A Lesson from My First Partner Company


We built flash-based websites.

My brother visited our last remaining grandparent this past week while he was working with a large fortune client with Action & Influence, Inc., a venture I started with him earlier last year but have since exited so I could fully concentrate on the acceleration of 8BIT and this little monster called Pressgram.

He’s doing a great job of building the business in a lot of ways having hired another FT employee 6 or 7 weeks ago. He seems to be doubling his revenue every quarter or something insane; it’s most certainly not doing that on paper but it really feels like the momentum is building (I no longer know what the revenue is anyway). So proud of him taking the reins.

But on that visit with our grandmother, who is 91 I believe, he went into her kitchen to find an old cork board with business cards tacked into it. On this board sat not only business cards but many other types of paraphernalia from all of her children, her grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Their businesses, their addresses, pictures from trips all around the world.

And there sat one of the first business cards that I ever owned – from Life Multimedia. This was the first company that I had ever created that had partners – before then I was very much a solopreneur, building my own apps (and companies) by myself from soup to nuts.

This partnership ended in failure and broke the relationships that I had with the two others because of *gasp* – you guessed it, money. I haven’t seen one of them since and that was 8 or 9 years ago (I believe he moved to Savannah, GA, got married and had a kid).

But the point is that I learned one of the most important lessons of my life (and business) from that experience – my dad had told me that I should always remember this very important truth:

Money changes people.

And did it ever. My father added that even if they were spiritual, religious, or held some moral high-ground, that money still could claw it’s way to the very top and become master.

I have since seen it happen many times over. Humble people turn into anything but humble. People who loved their craft, their art, the essence of what they were building turn into mercenaries for hire. People who loved other people and build an organization about others suddenly turn grossly inward as money started to flow strongly.

A sad consequence that very few, if any, can rise above. If you can look yourself in the mirror today and tell yourself that you’re above the influence then you’ve obviously never faced the challenge head-on. Those that survive and manage to keep their integrity have stared down the barrel of the gun and called it’s bluff – but they are left scarred with the reality that they too can be swayed. And they are anything but naive.

Entrepreneurs most of all are often presented with such challenges and making decisions that are good for the business and not just for their own personal wealth can be very hard to discern. The mind is so willing (and able) to justify poor decisions with great intentions.