So what happens AFTER you disrupt an entire industry?
When last we saw him, Michael Robertson and MP3.com managed to uproot the business model of the entire music industry. Physical media, he realized, didn’t matter. People weren’t interested in CDs, cassettes or vinyl; they wanted music, and they wanted to it digitally.
For Michael Robertson, the man who took a chance and spent $1000 on “Two letters and a number,” the world was never the same.
Suddenly, Wall Street players, who wouldn’t return his calls came knocking. Soon after that, there were IPOs, and truckloads of money. Then came the Lawyers, those big labels, the ones who refused to play ball, dragged Michael into Court. Even the US Government, was breathing down his neck.
“So, I told my wife, I bought this new domain and she said, ‘what did you pay?’”
I told her, ’a thousand dollars’.
She was dumbfounded, ’That’s just two letters and a number!”
So, I said, ‘no no no… trust me… it’s going to be big!’”
- Michael Robertson, Founder, mp3.com
Today’s episode isn’t so much about the music industry as it is about the life of an entrepreneur. It isn’t so much about being lucky, as it is about making your own luck.
Let's go back to the early days of the internet when even with a, “Blazing fast,” 96k modem, it took more than 45 minutes to download one song - 45 minutes that is, if you could even find any music to download.
Fresh out of college, newly minted, “computer consultant”, Michael Robertson was looking for his edge. As the founder of “FILEZ.com” an early software search engine, Michael began noticing odd search trends. Sure, people were searching for files with the terms, “spreadsheet” or “word processor,” but they were also looking for files with terms like, “sex” or “game”, and they were looking for music, music files with the strange extension - “.MP3”.
After some detective work, and a little research, Michael took a leap of faith: For the - at that time astronomical - sum of $1,000 he bought - “mp3.com”.
A few years later after being a catalyst for a global music revolution, his company had an IPO putting the value of his company in the billions. Then all the major label sued him and the SEC changed US IPO regulations.
Today’s episode is about Michael Robertson, and how, “two letters and a number,” ignited the internet music revolution.