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1) How did you and Roberta meet, and was it ”love at first byte”?
*** We’ve now been married almost 35 years! We met in high school on a double date. She was out with a friend of mine … and, later, after he and her had split up, I called to convince her to go out. I think I asked her to marry me on the second date, but we had to wait until I turned 18.
2) How did you come to found WorldStream Communications?
*** I sold Sierra prior to all the craziness of the Internet. We had real revenues and real profit. During the height of the internet craze companies with neither revenue or profit were making billions of dollars. I always wanted to do something with radio and television, and the idea of broadcasting on the internet interested me, so I raised venture capital ($27 million!) and got started. We did find it easy to attract an audience, but couldn’t sell enough ads to make money. I repositioned the company to target broadcasting for corporations, and also couldn’t make money, so we shut it down.
*** The whole WorldStream experience was very humbling. For me it was culture shock. My biggest problem was that it was a weird time in history to try to manage employees. It was a gold rush mentality. I was used to managing people to goals, and trying to pull the best work from people. During the height of the internet craze employees were focused on “getting rich” not on “getting profit”. I didn’t know how to manage in that environment.
3) Do you ever see yourself working at or founding another small non-entertainment company such as Worldstream again?
*** I’m kind of doing that now. Talkspot is doing VERY well, and seems to be exploding. We’re now doing the website for 30,000 small businesses.
4) Are there any plans to make Talkspot more than just a hobby?
*** Not really. I would like to see it break even, but haven’t thought beyond that. My guess is that I’ll get it to break even in the next year, and then keep it there until I lose interest 10 years from now, and sell it to a company like Google, Microsoft or Yahoo.
5) Have you ever considered writing a book on how to start off in business? Something like a beginners guide for a would-be CEO or entrepeneur?
*** I’ve thought about it — but, just haven’t had time. Business is actually easy. Get up earlier than everyone else, work harder, and stay up later. Give people two dollars of value for every dollar they spend, whether they are a customer, or your boss.
6) What would you say are the key ingredients for being a successful business manager?
*** Attention to detail and intolerance of medocrity. Ability to look at something and decide what is “really” important.
7) What was life for you and Roberta like before Sierra; where did you see your career going and what were you and her working as?
*** I was the classic “rags to riches” story. Both Roberta and I were aggressive from the beginning, and both of us decided early on we were going to do whatever it took to succeed. I worked three and four jobs simultaneously for most of my career, and when I wasn’t working I was reading business books.
8) Have you heard back from Activision’s CEO on that entertainment project you spoke of yet?
*** Yes. He invited me to Los Angeles to talk about doing something together. I wrote back to ask how serious he was, and he hasn’t responded.