FAILURE STORIES EP. 07 CHRIS SACCA

Posted Leave a commentPosted in 4 minute read, FAILURE STORIES

Chris Sacca is as an extremely successful venture capitalist, with stakes in Instagram, Kickstarter, Uber, Twitter, and dozens of other prominent start-ups like Stripe, Lookout and WordPress. He’s widely known from being ranked third on Forbes annual Midas List of tech’s 100 top investors as well as being a recurrent quest on Shark Tank. What is not so familiar is how his incredible journey started. Investing his student loans, making tones of money, losing a lot more and ending up with 4 million in debt.

 

Student loans

Although Chris succeeded in school his entire life, he had no idea what should be the purpose of his life. He studied advanced mathematics and was on the honor roll for 12 straight marking periods.  By 11th grade he felt burned out and wanted to pursue a college degree where there would be no math.  Chris took the natural step of going to law school. He quickly realized that going to classes is entirely optional and he can use that time start his own company thanks to government money from his student loan checks.

 

Hot hand

The company quickly folded and Chris used the money that was left to hit the stock market.  He invested in several of the hottest tech stocks of the decade. Not only he was successfully investing his student loans, but he leveraged the gaps he found in the terms and conditions of day trading platforms. Chris turned tens of thousands of dollars for his student loans into $12 million by 2000.

 

Bubble burst

At that point, being still a very young and inexperienced investor Chris never thought of cashing out some of his virtual money. Instead, with very little diversification, he continued to double down. You can probably guess what happened next. When the stock market crashed several of Chris’ stocks quickly plummeted and very quickly he found his paper net worth had fallen to $2 million. Feeling disappointed and overwhelmed he decided to take a break, clear his mind and walk away from the stock market for several weeks.

 

Debt

While he was travelling to Austria the leftovers of his portfolio dived even harder. An informal remark by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair about joint policy in the notion of patents around genetic technology, when viral in the news.  As the companies from this industry were the core of Chris’s portfolio, there were not much left this time. Playing this dangerous game and not giving himself the extent of the margin in his investments, Chris immediately wind up $4 million in debt with no means of paying it back.

 

Adult sites

Still keeping his nerves, he refused to declare bankruptcy and negotiated a workout plan with his creditors which reduced his total debt to $2.125 million. Over the course of next five years Chris completed law school, and got his hustle on. He worked for one of Silicon Valley law firm, but got fired after 13 months. Next step was opening up his own consultancy. This journey took him through writing terms and conditions for online adult sites and a variety of other less than impressive tasks. Remarkably, he managed to pay down the two-plus million dollars in debt at some point in 2005.

 

Angel

For the next four years Chris worked at Google. After that started his first angel investments in PhotoBucket and Twitter, for which he is much better known. What few realize, however is that his success today very nearly didn’t happen. It was his tenacity and refusal to quit, even when reckless at times, that paved his road to becoming one of the most respected and successful angels in Silicon Valley.

 

How?

Chris didn't study business or engineering, doesn't know how to program a computer or worked at a big venture firm. So how did he pulled it off? He does it by buddying up with well-chosen founders and very often serves as a mentor. It seems like he could take on everything but Chris only takes those ventures and endeavours in which he can be an asset.  On top of that neither massive debt, lay off, nor anything else is able to stop him.

chris

FAILURE STORIES. EP. 05 WALT DISNEY

Posted Leave a commentPosted in 5 minute read, FAILURE STORIES
FAILURE STORIES. EP. 05 WALT DISNEY

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them – Walt Disney

Entrepreneur, cartoonist, animator, voice actor, and film producer. Before he became the legend, we know, he was fired by the newspaper editor because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” 

 

Mouse on the screen

Can you imagine anyone being afraid of Mickey Mouse? No? Neither can I but Walt Disney was told that Mickey Mouse would not work since a huge mouse on the screen would terrify women. Well, it seems that women were not scared and this mouse continues to share his story on screens all over the world.

 

You are dismissed

In 1919 while working for a newspaper, Disney was struggling to make ends meet. At one point, he was fired by the newspaper editor because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”. In January 1920, Disney formed his first animation company, which was called Laugh-O-Gram Films. He raised $15,000 for the company but following a rough start he was eventually forced to close Laugh-O-Gram, and go to earn money at the Kansas City Film Ad Company. He was soon joined by his partner, who were not able to run their business by himself.

 

City of broken dreams

Sometime later Disney he acquired a successful studio but profits were insufficient to cover the high salaries paid to employees. After studio became loaded with debt it wound up bankrupt. Disney was desperate and out of money.  In July 1923, Walt sold his camera and, with the little money he had, moved to Hollywood. Disney faced even more criticism and failure.

 

Wonderland

He had decided he wanted to be in the motion picture business and envisioned himself as a director, so he set out to look for a job. Every studio in town turned him down. In the face of another failure he had sent his unfinished project Alice’s Wonderland to different distributers. One of them offered him a deal and with his brother Roy and best friend Iwerks they have created Disney Brothers’ Studio.

 

(Not so) Lucky Rabbit

One of his first huge successes in the cartooning business was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. It was so successful that it was shown in major theatres around the country with first–run films. At that time, Walt was only receiving a 20 percent cut on his films and was ready to negotiate higher share, since he was barely earning anything. But his producer had other plans.  

 

Not Walt

He decided he no longer needed Walt, and by hiring Walt’s animation crew he could produce the cartoon himself. As distributer, he had the rights to do what he liked with the cartoon. It was another devastating lesson for Walt. Most of the people would cave or run home with the tail between their legs. Most of the people but not Walt. He decided then and there that he would now only work on characters to which he owned the rights.

 

Mortimer

Walt desperately needed a brand-new idea. In the back of his mind he had the idea of a mouse – a sympathetic character that had a lot of potential. He called the mouse Mortimer, the name eventually changed to Mickey Mouse thanks to the insistence of his wife.

 

Astounding duo

Mickey had his own live voice–overs, sound–effect people, and an orchestra. Walt’s vison of Mickey’s voice was very specific and unique but he could not find anyone who could replicate the way he imagined it to be. So, it was Walt himself who voiced Mickey. This astounding duo made front–page news.

 

All in

In 1932, Walt discovered the new phenomenon of technicolor and wanted to create a feature–length cartoon about Snow White. People in Hollywood sneered at that idea because no one could even imagine it.  He was told by his banker that he would be risking everything he had on this one film. But Walt believed in his vision for the company, and he believed in this retelling of Snow White enough to go through with it. The film received both critical acclaim and commercial success. Money flowed in, erasing the entire studio debt within 6–months. Walt received an Academy Award for what was yet another risk that had paid off.

 

War

Fantasia was one of Walt’s most unusual and unique projects. His vision was to reproduce the sensation of listening to music in a concert hall accompanied with visual stimulation. He was onto an earlier version of stereo–phonic sound. The total budget of this project, however, was more than $2 million. Just as the Disney Company seemed to be reaching new heights, war broke out. Overseas income ceased funding the construction of the new Burbank studio, and although newly launched animated movies Fantasia and Pinocchio were considered Disney Masterpieces, they did not provide the revenue the company needed.

 

Debt

By 1941 the studio was half–a–million dollars in–debt. But this didn’t stop him. Actually, nothing ever did. He did not let a string of failures overcome him, standing strong even through his toughest times. After every storm, there is a rainbow. The next decade was a period of great financial expansion for Disney. It went from of $6 million profit at the start of the decade to $70 million at the end.

 

Failure is necessary

The company that Walt has left behind has reached phenomenal success. It all started from one very innovative and passionate man who demanded the highest quality and wasn’t afraid to experiment and fail with every endeavor.

 

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FAILURE STORIES. EP. 05 WALT DISNEY