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VV Show #50 - Derek Sivers of CD Baby and Muckwork

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Derek Sivers

Last time Derek Sivers was on Venture Voice three years ago he told us he had to "whack 'em [investors] off with a stick". Now we know why. Derek announces on our show for the first time the amount he sold his company for this past summer: $22 million. Derek owned 100% of the equity. Though he might have made more money than most of his fellow music entrepreneurs, Derek's no Gordon Gekko. In this interview, Derek tells us how he put all of his money from the sale into a charitable trust, that he didn't even visit CD Baby's office once during the last year he owned it, and what he's up to next.

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1:29 Flashback 3 years ago (to his first VV appearance): 50 employees, $25M revenue, no plans to ever sell "till the day I die"

2:00 The CD Baby story

4:13 CD Baby in early 2008, what (or who) had changed / "Hitting the wall"

6:55 January 18th, 2008: The decision to sell, "On my sister's birthday, coincidentally"

9:30 Snapshot of CD Baby early 2008: 85 employees, $100M Revenue, 200,000 albums, but "I hadn't actually been to the office in over a year."

10:10 Living the 4-Hour Work Week in London
Book reference #1 - 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss, "He was preaching to the converted."

11:50 "I really started letting go in 2002."

12:00 The perils of owning your own company

14:55 "I've been fascinated by what I did wrong."

15:05 Book reference #2 - What Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith & Mark Reiter, "Reading this book it sounds like the guy had been living inside CD Baby, studying me, and wrote a whole book about what not to do."

17:15 Book reference #3 - Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan, & Charles Burck, "Brilliant book about ... how to take things that are goals or things you want to make happen and how to follow through to make sure they happen."

20:20 Book reference #4 - How to Get Rich
by Felix Dennis, "Never, never, never give anyone a piece of your business."

22:30 CD Baby is sold for $22M to Disc Makers

24:17 Book reference #5 - The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz, "I've learned to be a good enough kind of guy"

26:00 The Art of the Deal: "We ended up in the same place later but the bankers were happy."

30:35 Has the money changed your lifestyle?

31:25 The Willy Wonka idea

34:00 The Independent Musician's Charitable Trust: "I didn't even want the money... It's all just going back to the musicians."

36:20 Muckwork and other new projects: "It's all about helping my musician friends... This is what I'd do anyway, even if it pays nothing."

41:10 Muckwork in detail: "An army of assistants that can help musicians do all of the uncreative, boring dirty-work that needs to be done."

44:30 "You don't have to do anything"

46:55 Attention listeners in need of advice: "I'm more available than I used to be so drop me an email."

47:00 "Venture Voice rules... I wonder if I wasn't allowed to tell you some of the stuff I just told you. I guess we'll find out."

Posted by Greg Galant on Oct 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

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As a long time listener and fan, congratulations for hitting 50 episodes.

Posted by: akshat choudhary at October 23, 2008 4:20 PM

Congrats on 50 episodes, and another great interview!

Posted by: Ross Hill at October 25, 2008 8:37 AM

thanks Greg, and thanks all the people who come to share!

Posted by: Tran PMN at October 25, 2008 10:14 AM

Hey Greg....this particular episode with Derek was fantastic. What a refreshing attitude and perspective he has!!

Like so many of your listeners, I love your podcasts here at Venture Voice. You love doing them. Derek likes 'em, too. That's the trifecta you need.....and it's all in place.

If your pride and Derek's investment trust entity would allow it....perhaps you two can work out a bridge financing of sorts such that Derek would cover the sponsorship revenue for your show until such time as you have sufficient revenue from traditional sponsors to cover your expenses.

Whatever it takes, Greg. You have the best entrepreneur targeted podcast, bar none. Your audience wants more frequent episode releases. You want exactly that. Make it happen......please!



Posted by: David at October 25, 2008 3:17 PM

Great stuff Greg, your interviews are gold.

Posted by: Pieter at October 27, 2008 11:04 PM

Awesome story Greg. Really inspiring for young people as myself.

Congratulations on 50 episodes.

Posted by: Michael at November 24, 2008 6:39 PM

I love Derek's hands off approach. Great questions.

Posted by: Joe at December 3, 2008 8:25 PM

Great interview and so different from the run of the mill interviews you normally hear. I only found you after you were mentioned on Daily Blog Tips and I am so pleased I got here!

Posted by: mark harrison at May 21, 2009 5:38 PM

How much of a bonus did Derek's ex employees get for helping him out all those years?

Posted by: CD Shady at September 10, 2009 7:38 PM