September 20, 2022

Is Private Equity Sexy Now?

Mags joins Phillip and Brian to discuss the role of Web3 and the blockchain as we enter into the new wave of commerce. Does Web3 open up a new world of possibilities for brands to interact with and meet the needs of their customers? How can brands and investors partner with celebrities to solve problems? Listen now!

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Mindful Web3

  • A successful approach to Web3, from a brand perspective, is asking questions like "Why would we do this? Why should we care? Why should our customers care? And what can we bring to the table that's different and unique because it's built on blockchain?"
  • “We are just going to be scratching the surface right now of the Starbucks product, but it will embolden other brands to think about what they can do and what they can do in the right way as opposed to a campaign PR-y way.” - Magdalena
  • “If you want the ultimate decentralization something has to give because you can't have it all in the blockchain context. You either get cheap transactions or you get ultimate security in decentralization and you can't have everything at once.” - Magdalena
  • Does aligning with a celebrity institute a playbook that other consumer brands have used to try to gain scale?
  • “If a celebrity has a brand, then a brand itself is also a mind virus that will find a way to propagate. Extremely successful brands are just very efficient propagation of a virus that likes to replicate. And that's why we have enduring brands that last for centuries.” - Phillip
  • “The magic happens when you are really good at multiple things because you have something that no one else competing with you in each individual area.” - Magdalena
  • “One of the things that's a big misconception of private equity that I hate that it's all just acquiring, stripping it off, and then question mark, question mark, question mark, profit. That's not how this works. It's very much a partnership because there is something magical in the underlying business and there is a value that the private equity firm can bring to grow it faster than it would grow on its own, independent of just the capital.” - Magdalena
  • Commercially-minded celebrities can help investors solve problems of distribution and attention with the networks they already have.

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Brian: [00:01:23] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about the next generation of commerce. I am Brian.

Phillip: [00:01:29] I'm Phillip. And Magdalena Kala is back with us. I think, not just a consumer and Web3 investor, but a prolific consumer and Web3 investor. Welcome back to the show, Mags.

Magdalena: [00:01:41] You're too kind. I feel so honored to be invited back. It sounds like I didn't say completely idiotic things the last time.

Phillip: [00:01:49] No, not at all. In fact, you made our best of Web3 episode recently, and one of the most downloaded episodes we've had in the last six months. I feel honored you would come back on our show, our little dinky podcast. No, no, no. The tens of thousands of people that listen to it love to hear from you. Give us a quick update on the things that are going on in your world. And I think we're going to dive in for those who might want a couple of hot takes. We're going to talk a little bit about the state of celebrity entrepreneurship, and that's going to run the gamut from celebrity founded and invested brands to maybe a little bit of Kim Kardashian private equity fund? But what are you working on right now, Mags? What's your thought process like? I know you've been running some cohort based courses.

Magdalena: [00:02:38] I have. So I think since our last conversation, I fully transitioned to being in the Web3 world. I think earlier it was a little bit of having my foot in both worlds: consumer, traditional and Web3. I am fully on the dark side now, thinking through what it will take to have mainstream adoption of Web3 technologies. And what does it look like in different areas of consumer culture, right? Whether it's commerce or gaming or music or what have you. And I think one of the challenges that I see is actually we have interesting products, interesting builders, but mainstream adoption will take a lot more than that, thinking through real utility, but also storytelling around that utility. How do you talk about the value prop and market the product and build the brand for the long term and think through go-to-market strategies I see a dearth of kind of traditional marketing talent in the Web3 world, which is why I've been running this cohort based course for traditional marketers who are curious about Web3, because the more of the marketing talent we can bring to the Web3 world, the better it will be for everyone.

Brian: [00:03:46] I like that. Yeah. And it's interesting you mentioned adoption. There's not... Consumer adoption is tough to do with anything. Adoption's just a hard challenge in literally every sector of business. The one that I see coming up right now that I'm really, really interested in is Odyssey, the Starbucks NFT loyalty play that they're making. And so my question for you is, as we look at adoption ahead, is it going to take things like this? What are your thoughts on this particular instance? And do you expect to see more of this and will that assist with the adoption that you're talking about?

Magdalena: [00:04:31] I have a lot of thoughts about everything. So first, I do think that adoption happens when you have exciting and new things that are drifting on top of existing consumer interests. When you think of the elements of step change in media attention or consumer attention, it was always based on culture, whether it was NBA top shot with sports Axie Infinity with kind of casual gaming or people in the art world. All of those big moments of interest and adoption happened because of some underlying non Web3 interest that people had. And so with Starbucks, you see this interesting thing where it's less of interest. I don't think anyone is passionate about their loyalty program with Starbucks, but it is a brand that has a very passionate and large user base. And I would argue that the rewards program is probably the best rewards program in the world today. It is actually, I think, the second most frequently used payment app outside of Apple Pay, which is kind of insane when you think about it.

Phillip: [00:05:41] Wow.

Magdalena: [00:05:42] So there is a certain level of scale that they already have. And then on top of that, I think it is a prime example of a company that's approaching Web3 in the right way, thinking from first principles like "Why would we do this? Why should we care? Why should our customers care? And what can we bring to the table that's different and unique because it's built on blockchain?" And I think them going into the, you know, the stamps and the collectibles, I mean, who doesn't know someone who has a whole shelf of Starbucks mugs from different cities because it's a collectible? And it's not actually a completely new behavior. And then I think it's like a very approachable way of getting people into the ecosystem. And I am in general a big believer in tokenized loyalty in general. And how do you kind of also reward your customers for doing things that you want them to do, like referrals and user-generated content and reviews,  all the things that you want your customers and your community to do. I think we are just going to be scratching the surface right now of the Starbucks product, but it will embolden other brands to think about what they can do and what they can do in the right way as opposed to a campaign PR-y way.

Phillip: [00:06:59] You had specific language there that certainly hearkens back to like the Web3 sort of vernacular, which is fine. When we had Seyi Taylor on the show about a month ago, his thinking was what if we changed the language to sort of be in line with how consumers are already thinking today? So in this case, a wallet is really just your Starbucks account. And in this case, it's right now my Starbucks account is just me and the funds in my account. But what happens if tomorrow it is a network where I can transfer funds to a friend by searching by their wallet, name, or their account name? And all of a sudden, the underpinning protocol that powers all of this falls away, and the product that creates this onramp is the thing that people care about. That is the moment that this all becomes really viable. He also mentioned Polygon kind of seems to be unparalleled, Polygon being the chain on which Odyssey from Starbucks will be built. I think a lot of this has to do with, I don't know if it's like which protocol will win at the end of the day, it might even just be which has the best biz dev team to create enterprise value. And that I think is another interesting... That's how the world actually works. And I'm a developer, I'm an engineer, was number two on Stack Exchange for years. I don't have to flex my muscles, but I know how the world really works. And it's not based on whatever the number one open source community is on GitHub anymore. It's based on what gets developers to a high total comp. Use that stack. What's your thinking about that in sort of the like, which one wins at the end of the day? Is it really truly business development or is that a cynical perspective?

Magdalena: [00:08:43] Well, I don't think it's a cynical perspective, but I do talk with founders all the time about how the best tech doesn't win. The best product doesn't always win. There are so many elements associated with whether it's biz dev, go-to-market strategy, pure luck, like the right place, right time... There are so many elements that are associated with who ultimately wins. And so that's certainly if I think of the absolutely best biz dev team in the game, it is Polygon, and hats off to them on landing the Starbucks as well. As far as which blockchains will win, I think we're going to be in a multi-chain environment, which is scary because most of the hacks and security vulnerabilities are actually at the point of bridges and kind of the multichain reality. And so it will be a whole other can of worms. But the reality is I find it very hard to believe that it's going to be a winner take all. Different use cases, different needs. Is it speed? Is it security? Is it cause... It will not be one dominant blockchain for all.

Brian: [00:09:54] The entire Internet is powered by the Web. The base communication system that we use. We ended up falling into a very specific set of technologies that took over because it was kind of necessary. Whereas blockchain right now is being used to solve more specific problems as opposed to everything, everywhere, all at once. Do you think that where we're at right now is different than the early days of the Web? Because blockchain isn't necessarily going to be the way that we build our entire future, as opposed to, like you said, finding good use cases and maybe the right chain is the right solution depending on what we're trying to solve.

Magdalena: [00:10:40] Yeah, it's an interesting  thought where the use cases are more specific, I think the trade-offs are more pronounced. If you want the ultimate decentralization something has to give because you can't have it all in the blockchain context. And so I think that's the reason why inevitably will be in the multichain environment because you either get cheap transactions or you get ultimate security in decentralization and you kind of can't have everything at once. But I think it's also one of those things where like, do we have the dominant chain already in play, or are we all in the not even MySpace like pre-MySpace era where things are happening, but like none of it is going to last? I don't know. On one hand, with the amount of investment into the overall Ethereum ecosystem, I find it really hard to believe that that goes anywhere. There are just too many dollars at stake, too many dollars working on technology and use cases on top of that technology. But there are bajillion chains out there all kind of trying to beat Ethereum killers and now Solana killers. And who knows where we are in the kind of overall what will be the steady state of the world.

Phillip: [00:12:55] I actually have an amazing way for us to bridge into another part of the conversation. Doodles is one project that sort of tapped the celebrity angle to try to gain some notoriety and maybe potentially, not just build credibility within its ecosystem. It already had fanatics. It was I think it's widely considered to be a blue chip project, at least as a profile pic project, but it definitely has aspirations to be more. We're seeing a lot of licensing happening there. I'm pretty sure I saw Doodles through H&M and a couple of other sort of apparel collabs recently. They tapped Pharrell Williams as a Chief Brand Officer. That's a pretty lofty title for a celebrity to come on to a project that arguably didn't need to have any more credibility associated with it. Does aligning with a celebrity institute a playbook that other consumer brands have used to try to gain scale? Liquor is a great example. You can't be a celebrity today without having a tequila brand. So I'm curious, is this the new way of building a consumer brand in your mind?

Magdalena: [00:14:00] You had a lot of things packed in that question. I will try to tackle them one by one.

Phillip: [00:14:03] I learned from Brian how to ask you 16 things.

Magdalena: [00:14:07] So first things first, I don't think it's a new thing right now that celebrities are partnering in the more entrepreneurial roles. We've been seeing it for a long time. Even the George Clooney Casamigos thing kicked off the entire alcohol celebrity thing. It's been a while now. So that mode of building is not new. That mode of building has emerged as the world got saturated and you needed to cut through the noise. And so celebrity with a distribution platform and celebrity that was going to get PR coverage were two things that were very much in the interest of a brand to have, whether it was an intrinsically brand started by a celebrity or a brand bringing on a celebrity to have a meaningful role as a meaningful investor. I think in the Web3 world, it is an interesting question of why are they bringing a celebrity like Pharrell. Is it distribution? Is it a mass reach or is its cultural relevance, and you don't actually care about the reach, it's more about crossing from being just a Web3 native brand to being a cultural brand that happens to be a Web3 native. And I think that's an interesting question because I don't know what the Doodle's team kind of ambitions are and what they want to do. Is it more of a Hollywood play? Is it more of a consumer brand play? Is it none of the above because it's a whole new world that we are building? But it is interesting that they're partnering with someone who I consider to be very plugged in, and to me, it's less about reach and distribution and more about cultural savvy of consumer interests.

Brian: [00:15:49] I think the cultural angle is really interesting. There's also an element of media properties out there that are built on other technology, and going back and retrofitting for the sake of retrofitting is hard and sort of like why? Because they're already established. And so I think the requirement here is if you're going to build a new house it's going to require new content in order to be successful. So the content, like you said with Doodles, Doodles is a thing unto itself. It's being built on a technology that enables it to have its own life and extend past traditional media. But I think that's an easier and more effective approach than necessarily going back and taking old media and trying to breathe new life into it through new methodologies. So I think that's super interesting. I think you're right about the cultural play.

Phillip: [00:16:43] I got stuck in on something you had said is sort of thinking about old mediums. I think some of the most reputable organizations, maybe also some of the most disreputable organizations in the world at the moment are old media brands. They've also found a way to endure and make the leap from generation to generation to new media and new technologies and new distribution methods because by nature they are information. And information finds a way. It's like a mind virus. It will find a way to propagate no matter what the host is or the channel, whatever the medium it is that it's working through, it'll find a new host. And that's the question that I have really around Brand is that if a celebrity has a brand, then a brand itself is also a mind virus that will find a way to propagate. And extremely successful brands are just very efficient propagation of a virus that likes to replicate. And that's why we have enduring brands that last for centuries. The question really is is Pharrell the mind virus that he would like to believe himself to be in order to be able to propagate into Web3, to make any host, in this case, Doodles a successful host where they both benefit together and propagate further? The question is, could he be as successful with that as Kim Kardashian could be at pretty much anything she puts her hands to? I don't know. I guess time will tell.

Magdalena: [00:18:02] So I'm actually going to push back on that idea a little bit because I don't think you bring Pharrell into that project to benefit from his reach. I think you bring Pharrell into this project to benefit from his command on getting attention. And I think that's a similarity that he and Kim share. Different scales, different kind of products, different backgrounds, different everything. But fundamentally, I think they both don't get the full credit that they deserve for not just being the brand for all the brands, Kim Kardashian the brand, or the brands that they build, like he does with his beauty thing or she does with a number of projects. I think they deserve credit for their general business savvy and business savvy in the hypercompetitive world where you need to compete and you need to get attention. And I think from that standpoint, it's less about Pharrell the brand or Kim Kardashian the brand, and more about people at the top of their game as far as cutting through the noise.

Brian: [00:19:07] Oh, back to biz dev. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:19:12] This is the question, though, and maybe this is a good way for us to sort of pit the two against each other because we tend to lump celebrity into like one big bucket. And I'm guilty of that. But perhaps if we were to think a little more deeply of how you might attribute where the celebrity comes from to the two of them, I would say Kim Kardashian is a very savvy and maybe a shrewd sort of business operator. Today I would characterize her that way. Pharrell is an artist in my mind. And not just because he was a musician or notable as a musician, I think of him as an artist and in lots of different ways. In fact, his touch on design, certainly, I think, kind of reinvigorated Adidas in a contemporaneous way to say like Kanye West. He doesn't get as much credit, certainly. But I'm curious if you see that celebrity has its own sort of strata in how you might partner in a celebrity relationship and how that might be used to your advantage. And then maybe we can sort of pivot into why that may or may not be useful in a consumer investor sense.

Magdalena: [00:20:25] Sure. Let me ask you first, do you think Snoop Dogg is an artist?

Phillip: [00:20:30] Absolutely. 

Magdalena: [00:20:31] Right. And it's a funny thing because, yes, I think he's an artist. I also think independently of that, he's a top ten business leader today.

Phillip: [00:20:39] Sure.

Magdalena: [00:20:39] His business mind. It's the craziest thing to actually just really be good at both. And the magic happens when you are really good at multiple things because you have something that no one else competing with you in each individual area.

Phillip: [00:20:54] So you're saying you have to be polymathic is what you're saying?

Magdalena: [00:20:58] {laughter} Yes. That is one way of putting it. But I think that's why Pharrell gets to do things that a lot of other artists don't because he's a brilliant commercial mind. Kim Kardashian is a brilliant commercial mind. Snoop Dogg is a brilliant commercial mind. Kevin Durant is a brilliant commercial mind. Serena Williams. You can start going to celebrities. Guess what? What do they all have in common? They all have their own fans too because they are brilliant commercial minds. And the celebrity thing is one way of getting access to deal flow, getting access to events, getting access to partnerships, getting access to talent. But it's not it's kind of its own separate thing. It's all connected, but it's partially because they're just brilliant commercial people who happen to be artists, athletes, what have you.

Phillip: [00:21:50] Everything is sales. Let's switch gears because I think that that's a really good place for us to pick up the next bit of news, which was Kim Kardashian is I'm sure approached to be an LP and maybe is an LP in many private equity funds over the years. I don't know. She now has one of her own. Celebrity PE seems like a new sort of an emergent thing. We've seen celebrity Co-Founding, Angel Investing, VC... It's sort of making its way down the chain to sort of now we're at private equity. Is private equity sexy now? I never thought of it that way before. Maybe it always was. But I think if there's anyone to tell us, it's you. Because I think that that's your beat, right?

Magdalena: [00:22:36] That's my background. I spent seven years total in the private equity world. I never thought it was sexy. I never thought it should be sexy. Yet here we are. It's funny. A few thoughts. One, I think Kim Kardashian was not just approached to be an LP in multiple funds. She was approached for a number of her businesses to be acquired by private equity firms earlier and in their journey, probably approached by a lot of venture firms to invest in her businesses. And quite frankly, she'd probably been approached as an adviser. She's probably been approached as a kind of partner to help blow up the brands that private equity firms invest in. I am speculating here, but I have a feeling that with her profile, reach, and business savvy, and the brands that she's built and her sisters have built, there was a lot more than just being asked to invest in the funds. And when multiple funds come to you with multiple asks, you realize you have a valuable asset. And I think it's not that different than what she's done in, say, the beauty or apparel space. When brands come to you to be a spokesperson, ambassador, or Chief Brand Officer and you get some small percentage of economics, why not do your own if the special asset is you and everything else is a commodity? And capital is commodity. I think there is a big difference between starting a venture capital firm and starting a private equity firm. But the celebrity investor thing is not new. You have Kevin Durant's 35 ventures. You have Snoop Dogg's Empire, you have Serena, you have Steph Curry's Penny Jar. There are a number of firms that were all started by celebrities because they recognized what they could bring to the table. And again, in that biz dev environment of trying to win a deal, it made sense. There are key differences between private equity and venture. With private equity, in particular, where you have more capital needed, you have more expertise needed. Is that deeper diligence and a lot of financial modeling, and knowledge of capital markets. You are bringing debt into the transaction. You need to be a credible party that's going to get the debt for the transaction. You can't be a tourist investor, right? And I'm not saying that any of the celebrities were tourist investors, but the barrier to entry is a lot higher because it's just a whole different ballgame. And then also for most private equity firms, you are going for a much more meaningful ownership stake, if not majority, although that's frequent, it's a very meaningful minority position. You don't really have five, ten different funds coming together to invest. It's usually one, maybe some partnership deal, but it's not that frequent that you have a massive growth, which means all of the burden of work, conviction, diligence, legal accounting, everything falls onto the firm. And then when you do acquire it like you are the owner, like especially in the majority context, like you have responsibilities of full ownership and it's a very different model. It takes a different level of skills. And here you have this. And I think that's why there haven't been very many celebrity private equity firms. It's not a sexy category and it requires a lot of skill set. I mean, just in the consumer world, it is more approachable, but not by a lot. And here everyone would probably make fun of Kim Kardashian for starting a private equity firm because they still did. But the reality is, it's not her, it's her and J, who is an incredible private equity investor, super legit, great experience, and I would argue one of the top culturally forward private equity investors in the world. At Carlyle, he did LGX Beauty. He did Beats by Dre, he did Supreme. That is a great roster of investments like way before everyone else was thinking about doing that type of investment in the private equity context. And so you have two people top of their game. J, with private equity finance investing, and Kim with general business savvy and network and yes, distribution that she has through her own channels. But I don't think you are going to be choosing to sell your business to Kim Kardashian versus Carlyle because you want her to write an Instagram post. You're going to do it because of the whole package of what it can get you and take your business to the next level.

Brian: [00:28:56] It's a set of other appeals on the Kim side. So, yes, she's taking more of the pie. Why do it for other people when she can do it herself? Second, control. That's another thing. She's made other investments and it's probably been frustrating at points to not have as much control. And then I think third, this is based on the rumors that I've heard from business interactions that different businesses have had with the Kardashians. They are very, very good at leaning in on businesses and driving really, really good deals for themselves because of the celebrity that they have. And so they have actually all of these like master agreements with different pieces of software in different groups and things like that. And they actually have already driven a whole bunch of operational efficiency.

Phillip: [00:29:42] They're doing half the work that a PE firm would do, to begin with, by consolidating relationships.

Brian: [00:29:48] Yes. It's already all done, and they're very good at leveraging the influence they have. What they've done in the past, as they've used the attention economy and said, "We have all the eyeballs looking at us. If you're going to work with us, you're going to lose money on us, but you're going to make money on our case study." And so they've learned how to lean in and make something extremely economical. And I think that's what's actually at play here. They're very good at this.

Phillip: [00:30:24] Mags is that not just how that works in general at scale?

Magdalena: [00:30:29] So there are separate things here. One thing that you just described, Brian, is they are not just distribution. They are very, very business savvy. And I think any takes around Kim Kardashian's private equity fund coming down to "Well, anyone would want her distribution to promote their product," are missing the bigger picture. That is just truly like a very commercially minded person and broader family. As far as a private equity context goes, they're going to do above minority and majority transactions. But like if you think about what the vanilla private equity majority transaction looks like, it's a founder selling their control of their business to a private equity firm. There is a tension there because the founder wants to get a good deal because you've built a business, you want to sell it for the highest price, and retain control of any number of terms you want. And then from the other side, you have the private equity firm trying to acquire that as cheaply as possible to generate as much return for them as possible. You don't get to be extractive in the way that some celebrities try to be because it has to be a partnership. Both sides have to end up being happy because in many ways it is only the start of the partnership. At the moment of acquisition, even if the private equity firm is buying control and the majority frequently you don't want to swap the founder, you don't want to swap the magic behind the consumer brand or the media brand. And so it needs to be a good relationship. You can't start it with very extractive terms. I think what people will get excited about here is the synergies, the favorite word of the financial world, obviously. But synergies because you get to bring some already magical entrepreneur and then have them benefit from J's general kind of professionalization of a business, getting it to a sale or a bigger sale, an IPO. And then you get Kim savvy around. How do you blow it up around consumer mindset and culture and partnerships and all of that? It is just about the next stage of growth. That's one of the things that's a big misconception of private equity that I hate that it's all just acquiring, stripping it off, and then question mark, question mark, question mark, profit. That's not how this works. It's very much a partnership because there is something magical in the underlying business and there is a value that the private equity firm can bring to grow it faster than it would grow on its own, independent of just the capital. And then everyone gets to benefit when that business gets sold. And I think that's where Kim's thing comes in is, yes, it's distribution, but yes, it's also a lot of other things. But they don't get to take extractive terms because if you're a founder selling a business, you are evaluating that offer versus any number of private equity firm offers that you have. All of those are competitive processes that start with, you know, ten, 20, 30 different firms bidding on a business. Those are not getting done friend of a friend frequently investment bank run processes. You don't get to do an extractive deal here. The value needs to be on both sides.

Phillip: [00:33:50] Let's kind of think about the future then, because we've sort of seen celebrity now playing a bunch of different stratus. So what's what where is there left to go? Is there a celebrity hedge fund coming? What are the next layers of capital allocation that really celebrity could bring some differentiation to? And I use, I'm joking a little bit I'm kind of not joking. But is this the last stop or are we going to see this sort of play out for the next ten years in this space?

Magdalena: [00:34:27] It's an interesting question.

Phillip: [00:34:31] It's an uninformed and stupid question, actually. But you're going to answer it anyway.

Magdalena: [00:34:35] {laughter} I'm going to answer it anyway. I think that we just have to divorce the celebrity aspect of it. It's more about what is the future of these asset classes and where the benefits come from. And the reality is that in investing, especially consumer investing, whether it's venture or late-stage one of the biggest challenges that we are trying to answer is distribution for your portfolio companies. How do you grow? How do you build a brand? How do you retain customers? Those are topics that the celebrities, commercially minded celebrities, are actually very well aligned with. It makes sense. There is an actual fit there. Do I think that like a celebrity should start a hedge fund? I don't know. If it's a celebrity that is very commercially minded that will have the ability to use their notoriety to hire a great team and to get capital. Like, why not? I guess, if there are people who want to invest in that, it might be an interesting experiment, right? But it is a little bit like playing to a competitive advantage. And just so happens that there is this very natural fit for consumer investors and celebrities because investors want to solve for distribution and celebrities get to bring that distribution and commercial savvy and networks and kind of cutting through this whole attention nightmare that we have right now in the world.

Phillip: [00:36:05] We didn't get you to weigh in on our Visions report earlier this year, which was like I was super bummed about it. And I'm definitely not under any subterfuge, calling you out on it live on the air in front of anybody. But it would have been amazing to have your perspective. So I'll take the opportunity to ask you a couple of questions about that now. One of the themes of our research this year was something we call the plurality of identity. And this idea is that people are multifaceted and we wear certain masks in certain scenarios. And you hear a lot of different truisms in the world, like certainly in college admission, you know, having a lot of like different outside pursuits can certainly make you more well rounded and highly sought after and so being involved in extracurriculars certainly weighs in your favor. You could say the same at the other end of the scale that the most "successful" or most "notable" entrepreneurs in the world are diverse in their investments and have many, many, many things going on. Yet at the same time, I hear about sort of the if you just double down and focused on making one thing really great, you could accomplish a whole lot more. It certainly doesn't seem like that's what the world prizes at the moment. And this seems like what yet one more thing for someone with the notoriety of the last name Kardashian to concern themselves with is more fractionalization of attention. So I think the question here with all of that in mind, is that your own personal philosophy, your division of labor, and your personality, and maybe your multiplication of your efforts comes through network effects of being involved in so many things that they all are mutually successful together? Or is there some kind of power, potentially, in just putting all your effort into one and seeing it through? Because it certainly doesn't seem that way when you look at some of the richest people in the world.

Magdalena: [00:38:10] I love this question and I love it. A few things. One, I'm a big believer in the kind of T-shaped personality, especially in commercial, when you're really good at one thing or kind of a specific set of things, but then you get to kind of play across the spectrum and draw on inspiration and case studies and across the board. When I work with Web3 founders, I pretty much work with them on one thing and one thing only. And it's like marketing, branding, go-to-market strategy, kind of the whole how do you show up in the universe and acquire and retain your customers? It's a big area, but it's a very specific thing in the grand scheme of all the different things that investors usually work with their portfolio companies on. But then when I do that, I do benefit from the fact that I've worked in beauty and apparel and sports and gaming and social media, right? When I work with them, I don't just bring examples in case studies from the Web3 NFT world. I bring examples like TELFAR and how they deal with issues of exclusivity. I bring examples from all around because I think there is value to be had from learning not just from the Web3 world, but kind of lessons learned elsewhere. And so I think that's how I view the world where there is a benefit to a broad base of knowledge. But you also need to know what is your special sauce you have. And actually, I will push back on your comment around Kim Kardashian, because is she getting spread out here across multiple projects, or is she not? Is she just playing to her competitive advantage that is cutting through the noise and then hiring a team for everything else? I would argue she is actually a very prioritized person, even with her whole empire of things that she is doing because she has a team that's running on all the elements that she should not be doing, and she's leaning into the one thing that she's really good at.

Brian: [00:40:04] I never thought of Kim that way. I felt like she was pretty spread out. So that's a really good way to put it. She is leaning in on what she's really good at, which is actually business.

Phillip: [00:40:13] You and I just like, just to be fair, Mags knows actual famous people and we don't. We know each other, and that's about it. 

Brian: [00:40:21] {laughter} That's true.

Magdalena: [00:40:24] They're just like us. They're just like us.

Phillip: [00:40:26] Oh, yeah. Put their pants on one leg at a time.

Brian: [00:40:30] You hit on something earlier that I think you're getting at again, which is the right person for the right job. I think, yeah, back to the hedge fund thing. Like, maybe we would see a celebrity do that someday if it's the right person to do it. If they have that inclination or push or drive to go in that direction. Like you said earlier, Phillip, not all celebrity is created equal. We should not put them all in the same bucket. I think that's the key here is people are diverse.

Phillip: [00:41:04] I mean, I was arguably the most famous person in the Magento ecosystem and that meant nothing. So you're right, it's not all created equal.

Brian: [00:41:13] No. Even beyond an attention economy perspective, we just say celebrity, we mean attention economy. But really, not everyone is good at the same things. Why they have attention and why they're successful are different per person. And we shouldn't generalize.

Magdalena: [00:41:29] Yeah, well, also, it's the one thing that I feel like people have forgotten with this whole Kim Kardashian thing. And, you know, it's probably some element of gender lens, to be honest, is let's talk about the OG, I think OG private equity firm started by a celebrity, Steve Young, everyone okay? $4 billion under management, probably more at this point, right? Hyper successful firm. Most people forget that it was started by a professional athlete. Will they open their hedge fund? I don't know. Would you count it as a celebrity hedge fund? Not really. He's been in business for longer than he has been in sports at this point. But this is a model we've already seen way before. It was cool way before the social media explosion and not even the consumer really. As far as I know, HGGC does all sorts of different things like industrials and tech and health care, and what have you.

Brian: [00:42:27] There is a really interesting break here. Hedge fund is the media and content would be investments. Or PE is the style by which people are going to go purchase a portfolio which would be the content or whatever it is. Let's get back to Web3 for a second. If Pharrell is sort of like the content, the cultural attention moment, that's the content. Web3 is the media that we're looking at. If the medium is the message and Web3 is the medium, what is the message?

Magdalena: [00:43:04] I disagree that Web3 is a medium.

Brian: [00:43:07] Ah ok. Interesting.

Magdalena: [00:43:08] Because I think I even disagree with other examples like that private equity firm might be a medium. I think fundamentally, to me, Web3 is a lot of things all wrapped into one. It's a mindset, it's culture, it's technology, it's business model potential. It's a lot of different things rolled into one. 

Phillip: [00:43:33] Religion.

Magdalena: [00:43:34] Well, that goes back to the like philosophy and mindset. But yes. And so I think it depends a little bit when you're talking about that, which part are you referring to it any moment you're using Web3 as a term? And I think a lot of and I think a lot of misunderstanding that ends up happening is because people just use this pretty freely and don't align on which meaning and what assumptions they're making when they're using the term Web3. For me, Web3 fundamentally is about ownership and kind of being able to get all the benefits of ownership in very different ways and kind of the implications that it has for business models, company building, marketing, labor models, what have you. But that's kind of the starting point. For other people, it might be around transparency or the underlying technology and the decentralization. There are a lot of elements that people mean. And so as a result, if it's multiple media, there are multiple answers to your question. 

Brian: [00:44:38] Fair enough. 

Magdalena: [00:44:38] I think with Doodles and the Pharrell situation, I think kind of coming back to first principles, like why would you want a celebrity? And if you could have any celebrity in the world, who would you want? That to me, that's the question that I think the team asked because they could have had their pick is my guess. And so it's very much thinking through the lens of building cultural capital. And who do we partner with who can help us figure out what's cool and like build cool. The ultimate question as opposed to being like, "Oh, who can we get with this distribution and get some PR coverage? Because we've done this thing." I think that team is playing the long game and it's a long game around building cultural capital and kind of brand equity associated with that.

Phillip: [00:45:31] I think that's where it sort of comes down to when you're building something that... And we're at the early, early stages, I know that that's sort of a trope these days, like, "Oh, we're so early," but we are so very early that collectively Web3 as a whole is trying to find the broad consumer application that proves that its existence not only necessary but vital for the future of human commerce and communication. Brian is on this one kick with Marshall McLuhan. I've been on a kick with Victorian Internet. I think when you start to see commerce came really early to Web3 and sort of proved out that we could buy things and express ownership in a different way. That's wonderful. I think when we start seeing other parts of real life start to be mimicked in a digital space, that starts to show me that there's another type of value that we could not have realized otherwise. That's when it's vital. All right. You have a hard stop. Last words. Any last thoughts? What can we do? Can we point people to your course or a community that you might be building?

Magdalena: [00:46:53] Well, I think anyone interested in all topics around consumer Web3 and marketing definitely come hang out on Twitter. That's where it's at. And that way you can also get notifications and access and tweets about all sorts of things that I'm building, whether it's the Meta-Curious program for marketers interested in Web3 that we just closed applications for the new cohort, there will be future programming so very much signing up for that. Or the Vitamin3 newsletter, the daily text message based newsletter, educating about Web3 and all interesting things. I have my hands in a lot of things, so I might say I'm spread too thin, but it's all this service of mainstream adoption of Web3 and it's all centralized on my Twitter profile. So @MagdalenaKala.

Phillip: [00:47:42] And maybe, I don't know, maybe you'll enable super follows at some point and we can actually pay you for all the insights that you give to us. Thank you for spending this amount of time with us. It's always a pleasure.

Brian: [00:47:52] Thank you, Mags. For sure.

Magdalena: [00:47:54] It was fun.

Phillip: [00:47:55] I appreciate it. Thank you all for listening to Future Commerce. You can find more episodes of this podcast and all Future Commerce properties at FutureCommerce.fm and that's it for today. Thank you so much. Hey, commerce is a catalyst for change in our world around us, so let's use it to make the world a better place. Or maybe, I don't know, maybe a more Web3-centric place, at least right now. Thanks for listening. Bye.

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