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North Star Podcast


Oct 19, 2020

My guest today is Dave Nemetz, the Founder of Bleacher Report, which was one of my favorite media companies as a kid. During his time there, Dave oversaw video, business development, and business operations. He helped grow the audience to more than 40 million monthly unique visitors before selling the company to Turner Broadcasting in 2012. Today, he is the Founder of Inverse and the Executive Vice President of Bustle Digital Group where he leads growth and business strategy for Inverse, Input, and Mic.

The conversation topics in this episode fall into three buckets: personal principles, business principles, and the state of the world. We spoke about what it's like to lead your company through a merger, why you can think of media businesses like a supply & demand equation, and one of Dave's favorite quotes from Hunter S. Thompson: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” My favorite part of the interview was hearing about a band called Phish, which Dave has seen in concert more than 200 times. That section kickstarted a whole conversation about the brand-building tradeoff between being welcoming to new fans and serving die-hard fans.

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Show Notes

2:31 - What inspired David to get started on the Bleacher Report and why he was drawn to it as a project.

6:24 - Why the desire for a different kind of sports coverage took so long to take off and why other companies didn't get into it earlier.

9:06 - Why sites like Bleacher Report find their niche, even with an abundance of content being created all of the time.

12:46 - The implicit versus the explicit side of finding your niche and exploiting it in the market.

15:14 - What David has learned about building a brand and serving your customers from his favorite band, Phish.

20:12 - How businesses can both serve their die-hard fans and not neglect their newcomers.

27:05 - The arrival fallacy and why selling Bleacher Report to Turner wasn't as exciting as it may have looked on the outside.

31:36 - Why David believes that a fervent drive and passion to achieve goals is a double-edged sword.

34:26 - What most people don't know about managing a business during a buyout or a merger and why it was so difficult for David to handle.

42:54 - How the world of advertising in the early 2000s hadn't seemed to change much from the era of "Mad Men".

52:38 - Why the "the geeks won" and why David is super happy about it.

57:13 - How David has oriented his recruitment and retention strategy in his media brands.

1:05:43 - What the "career elevator" is and why David was determined to create it for himself.

1:10:29 - Some of David's favorite quotes, and why one of his core philosophies is to "enjoy your sandwich".