Interview with Adam Sachs, COO of Team Coco on Podcasting with Conan O’Brien, Group Dating, and Selling Midroll Media

October 7, 2020 by  Chris Erwin

Today we publish our 2nd podcast episode.

The interview features Adam Sachs, the COO of Team Coco and a veteran podcast and digital media executive. Adam works with some of the biggest names in Hollywood like Conan O’Brien, and even Barack and Michelle Obama. He’s also doing some of the most exciting deals in audio, like this multi-project deal with Audible (announced earlier this week).

In our interview, we discuss Adam’s time as CEO of Midroll Media / Earwolf and its sale to E.W. Scripps, founding a group dating website that took off in India and eventually sold to IAC, and the power of being foolishly confident.

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NOTE: My interview with Adam was recorded back in January and prior to COVID. 

Interview Transcript

This interview was lightly edited for clarity.

Chris Erwin:

There’s many other stories in between. Adam’s a fantastic guy. This interview is a lot of fun. Let’s get into it. Quick heads up that my interview with Adam was recorded back in January and prior to COVID.

Where do you think your entertainment and comedy origins really starts?

 

Adam Sachs:

I don’t know. I’ve always been obsessed with comedy from a very young age. I was obsessed with Adam Sandler and then Jerry Seinfeld, and Seinfeld the show was a really important part of my life. At one point, I think I could recite every word of every episode of Seinfeld. I would just watch the tapes over and over and over again. And the same for Adam Sandler movies before that. Yeah. I don’t know.

 

Adam Sachs:

I just always loved it. And the idea of having a career in comedy, I didn’t really know what that would be, but I always wanted to have a career in comedy. And at points I thought, “Well, maybe I’ll be a comedian.” I never really was I think, talented enough to do that.

 

Chris Erwin:

I always remember you as being kind of like a class clown and very funny and very witty and always, like you said, sightings really funny, like Seinfeld references and jokes for everything that we did. But it seemed like you started to take it more seriously when you’re like, “Okay, I’m going to join the improv jam in Red Bank.” When you started doing that, did that further solidify your like, “Yeah, there’s going to be a future for me here.” Or you’re like, “Oh actually, maybe this is not for me. This is harder than I thought.”

 

Adam Sachs:

I really enjoyed it. But I was also never one of those people who was super comfortable on stage. I think what I realized after I started doing these improv classes at the local internet cafe, but I did love it. And I thought that the people around me were really talented and I really enjoyed that. And so yeah, even going into college, I thought, “Oh, maybe being on stage isn’t really for me, but maybe I’ll be a comedy writer. Maybe I’ll write TV shows like funny TV shows.”

 

Adam Sachs:

And I did pursue that. I had a regular college education, and at one point thought maybe I’ll end up going to law school and even studied for the LSAT. That was sort of like a hedge, I think, because in parallel I had like a writing partner who I went to college with, Ally Hord who still a good friend of mine and we would write comedy scripts together. And she was the more talented one. She went on to be successful.

 

Chris Erwin:

I think you guys are both incredibly talented with great success.

 

Adam Sachs:

No. She is really, really funny. And now she’s a writer at Seth Meyers.

 

Chris Erwin:

I remember Ally Hord. I think I was working because Adam and I both share a Northwestern Wildcat blood. And I was working on a startup idea when I was in grad school there. And I think I had asked Ally who was at Funny Or Die at the time. I was like, “Oh, can you be a beta tester of my product?” And she was always very supportive, and she was like, “Oh yeah, we’re using it. We’re using it on set. It’s super helpful.”

 

Chris Erwin:

And I don’t think they actually really did anything with it, but she was a great sport. All right. So you’re at Northwestern, you decide that you’re not going to go to law school. And so instead of doing that, you decide to teach English abroad as your first move right out of undergrad. And what was the reason for that?

 

Adam Sachs:

I had a friend Howie who’s a year above me who he is now a lawyer, but he was also like not sure if he wanted to be a lawyer or what do you want it to do. And he went to Madrid and he and I were really close. We stayed in touch and it sounded really cool. And I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had taken the LSAT. I didn’t know if I wanted to go to law school. In my gut felt like I didn’t really want to go to law school, but I wasn’t sure. And so I was just decided I’ll just take a year and like go abroad and maybe I’ll figure it out.

 

Chris Erwin:

It’s almost like in a way a lot of kids now are taking a gap year before they go to school. But getting some free mental space to be like, what do I really want to do to reflect, be exposed to new experiences? And I think a lot of people should do that more often in their careers and more often in their life. And don’t. And I remember that you were telling our group about that. I’m like, “Well, Adam has always such an ambitious focus person. Is he already falling off the wagon?”

 

Adam Sachs:

I felt like that, to be honest. First of all, going abroad is like, it was a huge privilege. I made a little money teaching English, but not everyone can do it. I don’t think, but it was like, I look back on it and yeah, halfway through it, I was like, “My friends are already … they already have jobs. I’m really falling behind. What’s happening here? My college friends are like getting jobs at like JP Morgan or they’re in law school or whatever it is.”

 

Adam Sachs:

And I’m like, “What am I doing? I’m going to be so far behind all of my peers when I get back after this year.” And that now looking back, like in retrospect, that was dumb. I shouldn’t have been worrying about that because it was an enormously formative experience in my life because it was like I was able to see a lot of the world and meet a lot of people and just gain perspective that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. And I still have really close friends from that period that live in Madrid or live in Prague.

 

Chris Erwin:

No. And that’s interesting to hear that you had doubts during that period. But at the end of your year of teaching English as a second language, were you starting to feel comfortable like, “No, this was actually the right decision. I’ve learned a lot.”

 

Adam Sachs:

Maybe. Now I feel like it was a right decision. At the end of that year, I don’t know. I still felt like I got to get back. I have to get home and like start doing something so that I’m not the bum.

 

Chris Erwin:

Yeah. And that’s a theme throughout your career narrative is that you’ve made decisions where I’ve looked at them early on, was like, “Oh, Adam’s going and teaching abroad. That’s kind of a weird move right out of undergrad.” And then, “Adams he’s starting a tech company and is applying to Techstars. What is that? Startups aren’t cool yet.” And it was always kind of like this contrarian approach where there was probably like doubt within you, but doubt within the peer group. But it’s clear that all of these buts have really paid off. Kudos to that.

 

Adam Sachs:

Maybe. You’re giving me a lot of credit. We’ll see where all this goes.

 

Chris Erwin:

Okay. So after abroad, you decided to go to Sony. How did that come to be?

 

Adam Sachs:

I knew people at Sony from my internship, so I reached out to them and I got a very kind of entry level job in Sony Pictures Television in New York.

 

Chris Erwin:

And did you feel that when you were doing that because your career took a big turn when you started your first company soon after, or maybe concurrently while you were at Sony. Did you look at Sony as, “Hey, this is something I want to invest material time into,” or is this, “This is just a stepping stone. And I want to get maybe that traditional validation of working at a big company.”

 

Adam Sachs:

To be honest, I think at first I thought I’ll get my foot in the door of this like really great company. Everyone that was a radio TV, film major at Northwestern, if they didn’t go into being a writer or director or pursuing that path, if they went into TV, the hot thing was like to go into development. And I was like, “I think I want to go into development.” I didn’t even know what it meant really.

 

Adam Sachs:

I was just like, “But it sounds cool to be a development executive.” And I think I applied for those jobs and I didn’t get them or whatever. So I got like a different job in the ad sales department at Sony. But I think my thinking was, I’ll get in the door there and then I’ll figure out how to have a development career. And hopefully along the way, I’ll figure out what development means. So, that was my thinking.

 

Chris Erwin:

I think I want a development career. I don’t know what it is, but it’s sound has cache.

 

Adam Sachs:

But it sounds cool. And people who do it think it’s cool. So I honestly think that was my thinking at the time. And there was also always a New York, LA kind of conflict in my mind. This was in New York, but I did feel like LA was an inevitability at some point if I wanted to pursue that sort of career. But at the same time, my good college friend and I, Dan Osit, we started to talk about this startup idea that we got, that we’ve got really obsessed with.

 

Adam Sachs:

And it was the idea of, we were in our early mid 20s living in New York City and going out with our group of friends and going out and meeting other friends. And we started to think, “Man, isn’t it crazy that there’s no dating site that were like, you go out with your friends and meet other people. And wouldn’t it more fun and less awkward and even safer to have an experience where you went out with your friends and met another group of friends.”

 

Adam Sachs:

And the more we talked about that idea, he was also in his first or second year of working in a finance job out of college. The more we talked about that idea, the more we thought like, this is a really good idea. And we talked to friends who thought it was a good idea. And I think I was planning to move to LA and move in with Matt and Rob and some of our buddies and just figure out like how to get a development job basically.

 

Adam Sachs:

But then I became obsessed with this business idea and this idea of starting a startup. And the more we talked to our friends, the more we got excited about it. And then we quit our jobs and we started pursuing it.

 

Chris Erwin:

So how’d you guys think about how to start actually building the company? Today feels like there’s millions of guides for like how to build a business. But 15 years ago, there was a lot less resources out there. So what did you guys turn to?

 

Adam Sachs:

Here’s how different the landscape was then. We sent an email, Dan and I sent an email to like all of our friends, like a blast email being like, “Does anyone know anyone who has ever started a company because we don’t know where to start?”

 

Chris Erwin:

I may have been on that email.

 

Adam Sachs:

I’m sure you were. And we got like one response or two responses, and we ended up meeting the guys who started meetup.com, which was a really good connection for us. But today, if you ask that question, everyone knows someone who has started a startup.

 

Chris Erwin:

The Lean Startup, Four Steps to the Epiphany, like all of these books.

 

Adam Sachs:

Exactly. And that stuff didn’t really exist. Or if it did, we were unaware of it. It was like, there was a less of established path at that point because we didn’t know what to do. We said, “Okay, we want to start this thing.” But what if we had literally just had to try to start taking people out to coffee to understand how do you do this?

 

Chris Erwin:

Yeah. So what was the point where you guys made that decision, we’re leaving our jobs, we’re getting off this path to become development execs, whatever that is, or financiers? That is a big decision to make at an early age. Also considering like what your peers are doing, your parents probably not understanding the opportunities within the startup space. What was that catalyst point?

 

Adam Sachs:

I think we were, and to be honest, like foolishly so confident that we had a great idea. And I think because we knew so little about starting a business, didn’t realize how important execution is. And we just thought, “Oh, we have a great idea. So it’s going to be successful of course, because our idea is great. And we’ve asked our friends and they think it’s great too. So let’s just quit our jobs and start this business.”

 

Adam Sachs:

And didn’t really understand that so much has to go right in order for it to be successful. And not only do so much have to go right, but it takes so long and it’s going to take a lot of endurance. But it was not easy. Like my friends all continued on in their jobs in New York City. I had to move home. I didn’t really have a paying job for a long time. So I had to move in back in with my parents in New Jersey.

 

Chris Erwin:

Yeah. I really like how you described that you had to be foolishly confident. I think when you do the math, the odds are totally stacked against you in starting a company. So you have to be delusional in a way and saying like, “I can do this.” And so whether that’s just like in your blood or in your nature, or at your point, you just didn’t even know any better.

 

Adam Sachs:

No, I just didn’t know any better.

 

Chris Erwin:

That’s an asset.

 

Adam Sachs:

Exactly. I think it was truly in my ignorance helped in that way, because I just didn’t know any better.

 

Chris Erwin:

I think I remember. So you used to host at your father’s house in Little Silver, used to host a lot of basketball games. You play a lot of like three on three or five on five, what have you. I think we were over there one day and I think I had heard rumors that you’re like, “Adam’s starting this company and now he’s applied to Techstars and he’s getting into this program.”

 

Chris Erwin:

And I was like, “Adam, I don’t understand what you’re doing. I’m confused. What is this?” Startups we’re in cool yet. But you had a mission, you had a plan. And so then you applied to Techstars. What was that application process like?

 

Adam Sachs:

We realized that we had to raise money in order to build this thing. And so we ended up meeting through friends of friends some early stage VCs. They were rightfully for the most part, like, “You guys are not really investible at this point. You don’t really know what you’re doing.” And we hadn’t really built much at that point. But one of the VCs who really, I think believed in us was this guy, Jason Mendelson, and his partner, Seth Levine at the Foundry Group in Boulder.

 

Adam Sachs:

And we got connected with them and they were also like, “You guys are onto something here, but you’re in New York, we’re in Boulder.” But I think they really liked us and believed in us. And so they encouraged us to apply to Techstars. And we had never heard of Techstars before, but they’re intimately involved in starting Techstars and supporting Techstars.

 

Adam Sachs:

It was not an obvious thing for us to do because I had never heard of it. I didn’t know what a incubator or accelerator was at that point. Again, this is a different time where now there’s a million accelerators.

 

Chris Erwin:

That’s great. And this was literally 12 years ago. So it’s not we’re talking about 35 years ago. This was like within generally past decade.

 

Adam Sachs:

Not that long ago, but it was a different world. And so yeah, we applied and I think through the help of those guys, we ended up getting in. But even then I think, again, points to our kind of foolish ignorance, we were like, maybe we’re a little too far along for this Techstars thing is what we thought. We were like, we have some users on in our Facebook app. That’s how we started.

 

Chris Erwin:

Okay. It’s just also funny to hear, like this speaks to the delusional part of actually we’re pretty advanced, like we have users, so we actually really needed to be a part of this program. Maybe we should just skip this. That’s what you guys wanted.

 

Adam Sachs:

Again, pretty dumb, but it was really, really valuable experience. It’s a mentorship driven experience. We needed mentorship. I studied history and film in college. Dan, I think studied communication or something. We didn’t really know what we know. And also there’s really not a great curriculum probably even to this day for starting a company. In my opinion, you have to talk to people who have done it. Learn from people who have done it.

 

Adam Sachs:

I think it’s not something that you graduate, even if you, I know very few schools have an entrepreneurship program, but I think even if you graduated with a degree in entrepreneurship, you still don’t really know what you’re doing until you get in there and start doing it.

 

Chris Erwin:

Yeah. So you’re at Techstars, clearly it was a positive experience. You graduate.

 

Adam Sachs:

Yes.

 

Chris Erwin:

And then did you raise money immediately upon graduation at demo day?

 

Adam Sachs:

Yeah, immediately. We had a really good presentation actually. We were working with our mentors and again, these guys, Jason and Seth at Foundry Group became our mentors. And the second half really of Techstars is like for preparing, at least at this point. It might’ve changed. Again, this is 2008, so this is a long time ago. But at that point, the first half is a lot of mentorship. The second half is really like preparing for demo day.

 

Adam Sachs:

And I remember we put together a presentation, a draft representation. We brought it over to Jason in his office and sat down with him and walked him through it. And he was just like, “Yeah, it’s pretty good. I don’t know. It’s fine. But it’s missing you guys,” is what he said. And I think he’d gotten to know us and know our personalities or whatever. And we went back and I remember we locked ourselves in a room with our small team of four of us for like a weekend and came back to him on Monday. And it was a funny presentation. It was like a comedy driven presentation and he was just like, “This is it, this is it.”

 

Chris Erwin:

Actually I never thought about that. But thinking about your roots in comedy, entertainment, improv, and then writing with Ally at Northwestern, pitching to investor is about telling an incredible story of excitement, why we are the best team to do this, really peaking their interests. And I was like, you have like the formula for that. And I guess that’s what this guy wanted. And then he didn’t know what you had in you. And you’re like, “No, let us show you.”

 

Adam Sachs:

Yeah. So the presentation went great. And I think for a lot of people, did a lot of the VC side of it. There’s 300 VCs in the audience or something like that. I think for a lot of them, it was the first time they saw like an actual funny VC pitch or whatever, like startup pitch. And I don’t think it was necessarily like the humor that attracted … Any smart VC is not going to be like, “I’m going to invest in the funniest entrepreneur.”

 

Adam Sachs:

On the surface, it was funny. But when you got beneath it, it was like, “These guys actually know, they have a good handle on what their vision for the business is.” So yeah, we did raise money immediately.

 

Chris Erwin:

An interesting highlight from that point though, is I think when investors see for an early stage company is okay, do they have a product? Have they built something? Are they solving a real problem? But it’s so early. Even if they have a little bit of users is likely pre-revenue. So there’s just an incredible amount of risk. So they’re really betting on the founders, on the ability of the founders to attract future capital, tell a good story, recruit a team, and build a team and motivate people.

 

Chris Erwin:

And so what they could have seen in you is like, “Okay, there’s this magnetism of this team that’s going to be able to attract people to their team and get them excited about this ridiculous mission that they’re on.” So it seems like you have this asset of your storytelling, was actually like checking a major box for these investors. If you think about it that way.

 

Adam Sachs:

Yeah. Maybe. We also rushed the fundraising because this was like August, September of 2008, and the financial world was starting to just collapse around us. And so, once we saw that happening, we were pushing our investors to like, get your checks and get your checks. Because that we knew that very shortly after that, we could feel like the economy was collapsing.

 

Chris Erwin:

Got it. So money comes in the bank. And how much did you raised initially?

 

Adam Sachs:

So funny. Again, only 12 years ago, but we raised a series A and it was like a $1.2 million, which today is like a pre seed amount of money. But at that point, that was our series A.

 

Chris Erwin:

Okay. And that was on top of a little bit of family and friends money that you raised.

 

Adam Sachs:

Yeah.

 

Chris Erwin:

Got it. So you have the money, your team is feeling excited. You move to New York City. I remember that you had offices in Union Square. I don’t know if you moved immediately there.

 

Adam Sachs:

Yeah, we did.

 

Chris Erwin:

I was part of a beta test for a group date in the lower Eastside.

 

Adam Sachs:

I think like a Max Fish or something.

 

Chris Erwin:

Yeah. There’s like six or seven guys. Six or seven girls. We’re all competing and say who’s getting them like the most amount of face time with the other side. It was a really funny experience. There was also a launch party that was associated with it.

 

Adam Sachs:

Yeah. At Barna, which no longer is on Park Avenue South.

 

Chris Erwin:

So I remember I was like, okay, I don’t know what Adam’s doing, but if I get invited to cool parties and get to go on like group dates and maybe meet women, I’ll be supportive. All right. So tangent. You’re in New York City, you have the company, and now you’re there for the next six years. What do you remember as a major inflection point after raising that money and saying, “Okay, now we’re scaling this company.” What were some of those key milestones?

 

Adam Sachs:

One of them, the biggest one for sure is we were out there hustling having parties. We would literally like throw a party at a bar in the East Village, bring our digital cameras because that’s how you took pictures then and computers and buy people drinks to like sign them up in exchange for having them have a profile on our site. So we’d be like, “Hey, do you want to try our site? We’ll buy you a drink.”

 

Adam Sachs:

And so, we would then take their picture at the bar and make a profile for them. Because it was a grind to get people to sign up.

 

Chris Erwin:

Were most people amenable to that? Or were some people turned off?

 

Adam Sachs:

Half and half I think. We had like maybe dozens of people signing up every day in New York, but we’d go home at night and look at our Google analytics and be like, “Hundreds of people signed up today in India.” Or like thousands of people signed up today in India at one point. And so that was sort of the inflection point, which is like, we’re pushing too hard for something that maybe there’s not as much of a demand for here as there is for other places.

 

Adam Sachs:

And so at that point it was like, let’s understand this, what is going on here? We didn’t understand India or some of the other markets where we were seeing this natural, organic demand, and India was one of them, for sure. Also like Singapore and Malaysia and Indonesia and other Asian countries. And at that point, it was like, that was a huge inflection point. And it was let’s understand what’s going on here so that we can decide, is this worth pursuing.

 

Chris Erwin:

We’re back from a quick break and maybe unbeknownst to Adam, but I just actually we have a bunch of our high school friends on group text, and I just sent a crowdsource message of any questions that we should ask Adam on the podcast. So I might check this at the end when we get to the rapid fire, that has been seated within the group.

 

Adam Sachs:

Awesome.

 

Chris Erwin:

So we’ll see what happens.

 

Adam Sachs:

Our friends are deviance. I don’t want to see what their questions are.

 

Chris Erwin:

So we were just talking about you’re now in New York City with funding, you’re scaling Ignighter. You’re hustling, you’re grinding, you’re going out to the bars, you’re signing up people like on location. So then what you’re just touching on, which is interesting is this theme of the unexpected. So you’re building this business, you’re looking at your metrics, and all of a sudden you’re seeing user growth in India and in Singapore and these Asian countries, that’s not what you’re necessarily intending for, but it’s happening.

 

Chris Erwin:

So as you start seeing this information, there’s certain types of leaders and people that would say, “That’s that’s interesting, but we’re not going to do something about it.” What was the point where you’re like, “This is meaningful. And now we’re actually going to pursue this. This is opportunity.” What was that decision making process?

 

Adam Sachs:

At first, it was like, this is interesting, but it’s not our mission. So we ignored it. For I don’t know how long, for maybe a few months. And then eventually it was like the discrepancy between how hard we were hustling and grinding to sign up users one at a time in New York versus literally I think at our peak, there were like 5,000 people a day signing up in India. And it was like, “What are we doing here? Let’s figure this out. What is it that’s making it click there?”

 

Adam Sachs:

And that’s when we started to talk to people who knew the market way better than we did, talk to people who knew the culture better than we did.

 

Chris Erwin:

How do you do that? Who do you talk to? The same thing, like figuring out who do you talk to about Techstars? Did you call up your investors, did call friends?

 

Adam Sachs:

It was a little bit of both. Yeah. And we were able I think through our investors and through the Techstars network to meet people who are either entrepreneurs who were maybe of Indian descent and had family in India or who had family that were building companies in India. We actually shared an office with a company, coincidentally enough called exclusively.in. I don’t know if they exist anymore, but they were a company that was building like fashion products in India.

 

Adam Sachs:

And they were really closely connected to the market. And so they started to like help us and connect us to angel investors in India and VCs in India. And those people help. Once we started to understand this, we went out and we raised more money from investors who were interested in that path in pursuing that in India story.

 

Chris Erwin:

Growth in Indian market.

 

Adam Sachs:

Yeah.

 

Chris Erwin:

Okay. And how much money did you raise at that point?

 

Adam Sachs:

I think maybe three or three and a half million, something like that.

 

Chris Erwin:

Okay. And at this point, are you feeling excited?

 

Adam Sachs:

Excited but scared too. We’d never even been there at that point. We still hadn’t even been to India. It was hard enough I think building a company like in a market that we knew inside and out. And so the idea of building a company somewhere else felt like how’s that going to work?

 

Chris Erwin:

I can understand the mix of emotions because maybe there was some frustration with the challenge in getting traction in the United States where you were focused. So this is in a way maybe a bit of a lifeline.

 

Adam Sachs:

It felt like a lifeline, but it also felt like we were riding blind a little bit too. Our first move was like, now that we know we have all the traction in India, let’s put up a landing page so that only people in India see that shows people that look like they’re in India and not people that look like they’re in New York so that and you can kind of geo target in that way. But we didn’t know the market well.

 

Adam Sachs:

So I remember our first landing page in India we’re like, here, these are two beautiful looking Indian people. Let’s put them on the landing page. And it turned out, we put a picture of like a bride, like a woman wearing a bride’s outfit. And we were trying to be like the antithesis of like one of those like serious like marriage dating sites. And it was like literally a woman in bride garb.

 

Adam Sachs:

And then one of our investors who I guess knew the market was like, “What are you doing? That’s not what you guys are.”

 

Chris Erwin:

Not your brand.

 

Adam Sachs:

Yeah. That’s so off brand. So it took us a while to figure it out.

 

Chris Erwin:

This all leads to a point where you end up moving to India.

 

Adam Sachs:

Yeah.

 

Chris Erwin:

And you moved there with your wife, Molly.

 

Adam Sachs:

Sort of. We had an apartment in New York where we lived and then I got a place in India and mostly it was me going over there. Molly did go. But it was mostly me going by myself.

 

Chris Erwin:

Is there one memorable moment of like you’re in India and you’re just in shock being like, “Wow, this is just feels so different.”

 

Adam Sachs:

I think just in general, just the business norms were really hard. Like when we wanted to start processing payments, for example, I remember we had to get some kind of certification from like the Royal Bank of India or something like that. And then that took forever and we had to be compliant in a certain way that I didn’t really understand. And at one point I was really an expert in all this stuff.

 

Adam Sachs:

And I’ve fortunately since forgotten, I think most of it. But it was like very hard. And then also people didn’t really have credit cards or a lot of people didn’t have credit cards. And so you have to figure out other ways to pay. And there were people that were paying with their mobile phone credits and it was very, very different and in that way, challenging.

 

Chris Erwin:

Got it. So then you eventually sale to Barry Diller’s IAC. How did that come to be?

 

Adam Sachs:

Well, to be honest, and this is something that they don’t really tell you when you start a dating site is that there’s not that many buyers out there for dating sites. There’s one universal behemoth in the dating world that wants to be the globally dominant business and that’s IAC. So a typical sales process would have competitive nature attached to it where there’s like a bunch of different companies bidding for your business.

 

Adam Sachs:

It was hard for us to drum up a competitive process when there’s like really just one buyer out there.

 

Chris Erwin:

So you sell to IAC. And then at that point, I think that was a big milestone because you started a company, you ran it, build and scale the team, transitioned to an international market, and then you exited it. And I don’t believe this was like a major liquidity event for you, but it was a sale. And that is a big stamp of approval. And so now it’s kind of like you have this big entrepreneur stamp on your back.

 

Chris Erwin:

And so next, I think that you ended up going to Midroll Media, and this is another major inflection point in your career where you kind of lay the foundation for becoming this early and seasoned audio executive. And this now like fast growing industry. And what sold you on going into podcasts and audio and then moving to LA?

 

Adam Sachs:

First of all, all my time spent on planes going back and forth from New York to Mumbai and then being in Mumbai by myself, I had become obsessed with podcasts. I was listening to them all the time. They were my companion in India, basically. And as we have already established, always wanted a career in media. I’ve joked, like I’ve studied radio, TV, film. I never thought I would be doing something in the radio piece of it, or the RTVS, because that wasn’t even really part of the curriculum.

 

Adam Sachs:

But I became obsessed with podcasts. I met a guy named Jeff Alrich who started Earwolf. And in fact, Ally Hord introduced us. And I met him when I was still at Ignighter or step out. And we just met us to like CEOs kind of commiserating as startup CEOs often do about like the various challenges. But I really loved his business. Even though it was still small at that point, it was bootstrapped.

 

Adam Sachs:

So he didn’t have investors and it was profitable and it was growing and it was in an area of media that I loved and that I felt like was just kind of getting started. So yeah, we got to know each other. And then the timing worked out that after we sold to IAC, he reached out saying like, “I’m looking for someone to help me build this business, like a COO type. Do you have anyone in mind?”

 

Adam Sachs:

And I throw my hat in the ring. And then also the other piece of it was that we, at this point, had like a baby in New York City and we were feeling kind of done with New York. It was hard to have a kid in New York. I think the suburbs didn’t really appeal to us. As I mentioned, LA always had some certain draw. We didn’t necessarily know that we wanted to leave New York and go to LA, but this just felt like the right opportunity to try it.

 

Chris Erwin:

It’s interesting. It feels like it’s checking a few boxes for you. Because I know in talking to you at that time, I think you had a really great experience at Ignighter. You learned a lot, you’ve built a great investor network, but it was challenging. You had with investors, a lot of different stakeholders in your business, different points of view, weren’t profitable and sustainable and a lot of the stage of the company.

 

Chris Erwin:

So Adam, you have a really exciting run at Midroll before you exit a couple of years later. You joined as COO and then in just nine months, you’re promoted to CEO. So tell us about that journey. And what did you first focus on when you joined the team?

 

Adam Sachs:

It was a lot, we were building this new network called Midroll. The business started as Earwolf and that was continuing to grow, but the new-

 

Chris Erwin:

Earwolf was a network of comedy podcasts.

 

Adam Sachs:

Correct. Yeah. But the new thing that we were building, which we saw as our real growth opportunity was Midroll and Midroll is what connects podcasters to advertisers. They really hadn’t been professionalized at that point in the industry. But as the industry was growing, it was like more and more podcasters wanted to make money, obviously.

 

Adam Sachs:

And advertisers were starting to realize that podcast listeners are passionate and they develop this intimate relationship with the podcaster. And so podcast ads could be very powerful in that way. And so that’s where we saw a really big opportunity and started to invest a lot. It grew very quickly.

 

Chris Erwin:

It’s interesting to hear the timing of that because it reminds me when I was at Big Frame, which was, we were creating short form, social content online and managing digitally native creators, people that were on … YouTubers, people that were on Facebook, on Instagram, et cetera. And a big part of our growing business was connecting marketers and advertisers with our talent.

 

Chris Erwin:

And so that’s a very similar dynamic to what was happening with you. Okay. So you’re leaning into that. And then did you know that within like nine months that the CEO is in my orbit or it’s going to happen or it was kind of just bestored upon you?

 

Adam Sachs:

No. That wasn’t the case. We were growing quickly trying to add people quickly. The business started in a very … it’s credits Jeff, but in a very scrappy way adding more people and elevating the early people who had really done a great job. And I honestly think that the business got to a point where it was ready to go to a different level. There was a scrappy level.

 

Adam Sachs:

And I think once it was ready to go to that growth level, Jeff kind of felt like it was better handled if I were in the day to day of it all, and we didn’t have a board, which was great. And another thing that really appealed to me and so like Jeff and I were the board, basically.

 

Chris Erwin:

Make fast decisions.

 

Adam Sachs:

We were able to make really fast decisions. And so, he was still involved in the business, but not really in the day to day.

 

Chris Erwin:

I just want to quickly pause here. I think there’s a good takeaway for our listeners that explains your rapid rise at Midroll. So I’ve worked with you and known you for many years, and you’ve also developed an industry reputation with many others that you’re very clear thinker and strategist, and that you have a point of view on market opportunity. You do a quick pros cons analysis, and then you make a swift decision to move forward.

 

Chris Erwin:

And then on top of that, you also have this great magnetism that allows you to build teams and rally smart people around you. I believe that this has caused success throughout your career and is really powering your growth now at Team Coco, which we’ll get into in a little bit. So I just wanted to call that out quickly.

 

Adam Sachs:

I appreciate it.

 

Chris Erwin:

So now you’re CEO and as we’ve talked about, because I was a COO at my last company and we used to joke that COO is like, you have a lot of responsibility. You’re essentially running the company, running the team, but the buck doesn’t stop with you. Like if there’s a really tough decision to make like, that’s the CEO or that’s the founder. Like that’s not me, that’s them. So you get to be like everyone’s best friend.

 

Adam Sachs:

Yeah. COO is secretly like the best job in the world.

 

Chris Erwin:

100%. So now that changes for you, now you’re the CEO, the big decisions really fall on you. How did that transition feel?

 

Adam Sachs:

A little bit scary. And honestly, one of the reasons it was scary and I had experienced being a CEO because I was CEO of Ignighter. So I knew what it entailed, but one of the things that was a little bit scary about it was actually that we had so much momentum. We didn’t make this transition because things weren’t working and we needed to try something new, that wasn’t really the impetus at all. It was really about growth and that almost put more pressure on me.

 

Adam Sachs:

It was like, don’t fuck this up because we have a good thing going and we’re growing quickly. So, that part felt scary. It was also challenging to be a part of the management team. If you think there’s like the CEO and then below the CEO, there’s like three or four C level executives. It was a little bit challenging at first or scary at first to be one of those three or four people on the management team who then became the CEO and had to manage the people who were my peers or on that same level as me.

 

Adam Sachs:

So that part is always intimidating at first. I think it certainly didn’t come without any growing pains that would never happen, but it worked, it worked.

 

Chris Erwin:

That’s a very interesting call out. When you started Ignighter and essentially it’s nothing, so there’s like nothing to lose. It’s like you’re at zero and there’s all this upside potential and you’re like, “All right, let’s see where we can take it.” But now, you go to this company that was founded by someone else that has some real momentum and traction and the rains are given over to you.

 

Chris Erwin:

That’s a totally different responsibility set or feeling. Clearly great experience. So now you’re the CEO and it’s funny at this time, this is also people were calling this is Peak Podcast. This I think is around 2014. And so I think there’s a chance for a liquidity event. There’s a chance to sell the company. What was the impetus for that sale?

 

Adam Sachs:

It was a couple of things. It was the first thing that you said, which is like podcasting was having a moment. Serial came out and Gimlet launched and suddenly a bunch of media companies were saying like, “We have to figure out what’s our podcast strategy?” And so we started to get a lot of inbound interest from both investors and potential acquirers and having, like you said, we’ve been so excited about not having investors and we were profitable and growing quickly.

 

Adam Sachs:

Personally, I didn’t want to bring on investors. And I think that the team agreed. We didn’t need it. So why bring in other people to just start having their own kind of agendas? But we did feel like if there was the right buyer, it should be something worth pursuing, at least having the conversations. It was like, because we were bootstrapped was owned by a few of us, the business.

 

Adam Sachs:

So, we could have a meaningful outcome potentially without the number having to be astronomical. And so, we thought who knows, maybe this is just the first wave and it goes away forever. And so, we didn’t want to miss out on podcastings moment if something new came along. And then the other piece of it is that there was money flowing into the space competitively.

 

Adam Sachs:

And so it was like if we were determined to stay bootstrapped and we didn’t want to raise money while people around us were raising money and what does that mean from a competitive landscape? So, that was like all the things we were thinking about at that time.

 

Chris Erwin:

It was a beautiful moment to sell. And I think the timing was great. And I remember when I was at Big Frame, this is just after we had sold the Awesomeness TV and I was in the offices at our offices at Burundian Olympic. I remember you calling me like late night, like six or 6:30 PM. And we spoke for like an hour, hour and a half of like the pros and cons of a sale. And how do you manage a sale process?

 

Chris Erwin:

Because there was a lot that you were thinking through and I could tell that this was a big decision you were taking very seriously and that you are excited, but also scared at the same time.

 

Adam Sachs:

That’s totally true. I guess as they’re six month process of going around and pitching the company.

 

Chris Erwin:

Yeah. Which can be brutal because the moments are, this is great. We’re headed in a great direction, but this could also fall apart at any moment. There’s an investor that’s excited, but then in the middle of doing diligence, maybe it all goes away and we miss our moments.

 

Adam Sachs:

Yeah. Exactly.

 

Chris Erwin:

[crosstalk 00:37:11] on edge the whole time.

 

Adam Sachs:

For sure. And I think we were worried that if that were to happen, we did have such great business momentum, if that were to happen, would that kill our business momentum, would that kill everything? It felt a little risky at the time.

 

Chris Erwin:

Unique moment that happened where I think as you are talking to different prospective buyers, you had a conversation with Andy Redmond who was the president of Tornante and who we also knew who went through our high school year above us. And that there was a unique moment that happened at Spargo. Tell us that quick story.

 

Adam Sachs:

So Andy Redmond is the president of Tornante. Tornante is Michael Eisner, former Disney CEO, it’s Michael Eisner’s vehicle for investing and acquiring companies. And when I came out to LA, I reached out to Andy and we hadn’t stayed in touch really. Our families kind of know each other. We knew each other a little bit growing up, but we hadn’t really stayed in touch. But I just reached out to him because I thought he had such a cool job.

 

Adam Sachs:

Tornante acquires media companies and invest in media companies. They make content. They make really great stuff. They make BoJack Horseman, for example. They do that. And then they also like just bought a English premier league soccer team. So they do all this and, it all kind of rolls up to Andy. So I thought Andy had such a cool job. And so we met or we had lunch early on when I was out here and he immediately, I think, got interested in what we were doing, and we stayed in touch.

 

Adam Sachs:

And then during the sell process, we communicated and he started to get excited and brought us in for several meetings. And then one of them was a lunch at Spargo with Michael Eisner. I told you the story because it was one of my very just surreal, most surreal, I guess-

 

Chris Erwin:

LA, Hollywood.

 

Adam Sachs:

Exactly, where I was like at a table with Michael Eisner who by the way is from Red Bank. I don’t know if you know that. His whole family’s from there. So we had this whole conversation with Andy about we all grew up in the same area and-

 

Chris Erwin:

Improv jam.

 

Adam Sachs:

He was one of the funniest at improv jam. His guessing was incredible. And so we had this whole conversation and he was really excited about what we were doing. And at one point during the meal, Wolfgang puck came over and sat down with us at the table and started giving Michael Eisner a hard time in a playful way about building a house too big that it was obscuring his view and-

 

Chris Erwin:

You’re just like, what is happening?

 

Adam Sachs:

Yeah. And then literally Sidney Poitier’s at the next table. And that was all like catalyzed by Andy. It was a very funny thing because we grew up in this very small town that seemingly very disconnected from all things Hollywood and literally geographically, like on the other side of the country.

 

Chris Erwin:

There must be something in the water in Monmouth County. That’s a really funny story. So you end up selling the company to E.W. Scripps. You end up going over there and helping the company transition for a bit over a year. At that point you had, we were talking about like you had the entrepreneurial stamp on your back from Ignighter, and now you have in the sale of Midroll to E.W. Scripps.

 

Chris Erwin:

You have a stamp on your back as you are a legitimate audio executive. Podcasting an audio, digital audio is a fast growing industry. And Adam is a leader that has incredible relationships, has built an incredible portfolio of audio content. While at Earwolf, you also were able to help build out the ad sales arm and build out this scalable profitable business with a successful sale and exit.

 

Chris Erwin:

So you have this brand as you’re an audio executive. And I think that’s really exciting. It’s really great. I’m also curious to ask, I don’t know if anyone has asked you this, is that the brain that you wanted one, and then two, do you feel that that could also pigeon hole you a bit where it’s like, okay, I’m on this path, but maybe my career ambitions are a bit broader in entrepreneurship or in other areas of entertainment? What do you think about that?

 

Adam Sachs:

It’s a good questions. I am sure I’m pigeonholed in some ways. I’m sure people look at me for better or worse as an audio guy. I think a couple of things. One is, I do think there are a lot of things I’ve learned in building companies. And certainly, probably more specifically in building Midroll Stitcher that are applicable outside of just audio here at Team Coco, we’re building a digital media business. Audio is a really important part of it.

 

Adam Sachs:

But there are things I learned through that process that I think are applicable. But I still believe in audio in a way that I think if I were pigeonholed into something that I thought that I wasn’t super bullish on or that I thought was kind of lame, then it might be more of a bummer. But I think audio is cool. It sounds dumb. But I don’t mind that that’s like my brand, if it is my brand.

 

Adam Sachs:

And I think it’s allowed me to meet a lot of cool entrepreneurs and work with a lot of cool companies. And I still think that the industry is in its early days. And so, I don’t mind that being like part of or all of my brand.

 

Chris Erwin:

When people look at your career story, just even if just listening to this podcast, that it’s very multifaceted. And then in entertainment, I agree, audio is not pigeonholing you because audio is a medium to express yourself and to create story, to share ideas, and to create IP. And that can manifest in a variety of ways, whether it’s a TV, film, or a theme park, or short form social content, and you look at all the others in the same.

 

Chris Erwin:

And so I think it’s actually a really fun, medium to play in right now because it allows you to experiment in a very low cost and rapid yet efficient way. And then if you want to go premium as well, like Conan Needs a Friend, one of the best performing comedy podcasts on the planet right now, there’s so much that you can do, but just one aspect of a business.

 

Adam Sachs:

Yeah. I agree. I love audio. So, I don’t mind it.

 

Chris Erwin:

Adam Sachs tagline, I love audio. Awesome. You sell Midroll to E.W. Scripps and I believe the price point was somewhere in the range of if there was like an earn out maybe 55 to 65 million-ish in that range. Adam is nodding. So I think I’m in the right ballpark. So after the sale, Adam has a lot of options. It’s after Midroll, you then go do a stint as an entrepreneur residence at Chernin, the Chernin Group.

 

Chris Erwin:

You work with some brilliant minds like Jason Bergman and Mike Hearns and the rest of the Austin team over there. Steve [Cosnio 00:43:18] and I’m going to blank on a bunch of other names. You even start advising higher ground audio, the production arm of Barack and Michelle Obama. There’s a lot of different things that you can do. And I think some of the options include, you could start your own company, start another company.

 

Chris Erwin:

Or you could go work for a team, and you actually end up working for Conan and Team Coco and overseeing his entire digital business. In that moment, how do you decide what you’re going to do?

 

Adam Sachs:

The way you describe it makes it sound like I had a lot of opportunity, and I did. It’s true, but it wasn’t obvious to me what to do which is part of the reason I went to Chernin and I was just like, I don’t have a ton of conviction around a business that I want to start. I know what it takes to build a business from the ground up. And there’s nothing that I’m obsessed over right now that I just know I have to go do this.

 

Adam Sachs:

The idea of joining something that was early and interesting appealed to me. So my thinking was like, let me just go where there’s really, really, really smart people. And to your point, the Chernin Group, especially as it relates to media, has some of the smartest. And so spending a year with them, first of all, learning how to be an investor, which I had zero experience doing, really appealed to me because I wanted to just understand that world a little more.

 

Adam Sachs:

Meeting really smart both investors and entrepreneurs on the media side or in the media world was really appealing because I felt like it would help me just figure out what to do next. And with the Conan thing, and maybe it goes back to this theme of not overthinking it, but it was this opportunity of you can work with arguably the funniest person on the planet who has a reputation for also being a good guy and a team that really is filled with good people and that like each other, and that have been around here for many, many, many years as he explores.

 

Adam Sachs:

And they all explore launching something new, but with the added benefit of brand and this talent and this reach that’s all here, it was kind of like, let me just see what happens. And as we’ve already established here, comedy’s very important to me. And there was talk of maybe starting a podcast network and that was appealing to me for obvious reasons. So yeah, it literally just checked a lot of boxes.

 

Chris Erwin:

How were you first introduced to Conan and Team Coco?

 

Adam Sachs:

Through Chernin. It was like, there was a connection between some of the people that turned in and some of the people at Team Coco. And that’s how I got to know them. And I did a little bit of consulting work to help think through this business plan, because what it is is Team Coco has existed since 2010, Will keep me honest, 2010. Yes. But it wasn’t until a year and a half ago that there was this pivot into building it into a full on media business.

 

Adam Sachs:

It existed as a really successful marketing arm that marketed digitally the TV show, the linear show. And that became its own business in a way. The marketing of that, the distribution of those digital clips from the TV show and monetizing them across YouTube and social channels became a business. And then that ultimately became the foundation for what Team Coco is today.

 

Chris Erwin:

Just to be clear for the audience, the tent pole format that Conan has is his talk show with TBS.

 

Adam Sachs:

Correct.

 

Chris Erwin:

Got it. So you’re like, okay, this is an amazing marketing arm, but you also had a point of view of like there’s a lot more to do with this.

 

Adam Sachs:

Yeah. And a lot of that came from my experience at Midroll center, but the year I spent at Chernin, meeting a lot of what I thought were some of the best and most forward thinking media companies.

 

Chris Erwin:

And onboarding into Team Coco, it seems that one of your first early projects was getting Conan podcast network off the ground. Is that accurate?

 

Adam Sachs:

Yeah, that’s true. They had tried a couple, maybe like pilots of a podcast. There was talk of doing a podcast. Conan was half interested, but pretty skeptical.

 

Chris Erwin:

On his podcast, Conan Needs a Friend sometimes he’ll make references to you as the executive producer. He’s like, “Yeah. I don’t know what this podcast thing is. Is this even real? Supposedly we have downloads. I still don’t know if there’s money coming from it. I don’t see it.”

 

Adam Sachs:

Yeah. I think now he finally gets it, but yeah, for a while even after it launched and was successful, he was still like, is this thing real? I don’t know. Am I sitting alone in this room talking into a microphone and no one’s hearing it? But what’s happened is now he gets stopped everywhere he goes, and people tell him, “I love the podcast.” So he knows it’s real. Or it’s like some massive Truman Show scam where everyone is just faking it and coming up to him. But yeah, no, he knows it’s real at this point, which is good.

 

Chris Erwin:

He has one of the best performing shows. That’s probably important. I want to just jump back for a quick sec. Was it hard to get the teams buying or when you were getting recruited, was it like, “Look, this is what I want to do here. I want to build out a podcast network.” And so when they brought you on, it was like, “All right, we know what Adam’s plan is. So if we actually bring him on a COO, we’re going to get things done.” Or was it like an uphill battle?

 

Adam Sachs:

We put together a business plan that included a variety of verticals, audio being one of them. It was like the digital distribution business, which is the core business. It was live events, it was podcasts. It was stand up specials. And that was part of the whole business plan that I helped put together. And there was buying on the business plan holistically for sure.

 

Adam Sachs:

I think what we’ve seen over the past year is that audio has become a major investment area for us. And it helps that Conan’s podcast has done so well.

 

Chris Erwin:

Yeah. Maybe you can also reference this like, look, if Obama is leaning into this, there’s something.

 

Adam Sachs:

Exactly. Now that Conan is one of many A-listers or a plus listers, like the Obamas who are understanding this is a huge opportunity.

 

Chris Erwin:

So now you launched Conan Needs a Friend and there’s a few other formats as well that you guys have launched. Remind me.

 

Adam Sachs:

Yeah, we have several podcasts. We have Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend. We have the three questions with Andy Richter, Inside Conan, and Important Hollywood Podcast are all unscripted podcasts that we’ve launched. We’ve launched two scripted series so far as well, one called Frontier Tween and one called Smarter. And those are scripted narrative, audio podcasts.

 

Chris Erwin:

And are those exclusively on the Luminary platforms?

 

Adam Sachs:

Those are exclusively on Luminary. Exactly.

 

Chris Erwin:

Got it. Thinking about 2020, how do you want to build out the audio initiative for Team Coco? Where do you guys see as more opportunity?

 

Adam Sachs:

We want to continue doing both scripted and non-scripted. So far, all of our unscripted podcasts have been hosted by people literally within this building, Conan and Andy Richter and Mike Sweeney and Jessie Gaskell who are both writers on the Conan Show. And so for us, and this is like a broader theme just for us to be successful as a business, we have to expand our talent network, both in podcasts and in the digital video that we develop and in the live shows.

 

Adam Sachs:

Everything, it can’t rely as much as you have a huge competitive advantage when you have Conan being the center of a podcast. Because not only is he so famous, but he’s so talented, but there’s only so much scale you can get out of that. There’s only so much you can squeeze out before he just like collapses or revolts.

 

Chris Erwin:

If he’s listening to this, just like, “Adam’s going to like squeeze more energy and time.”

 

Adam Sachs:

He and I talk about it a lot. He talks about it a lot. He knows that we push him really far and it has an incredible amount of endurance more than most people. He does more than most people at that level, but there’s only so far he can go. And so in order to be successful, we have to do more with other people. That’s a big theme for us.

 

Chris Erwin:

Well, it’s interesting to hear about the endurance. Because I think I was listening to a podcast with him and Jimmy Kimmel, where he was just talking about how hard they work. They’re taping a show every day, their talk show. And then just all the other content that they’re creating a short form format for socials, for marketing, for their podcast. It’s just a lot of work.

 

Chris Erwin:

So it’s not like nine to five, Monday through Friday. It’s like they’re on all weekend working and prepping and writing and all of that.

 

Adam Sachs:

Yeah. He works really hard.

 

Chris Erwin:

Along with a great team behind him that works really hard too. Okay. Last question on Team Coco before we get into the rapid fire round and then also maybe do some crowdsource questions from our high school friends, TBD. Does any other things about Team Coco that you’re excited about in 2020?

 

Adam Sachs:

I think building upon the things we’ve already started is important for us, like doing more live events, building on our podcast network, doing specials. We’re making comedy specials for HBO Max, and hopefully we’ll be making more content for other platforms. All that is I think exciting. We also are doing a podcast exclusively on Stitcher premium podcast called The Best of Conan Standup.

 

Adam Sachs:

Where we’re taking five standup sets from every year dating back to the first year that Conan was on TV each year and highlighting those. So you can listen to … it’s hosted by Laurie Kilmartin also here within our walls. She’s a writer on Conan and a great standup herself. That show is every episode is a different season of stand ups from Conan. Think there’s like opportunity for us in gaming potentially. I don’t know. We’re trying to expand.

 

Chris Erwin:

Awesome. I think you guys have an incredible path forward. We are massive supporters of your business as you know.

 

Adam Sachs:

You guys are really helpful.

 

Chris Erwin:

To close out the Team Coco narrative. I think one of the things that Adam brought up in the first part of the conversation was just what attracted him to Conan was his sensibility that he’s some amazing talented comedy writer who’s silly and funny and smart. But it also like Conan is a good person. He’s got good values and he’s built out a team that he really looks out for, that he really respects.

 

Chris Erwin:

And he’s really set the tone at the organization. And I can say, I was fortunate enough to get invited to the Team Coco and Conan holiday party at Yamashiro in Hollywood. And it’s funny as I spoke to Adam and then as I spoke to some of his peers, like Willy Nevara, I don’t know if I’m pronouncing that right. Steve Breslow and some of your other business affairs executives, they all said, “Conan sets us really special tone from the top.”

 

Adam Sachs:

He does.

 

Chris Erwin:

I was there with a friend of mine, Maya, and we felt that in the room, it just like we’ve gone to a lot of Hollywood parties and I don’t get excited by most of them, but this one was like, it felt different. Everyone was so open and it was a really good vibe. And I think that really leads to a really compelling and special creative environment working environment.

 

Chris Erwin:

And what I also heard from talking to one of the final executives there was that Adam is also a big part of setting that tone with the leadership. She made it very clear that that tone comes down from Conan, but it is also very much embodied in Adam and how he runs the Team Coco organization.

 

Adam Sachs:

That’s nice. It’s Conan and Jeff Ross, for sure. They really take care of their people.

 

Chris Erwin:

All right. Before we get into the rapid fire, I’m just going to check the text thread. Joe Venti asks, is this the rebirth of Ask Adam? Ask him to rewrite what dreams may come?

 

Adam Sachs:

The Ask Adam was my column in the Tower Tribune in the high school.

 

Chris Erwin:

Got it. Okay. I think that’s the one that we’ll take away from this. We need to go into the other ones. All right. So rapid fire, Adam, these are questions that you could answer very quickly in a few amount of words, one or two sentences or less. Here we go. Proudest moment slash accomplishment of your career.

 

Adam Sachs:

Conan’s Podcast. I’m really proud of it’s reached so many people, it’s brought joy to a lot of people. It’s brought a lot of joy to Conan who says that he feels really fulfilled by it and it’s become, I think, an important part of his, I don’t want to speak for him, but I think he said stuff like this. When he looks back on what he’s accomplished in his career, I know that this will be one of the more important, special things that he’s done.

 

Adam Sachs:

And I think it’s really good quality. I think it’s a really great show and it’s because of Conan and Sona and Matt and I’m proud of it.

 

Chris Erwin:

Awesome. What do you want to do less and more of in 2020?

 

Adam Sachs:

I am always pushing myself to think bigger and to do more bigger thinking and to do less in the weeds of micromanaging. I think I just have like a tendency to do that a little bit and it’s not a great quality. And so, I think getting more balanced in that sense I think is something that’s important.

 

Chris Erwin:

Entrepreneurial advice. What one to two personal characteristics primarily drive your success?

 

Adam Sachs:

I think getting shit done. I think a lot of entrepreneurs sit around saying that they want to do something or that they should do something. And I think that the ones who see success are determined to just get something done and also stick around. I think it takes a long time for a company to find success. And it’s not always fun, but I think hanging in there is important.

 

Chris Erwin:

And a quick side anecdote, we talked about this yesterday, but also you are not petty. You’re not political. And even you were telling a story about your wife, who’s like, “Adam, I hear that you’re taking a meeting with this man or woman. Don’t you remember a few months ago that you had like a really bad encounter?” You’re like, “I don’t remember that.”

 

Adam Sachs:

I think I have a bad memory. I think maybe it benefits me sometimes, but I’m not good at holding grudges because I literally forget if somebody wronged me. And Molly who was my biggest defender is always does like stick up for me and look out for me. And she’s like, “What are you doing? We hate that person. Remember?” And I’m like, “Oh yeah. Oh yeah, that’s right. I forgot. We hate that person.”

 

Chris Erwin:

Last three, advice for media professionals going into 2020. Quick words of wisdom.

 

Adam Sachs:

Follow the money is one of them. I think a lot of media companies in the digital space have come and gone because deficit financing, digital video in a way that isn’t really sustainable anymore today. I think there’s a lot of paywalls popping up, which I think is like in some ways a good thing, but in some ways a bad thing. Really understand what you’re asking people to pay for, because I think media consumers are willing to pay, but only for certain things. If you’re going to build a company in media, try to latch on to the best talent or the best content.

 

Chris Erwin:

Smart advice. All right. Last couple. Any future startup ambitions? See yourself starting another company in the near future?

 

Adam Sachs:

Probably not. I don’t know. Maybe. A lot of it comes back to conviction. Again also I feel like I’m building a company right now and so that it’s hard to even have the mind to even find the mind share or bandwidth to be like, “Well, what else do I want to build?” I do a little bit of advising and angel investing. And that helps me to scratch that itch certainly in not the same way, because being on the outside is not nearly the same. But if I got excited enough about something, maybe.

 

Chris Erwin:

All right. And lastly, people are going to listen to this and they’re going to want to get in contact with you. What’s the best way for them to reach out, develop a relationship?

 

Adam Sachs:

They can find me on Twitter @ARSachs. Yeah. Find me on Twitter.

 

Chris Erwin:

Find Adam On Twitter. All right, Adam. Thank you very much. This has been-

 

Adam Sachs:

Thank you. This is great.

 

Chris Erwin:

… absolutely [crosstalk 00:57:43].

 

Adam Sachs:

You’re a natural. You’re a good podcast.

 

Chris Erwin:

Thank you.

 

Adam Sachs:

I’m not surprised though.

 

Chris Erwin:

Thank you very. Much more to come. I look forward to our next conversation.

 

Adam Sachs:

Me too. Thanks Chris.

 

Chris Erwin:

The Come Up is written and hosted by me, Chris Erwin, and is a production of RockWater Industries. Please rate and review this show on Apple Podcasts and remember to subscribe wherever you listen to our show. And if you really dig us, feel free to forward The Come Up to a friend. You can sign up for our company newsletter at wearerockwater.com/newsletter. And you can follow us on Twitter @TCUpod.

The Come Up is engineered by Daniel Tureck. Music is by Devon Bryant. Logo and branding is by Kevin Zazzali. And special thanks to Andrew Cohen and Sean Diep from the RockWater team.

 

Ping us anytime at hello@wearerockwater.com. We love to hear from our readers.

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