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article imageInterview with Wayne Chang: Entrepreneur and investor Special

By Markos Papadatos     Apr 11, 2017 in Business
Wayne Chang, serial entrepreneur and angel investor, chatted with Digital Journal. His latest company, Crashlytics, was acquired by Twitter in 2013 in its largest acquisition at the time.
When asked how he started with Napster, Chang responded, "Shawn Fanning, Sean Parker, me, were all a bunch of young rebellious hackers back then. We all connected through IRC, which was sorta like a a 90's version of today's Slack. We were all about the same age and interested in the same things -- learning and building cool things that other people would find useful."
He shared that he is a big fan of 90's music. "Even through I'm 33, I feel really old every time I hear myself say that. The technology at Napster was fantastic at the time. It was the killer app of the Internet. Music? For free? Who could resist?"
Change rose up the corporate ladder quickly, where from Napster forward, he owns over 50 companies. "I have a visceral response when I hear corporate ladder. The whole point of being an entrepreneur is to side-step and bypass the corporate ladder -- at least for me! I was fortunate enough to have started a few companies that went on to become very popular. My last one, after about a year, was acquired by Twitter in it's largest acquisition at the time. Google then acquired it from Twitter a few years later. That start-up now lives in over 2.7 billion devices -- including the phone in your hand right now. My passion has been to impact as many people as possible, as many times as possible. So by building start-ups, it lets me do that directly, but by being an angel investor and supporter in other entrepreneurs, it lets me do that faster and more broadly."
He treats all of his companies as his children, and loves them all equally. Chang is moving into the film side of things. "The most important job in the world is a storyteller. Films are a great way to tell a story, and through technology, we can tell it even better. Personally though, I love business drama stories. Too Big to Fail, Pirates of Silicon Valley, The Aviator, etc."
Chang continued, "I tell my teams constantly that we don't engineer solutions, we engineer emotions. The success of a film largely depends on how they make a person feel over the 90 or so minutes that they have the audience. Through technology, we should be able to make more immerse environments that draws greater reactions and builds a better emotional journey."
The entrepreneur measures success by reach. "My last company, Crashlytics, is now on over 2.7 billion devices, in over 1 million apps, and dominates two categories -- mobile performance at No. 1, which is more than No. 2 through No. 6 combined -- and mobile analytics at No. 1, beating Google Analytics. This platform was also built by a very small team in a very small time window. I'm proud of it because we were able to do it with such speed and scale while competing with the biggest and best companies in the world -- and we won."
He shared that SURKUS is the only app that he knows where you can request actual people to show up at a venue. "You can decide on the demographic of the people. It's been used by many companies -- music and film producers that need extras, companies doing launch events, etc. And yes, concerts for sure -- in fact, SURKUS will have hundreds of people at events like Coachella," he said.
On the future of his career, he said, "I'm just getting started. I'm super thankful to have the ability to retire now, at 33 -- but I've never worked harder in my life. I'm excited to be involved in many industries, from mobile to space to food to robotics, and my goal is to improve as many aspects of everyone's daily lives as possible."
For Chang, film is a "fun creative outlet." "I've been approached to be involved in some films, either as an executive producer or on-screen talent. It'll be a pleasure and an honor to be a part of some great stories on the big screen," he said. "I've been fortunate to already been part of it twice through Napster and i2hub, a start-up that I founded in college. But, music is a huge part of content that we all like, so I'm sure it'll be in my future again at some point."
For aspiring entrepreneurs, he said, "Ideas are plenty. Once you've chosen an idea, you're committing a bunch of time to that idea. So, the real skill isn't in the creation of the idea, but the ability to judge an idea."
Chang elaborated, "The best ideas are painkillers. What does that mean? Well, if you're a vitamin company, you need to convince people to pay you regularly so that you can potentially help them 50 years from now. People will naturally be skeptical. So, you need to create marketing collateral. Hire so-called experts to endorse it. Build a huge sales staff. And, the sales cycle is really long. However, painkiller companies are completely different. People actively search you out. I can hold up a pill and say, this will solve your pain. They will crawl over and give me whatever I want. The entire psychology and value transfer is completely different. Much faster sales cycles. Faster distribution. Viral growth. If you're going to build a business, make sure you're in the painkiller business and not the vitamin business."
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