On the Case: Getting Investment from Steve Case (Qloud 3 of 14)

This is post #3 about the Qloud experience.  The previous post was about our initial fundraising experience in Silicon Valley and DC

Seven months into the Qloud process we secured financing from Steve Case’s fund called Revolution.  We were psyched and pushed ahead on the product.

A couple of cool things happened with this such as we got to work in Revolution’s office.  The office was right in Dupont Circle (walkable for me) and was really beautiful. Super pimped out.  We worked on the same floor as Case and the Revolution team.  Other people on that floor were folks running Club Med, Fannie Mae, and Carly Fiorina who had just left HP.

We had one big office in Revolution

I thought at the time that signing on a big name like Steve Case would help in our product adoption and marketing (“New Music Service from Steve Case!”), but it didn’t work that way at all.  We weren’t allowed to use his name as PR.   Similar to how VC’s don’t want to invest/help until you show traction and growth, Revolution didn’t want to associate themselves with us until we had some success.  It’s funny how that works.  Only once you’re loved will others express their love of you. 

Tige would regularly come in and chat

All of that being said, we did get lots of help from him and his firm (special shout out to Tige Savage and David Hall).  Prior to working directly with Case, Toby and I were always wondering how much of his success and AOL’s was due to the rise of the Internet, luck and other factors.  After working with him over the 18 months on Qloud, we will both testify to the fact that Steve is the real deal.  He’s awesome at product positioning and messaging.  He gets technology and product and marketing on a level that most people don’t.  He also works his ass off.  He loves it and would send us emails late on Friday and Saturday nights.  He’s not coasting.  He was extremely helpful for us and I consider us very fortunate and lucky to have been able to work with him.

One way he helped was bringing together a great board.  With Steve on the board, we were able to attract other people who both liked what we were doing and wanted to work with Revolution.  We drew up a list of who were the ideal candidates to get.  We thought that it’d be good to get one or two.  Well, we got them all.

It was an amazing group.  They were:

  1. Steve Case
  2. Jim Bankoff, Qloid Chairman, former President of Netscape, now CEO of Vox Media
  3. Paul Viddich, formerly SVP of Warner Music, responsible for getting music into iTunes (read the Jobs book)
  4. Tom Ryan,  then: EVP of EMI Music, now: CEO of Threadless
  5. Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, has discovered dozens of bands you know like Bob Marley, Spoon, Cat Stevens, etc.
  6. David Goldberg, founder of Launch Music, then: VP of Yahoo! Music, now: CEO of SurveyMonkey  (investor and observer)

They had some great insights into what the music industry wanted. I also think that they were responsible for raising our ambition.  They weren’t interested in a lightly-used tool.  They wanted a product that impacted the market.  It was great to get to know all of them and I definitely appreciated their insight and patience with us as we figured it out.

Looking back on that experience, I’ve definitely learned how important a Board can be.  We’ve worked hard at Kapost to surround ourselves with industry veterans who can actually help.  I didn’t know what to expect when we took investment with Case, but I did learn a ton and it’s very much responsible for our favorable outcome.

 

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