a16z Podcast: Michael Ovitz

  • The goal for CAA: To put talent back in the driver’s seat. The ability to create a product or to realize dreams was in the hands of the buyers. When we started there was a very large barrier to entry in the media business. Anything that you would read, see, or hear was controlled by under 25 companies around the world. [2:41]

  • The environment we started CAA in is the opposite of today. You can get a podcast going and people listening to it. That used to be impossible. There was no way to do it. [3:31]

  • Some ideas from CAA culture: focus on first impressions, a siege mentality: you’re with us or against us, never bad mouth the competition. [6:39]

  • When we started CAA there were 200+ agencies. The idea was to differentiate. We decided to create a service model that was completely different. You would have access to services that other agencies were not offering. [7:16]

  • We did many things that were positive for the creative community but we coupled it with this relentless aggressive attitude and this point of view that we had to win at all costs. I don’t think we could have done it a different way because we were in a cut-throat business. [11:55]

  • On some people not liking him: I was not out to win a popularity contest. This was not high school. I started out at the age of 27. The business had been around for 75 years. This was a tough game. [16:03]

  • The fish stinks from the head. The quality of the business depends on who is operating it. [19:02]

  • Full podcast here.