Jamarlin talks to serial entrepreneur and marketing whiz, Everette Taylor, about building GrowthHackers, PopSocial and other companies. Everette shares what he learned from selling his first tech business at age 21 and working with Snapchat on a new startup accelerator. They also discuss founders investing too much in public relations, and whether negro tech elites need to step up, reach back and help more Black people.
This is a full transcript of the conversation which has been lightly edited for clarity.
Jamarlin Martin: You're listening to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin. We have a go-hard-or-go-home approach as we talk to the leading tech leaders, politicians and influencers. Let's GHOGH! Today we have Everette Taylor in the house on the GHOGH program. Welcome to the show, Everete.
Everette Taylor: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Jamarlin Martin: So we're in LA, and let's dive into the big news out here first. We just got done taping Devin Johnson, who's the president of LeBron James and Maverick's media company.
Everette Taylor: Uninterrupted?
Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. So let's talk about LeBron coming to LA. What was your bet publicly, where did you think he was going?
Everette Taylor: I absolutely thought he was coming to LA. I thought all of the signs pointed to him coming to LA. I'm a huge basketball fan. I'm a huge LeBron fan as well. I definitely have grown in appreciation for his game over the years, and me thinking as a businessman in the landscape of the NBA. The thing about the NBA is that it's completely unpredictable. Right? Yesterday, one of the top 10 players, even though he's coming off an injury, DeMarcus Cousins is signing with the Warriors. Injuries happen all the time. Things happen all the time, right? The one thing you can control is being in a place that you love, that your family loves. A place where you can build your empire and make a difference. And I think LA presented that opportunity as well as playing for a storied franchise which can help him build and grow his brand even more. So with everything that happens in the NBA, and the modern NBA now, it's no guarantee to win a ring. And I think his legacy is solidified. And so I think LA was the number one choice.
Jamarlin Martin: From a business perspective. Were you thinking that because he's investing so much in media and entertainment in terms of films, television shows, he has planted his flag in LA from a business perspective. Did that kind of tip you off that he was coming here?
Everette Taylor: Absolutely. I think at the end of the day, really it's LA and New York. And who wants to go to the Knicks right now? I'm sorry. It's not gonna Happen, right? And so LA made the most sense with all of his businesses and companies and his media conglomerate here in Los Angeles, and I think his family loves it here. I think he loves it here, and I think at the end of the day, and this is something that I've learned about myself, personal happiness comes first. People are gonna say this or that about you in the media. People are gonna say, Oh, you're excellent, whatever and the finals. What he has to worry about is life after basketball. His basketball career is just a short portion of his entire life.
Jamarlin Martin: You're saying the same things that Dan Gilbert mentioned to the media after the decision where he pretty much said the same stuff that you're saying in terms of his business interests in LA, but also his mind is kind of after basketball as well.
Everette Taylor: The man is 33 years old, you know? And I mean, at most you would think he has maybe seven to eight years max, to keep going, and maybe four to five years at a high level. And so I think this was the best decision for them.
Jamarlin Martin: Are you a Laker fan?
Everette Taylor: Oh No, I'm a Chicago Bulls fan, so I just want to see good basketball in LA. The Clippers are not doing it for me right now. I'm really excited for LeBron to come and we're literally 12 minutes walking from Staples Center right now, and so to be able to just walk over and catch some LeBron games is going to be dope.
Jamarlin Martin: You've been active early on on Twitter. What do you love and hate about Black Twitter, specifically?
Everette Taylor: Black Twitter? I love the fact that we have so much power over culture, right? Culture is a currency, the way that we move and we shift things. And how much power we have from just the things that we do and we say on Twitter, and not only that, but also just the entertainment value that it brings and the joy it brings to people on a daily basis. I think that's one of the most amazing things about Black Twitter and the fact that we're actually driving a multi-billion dollar business. We are the most valuable asset that Twitter Inc. has. Right?
Jamarlin Martin: Is it problematic for you that when you look at the shareholder base and the top executives Facebook, of Twitter, and a Google where as you know, we're very engaged on social media, we're setting trends, we're creating new things within social media? So to your point, we're building up the equity of possibly a trillion dollars of media and advertising value, meaning we're getting cracking on social media. We're engaged, we're producing a lot of content on social media. But that value that you talked about goes to people who don't look like us. It goes to the other side. How problematic is that for you?
Everette Taylor: Yeah, and to finish the question that you're asking. That's the side that I didn't get to is the fact that Black Twitter is being milked and we don't have any compensation for that. There's only a small percentage, probably less than one percent of Black Twitter that has been able to use that creativity in that audience, to utilize it for other things. For myself, being part of Black Twitter automatically, I've been able to leverage Twitter for connections and resources and then also to build a customer base for my companies. Right? So I've been able to utilize that. Not everyone has those skillsets to do that and the fact that they are leveraging our talents and our creativity to build wealth for themselves. I don't know if you've seen Twitter's stock price lately.
Jamarlin Martin: I think it's doubled since it's low.
Everette Taylor: It's crazy. So the fact that we don't have a part in that and that these companies, when you think of Twitter, and not only Twitter but Facebook, Complex, these companies that really utilize black creativity to build businesses. You think about Complex and you look at their executive board, no black people, I think they might've just hired their first black person, right?
Jamarlin Martin: I'm very familiar with Complex and it's been like that from the jump. Right? Would you stop short of calling Complex Media a culture vulture?
Everette Taylor: I wouldn't go that far. I'm not trying to offend too many political connects here, but they definitely hire people of the culture in lower levels. Right? And they utilize those talents and abilities of a Nadeska, right? Who I think is supremely talented. Right? And they utilize that talent, but the real decision makers and movers and shakers in that company don't look like us. And that's across the board for the most powerful media companies in the world.
Jamarlin Martin: Let's go into your story. You a very interesting story out of Richmond, Virginia. Let's talk about where you come from, the adversity you went through early on and possibly how that was leveraged to help you become a business leader.
Everette Taylor: Right. So I was raised in south side Richmond, Virginia. 804, proud of it. For me it feels like that almost cliche story and I've never been that person to want sympathy for myself because I know I'm one of the lucky ones. I dealt with having a single mother raising us, growing up in the projects, not having a lot. And the people that I first saw around me that were businessmen were dope boys, were drug dealers and things like that. Just seeing how they moved and the first kind of business, collecting business acumen that I saw around me were them, how they operated their business and you can feel however way you want to about the drug game, but there's a lot of things that you can learn from how these guys operate. And those were the first things that I kind of picked up. And then I also saw people having nice things, and I came from a household where people didn't really have nice things and people didn't aspire to have more. And even though I didn't agree with what those guys on the street we're doing, I did appreciate the fact that they wanted more for themselves and a lot of people within my family, they were very happy with the bare minimum. And I appreciate that about them. But I knew that I always, not necessarily superficial things, but I knew that I wanted something better for myself. And growing up, I got into the streets too, so I started selling drugs when I was 12, 13 years old. And my Mom saw some of that money starting to come in and she already knew what was up, and so this actually changed my life. She forced me to get my first job at 14 years old, which was a marketing associate job at Eastern National, which was a company in Richmond. And that's where I learned about marketing and picked up those trades and those skills that have defined my career thus far. Right? And I was able to learn and hone those skills very early. And I say all the time that we all have talents and most of us don't get the opportunity to really tap into them. Marketing was my talent and I was able to work in that company and really build those skill sets. And unfortunately I was laid off a couple of years later and because of certain family matters, we ended up homeless. And not homeless, like, 'Hey, I'm staying at this person's crib and that person's crib'. I mean homeless. I'm actually on the street in Richmond, Virginia. It gets cold there, it rains, all that. And that was a very difficult situation for me being homeless, but it was one of the most monumental things that could've happened to me for two reasons. Number one, from a marketing perspective, you learn so much about human behavior and what drives people when you see people that don't have anything. You see people at their core, really see what drives people and from a marketing perspective to really understand people and have that emotional intelligence and what drives people at their core is very, very important that you get the opportunity to see that, being homeless. And number two is that I didn't have computer access growing up, and to seek shelter, I went to the local library and they had computers, and that was my first time really using the internet. I was 17 years old and I come across Mark Zuckerberg, and where I was from, if you didn't play ball or you didn't rap or you didn't sell drugs, that wasn't really an alternative for you. Right? Or that's what was thought. And I for the first time realized that entrepreneurship and tech offer me this path that I didn't think even existed for myself. And this was something that was a huge opportunity for me and it really changed my way of thinking about getting out of the situation that I was in.
Jamarlin Martin: I want to share with you a great company called TopTal. That's T O P T A L. This is a company that I use if you're in the market for a freelancer, whether it's an engineer or designer, this is one of the leading companies are going to help you identify and hire top freelancing talent. You can go to https://moguldom.com/toptal/. Click on that link and register and someone will get right back to you to get more information. Be sure to check out TopTal. How did you develop the comfort level with going out in corporate America as a black man and being open that, hey, I used to push weight. I mean what's the step of getting comfortable talking like that because it's already hard?
Everette Taylor: Well, let me clarify before Drake puts out a diss record challenging my street credit. I didn't push weight, I sold weed. That was it. When it got to the point where... how they started young boys out was with nickles and dimes and then you move up and you move up and I started moving up and moving up and then you get to this inflection point where you're doing well, where they introduce crack cocaine to the mix. Right? And I was lucky that just at that kind of inflection point where I was about to get into that, my Mom saved me and pulled me out of the mix.
Jamarlin Martin: It doesn't sound like it's a big deal for you. Obviously you're accomplished, but as you're going up the ladder in corporate America and building these companies and working with all these partners such as Snapchat, was it a struggle just to be straight up, 'hey, I used to sell weed'.
Everette Taylor: You know, it's a little bit different for me because my career path has been extremely entrepreneurial and in terms of working with people, it's because they've come to me, it's not because I've come to them, and that's a very, very important difference. When you have built equity within yourself in terms of talent, abilities, accomplishments that you hold more weight in those conversations.
Jamarlin Martin: Were you sharing that earlier in your career?
Everette Taylor: Absolutely not. You don't share those things. And I don't encourage people to share those things. They say, Oh, you know, Jay-Z talks about losing 92 bricks. No, don't do that. But when I went initially in those early days, of course I didn't do that,
Jamarlin Martin: So there's 100 marketing geeks out there. They may come from Columbia or they may come from Princeton or wherever, but they haven't been as successful consistently as you. And it sounds like you have a competitive advantage, but it's from the streets, meaning that, hey, I can compete with the Geeks, I can compete with folks from the Ivy League schools, but you have a competitive advantage because of that experience in the streets.
Everette Taylor: Yeah. The emotional intelligence aspect is huge for me. You know, I tell people all the time that the technical sides of marketing, how to do X, Y, Z, you can teach that to anyone, but what are the intangibles that you have? What are the things that separates you from everyone else? As we enter into a world where bots and automation and all these things are coming, what are the things that separates you from just having these technical skills and me really being able to understand people at their core to be able to understand somebody in the streets, someone from lower social economic backgrounds to people that are wealthy. I've seen both ends of the spectrum. That gives me a huge advantage because I've been lower class, I've been middle class, I've been upper class. I've been through the gauntlet and not a lot of people have been able to experience life that way and then also once they reached a certain pinnacle, be able to still empathize and still be able to understand those that are still in those places.
Jamarlin Martin: Okay. Walk the audience through your first few companies, marketing-related companies that you co-founded.
Everette Taylor: Yeah. All four are actually marketing-related. My first company, EG, I started this company literally because I was 19 years old, I had to drop out of college and I saw a friend, Ray who was...
Jamarlin Martin: How long did you spend at Virginia Tech?
Everette Taylor: Total? Three years. But I dropped out three different times. That threw parties and it just inspired me to throw parties too when I got back home and I realized there was like a gap in the market because if you weren't 21 years old, there wasn't a lot to do. Right? So you turn 18, you couldn't go to the clubs, you couldn't go to the bars like that, right? And so I wanted to create these events and so I really got into event marketing and then I built event marketing tools on top of that to make those experiences better. So the first tool that I built was a tool for people to get their photos from those events. So this is back when most people had flip phones and Blackberrys, right? They didn't really have like iPhones and these nice smartphones with nice cameras. And so we built a way for people to get pictures easily from the events that they're going to and actually paying to get those pictures too if they wanted physical pictures or pictures without watermarks. The second tool that we built was an actual payment processing tool for events. So if you've heard of Eventbrite, we actually launched our tool a year after Eventbrite. And so people going to events, could pay for tickets to events because some of the places that we were throwing events and parties, they weren't the best neighborhoods. People would get robbed and things like that. People didn't want to have that type of cash on them and so people could pay for these events online. So everything that we were doing was really event marketing-based. The second company is called GrowthHackers, and GrowthHackers started off as a marketing community centered around growth-hacking.
Jamarlin Martin: What year did you launch that?
Everette Taylor: This is 2013. So the first company was 2009. This company was 2013. And GrowthHackers was a platform and community for people wanting to learn and gain knowledge around growth marketing, which is a technical, lean style of marketing. And so we built this community where we collected the best content around the web, around growth marketing and product and startups. And then we also created our own content around how some of the most successful companies in the world were growing. And we built this community of 2 million people. And then we built a software tool, we did two things to monetize, we built a funnel for people to recruit marketing talent. And then the second thing was we built a team management tool for marketing teams that are running experiments. And then third company is MilliSense that was founded in 2014, and MilliSense is a digital marketing firm helping companies from startups to bigger companies with their digital marketing, whether it's social media, marketing, SEO, conversion rate optimization, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, we run the gauntlet for that. And we've worked with some of the biggest companies in the world. That was 2014 and in 2016, my last marketing company is PopSocial, which is a social media software company, where we saw a gap in the market of people wanting to affordably grow their brands on social media. And we knew that most people couldn't afford paying a marketing firm like MilliSense, thousands of dollars a month to grow their brand. And so we created a software product that people could grow their brands on social media, acquire users, build their audience, and all those different things at affordable prices.
Jamarlin Martin: Okay, so Facebook have updated their policies, in part due to public backlash and that Cambridge Analytica scandal, as you know. Has that impacted any of your businesses in terms of the ROI and the customer acquisition costs that you guys were getting pre-election, in terms of Facebook tinkering with things on Instagram and Facebook.
Everette Taylor: I think the only thing that's affected is, we follow the rules, we make sure to follow all the guidelines of Facebook and Instagram. We don't want those problems. Right? But I think the only thing is that they've become very strict on some of the actions and things that you can take on Instagram, as we're helping people. Like people can't like as many photos an hour anymore, or they can't do this or do that, and Instagram is banning accounts. They're looking for anything that looks even a little bit suspect. So as you're trying to grow these brands and you're taking actions on these accounts and things like that, that has definitely affected us. But man, our growth has been crazy. I can't put the numbers out there. Like, I mean publicly, we already put out that we did two million on PopSocial for our first year. We've far exceeded that in our second year and growing ourselves into an eight-figure company in two years. And so we're really excited about the growth and introducing new new software from different platforms and things like that. But no, it hasn't really slowed us down too much.
Jamarlin Martin: Are your clients primarily looking for conversions like, hey, you got to buy something, you got to sign up or are they looking more so I need engagement in terms of shares, likes and followers.
Everette Taylor: Are we talking about PopSocial right now? So for PopSocial it's been one of the most interesting social experiments for me to see what really drives people in terms of growing an audience. And so we have everyone from a person that literally has not a damn thing to sell, not a reason to grow their brand, that says, I just like followers, I like people liking my photos, and that's weird that we have a society now where people are willing to spend $50 a month to say, this just makes me feel good. Right? Having followers just makes me feel good. I still think that's the minority of our customers. I think the majority of our customers are growing. And to those who do that, keep doing it, we love you. But the majority of our customers are looking to build audiences to convert them to buying something or committing to something, whether it's listening to their podcast, downloading their music, buying their merch, buying their product, visiting their restaurant. It's all converging. I think it's a huge conversion of people that say they're planning to launch something and I tell people all the time, there's no bad time to grow your brand and grow an audience on social media.
Jamarlin Martin: For our audience, how much budget do they need to work with you on PopSocial?
Everette Taylor: Our basic plan is $50 a month. 50 bucks a month, we make it super affordable. I created this because in part a lot of black and brown entrepreneurs and people trying to grow brands, didn't have $5,000 for a retainer to work with my marketing firm or $10,000 or whatever it may be. Right? And I wanted to create a product that could be affordable to the masses that said, hey, I only got a $200 budget. Right? And to be able to have a product that was affordable and can genuinely help people.
Jamarlin Martin: Did you pitch investors and raise capital for any of your companies yourself?
Everette Taylor: First company, no. We are profitable because we started throwing parties day one and then we used that money to build the tech. The second company GrowthHackers raised about $7,000,000. But that company, I had co-founders. So the other three companies, I didn't have co-founders, that company and had co-founders, white male co-founders, right? Two white male co-founders, which made raising capital a lot easier, especially because one of them being famous within the Silicon Valley world. Third company Millisense was a marketing firm, didn't raise any capital for that. And then the fourth company PopSocial, actually pitched it to a couple of investors, got shot down right away. That type of stuff puts a chip on my shoulder. I don't have time for it. I'm like, look, I'm just going to put my own capital, hire my own team, take money out of my own account to build a tech. Invest hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Jamarlin Martin: I'm not out here begging.
Everette Taylor: No, I'm not gonna beg for you. I know how profitable this can be in two years. Now we're an eight-figure company and highly profitable.
Jamarlin Martin: So you took a lot of risks, and that's what you see with a lot of successful entrepreneurs. For example, Elon Musk, he cashes out of PayPal, and he puts his entire net worth on very risky bets. He bets on himself and, as you know, Tesla was about to file for bankruptcy right before they got a federal loan, and of course the rest is history. But your experience where you're betting on yourself, you first say, Hey, I want to diversify my risk and when to get investors, the process starts to seem funny. Like, Hey, that's just not me. I'm just saying I'm not out here flying across the country, pitching these types of people. And how many investors until you got to that point...
Everette Taylor: It only took me, I think for PopSocial, two or three investors. Just seeing the feedback and the feedback was kind of the same.
Jamarlin Martin: They're not going to get it.
Everette Taylor: They're not going to get it. And so the feedback was the same and I just realized, I'm not for this.
Jamarlin Martin: I could relate to that. You're not built to... I'm not trying to explain everything.
Everette Taylor: I'm gonna make it on my own. And in two years in terms of just capital, it's the most successful company I've started. And that's just in two years. That trajectory that we're on could be a lot bigger in three to four years. Right? And we're profitable. We're good. We don't need any investors. We're in a good place. But they would have seen a really nice return on their money. I knew with my audience, I knew with my understanding of people and what they want, who the hell doesn't want more followers? Who the hell doesn't want to build their audiences and get more engagement and things like that. People naturally want these things. Brands naturally want these things. Right? And this was an affordable option to spending thousands of dollars on Facebook ads or thousands of dollars on a marketing firm. I understood that. Sometimes people don't see the picture. I'm actually in the process of starting two new companies, one of which I'm going to bootstrap, the other, I'm not sure, because it's going to be a capital intensive. And so just the idea that I might actually have to play that game is not great.
Jamarlin Martin: You're managing multiple companies, like Elon Musk or like Jack Dorsey at Twitter, with Square and Twitter. Do you feel like at a certain point I can't bring my A game on one because I'm spread out across three or four?
Everette Taylor: Absolutely. So what people don't understand is that, one, I have an amazing team at each company, right? And currently as I'm kind of getting ready for these two new ventures, when I went to Skurt, so I was CMO, chief marketing officer at Skurt, which got acquired by Fair.com recently. When I went there, I stepped down as CEO of my marketing firm and I hired somebody to replace me. Well he was a GM and ran it. And for PopSocial, my CTO was essentially running the company. Right now as CEO of PopSocial, my biggest thing is utilizing my brand to grow the company, but now just off of word of mouth it's just taking its own. So as a marketing firm, I lost my GM, he ended up going to Google. But I can hire another person to run the marketing firm. PopSocial is going to be just fine, right? So I feel confident leaving those companies to work on two new things. I think you have to understand, you can't stretch yourself out too thin and there's a certain point that you can take each company, and you gotta be able to take your talents elsewhere.
Jamarlin Martin: You've been vocal on social media about founders doing too much press, doing too much PR, where at 70 percent in some cases it could be, hey, you're putting 70 percent in PR and not in really leading your company. Can you talk about that? I've seen your online mentoring and point of view on this, but talk about that.
Everette Taylor: Right? So a lot of people think it's hypocrisy because they see all these magazines, Fortune and Forbes and all these things, but they don't realize is that there's a difference between organic opportunities coming in and you being really focused on, hey, I want to get speaking events. I want to get press. I want to be on this podcast. When that is your focus it's completely different when those organic opportunities come in. I think a lot of people, they get a little bit of success and the first thing they think about is like, Oh man, I want to get in Forbes. I want to do this, I want to do that. The truth of the matter is, and as somebody that has worked in media, you understand that a lot of times the press doesn't move the needle. It worked for the media company because they get their hits, they use you for those hits and those clicks and that traffic, but in terms of your actual business, is it really gonna move the needle? A lot of times it doesn't, especially if you don't have the right product and the right channel in which you're going through. And so I tell people all the time, don't press pause on progress by chasing this notoriety and this press and all those things. The things that you really need to be focused on is building a great product. Building a great team. If you look at even our white counterparts in these companies, a lot of them aren't out here doing a bunch of press all the time and things like that.
Jamarlin Martin: Are you suggesting that if someone was to really run the numbers and conduct a study, that the black tech CEO is over-indexing on PR investment in terms of time?
Everette Taylor: This is just what I've seen personally from the most successful black tech entrepreneurs and the most successful white tech entrepreneurs. The most successful white tech entrepreneurs, you don't see Zuckerberg, Evan Spiegel, the guys from Stripe, John Collison, you don't see them out here speaking at a bunch of conferences. When they were building their companies, they weren't doing that. Right?
Jamarlin Martin: There's not enough time in the day.
Everette Taylor: There's not enough time because the thing is is that they are building companies at scale, and I'm not trying to throw shade because honestly it's just an observation, but it seems like as soon as we create an LLC, it's like, let me hop on these panels. Let me get this press, let me do this. You'll see something where this entrepreneur did 100K in his first year and it's like, that's cool, but why are we celebrating this? Why are you trying to get press for doing 100K in your first year? You should be trying to build 100 million dollar company and not worrying about that press.
Jamarlin Martin: It sounds like in a tech CEO context, that you're like Suge Knight at the Source Awards, and you're like, hey, if you don't want someone all up in your videos and all of that, come to Death Row. It sounds like your recommendation is that PR could fit for some of us, but you see too many black tech startup CEOs investing too much in PR.
Everette Taylor: Too much time, and it all depends on the product. And I tell people all the time. For PopSocial currently, right, we are a consumer product and if I go and I speak to a thousand people and if I can convert 50 people to using the product and those 50 people, word of mouth, maybe add an extra 10 people, and the average lifetime value that we're currently having, that's about $80,000 worth of revenue that I just did from one speaking engagement. So for me to do a speaking engagement to a consumer-focused conference or event, it makes sense for me and my brand. But if you're building a B2B business, then why are you speaking here and speaking there on this panel? It doesn't really move the needle for you. So you have to understand what are your growth levers. Maybe press and doing conferences. I know for PopSocial it helps because I can be very charismatic, I can sell people on the product right then and there and I'll give people a code at the conference and then boom, we're there. Right? But for the most part, that's just not the case for most of us.
Jamarlin Martin: What would you say in defense of the the black founders who are going hard at PR that, hey, some of us don't have the luxury and the insurance behind us as some of these other founder white founders that you compared us to. So if the funding environment, the sales environment is tougher, or perceived as tougher, I need to go a little bit harder on the PR front. This is something that I can control. Right? How would you respond to that?
Everette Taylor: And I understand that, but there's a difference between being strategic about your press and PR opportunities and doing it for a business sense, and there's another thing where you're super wrapped up in getting awards and doing press and speaking at panels all the time.
Jamarlin Martin: You start forgetting what this game is all about.
Everette Taylor: What the real focus is. And like I said, it's going to seem like hypocrisy because there was one point in time when I was doing quite a lot, right? And I still do speaking engagements. I got a couple of speaking engagements coming up. But what people don't understand is I use that capital from speaking engagements to start new companies. I also use those speaking engagements to gain more customers for PopSocial because the everyday person is still a PopSocial customer.
Jamarlin Martin: What range of fees do you charge for speaking?
Everette Taylor: I can't say that publicly. I can't say that publicly, but it's nice. I can be upfront that I've amassed six figures a year off of just speaking engagements. Right? So that's nice. So when you think about say a PopSocial and you can say, hey, I made X amount of dollars off of speaking or a social media post or whatever that is, I can literally use that capital and just put that towards a new project. It's really nice to have.
Jamarlin Martin: You're active on the black tech scene at a high level. What are some of the political and organizational things that you feel like black folks, us specifically, holding ourselves accountable. What type of stuff do we need to push for and organize to move the needle? And I'm referencing one percent or so of venture capital going to black founders. I'm talking about us not being in the executive ranks and not filling out the employee ranks at a lot of these companies who are paying high salaries at a proportionate level to where we are in the population. What are some things that we can do as a community to move the needle in those areas? Are there any kind of policy ideas that you have?
Everette Taylor: I think a lot of it is taking action. I'm gonna offend a lot of people when I say this, but we talk about diversity and inclusion too damn much. Talk about it, not act on it. We talk about it. We have all these panels, we rant about it on Twitter and things like that, but what are the actionable things that we're doing? How are we actually holding these companies accountable? They don't care. They're like, have your panels, write your little op eds about it, we don't give a damn. We're still a multibillion dollar company. You're not doing anything to us, but if people within these companies really come together and really start holding these companies accountable, that's something. The problem is, this is gonna offend some people too, is that some black people, not all, but some black people, they get that job at Facebook and they get that job at Google and it's like, damn, I'm making $200,000 and I'm getting X amount of stock every year and I'm super comfortable. Right? I don't want to mess this up. They don't want to mess it up. And so they become quiet and they don't fight. They don't fight the good fight. And that's a problem.
Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. You touching on the right buttons in terms of that problem. Vivek Wadhwa, a critic, he's been criticizing racism in Silicon Valley for a long time. I know a lot of people are talking about it now. But he has been on this subject for a while. He studied Indian entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and his conclusion was that the Indians knew that there was a lot of racism in Silicon Valley, but when some of them started to break through, they set up a mentoring network and they created organizations where they had a thousand members, at least one organization had a thousand members, in terms of cracking the game of Silicon Valley. And obviously over time they have figured it out in terms of, Microsoft now has an Indian CEO, Google, Indian CEO, a lot of Indian founders are getting funding relative to their population size in Silicon Valley. But what he said was, when I talk to your people, when I look at that, the black men and woman in Silicon Valley, you guys don't help each other. He said, I see the problem. I don't deny the problem, but you guys are not really helping each other. Do you think that's fair?
Everette Taylor: I think that's absolutely fair. The people that I was just talking about at these big companies, right? They get in there and they get comfortable and they don't want to help anybody else on the come up. I've seen them. I've seen these men and women. I see you smiling right now because you know exactly who I'm talking about. These people will code switch, they will do whatever they have to to keep themselves safe and they will not try to help bring others into the mix. And this is not everybody. Mentoring, a huge thing. People don't take the time to actually talk and help and mentor people. People are so absorbed and so selfish with their own time all the time, and you have to be selfish at times, right? You can't help everybody but to not want to give your time and genuinely help others. Not just, Oh yeah, let's grab coffee, oh yeah, I'll do this for you and don't follow up. Genuinely help each other and create these networks in these groups.
Jamarlin Martin: Would it be fair to say that you're looking to blame these executives who are not helping at scale, that that's just part of the system where there's so much fear in that African American executives head, whether it's a fictional fear are real fear, that that just comes as part of the oppression when they go into these companies and they're the only black person there. They have the executive titles, but they are leading with a lot of fear in terms of dealing with other black folks, helping other black folks.
Everette Taylor: Right. I think there's a lot of fear, but then I also think there's a lack of support. I mean, you've had some prominent diversity positions at some of the biggest companies in the world, Apple and Facebook, that had black women at the helm as their chief diversity officer and then you didn't see any changes. Right? So I don't think it's a situation where they didn't want to change things. Maybe they just didn't get the support either.
Jamarlin Martin: What if someone said, hey, what do you expect? Right? If there's a form of apartheid going on at these big tech companies, two different systems, and there's discrimination, that they are going to look for a particular type and pedigree, a black person that they're going to be comfortable with, but they're not going to shake the boat. Meaning that, this is a good person we can put out in the press, hey look, this is our diversity head and this is a person who's going to walk the line in terms of, I've heard, the executive at Facebook, the sister over there, Maxine Williams, and the executive who received her walking papers at Apple. Both of these sisters are on record, you can check it out online where they say that, they're, pushing a cognitive diversity agenda where the sister at Apple said that you could have diversity with 10 white males in the room, and then they fired her. But I feel like this is the religion of the institution. They just have these black women. Perfect. Check the gender box, check the race box, put them out to the press, but they're not really doing anything in these streets.
Everette Taylor: You said it. I'm just over here at nine.
Jamarlin Martin: I've banged so much against Facebook publicly. So there's nothing, it's kind of out there...
Everette Taylor: It's really interesting when you see a black person in certain roles at these companies and you're like, Stanford MBA, Harvard, cool, comes from Bridgewater, Connecticut or something like that. It's like, okay, I get it and I understand that, but here's the thing, not everyone's like that. And I had a meeting with CAA recently, and the brother, super cool brother. Ain't gonna put his name out there. And when he first came up to me I was like, he ain't for the culture man, his whole vibe, right? But as soon as we walked out that building, we could actually be ourselves. I was like, all right, he's one of us, but you know, it's tough. It's tough playing that game.
Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. Just to keep it real. To your point, there's soldiers for sure. You'll find them at these companies, but there's just too many negroes. If you're listening, we need more people to stand up and you got to lift the people behind you up, find a way to help and take more risk. The question to you is, in tech, in Silicon Valley, do we have too many Dr King's and not enough Malcolm X, meaning that the leadership, the people who are in these systems... I'm not calling Dr King soft, he evolved over time, but what I mean is that our community has always been balanced where we have kind of some folks over here, but then we have a more militant pack and they kind of do their thing, but it pushes the community for. But when you look at the diversity politics crowd and the diversity folks, everyone is kind of on the soft side where they will only go so far in calling out these companies and kind of really pushing these companies and take it up a notch. Right?
Everette Taylor: To your point, I think there's a reason why I'm mostly entrepreneurial, right? Because I understand for a Facebook or a Google or someone like that to take a chance on me being an executive, first of all, the odds are already against me being under 30. Right? Being under 30 years old. I was just having a conversation with a friend, I don't know what it is, but it's like once you hit 30, just a slew of new opportunities come open to you when you hit 40 a slu... because people see that age and they see that as a barrier. Like we can't give this person that opportunity. Right? But the second thing is, can a Google handle someone like me, can a Facebook handle somebody like me who's going to be outspoken, that's really going to challenge things? The truth is those people haven't been the ones that tend to stick around very long, right? You take a look at it like a Boz at Uber. Boz is outspoken. She's going to be herself, and from my understanding, everything was good at Uber, but how long are those situations going to last?
Jamarlin Martin: Could you support a policy in the state of California, for example, where the state government comes in and says, for all the venture capitalists in this state, you have to disclose the race and gender and provide greater transparency on the entrepreneurs that you're funding, the data needs to open up and here's where I'm going. History has showed that in almost any market where there is taxis, mortgages, business loans, that the government, this is not me talking, this is not anybody, the American government has said that there's been systemic discrimination against African Americans in various industries and you even see the discrimination when you apply technology and you let the white actors within the tech ecosystem just play out their natural behavior where they discriminate, and of course Airbnb calls an Eric Holder, meaning that Airbnb is not trying to do something, but if they just let the society transact with each other, there's discrimination against people of color. Do you think something like that needs to take place where the regulators have to come in. Not saying that we need affirmative action or any of that stuff, but because of the pattern of discrimination in various industries, we want you to open up the data on the entrepreneurs that you're funding.
Everette Taylor: I mean, that sounds good, but that opens up a can of worms, right? To a lot of different things. You know? That's something I would have to really think about...
Jamarlin Martin: You say a can of worms. If VCs who were investing let's say $100 million a year and they're seeing a lot of founders, what cans of worms would open up if they have to release publicly the recent gender of the people walking through the door.
Everette Taylor: A lot of these are private companies, right? And when you get to a point where private companies have to start releasing information and you are picking and choosing what kind of private companies are releasing that type of information, it gets sticky. It definitely gets sticky the same way I feel about the streaming stuff with people who have done X, Y, Z and banning them from streaming platforms. I live in LA, there's a lot of trash in the music industry and a lot of stories that people don't know about. It's just a very sticky situation when you start to get into those things. I think for me, how I'm trying to combat that personally is I understand that the companies I've created thus far, while they've been very successful, they are not an Uber, they're not a Snapchat, they're not a Facebook. I have not created something where I've been able to really generate wealth for a diverse set of people. I pay great salaries, people are comfortable, but there's a difference between being able to pay somebody 150k a year and it another thing between taking a company public or getting a huge billion dollar acquisition and making 300, 400 new multimillionaires that look like you. Right? There's a complete difference in that. So I think wealth creation is one thing that I'm very focused on, but also teaching people to support one another because you talked about those VC numbers and how there's not like a lot of African American VCs, but how many of those African American VCs are really for the culture? How many of those VCs are actually out here funding black companies? That's something that people don't really talk about. I've talked personally and spoken personally to black founders raising capital and saying they're finding more success from white male VCs than people that look like them. And that's a problem.
Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. Unless it's a really big pattern though, but the black VCs I know are investing in black founders. Maybe I'm having trouble because I could see entrepreneurs saying, hey, this black VC invested in this white woman and didn't invest in me, or there could be a crowd of that, but I just think that that may be unfair to the black VCs.
Everette Taylor: Oh, I'm not saying all black VCs. I know amazing black VCs that are funding black founders, right? But what I'm saying is that it's problematic that we still have black VCs that aren't funding black startups.
Jamarlin Martin: Got It.
Everette Taylor: There are black VCs out there and I'm not gonna put out any names that aren't investing in black founders.
Jamarlin Martin: Would it be problematic for you if Colby launched a venture capital fund, Jay-Z is affiliated or owns a couple of venture capital funds...
Everette Taylor: But the guy that's running Jay-Z's new fund is a white guy.
Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. That's what I'm saying. So there's other black celebrities who have launched VC funds, but would it be problematic for you if they said 10 percent of our capital goes to black founders? Just right off top is that problematic for you?
Everette Taylor: I think it's problematic to put a number to it.
Jamarlin Martin: I'm not saying that it's a target. Someone shows you the books and they looked at all the black celebrities who are launching VC funds and let's say in aggregate they're $100 million, but out of that $100 million of all these black celebrities and athletes together, they have invested 100 million but only $10 million went to black founders at a high level. Is that problematic for you if that was the case?
Everette Taylor: It just depends on who they saw because here's the thing. I'm a big believer in making smart investments at the same time and I also understand the same way that there's white people out here with terrible startup ideas. There's black people out here with awful startup ideas, and there's a difference between a person with an awful idea not getting funded and complaining about someone not funding them, and there is someone who has an amazing idea that has extreme scalability and has shown that they've been able to make great revenue and in in grow percent over percent over time. Right? A week over week, month over month. There is a difference when those people aren't getting something. It just really depends on who's coming to the table.
Jamarlin Martin: I would say in defense of the black VC, is that the issues on the white VC side, where you're not getting any black founders funded, is that that problem on that side bleeds over to the black VC side because I'm thinking if I'm a black VC that if these big VC funds are already in the pot, they're going to bring it to your black VC that lowers the risk and increases the probability of success. I don't have to do a ton of due diligence because these other professionals are already in the pot. I get access, I'm an athlete, they know my name. I'm getting access to this deal.
Everette Taylor: Right? Well, one thing that happens in the industry and like, I don't mean any disrespect by this, but taking Andreessen Horowitz, which is one of the biggest venture capital firms, you have smaller firms that will follow up their investments, right? They won't invest unless that firm is coming into it. So you have Queensbridge, with Nas right? A lot of their investments, if you really follow, they're following up on Andreessen Horowitz investments, right? And they're coming in with smaller amounts, but they're kind of following the lead. Not saying that they're doing it all the time, but you see a lot of smaller funds that are kind of connected to bigger funds and they follow the lead of those bigger funds. So if that bigger fund isn't investing in black companies, they might not invest in black companies. Right? And so you see that all the time. Now Queensbridge, they are investing in black companies as well. But as you can see, a lot of their big wins are non-black companies.
Jamarlin Martin: If you really love the GHOGH podcast, one way to support us is going to http://www.moguldom.com/survey. Fill out that quick survey, that gives us better information on her audience. It helps us with our sponsors. That's one big way you can support us and keep our movement going. Go to http://www.moguldom.com/survey. Thank you. You've had a lot of Ws in your short career. You're still under a 30. You've racked up a lot of Ws, but talk to her audience about a big L you took and how you regrouped and kind of learn from it.
Everette Taylor: A big L that I took. I have a lot of Ls...
Jamarlin Martin: But one that stands out that you learned from and it's helped you.
Everette Taylor: I think, selling my first company. I think that we as black people need to do our research and understand our worth and you have to have the thinking in your mind that if someone is willing to give you X, how valuable are you to them? When I saw the first check from my first company, most money I've ever seen in my life, right? That person that bought that company bought it to flip it. He bought that company from me and flipped it for seven or eight X more a few months after he bought it from me. Right? And so me getting all excited, not understanding what the value of the tech that I built or the company that I built, not understanding what it really meant to sell a company and how you value a company. I didn't know what I was doing and I ended up selling a company for a lot less than I should have.
Jamarlin Martin: Did you hold an auction or a bidding process or was it just...
Everette Taylor: No. Someone came to me about it, and I wasn't from that Silicon Valley world, I was still in Virginia. So I didn't really understand what that meant. And a 180 to that one is the second company that got acquired, which I was the head of marketing for when I went there. I got X amount of shares. But this was shortly after I sold my first company where I still wasn't in the know and I didn't understand that. I got all those shares, but I didn't know what those shares meant. Right? I didn't know, it was thousands and thousands of shares. I was like, oh, this must be a lot. But I didn't understand to ask the questions, I was so excited to get started and be a VP of marketing for my first startup company and I was 22 years old. I didn't think, hey, how much is this really worth? How much equity is this?
Jamarlin Martin: So you believe if you held out, you could have ever had multiple buyers for sure, and you can get the same price?
Everette Taylor: We built the same technology that Eventbrite built, and Eventbrite is worth $4 billion. I did not get anything close to $4 billion, not anything close to a billion or a $100 million or 50 million or 10 million. Right? So seeing that and understanding not having the frame of mind and taking the time to really gain knowledge about startups, technology, the value of things. That's the reason why I came out to Silicon Valley in California in the first place was because I needed to learn that lesson. Now some people will see selling your first company at 21, that's a W. In the grand scheme that wasn't a W.
Jamarlin Martin: Obviously the marketing tactics, the innovation, the disruption that's going on, it's getting tougher and tougher to kind of stay ahead in terms of what works and what doesn't. Do you have a process that has allowed you to stay in front of the game or ride with the game?
Everette Taylor: Absolutely. And that's building great products. At the end of the day, I tell people all the time, a great product with product market fit, with the ability to really catch fire via word of mouth.
Jamarlin Martin: For some of our audience, can you explain product market fit?
Everette Taylor: Product market fit is having a product that the market actually wants and needs at that time. So you create a product that the market isn't ready for. You can create a product too early, you can create a product too late, right? So it just all depends, right? I know a guy who created Snapchat before Snapchat, too early, or didn't have the right resources and things like that. So it's got to be right timing, right place, right time, and you have to have the right product, right? And a product that people actually want. But if you're able to create a great product, PopSocial is a great product. We haven't spent any money on ads at all, any paid marketing, none. And we are where we are because we created a great product, I utilized my personal brand and we have word of mouth and I've realized that when you think of the best products, Instagrams, the Ubers of the world, Airbnbs, you heard it from somebody else because they built a great product.
Jamarlin Martin: I've seen that you're working with Snapchat on a couple of things. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Everette Taylor: Yeah. So I'm working alongside Snapchat to launch a innovative incubator called Yellow, and Yellow is innovative in the sense that most incubators or launchpads are very tech-focused launchpads, right? We want people from all different backgrounds. So you don't have to be a tech entrepreneur. You could be a creative, you could be a media person, you could be a personality, right? But we want to give people a substantial investment of 150k and give them free office space in Snapchat HQ or Snap Inc.
Jamarlin Martin: Is it going to be a set equity for the investment?
Everette Taylor: It's going to vary depending on the company because if a company is like, say I brought PopSocial to the table and we're profitable, we don't necessarily need it, we just need the extra something, I'm not going to give you 10 percent of my company, right? Or 20 percent or whatever it is, for 150k. But if I'm somebody who's like, man, I don't have any resources, I'll give you 10 percent for 150k and all the resources that I'm going to get. It makes more sense. Right? So it's going to vary.
Jamarlin Martin: So it's not necessarily a pre-seed, because you see some incubators where we're taking X percent. Right? But usually very early stage.
Everette Taylor: Yeah, I mean we have an idea in mind of what percent we want to take, but like I said, if we come across somebody that is at a later stage, it's going to be flexible and so it can be anybody from somebody wanting to make a movie or film to someone that's starting a media company or a software product. We want that flexibility or a media personality where they're like, hey, I'm creating the audience to be the next Gary Vaynerchuk, right? We want to see all different types of people.
Jamarlin Martin: And is there a requirement that the company needs to invest in building the platform on Snapchat?
Everette Taylor: No, absolutely not. People don't even have to be on Snapchat to apply, right? But one of the things that you do get is free ad credits and the resources and the network of Snapchat. You get amazing mentors and things like that. It's given me the opportunity to align myself with and work with, however you feel about Snap Inc, one of the fastest rising, one of the biggest tech companies out right now. I'm in there. They're highly innovative, highly innovative, so much that they are the R&D for Facebook right down, right? But to be able to give a diverse set of people an opportunity to follow their dreams and make something of themselves.
Jamarlin Martin: How many checks are you guys going to write?
Everette Taylor: Ten.
Jamarlin Martin: Okay. Nice. You're the template of the young black entrepreneur where you're actively kind of being vocal, you're working with companies to help others. You're reaching back in the community to help as much as you can, but you don't have the milestone where you talked to some people that are like, I'll do that in 10 years after I exit my company or something like that, I'll help later. But by the time that they get so institutionalized in the game, they may not even want to help at the same level. Right? So they could be very detached from the community at that point. But you seem like you've been helping on the way up. So you've been successful, you've been starting companies, but you're helping on the way up. You're not waiting to be worth $100 million before you start helping your people.
Everette Taylor: Right. Absolutely. I think it's really important and it gets overwhelming at times too because you can't help everybody. And especially me as someone who's built a huge social media audience. I get DMs everyday, emails every day and it's hard to help people at scale. And so that's why I try to give nuggets on social media when I can, that's why I try to do speaking engagements where I can talk to people at scale because I can't help every single person. There's going to be somebody that asks about X,Y, Z and I'm like, Oh, you need to listen to this podcast because I talk thoroughly about it in this particular podcast or this particular interview. But I think it's really important to not lose sight of bringing others up as you climb up.
Jamarlin Martin: Alright. Everette Taylor, thanks for coming on the show. Where can people check you out on Twitter and then also your companies?
Everette Taylor: Yeah. So you can check me out on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat is just my name, Everette, E V E R E T T E, and Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/everettetaylorjr/. And then in terms of my companies, you have http://www.millisense.co/ which is my marketing firm. https://growthhackers.com/, which is a website community and software company. And then my favorite is https://popsocial.co/. So https://popsocial.co/ for all those that are trying to grow their brands on Instagram and social media. Please go there. And you can use the code, I'll just come up with one, MOGUL25 for $25 off your first month. So if you choose the $50 plan that's half off. So MOGUL all capital letters, 25 for $25 off your first month.
Jamarlin Martin: Thanks for coming on the show.
Everette Taylor: Yeah, thank you man.
Jamarlin Martin: Let's GHOGH! Thanks everybody for listening to GHOGH. You can check me out @jamarlinmartin on Twitter and also come check us out at www.moguldom.com. Be sure to subscribe to our daily newsletter. You can get the latest information on crypto, tech, economic empowerment and politics. Let's GHOGH!
This podcast has been edited for clarity.