclass, Cameo, Patreon, and many more. Sam, very excited to get to chat today. Why don’t we start?

And you could tell me a little bit more about your investing as well as your venture studio.

So, the UTA Ventures Group, really our mission statement is to invest in and build great companies that are at the intersection of media, commerce, and technology. And we do this in a few ways. So one, as you mentioned earlier, we do have a venture investment practice and we’re looking to invest in businesses where we can add strategic value to them.

We’ve made 40 plus investments over the years. Part of that also is understanding what’s happening within the innovation economy.

So in the same way, our clients can call the film department or the podcast department, and really understand kind of what’s happening, who the buyer is, what are the trends we’re really looking at, that same information, or that same value proposition.

The second is the venture studio. So there we work with our clients and we will build businesses and media, consumer products in hospitality. And the reason I say build is because we’re not necessarily an accelerator, right.

We have classic companies who come in and we give them advice in terms of how to grow their company. That’s what tech stars or something like that does quite well. And we’re also not necessarily an incubator, which is what, someone like Science goes quite well.  We really have a market thesis in terms of where we think the growth is. We develop the right type of structure around our clients in order to really help them achieve long-term equity value in building those businesses.

Great, so maybe I’ll start asking some questions about the investing side of things. Can you tell me about the spectrum of how you might work with a company? Like, will you also do things where it’s, you know, individual clients getting involved and maybe they’re getting equity, getting warrants.

So the team that makes investments, on a venture basis, also works closely to provide access to talent. So a number of our clients have said to us, we would like to be an investor, they’ve also said, maybe I’d like to be an advisor. So, there are times where someone might say, I’m interested in this space, in the kind of economy of being able to build a business.

Maybe I want to take, uh, an early stage, which is, I want to be an advisor. Cause maybe I don’t have the time. Too. I feel, I don’t know if the time yet, or maybe I don’t, I don’t know yet what the experience is going to be like. So I want to,  start, you know, you know, by just kind of coming in as a, as an advisor and we have done a number of those.

You know, and you know, as well where our clients have come in, they’ve been an advisor. Sometimes they’ve been an investor. Sometimes they’ve been both an advisor and an investor. There’s a lot of variety on the, in those deals. And I think venture funds increasingly are carving out some percentage of the rounds, a tidbit, particularly in the earlier stages where they will say this portion is strategic and they will go out and they will look for talent who can be involved in the business.

who can either help them from a marketing perspective or frankly, sometimes, you know, just having the, the brand association is of great value to the startup.

So if I’m one of those startups or one of those investors, and I do think that talent would be additive. How do I really know? whether your talent is interested. I imagine some of your clients are much more interested in that. Like how do I make that match? If I’ve got a, you know, a hot, high growing startup that might benefit? 

what I would say is that’s not the necessarily the, the startup’s responsibility, that’s our responsibility, so we, as a, as a team, and I should’ve mentioned, it’s not just me. I have a truly fantastic team, um, across both the venture fund and the venture studio. Um, and. You know, that team really kind of understands and spends time with our, with our clients and their teams and, the lead agents to understand what they’re passionate about?

Right. And so for example, one area of growth is fitness right now. So we have a good feel for, you know, we either have been told explicitly, through meetings with, our clients. I’m really interested in this category. If you see something that’s compelling, you know, please let me know separately.

We have a team here at data science team called UTI IQ. Crunches a ton of different kind of, not just social metrics, but listening tools where we really look to understand who has a brand we call brand permission. So that’s kind of a mix of, are they talking about the category? Is their audience talking about the category?

Right? Do they have reach in a category? So we may say, oh, you know, this company in fitness is looking to expand, you know, was looking for advisors. Well, I think has told us they’re interested in fitness to who should be, considering fitness, you know, as an area, based upon everything that we’re seeing in the, yeah. 

Hmm. So will you use that group? UT IQ? Is that what you said? Oh, that makes, makes sense. Um, so w you know, what questions will you ask them? What sort of insights do you get back? How does that relationship work?

Uh, so there’s a number of ways that we will take a look at that data. So we may say, well, blood let’s stay on fitness for a moment. So we may run a report that tells us who has the, who has the largest reach and talks about fitness. That will also tell us within certain demographic or psychographic categories.

Who within their audience is responding. So, so sometimes this information is something that you may know in the data just reinforces it. For example, um, a lot of fitness companies, their target audience is female it’s in a certain age group. Right. We know that as investors, the data will. So, but we may backwards engineer and then say, okay, who has an audience that perfectly matches this demo?

And even though they’re not necessarily focused on fitness today, they could probably be very effective. You know, in that category. And I will tell you, it’s not, um, it’s not a fixed solution. We’re constantly working with that team to iterate the types of reports and data that we can, that we pull out of that in order to inform and help our companies make great partnership decisions. 

Okay. So it’s more outbound where you find the startup than it is. Then the startup saying , Hey, I want to work with one of your clients. 

No, no, no. So, um, work continually getting inbound direct from startups direct from venture funds. Um, we have an incredible amount of opportunities that are coming into our clients every single day. Uh, that being said, what I. Um, to, to clarify what it was saying is that it is all responsibility as the agency to understand who within our client roster is the appropriate fit.

Right. We don’t necessarily, we don’t expect, you know, the company to call and say, sometimes they will have to say, I absolutely love this person, but we don’t have that expectation. That they will do it. Cause we know, this person they’re on a film for the next 12 months, 

Yeah, another thing you said was, You had mentioned, I think you said Brian Lee knows how to work with talent. what do people who know how to build a brand and work with talent? What do they know? What, what can the rest of us learn from people like Brian Lee?

Um, well, Brian Lee is fantastic at working with talent by the way, the whole team is Richard and Shameen. They’re all.

they’re all great, but I don’t, I don’t want to just single out Brian and there were other investors who were also fantastic at working with talent, but I, I think at its core, What the great investors who work with Tom understand is that they’re human beings and I think it’s, Easy, maybe to look at, a conversion funnel and some marketing numbers and then kind of figure that out and say, okay, this person has got X number of followers and therefore, this is going to reduce my CAC by Y and that’s great. And we do want to have partners who really are thorough and understand their business and understand what the drivers of their business are.

But also. we’re dealing with incredibly creative, passionate, and talented individuals who have their own point of view. And if they have often you for use terms or authenticity to have brand permission, right? In essence, part of what the companies are doing is borrowing that brand equity. And we have to, you have to understand that the, the talent have a real feel for what makes sense for their audience.

Yes. And so it is really having that soft touch. And I’ll go back to where I started, which is understanding that they’re human beings, you know, and that it’s a collaborative kind of, you know, back and forth with them in terms of what is the right way to communicate to their audience. 

Yeah, that makes sense. Um, so, uh, Let me see what my question is. Um, so when you say you’re building companies, what are you offering those companies? How does that process work does to someone’s you know, does, uh, Seth Rogan’s agent call you up on the phone and say, you know, Seth wants to do this. Um, and then what do you offer and what advice you’re giving.

Um, well, I, in the case of, um, Seth Rogan’s agent Leora, Colin, I think it did start that way, but it doesn’t, it doesn’t always start that way. and so I think where these really work is when there’s a combination of  permission and, and the desire to do the work, because Building a company long-term endeavor.

Um, so you have that on the talent side. And then, uh, on the agency side, uh, we’re constantly looking at different marketplaces, different reports that are coming in from, from banks and private equity and looking for what are their growth trends. And so, we may, so I’m wanting to maybe the talent coming to us and saying, I’m incredibly passionate about this category and I want to build this kind of business.

And then on the other side, right, it might be us one absorbing that and looking at the data and providing them back information and saying, we think this is fantastic. This is a real growth category, right? This is an area that we think you can do very, very well in. Or it may be us saying, have you also considered this other area because your audience over just over-indexes incredibly right.

And, um, it might be an easier road for you, you know, over here. And there’s also an understanding, um, this, the factor I mentioned kind of time and ever, what, how does the talent want to be involved? And how deep they want to go and partnering them with the appropriate company to help them build that business.

Because there are, there are some people who really want to be the founder of that company and run that business full time. And there are other people who definitely want to be deeply involved and will, and add a ton of value, but they don’t necessarily want to be in the operating seat. So there is, you know, you know, it’s kind of like there are a million shades, you know, different colors in the rainbow.

It’s a bit like that, right. In terms of, of the process, it’s not, it’s not one size fits. All right. It’s a very individual process in terms of how that business, you know, actually gets built.

Um, and so, yeah, as you said, it’s sort of this rainbow, it’s a spectrum of how people get involved. Do you see a lot of it for ones who aren’t fully building a company, do you see a lot of warrants in your business where people are getting warrants for their involvement? how did different arrangements?

So the, the structures are really evolving right now. Uh it’s uh, it’s it, it’s a very dynamic market. Um, so I think what we’ve seen is where you’re talking about, um, venture, right? And I think there may be, uh, and I think this is worth talking about, there may be an assumption that most businesses that are built by talent are structured in the venture path, which is there’s a great founder, right?

Or the talent meets a founder. They create the idea and the business. A little bit of capital goes in. They get to a proof point. There is around a capital to hire more people, you know, rinse, wash, repeat, right. You know, eventually they get to you an exit. Some businesses are built that way. Um, other businesses are not.

Um, and so there are now particularly through both private equity, um, through high net worth family offices, there are holding companies. That also that we can, that we can partner with. And there’s a variety of structures, that can occur there there that typically have a mix of, um, some type there might be equity.

There might be some type of, compensation that’s outside of the equity. there might be performance or warranty kickers based upon factors that could include things like time or, or sales. and it definitely is a fluid market, I think that in many categories, talent, which includes both traditional talent and digital influencers are, are showing that they’re increasingly impactful in this business.

 beauty is certainly one, right? The founder’s story is important. The talent story is important. Um, marketing is, is moving kind of into more social channels, which also benefits, um, you know, the, the, the talent. And I think that that movement is now moving across different categories. you might say, okay, well, the beauty industry is probably evolving the structures more, right? Because they’ve been doing it longer than the food industry, which is now just moving into, you know, doing more celebrity businesses. 

And what would you say makes some talent better at the commerce aspect than others? Or how would I know? Or how would I know, or how would I know who’s going to be really effective? 

So at its core, right, it is, is the talent creating a business or product that, Connects with their audience. And oftentimes that might come from, that will come from a place of, it was something they talked about before.

So for example, um, if Tiffany Haddish were to build a business in gardening, she’s speaks to gardening quite, quite fluidly on our social channels. When Seth Rogan builds a business in cannabis, People associate him with that product and believe that that’s a product that you would really care about whenever Chamberlin launches, Chamberlin coffee, which is a fantastically successful company, right.

Per audience knows that she loves coffee so that that’s, that’s at its core. And then the second piece is earned media. And so we often times when we speak to partners, I think they tend to over-index on social media because it’s the most measurable. But there are other value drivers. So, so earned media, but it’s the ability to create, press around your business.

And there are, there are celebrities who, the moment they do something, the press is going to talk about it again, I’ll go back to set, whether it’s Howard stern or the New York times profile, that’s all earned media, And then the third, which is the least discussed is B2B. And there are certain categories where the, the ability or the desire, you know, the talent to show up for a meeting is really important. So for example, we have today, uh, I think for businesses at target right now in the personal care space alone, and every single one of those businesses, the talent has shown up for the meetings with the buyers. The public would never know that that happened, but that is incredibly important. Right. And, and, and the town speak can speak as eloquently about the brand purpose for the business, because they are the co-founder of the business as the CEO. Um, so those are some of the other air ways. Those are some of the ways that talent can really be effective.

Right. And then I’d say the other thing is that just again, that it’s a longterm process. That it’s not, Um,

it’s not like a promotional cycle for, you know, a movie or TV show when you’re building a business. It can, it can take, a fair amount of time to build it and take it to the 

I hadn’t thought a lot about influencers in the B2B space, uh, or I don’t know if influencers are the right word, but, uh, so they’re showing up there. Are there other ways that, that this talent can really move the needle for B2B businesses that I think are. Not traditionally what we think of. 

right. So I mentioned brand equity earlier, we got to, what we discussed is, you know, media, consumer products, hospitality, consumer products has been a large segment of the wave over this past year. Um, retailers are increasingly demanding founders stories. And if you talk to the gen Z they’re gen Z audiences, or you look at any of the surveys coming out of that group, they are less Bramwell than older consumers and more focused on a founder story.

Right. So all of these things with purpose that that’s not a, just a celebrity trend that is a founder trend, right. A brand having a purpose and a connection to why it exists. Okay. So, um, then we move over to, well, how would this expand? How would this work in other categories? So you mentioned B2B. Um, we can also look at finance for example, or we could look at health.

Where are we, where are we seeing, particularly on the investment advisor side, when we’re celebrities? I think also I’d make an argument that it’s probably going to come into climate, uh, at some point as well. And there, what you see is, what I think about is is this, this term brand equity and w one of the things that talent among many things that, that they’re really great at is, one, I think.

Simplifying a complex value proposition through the kind of the attachment of emotional brand equity. And as a second part of that shining the light on things that people would rather ignore. And so if you look at, um, so let’s just go back to the categories. I just talked about finance health climate and in health, right?

It’s I think it’s now well understood that a lot of people coming out of COVID. Or having mental health issues either because of the isolation they experienced during COVID or, you know what I’m calling pre TSD and kind of going back to a life that is normal, the life they had in 2019. And, and, and I think you’re seeing talent being increasingly vocal about mental health, particularly younger.

Talent. And they’re seeing brands borrowing up. We’re already seeing brands connect with celebrities around that, right? That is an example of how they might borrow brand equity, same thing. Uh, you know, you can see it in finance.  there are businesses, you know, like chime, which just did a deal with our clients, the, um, to do Emilio’s, where, you know, this kind of create this creation of banks or finance tools.

Again, the connection that you have with the talent is basically being transferred. To the branch, by the way, this is what finance and health companies did for years with endorsement deals. and you’re seeing that now move into more equity type structures in those category. 

Right. That’s just a very clear way of saying it. You’re transferring your brand equity. Let’s talk now about talent on different platforms and the role that the platforms play.

Yeah. Right. Okay. We’ll we’ll start with social and I think it’s worth spending a little bit of time on tech talk. Because it is now really emerging as a powerful marketing tool. And what you see with these social media platforms when they grow to the scale where ticked out guys are Instagram, is they both have their own, um, native creators, right.

People who’ve kind of grown up on the platform. So for example, for us, you know, it might be someone like Joshua Weissman. Who’s a, um, a chef on the platform, but also you’re seeing traditional celebrities. Use the platform to reach their audience. So Thomas Keller, one of our clients also, you know, using different social media platforms, you know, to, to communicate and that rise of Tik TOK has kind of created a whole new.

Category of influencers in a whole new way that people are consuming the content and also is driving new businesses. So, you know, food, I think one of the reasons that food is accelerating as a celebrity and influencer category is frankly tech talks. It’s been very, very effective as a medium in driving conversion.

In fact, there was a big piece, I think this past weekend in the New York times on, food influencers on tick-tock. like I said, the same thing about Twitch, we have a really fantastic, e-sports and Twitch streamer business. We represent some of the biggest stars in that space. Nick Mercs, pokey, main Valki Ray, you know, all of them are also same thing, Nate native, you know, native creators to the platform, really driving the ability to really effectively drive, you know, conversions for them.

What are your thoughts on NFTs? 

Um, and then the second part of your question is really about new platforms. Are how people are utilizing different platforms. so NFTs or, you know, w we actually have a fantastic group that we set up a few months, a digital asset group run by a woman named Leslie Silverman. Who’s doing a really phenomenal job in that group. so it’s not just NFTs it’s it’s social tokens and a number of things kind of happening within, in, within the crypto space. And, um, they’re, we’re seeing by the way, same thing, you have some creators who are very, very endemic to the platform. who have created their own NFTs and done very, very well.

and then you also have some, celebrities who have effectively understand the language of the community and have been very successful at particularly Paris hill. For example, is someone who, I don’t know if people would have expected her to be as successful as she’s been with NFTs, but she’s doing an incredible job Halsey.

what is she doing? What, what is kind of cutting edge in terms of creating NFTs? I think a lot of people know, um, you know, basketball, dunks or something. What’s what are you seeing? That’s cutting edge. What is she doing? Well,

Yeah, I think it’s understanding by the way, you can, you can say this on just about any business, it’s understanding who the audience is. and so in the case of, of, of crypto Paris really took the time, And with, with the help of her team, she’s got a fantastic team around her to really be part of the conversation, whether it was re tweeting, a particular drop or appearing on a particular clubhouse chat, but really taking the time to be part of that community in advance of that first drop. It made a real difference for her. 

and this is the drop of, uh, the, the, the, the 

NFT, the 

token, the digital asset. So it got some hype Shinzen. She was part of making it a splashy.  

Well, it was her, it was her acid. Right? So our, for example, Halsey who’s a, a client of ours. Um, did, did a series of NFTs, which were, um, paintings that she had created characters that she’d seen in her dreams. And then we had, uh, Justin Reuland studio who does Rick and Morty animate them. Um, and then those were released, uh, via series.

Um, there were some more limited edition somewhere what’s called, uh, in the anesthesia is they call a one of one, which is fished means it’s, uh, uh, one painting, one deck, right? And the marketing strategy, even post release, how you utilize that, how you communicate, some people create separate discord channels.

that are gated based upon certain purchases. So there’s a whole, there’s a separate, there’s a pre-marketing strategy. Right. And there’s a post-marketing strategy. that is all geared towards really effectively marketing, you know, to the community of people who own it. Yeah. 

wait. So say that again. So the discord channel is only open to.

Well, who, who, either purchasing NFT or, have spent a certain amount of money within the community. You see a similar strategy with social tokens  as well? 

How do social tokens work? How do social tokens work? 

How did they differ from think of the NFL? You know, most of the NFTs that have been released are an asset you know, and the social token. And we may want to edit this whole part out because there are people who are much more, well-spoken about this category than me, but uh,

but for me, you can, you can answer it for me.

down for you, it’s really the, the token is. Typically more of a community. And typically there’s, there’s more, almost like a fan club. Um, like whale has one. Um, I think portrait of a man has one. We have a great client, uh, through the UTM marketing group called rally, um, which does social tokens. Um, and, uh, those tokens can kind of move in value, but typically the related to things that are happening within the community, you know, if it’s a musical artist, they may have a show that’s only accessible.

If you own the token. Are there maybe a limited edition release that’s only accessible for the different or access to the, to this discord server that the talent appear on that is only accessible if you own the token. 

got it. Anything else? Interesting. Um, in NFTs, that’s getting you excited or just more broadly, even on how creators are getting paid today.

No worries that we focus on as an investor or a media commerce. Create our tools and platforms. Um, we’re really interested being the creator ecosystem continues to expand the number of platforms there, continue to expand. Um, and so we, we really continued to really focus on that area. We think there’s going to be an incredible amount of growth in that sector.

Um, we are looking quite closely and broadly at the crypto and NFT sector. There has been. Um, a significant number of, um, it’s I think, you know, the, the question is for us is, you know, who is the right partner right now? We’re working through our, um, through our digital asset team with over 20 different platforms, I believe is the correct number.

And so we’re definitely, we’re spending a lot of time looking at that sector as well. Um, but there are areas that you might say are not necessarily frontier areas that we continue to spend time on. So we, we believe that, you know, audio continues to be a growth area. The gaming continues to be a growth area.

We believe there’s a lot of in, within what we call the platform area. There’s a lot of businesses that are around kind of the underlying, you know, technology in terms of just how consumer product companies are built and how they scale for creators, which are really interesting as well. 

say that again, how a consumer product companies are built and how they steal and sort of the 

So think about, if you think about Shopify, right? There are lots of products that th that, um, companies that. are being built that marry with Shopify, that, that make it easier to take products to market. 

Got Got it. And, you said platforms for sort of the creator economy. And is that sort of by vertical or how do you, how do you think that will.

Well, so we’re, I think as I said, we’re an investor in Patrion, which we consider to be a strong platform company. we do see a lot of verticalized pitches. The question is what specific and better, like the question we always have to ask ourselves is, is this a product or is this a feature. We have, we have to be convinced that it is solving a big enough problem for the creator, for it to be its own business.

So, without saying, you know, whether there’ll be more, there’ll be less, we will.

put this through a filter. So if we received a specific pitch, that was solving a problem, let’s say for the gaming oriented creators. First call we’re going to make is over to our e-sports group and to our head of gaming welfare booboo and say, is this a real problem?

when did you invest in Patrion and have you been there long enough to kind of have interesting lessons learned from that platform?

Um, we’ve been an investor for a long time. Um, and I think that the business has really evolved. without speaking specifically to Patrion, I think all of these businesses that are focused on, on creators, I think the challenge is what do you, what do you create? What features do you put into the business that solved the biggest problem for the largest volume of your creators?

And it’s really easy. You know, I often say when I was younger managing human startups, that successful startups are defined as much by what they choose not to do. That’s what they choose to do. So in some sense, you say stick to the things that you’re really good at. Um, it’s also typically the little things that matter as much as the big things.

So you have the vision, right? Oftentimes I’ve seen companies really succeed just by changing, you know, things, focusing on, you know, the core things. Where am I buying my media? What’s my conversion funnel. Like, what’s my charm. Like if my turns too high, why is it too hot? Really understanding the basic fundamentals of what’s happening, you know, with, with the business. 

yeah. were there any features that patron made along the way that that enabled them to really stand out?

Well, I’ll give you if I could, I’ll give you an example of a different 

company, radish fiction, 

because they just, they just sold a good cow, you know, for 400 plus million dollars. And, um, for those who don’t know what that business is, it’s a, serialized fiction. platform it’s based on a very popular Asian model and, the content was always great and the audience is always really sticky.

and they did, they made two changes from my perspective, that really made a difference. one  they made a change in terms of how they bought media.

Which helped them understand their audiences purchase intent. The second thing they did is they started thinking about their stories, more like TV shows than books and change the team that they staffed to create those. and the third thing that they did is they understood that those, that the community around the stories were as important as the stories.

So they really focused on the timing of the stories, the opening of the community rooms, the closing of the community rooms, the opening of the stories, all of those things. Really made a huge, huge difference. 

and so they changed their media. I think you said to understand purchase intent. 

Yeah, 

And so how do you do that?

that’s the one I have to be a little cagey. 

fair enough. Fair enough. Um, so, so radish fiction, it’s sort of based on off a model that’s been very successful in Asia, I think. are there any other big, interesting trends that you look at from other markets that you’re like, this is going to come to the U S so stay tuned.

Um, so that’s, that’s a great question. I think, you know, typically it’s going to be gaming, um, and something that’s important, hostile, and sometimes it goes the other way, which is you may say, well, we haven’t been as much international investing. We do see something B there may be a huge trend in the U S and then we see it, you know, moving into other markets.

Um, but I think we’ve seen a lot of innovation in models coming out of Asia and China specifically coming to the U S one that there’s been a lot of investment in is live shopping. So that’s been incredibly successful in Jedburgh. We’ve seen some various significant financing rounds. We’re an investor in a company called network and TWK which, um, yeah.

Is a Fidessa companies from a guy named Aaron Lavon too. Is that a complex before? And it’s really got this feel of being kind of, you know, part of, kind of the drop economy. It’s like a, like a QVC for the drop economy. and that, you know, when we believe the business, but to also that is a trend that we’ve seen or quite well in other markets, which, which is now working quite well here in the U S. 

 can you explain the drop economy better?

Boom. And then. 

Like for example, you take, um, a brand like Supreme is this idea that you release something in very limited numbers for a short period of time to increase demand and it’s sold out, that’s it. It’s never available. You want to buy it again? You’ve got to get it on the secondary market. 

Maybe moving into, maybe this is a question actually moving into your prior experience. how about these networks of creators coming together and like what maker’s studio did?

what did you see work really well there? What do you think are the trends we’re going to see more of.

 there’s a few lessons to be learned, you know, from maker, but also the broader kind of.

YouTube ecosystem. So I think the first lesson is, you know, I’m old enough to remember when there was a difference between a movie and a TV star and movie stars. Didn’t D do TV and TV stars, aspire to do movies.

Right, 

right. There was the A-class and there was the beat glass. Of course, if you’re under a certain age, you might think that that sounds ridiculous, right. That they couldn’t possibly have ever been like that. Right. TV in many times feels more premium. And, you know, in terms of the conversation, you know, the water cooler conversation today.

Um, and so w what I learned and make are the number one lesson is that the stars who were on YouTube, were. The stars for that generation. there, there wasn’t Tom cruise or, you know, Scarlett Johannson or Seth Rogan or whatever, you know, on high. And then there were these small digital creators.

the audience for them, you know, large were largely in their teens and early twenties at the time, didn’t make a distinction. and in some, sometimes they really. Preferred the connection with the digital stars because they felt more accessible. They broke the fourth wall, they spoke to them, right?

And so they had millions and millions of followers and they really felt like they understood them. And so ability to connect which started really on YouTube, has now been transferred through a multiple platforms. Right. And so the, these, this theme that you saw, they are now just on Twitch and exists on Tik TOK.

And I just on Instagram and there’ll be, there’ll be other platforms that, you know, we’ll see that we’ll do the, that we’ll do the same thing. 

got it. Um, I don’t know where I, uh, should I ask anything else about your background maker’s studio, other lessons, anything else that we should learn from maker or may? 

I think that the. The other, you know, last, not just from maker, I think as you mentioned, you know, I was, you know, on the management teams of mp3.com, you were kind enough to refer to mindspace, which I don’t know if people even, I remember, you know, anymore. Uh, but, um, you know, I started my career in the music industry, you know, doing a, doing a DNR, but, uh, the, um, I think that the lesson from a, both a, an investor and a building perspective is just how hard it is.

Right. You know, when you’ve gone through it, you just know that, the numbers and you have on an XL spreadsheet are not just numbers, there’s someone who has to do something to make that happen. And it’s not necessarily, you know, you know, easy. Right. And so I always, you know, like I say this, you know, when I.

When I’m speaking entrepreneurs as they like, you know, I honor, I honor the fact that they’re willing to dance on the edge of a razorblade for years in order to generate a potential outcome, do it, and also to pursue a dream. And so I think there’s that experience that you have. And for me, having had all ranges of outcomes from ones that I said were, you know, phenomenally successful to some that aren’t.

Also, uh, helps you kind of understand that, like, you know, that things do go wrong and sometimes you can do, you can be the smartest person in the world or think you’re the smartest person and, you know, still not have, you know, the, the, the best, the best outcome. Um, and so I think for me, it is really, it’s not a maker specific experience.

It’s just an experience in terms of being an entrepreneur, knowing how hard it is. So every time I sit down and, and w with. One of her clients. And we talk about building a business, you know, I know the work that has to go into it and I’m very kind of direct, you know, and I, and, and I think our, our clients respect that because they know that I’ve actually had to do that work, you know, before, and I’m now I’m walking that path with them and I’m excited to walk that path with them.

Right. I always say if you’re, if you’re willing, you know, to, to walk this path, I’m excited to walk it with you. 

Yeah. I sometimes have the same thing. Like your clients are so established and I look at them and think, why would you want to be an entrepreneur someday? It’s really hard. You’ve got a great where you are. let’s talk about UTA a little bit more. You got Clinton fully on your team. Like huge kudos to you.

I know you have another, uh, a large, um, I know you also have many other great folks, but we all know Clinton. what is Clinton going to be doing?

Um, well, you picked another category that I’m going to be a little cagey, 

Okay. Fair enough.

but, uh, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll answer it, you know, this way, Clinton is a, is a fantastic investor and a good friend. I’ve known him for over a decade. he’s been with us now for a few months. I’m thrilled.

I mean, beyond thrilled to have him here at UTA and clearly having him here signals larger ambitions in terms of, you know, what we’re planning to do. And we’ve already started, growth stage investing since he got here. We we’ve. been investors in the recent rounds of cameo and masterclass, but as for the rest of it, I I’d say, you’re gonna have to stay tuned and I’ll relate it to talk about the full plan yet. 

no, that’s fine. We, we just, uh, Clinton’s just very well-respected in the industry here. 

oh, and I should also

add, he he’s not necessarily on my team. He’s he’s my partner kind of in the venture investing. 

That’s a good distinction. Um, Clemson. Um, and then I also know Caroline, what are the different ways to get in touch with your team? Like how, how should people think about approaching UTA?

well, you know, you can always email in through us, you know, at our website. If you’re looking for UTA?

to invest. I think getting a warm intro is fantastic. Uh, I remember this is something that, um, Uh, Mark’s sister wants dad when I was an entrepreneur and it really stuck with me, which is, um, it, if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re looking, you know, and you really have to have a lot of, you know, hustle and, and desire to make your business work, if you can’t figure out a way to get through to one of my connections for someone to make a recommendation and introduction to you that that would be a positive signal to do that.

So, if you can do that, that’s even better. for opportunities for any of our clients, we’re going to listen to all of those NSS dos. And so those often come in direct to the team because you mentioned a few people, but there’s a much larger group. or they come in through oftentimes through their agents or they come in through the endorsement department, which we call our commercial group as well.

And we look at every single opportunity that comes in for us. 

great. So getting in touch, if I’m, if I’m not quite ready for an investment, um, maybe it’s getting in touch with the endorsement team for some, for some opportunities.

Um, sometimes opportunities.

do come in through there. Um, so that that’s another way potentially to do it. Definitely. That’s going to be for a specific client. So it’s going to be the reaching out. And they’re looking to bring someone in as a, you know, an advisor or a co-founder, those deals will typically flow over to our group and we’ll help them assess them. 

Great. Um, any other thoughts for startups who might be trying to navigate the talent ecosystem?

yeah.

right. It is a, um, what it is, is I’ll go back to where I started and then we’ll probably have to wrap, but, um, you know, you know, it is the, 

the entertainment ecosystem for a lot of people we’re in technology 

is a, 

it’s like a foreign language. 

In terms of terms of how it works. I think we’ve done a really great job in putting together a team that is conversant in both technology and in media and consumer products.

and so what we commit to is when a startup calls us, helping them understand that ecosystem and what make might make sense for them, we always say is we will help you understand kind of what is market. For working with talent and what your expectations should be like, and we will be your partner in helping you execute those deals.

And, um, you know, the structure is hopefully we’ll, you know, for some startups that makes a ton of sense for them and some startups, it doesn’t, and, and that’s okay.

Why we, we really want to be in relationships where both parties can see value in that. 

That’s great. same one personal question. You still love music and you started in music. What do you, uh, what do you love the most? What do you listen for when you’re listening?

I still love music. I think the new St Vincent record, which just came  out, which, um, we do represent, I think is incredible. And if you want an off, more off the beat path, I would try out all tongue goon, which is a Turkish Dutch band, which is absolutely fantastic. 

Okay. Great. Thank you so much, Sam. I learned a lot and I really enjoyed chatting with you. Thanks for coming on the show. 

My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Thanks Sam. And thanks Lisa. Oh, great. Well, that was fantastic. I’ll send it off to our editor producer and you know, in a couple of weeks I can send it to you guys. You guys can review it, anything like that.

Um, 

All right. Sounds great. thank you. so much, man.

thank you. I appreciate it. Have a great rest of your day. Bye.