This week, we speak with Howard Lindzon, who is co-founder and managing partner of the early-stage seed investment fund Social Leverage. Lindzon also cofounded the social network Stocktwits, which pioneered the “cashtag” (e.g., $AAPL) and today has over 6 million monthly unique visitors; in addition, he has written several books and hosts the podcast “Panic With Friends.”
He explains his first investment into the company behind the Gripp, a stress squeeze ball that eventually sold so many copies that it ended up in the QVC hall-of-fame. Despite what he describes as a lucky investment, he avoided investing in the internet throughout the 1990s. By 1999, he got itchy, eventually putting cash in Cars.com.
Recognizing the potential of YouTube in 2006, he decides to create a tongue-in-cheek parody of Financial TV. He launches Wallstrip with Lindsay Campbell, featuring amusing parodies of CNBC, including man-in-the-street interviews, sardonic market analysis, and other amusing vignettes. They frequently spoofed Cramer, creating a medical version of the famed TV host, with a faux Dr. Cramer giving bad medical advice. The show soon after was the target of a bidding war with CNBC and CBS. He tells the story of how he bumbled his way through the sale 6 months after launch. Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures was whispering in Howard’s ear how to manage his first successful exit.
Despite himself, Howard managed to pocket a few million dollars. He used it to launch seed investor Social Leverage. The VC fund, which is often the first dollar into a start-up, had a string of successes.
Howard passed on being an early investor in Twitter — and as he says, this show is not called “Howard’s a genius, it’s called Masters in Business, you have to have losses to become a master” — but he was the first check into RobinHood, which turned out to be a 9-figure winner for him.
You can stream and download our full conversation, including any podcast extras, on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, YouTube, and Bloomberg. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.
Be sure to check out our Masters in Business next week with Robyn Grew, Incoming CEO of Man Group, (and current President). Man Group is the largest publicly traded hedge fund in the world, whose history dates back 230 years to 1783. Previously, she held senior positions at Barclays Capital, Lehman Brothers, and LIFFE.
Howard Lindzon Favorite Books
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight
Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefevre
Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi