The $12.5 Billion Tweet

How much is a tweet worth?

Can a tweet actually impact a business? As CEO of IZEA I get asked these questions everyday. My job is to match companies with influential people and pay them to tweet, post and otherwise endorse their products and services through social media. It is not unusual for a celeb to get tens of thousands of dollars for a single tweet, and that can stretch into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for the A-Listers. Yes, that may sounds like a lot of money – but when you combine the right person with the right brand it can be well worth it.


Today Carl Icahn tweeted about Apple, a company that he has taken a large equity position in. He has a mere 39,957 followers, but those followers are the right followers. They are truly influenced by Icahn, not just by clicking or retweeting, but by buying. Within 100 minutes Apple stock jumped as high as $494.66, to close nearly 5% higher, at $489.57 per share – a six-month high. Icahn’s tweet added nearly $12.5 billion to Apple’s market cap. AMAZING. While the size of his stake has not been disclosed, it is safe to assume that he just made himself tens of millions of dollars.

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How much is a tweet worth? You tell me.

Disclosure : I own Apple stock.


Dogfish Head Brewery

Great Beer

I love beer. It is delicious and apparently good for you (or at least that is what I tell myself). Nothing is better than drinking an ice cold beer on my dock at the end of a long week. Perhaps my favorite microbrewery right now is Sam Calagione’s Dogfish Head Brewery. Dogfish Head grabbed my attention when I tasted their eccentric 60 minute IPA years ago, but they earned my faithful dedication when I had the rare 120 minute IPA. With 18% alcohol by volume, one bottle of 120 minute and you are….”relaxed”.

dogfish_head_sam_calagioneGreat Entreprenuer

The microbrewery’s humble origins can be traced back to 1995, when Calagione founded the company in Milton, Delaware. Calagione entered the brewing industry after imbibing the craft beers he was serving at a bar in New York City. The richly nuanced flavors inspired him to pursue his own microbrewery. The company’s line-up featured seasonal varieties, including Punkin Ale, a sweet brown ale with hints of pumpkin, and Chicory Stout, which is an amalgam of Mexican cocoa, licorice, St. John’s Wort and finely roasted chicory.

Calagione’s innovative mind has remained the backbone of thecompany. He refuses to monitor the actions of Dogfish Head’s brewing rivals; instead, all brews are personally concocted, and Calagione forces the competition to constantly catch up with their clever blends. He spends his time “roaming” in industries outside of beer to get inspiration. His company seeks artistic overlap, and forges collaborations with anyone who shares their creative interests. They have formed an alliance with The Grateful Dead, which subsequently culminated in a themed beer known as American Beauty. Like most of their beer, this pale ale also packs a vicious punch.

The company earned widespread notoriety with the inception of their India Pale Ale line in 2001. The first beer introduced in this series was Dogfish’s 90 Minute IPA. Outside of the 120 Minute IPA, it delivers one of the most full-bodied experiences you will find. The name of the product refers to the length of time it is boiled for hops infusion. A lighter variety appeared in 2003, known as the 60 Minute IPA, which was my first introduction to Dogfish.

The success of these beers facilitated a national expansion for the brand. As a result, their manufacturing output increased by massive proportions. From a dream… to a micro brewing powerhouse. They now brew 75,000 barrels of beer annually with a loyal following of craft beer lovers.

The Rules for Raising Money Have Changed

greenberg_traurig_logoOn July 10, 2013, the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted rule amendments that eliminate the 80-year old prohibition on general solicitation and general advertising in Rule 506 and Rule 144A transactions under the Securities Act of 193. This announcement has created a huge ripple in the investment community and will lead to a wealth of new opportunities for startups seeking capital. The short story – you will soon be able to advertise the fact that you are raising money.

spencer_feldmanI pinged IZEA‘s corporate counsel, Spencer Feldman of Greenberg Traurig about the change in policy. Spencer concentrates his practice in the areas of initial public offerings, follow-on offerings, shelf takedowns, confidentially marketed offerings, registered directs, PIPEs and other private financings. He is a leading mind in finance law and has been selected for inclusion in the 2012 New York Metro edition of Super Lawyers, Securities & Corporate Finance section. Our interview below:

Does this mean that anyone can openly advertise that they are raising money for their company?

First, let me tell you that these new SEC rules represent a significant evolution of the longstanding principle of the SEC’s Securities Act that a sale of common stock or any other security has to be made either to the general public through a registered public offering or to selected “accredited investors” through a private placement. Under the new rules, a private unregistered offering can soon include general solicitation and advertising so long as the actual sale of the stock is restricted only to “accredited investors” under new Rule 506(c) (whom the company has reasonably verified).

As to your question, yes, anyone can openly advertise that they are raising money for their company, but no company will be able to rely on Rule 506 if any of its executive officers, directors, promoters, placement agents or any principal stockholder is a felon or “bad actor.” This term is defined in the new rules.

What type of marketing activities are permitted? Can I put an ad in the paper that says I am raising $10M, call me if you want to invest?

Permitted marketing activities would include solicitation of potential investors and advertising through websites, social media, newspapers, television and radio. Yes, while the ad you suggest covers the gist of the new rules, companies need to be mindful that the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws still apply to misleading advertising and the SEC has announced stepped-up monitoring in this new area (they have created a Microcap Fraud Task Force). There are also proposed new rules to require disclaimers in sale materials, submission of offering materials to the SEC and enhanced Form D disclosures.

 Can anyone invest in these offerings?

As I mentioned before, the actual investors in the private placement must be “accredited investors” under new Rule 506(c). It is the company’s responsibility to reasonably verify through a number of acceptable methods that the investors, in fact, reach this so-called sophistication level. However, to be clear, merely offering stock to someone who is not accredited will not negatively affect the exemption.

Are there different rules for public and private companies?

No – the rules relate to private placements by both publicly-traded and privately-held companies.

I have seen many blog posts talking about this as if the rules are already in effect. Is that true?

Actually, the rules are NOT in effect yet. The new rules take effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, which could be as early as this week. I would expect the rules to be effective in September sometime.

In your opinion is this a good thing or a bad thing?

I think there is no question that the new rules should facilitate much broader access to the capital markets for a wide variety of companies, both public and private, but especially for small-caps. Also, remember, elimination of the ban on general solicitation and advertising opens the door for the growth of the crowdfunding industry, which is the SEC’s next rulemaking initiative.

The opinions expressed in this blog post are his own and should not be relied upon by companies or their potential investors without consultation with appropriate counsel.

Orlando’s Own Lean Domain Search Acquired by Automattic

automattic-logoOrlando based Lean Domain Search, a domain search platform, has been acquired by Automattic, the parent company of Founder Matt Mazur launched the service on Hacker News in January 2012. At Automattic, Mazur will help the team to make it “even easier for users to find and register great domain names for their websites and blogs.”

The terms of the deal were not disclosed. The site will continue to run and now be offered completely free.

Congratulations to Matt! I love seeing Orlando entrepreneurs succeed!

7 Successful Entrepreneurs that Failed First

Many entrepreneurs experience failure and rejection before they find success. Those that do succeed know that it takes determination to reach their goals and fulfill their dreams. I have personally been through many a trial, but I have never given up.

Every “no” gets you closer to a “yes”. Every failure gets you closer to success.

Here are some “failures” that I admire.

dorseyJack Dorsey

While Jack Dorsey is currently considered one of the golden boys of Silicon Valley, he was actually fired as CEO of Twitter in 2008. He went on to found Square and later returned to Twitter as Executive Chairman.

edisonThomas Edison

School teachers told Edison that he was stupid. He invented almost 1,000 light bulbs before one of them worked. Now Edison is one of the most famous inventors in United States history. He held 1,093 U.S. patents, including 1084 utility patents (patents for inventions) and 9 artistic design patents.

oprahOprah Winfrey

Oprah has confessed that she was fired from her television reporting job early in her career because of her appearance. Winfrey persevered and became the queen of television talk shows with her own production company and later her own television network.

fordHenry Ford

Ford’s first company went out of business. He abandoned his second auto company bearing his own name because of a dispute with colleagues. He later created the Ford Motor Company in 1903 and pioneered the production line, revolutionizing the automotive industry. Over 110 years later the company is still going strong.

jk_rowlingJ.K. Rowling

Rowling was as an unemployed single mother living in England when she conceived the idea for the first Harry Potter novel. It took her seven years to complete it and during this period she lived in poverty. The first book Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone was a bestseller worldwide. The Potter books have now sold more than 400 million copies.

disneyWalt Disney

As a teenager Disney was constantly rejected when he applied for cartoonist jobs. A reporter once told him he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Eventually Disney decided to found his own cartoon studio when he was 22. Unfortunately the company went bankrupt. He then went to Los Angeles where he founded the Disney Studios with his brother Roy. The Walt Disney company is now 66 on the Fortune 500.

steve_jobsSteve Jobs

The board of directors of Apple fired Steve Jobs in 1985. He was responsible for the Macintosh division which performed poorly and the company had to discontinue the Lisa computer. Jobs returned to Apple in the late 1990s as an advisor and eventually became the CEO. He prevented Apple from going into bankruptcy and made it a profitable company by 1998.

5 Questions with Gary Vaynerchuk

jab_jab_hook_rightDescribed as “The most influential wine critic in the United States,” Gary Vaynerchuk is proof that it only takes a dedicated passion for one thing to launch an empire.

Vaynerchuk was born in what is now Belarus in 1975 and immigrated to the United States with his family when he was only three years old. His father started a small liquor store, and after graduating from Mount Ida College in Masachusets, Vaynerchuk returned to transform the store into The Wine Library. In 2006, he launched what would be key to his success, a daily internet webcast in which he’d discuss and critique wine called Wine Library TV.

The webcast took off, and with its success he went on to create and produce another web series called Obsessed TV, a 30 to 40 minute show that eventually boasted 75 celebrity guests such as Al Roker. He quickly became known as one of the top gurus of marketing in the social media era.

2009 was a monumental year for Vaynerchuk. Buoyed by the success of his web ventures and retail enterprise, he co-launched a social media consulting agency called VaynerMedia and signed a million dollar book deal with HarperStudio.Crush It!, his first book, was released later that same year and focused on how people can monetize their passions on the internet. It claimed the #2 position on the New York Times Advice Bestsellers list.

His second book, The Thank You Economy, was published two years later and again claimed the #2 spot on the New York Times Advice Bestsellers list, behind financial guru Suze Orman.

That same year, in 2011, Vaynerchuk decided to end his webcasts so that he could devote his full attention to VaynerMedia and his writing. VaynerMedia regularly consults with big brand names like Pepsi, Disney, Proctor & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson.

Vaynerchuk has been featured in the New York Times, GQ, Time, The Wall Street Journal and has appeared on talk shows such as Conan O’Brien and Ellen. His third book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, will center on “how to sell your story in a noisy world,” and is slated to drop sometime in 2013. Follow Gary on Twitter or checkout his website.

I asked Gary 5 Questions :

1. Why do you get out of bed each day?
To make my family proud and to build my legacy.

2. What is the worst thing an entrepreneur can do?
To think they won, means they aren’t a real entrepreneur after all!

3. If you could do it all over again would you go to college?
Yes, I went to a crappy college. I never went to class but grew as a man by being away from home and enjoyed the vacation before all this damn hustling.

4. What is the greatest invention of all time?
The Internet.

5. If you had to choose between giving up wine or the Internet what would it be?
EASY – wine – the Internet = people and that i cant give up!

Know Your Nos

Over the past two months I have racked up nearly 25,000 miles bouncing from coast to coast pitching my butt off on ideas big and small. I would love to tell you that every time I walk in to a room people hand me a contract, but the reality is that rarely happens. People “need more time”, “need to circulate with colleagues” or “think it is interesting…” but at the end of the day what they really mean is NO…. or at least no right now.

No is probably the hardest word to hear as an entrepreneur, whether you are pitching your business to an investor or a project to a client. But no is part of the game. Nobody bats 100%, especially if you are pioneering a new space. Not only should you expect no, you should embrace no. No is your friend, because each no gets you one step closer to yes.

Your Failure Profile

Each time someone tells you no write it down. Better yet use a spreadsheet or database to track your nos more efficiently over time. I am a big fan of, you can easily use their platform to track your failures. Record not only that you were shot down but why you were shot down. Was it price? What is time? Did a competitor have a better offering? Did the person you pitched “get it”?

Over time you will be able to develop what I call a Failure Profile. Your profile can tell you why you are failing and what type of success ratio you have when pitching your wares. This is important for two reasons:

1. You can address the reasons you are failing and modify your pitch to close more effectively in the future.

2. You get an understanding of your personal close ratio. That will help you determine how many nos you can expect to hear before you might get a yes.

Once you understand that each no gets you closer to a yes they are much easier to stomach. In fact, you become eager to cycle through nos faster in order to get to the yes. I heard a lot of nos over the past couple of months, but I finally got the one big yes I was after.

Dan Rua : VC Rock Star

Five years ago I launched with a controversial story in BusinessWeek. Shortly after the launch I was inundated with calls from venture capitalists looking to fund my idea and “help me take it to the next level”. My family has a long history with VCs and investors. My father raised funds and took a company public in the 80s, achieving a $250M market cap. Both of my brothers raised about $30M each from top tier VCs in the early 2000s. I have seen the ugly side of investors and venture capital. When VCs started calling in 2006 I wanted nothing to do with them… and then I met Dan Rua.

An Instant Connection

Most VCs will tell you that they don’t invest in technologies, they invest in people. Unfortunately most entrepreneurs don’t operate in the same way, either out of greed or desperation. I was lucky. I had an existing company that was doing very well, and PayPerPost was taking off like a rocket ship. I didn’t need money. I didn’t want to get in bed with new investors, but that all changed after a few weeks with Dan.

Dan and I connected instantly. When I shared my vision he not only understood it but he challenged me to think even bigger. I told him that I wasn’t really interested in raising money. He told me that we should have more conversations and I should meet some of his associates. Over the course of the next few weeks Dan and I spent a lot of time together. Within 90 days PayPerPost had $3M in the bank and a syndicate of top tier venture capitalists around the table. It all started with Dan and I am eternally grateful for all he has done.

For The Long Haul

Closing a round is one thing, building a company together is another. Like any company IZEA has had its fair share of ups and downs. Through it all Dan has been my rock. I bounce new ideas off of him, share my frustrations and fears, and celebrate the big wins. Over the past few years I can’t tell you how many times he has made the 4 hour commute from Gainesville to Orlando to lend a helping hand. He has been there for the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. Strong. Confident. Understanding but not afraid to tell me what I need to hear. An entrepreneurs VC in every sense of the term.

Lucky Me. Lucky You.

If you are a Florida technology entrepreneur you know that raising venture capital in this state is hard. Really hard. But things have been changing over the past few years. Dan’s firm Inflexion was the first (and still only) early stage fund to focus on Florida. They have made nine investments in companies to date, and there will be a larger Inflexion Fund II in the future. That is great news for Florida startups and something I am extremely excited about.

I lucked out when I found Dan. If you are a Florida entrepreneur (or an institutional / accredited investor looking to make a real difference in our economy) you should drop him a line. Having a money guy in your corner is great, but having a money guy that cares about you and knows what he is doing is even better. There is a reason why Dan is one of the most respected VCs in the industry. Dan Rua is a rock star.