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Thursday, June 9, 2022
Do You Read Malcom Gladwell? Do You Read the Financial Times? Do You Watch Porn?
Have we got the podcast for you!
Financial Times teamed up with Pushkin Industries (co-founded by Gladwell and named after the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin) to produce an eight-part podcast series titled Hot Money - porn, power & profit. The first two episodes dropped yesterday and are available at all the normal venues where one can listen to podcasts (and is also available directly from Financial Times and Pushkin).
The Financial Poise Team had a listening party yesterday. We had actually been anticipating the release because a member of our Faculty had been interviewed for the series. Our take? The first 73-minutes that make up the first two episodes were as entertaining as it was fascinating.
Even if you despise porn, they are well worth the listen. They begin to tell the story of the creation of a business empire. It is the story of the machinations of Wall Street. And it is the story of value that the right Special Situations investment banker can bring to the table. And that banker, in the case of the porn industry, was none other than a Financial Poise Faculty Member, Rick Rosenbloom, and his firm, Fuel Break Capital Partners.
Hot Money is narrated by FT reporter Patricia Nilsson and FT global financial editor Alex Barker. It tells the story of how a young German techie, Fabian Thylman, created a backend algorithm to track affiliate links and traffic to collect fees due from other sites, and how within five years of his first purchase of a fledgling online porn site in Europe, came to control the porn industry by the time he was 33 years old.
Hot Money is also the story of how a scrappy, independent Special Situations investment banker, Rick Rosenbloom, with decades of experience raising money for distressed companies, leveraged his capital relationships, talents and moxy to get Wall Street to invest in an industry it had - up to that point - refused to touch. Together Rick and Fabian were able to convince Wall Street that Fabian’s intrepid focus on profitability and his professional approach to operations would yield outsized returns and greatly outweigh any headline risk that this investment might entail.
Rosenbloom’s success is not unexpected for those who have worked with him. According to one source, Rosenbloom is “one of the best people to turn to when you have a distressed company that needs capital or that wishes to sell itself” and that he “also has quite a track record in financially healthy companies that have some other issues causing many traditional buyers, lenders, or investors from wanting to do a deal.”
The remaining six episodes will be released over the next several weeks (and ultimately tell the story of Fabian’s downfall at the hands of an insidious, behind-the-scenes interloper who operated in the shadows to ultimately supplant Fabian). Here is a transcript of an interesting 2016 interview of Thylman.
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