E063: with Brian Lee



about this episode

This week we have guest host Jason Nazar, Co-Founder and CEO of Docstoc and Brian Lee, Co-Founder of LegalZoom & Founder of ShoeDazzle.

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00:03:00 ShoeDazzle takes peoples information and recommends fashion items primarily shoes, Kim Kardashian is a Co-Founder and spokeman

00:05:30 How many shoes do women buy a year? 9 on average per year

00:06:00 Giveaway – a one year subscription will be given to a person who tweets something creative that includes @shoedazzle and includes #twist winner will be choosen at random

00:07:30 Are you a LA native? Yeah Brian grew up in Orange County and went to UCLA for undergrad and graduate school, his father is an entrepreneur, he worked for his businesses and his parents were shocked he wanted to be a lawyer

00:08:45 How long did you practice law? 3 years Were you a good student? Not necessarily he was towards the bottom.

00:09:30 Brian Lee and Brian Liu were friends at law school and they would eat lunch everyday and say their has to be something better than this, being a lawyer wasn’t exciting, one day in 1998-9 they thought the internet was hot and thought why not create something law related online.

00:11:00 Approx. 92% of people who represent themselves they do something wrong and thought this was the opportunity

00:15:00 How did you meet and get Robert Shapiro (OJ Trial) involved? They thought they need a credibility and trust factor to get people to use the service, none of their friends or family knew him so Brian cold called him late at night not expecting to get him but he answered the phone. Initially Robert said he was not interested and Brian convinced him to hear his pitch and the rest is history

00:19:00 First VC meeting was the day the NASDAQ crashed in 2000 and all they had was a team and an idea but no real product, yet they believed in the idea 100% and decided to bootstrap, they raised $50k from friends and family

00:21:00 How did you grow the company? We were profitable from day 1

00:22:00 They were able to grow the company because they were lucky and used GoTo.com in the beginning

00:26:00 They currently have about 400 employees and did bring in a professional management team to run day to day operations

00:27:00 How did you decide to bring in others to run your company? Brian Yiu the other founder was a better manager and he grew things a bit but they decided to bring in a group to continue the growth

00:28:00 What are you good at? I wouldn’t say I’m better but I’m good at coming up with ideas, I’m creative

00:29:00 When should people start paying themselves a salary? Not until the company can afford the burn rate

00:29:45 What is the value of a co-founder? Invaluable everyone brings something to the table and it works best if both have different strengths

00:31:30 How important was Robert Shapiro? Absolutely invaluable he brought credibility, PR and Buzz

00:32:50 LegalZoom currently does 10% of all incorporations

Provides fully hosted / managed Microsoft Exchange and Google Apps e-mail

00:35:30 Kim Kardashian is a co-founder and was not a cold call, Robert worked with her family and they wanted to leverage the same celebrity as they did with LegalZoom

00:37:30 How did you come up with ShoeDazzle? His wife was a big influence, she would come back with a big bill on shoes and it came from the experience of buying the shoes that came with a referral, one of the ladies at a store would put shoes a side and she would pick from the selection and it made her feel great.

00:39:45 The two businesses are actually alike in the sence that they ask for information and a specific product is recommended, he believes many companies will bring real world experiences online and it’s all about entertainment and engagement

00:41:30 They launched ShoeDazzle in March 2009 and raising money was much easier they raised >$21 Million

00:43:30 They have over 120K registered users, everything has been organic and word-of-mouth, they use 15 Minutes PR firm

00:45:40 What happens if a shoe is bought? The inventory risk is limited in the fact that they has 120K user, only 5 choices of shoes a month and they hand pick the shoes

00:47:00 What is the next big challenge for ShoeDazzle? We will be hiring a professional CEO

00:49:45 Do you plan on going into men’s shoes? We haven’t decided but we have branched off into handbags

00:50:45 Is Kim considered a Co-Founder? Yes, she has equity in the company

00:53:00 What qualities do you look for when hiring? Smart, hardworking, belief in the company

00:55:30 What mistakes have you learned to avoid when interviewing? Hiring based on common interests

01:02:00 What is your biggest mistake? Not planning enough for growth, he has always felt like hiring was behind the curve

01:03:00 Biggest mentor? His father

01:06:30 Jason Calacanis and interviewing, what do you look for? Passion is the key to interviewing

01:09:30 How do you motivate your team? I believe people will channel the energy of your leader

01:14:30 THE NEWS with Lon Harris

01:15:00 iPhone 4 Recall? – Kind of a rough week for Apple with all these issues surrounding the iPhone 4 antenna. Wired’s Epicenter blog is reporting that the company deleted threads from its official message boards that linked to a Consumer Reports review of the phone which stated that the publication “can’t recommend” the phone based on the antenna problems. (Consumer Reports, by the way, suggests adding a strip of duct tape over the antenna on the lower left corner.) A number of PR experts are now saying that Apple will be forced to do a recall of the iPhone 4 in order to salvage its brand image and public reputation. Chris Lehane, a former Clinton White House advisor, has compared the iPhone 4’s issues with Toyota’s recalls and insists that the company must come forward with a meaningful fix. So far, Apple has admitted there is a problem with reception on the phone but has stated that it is a software rather than a hardware issue. (The company says the problem is the phone misreporting signal strength, and that they will issue a software patch to amend the problem.)

Do you think Apple will recall the iPhone 4? What do you think of the way the company has responded to the issue publicly thus far?

This article won’t make a difference people are still buying the iPhone, this is just a press grab, it’s the best smartphone but not the best phone

01:18:30 Reddit Begs for Money – News recommendation service Reddit, which is owned by Conde Nast, has gone public about its need for additional funds in order to hire more people and buy new servers, to keep the service running. Thus far, about 6,000 users have donated to the site and joined what they’re calling “Reddit Gold,” out of a total of about 8 million daily unique visitors (280 million pageviews per month). Reddit says their goal is to turn Reddit Gold into a genuine “subscription service,” though thus far the details are cloudy and there seem to be no benefits to subscribing aside from the undying gratitude of the Reddit team and a badge to put on your profile page.. On Friday night, you’ll recall, Reddit published a blog post basically asking for users to donate money to help them out, despite being owned by profitable company Conde Nast. They explained that, though Reddit has a lot of users and traffic, they do not have a lot of revenue. “corporations aren’t run like charities. They keep separate budgets for each business line, and usually allocate resources proportionate to revenue. And reddit’s revenue isn’t great.”

What do you think of Reddit – and by extension, Conde Nast – a major conglomerate – asking for money in order to keep Reddit going? Think the users will donate a significant sum? How else could they monetize what, by all accounts, is a massively successful service.

The community loves Reddit and is extremely loyal but they have no business model, users need to be realistic and Reddit needs to figure out the value added for donations, it shows how poor a job Conde Nast did in the intregration

01:27:00 WSOP 2010 – Wicked Chops Poker – He went out with aces and made it to the top 3,000 out of 7,500 and lost his bet with David Sacks and will do a double or nothing on Full Tilt Poker with proceeds going to charity

01:33:00 Fring vs. Skype – Last week, Fring released an iPhone app that allows iPhone 4 users to engage in unrestricted 2-way video calling over WiFi or 3G with any other iPhone, Android or Symbian devices. This was obviously a significant advance over iPhone’s native FaceTime app, which only allows for video chat with other iPhone users over WiFi. Shortly after releasing the new features, and in the face of a massive uptick in video calling, Fring reduced support for Skype, which it has long supported. Fring is now reporting that Skype has blocked them and is threatening to sue after 4 years of working together. Fring also released a blog post in which they referred to Skype as “cowards”:

“They are afraid of open mobile communication. Cowards. Needless to say, we are very disappointed that Skype, who once championed the cause of openness is now trying to muzzle competition, even at the expense of its own users. We’re sorry for the inconvenience Skype has caused you.”

Skype told TechCrunch that they’re debating behind the scenes with Fring about how to operate in accordance with their Terms of Use and License agreements. Skype also claims that they have not blocked Fring, but that their service was halted on Fring’s end. Fring has disputed this version of events.

What do you think of Skype’s actions here? Are they behaving in a cowardly fashion? As an open platform, do they have the right to refuse to work with any other networks that they choose?

When you are loosing or new you are open and when you are winning you are closed

01:41:06 END

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