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As close to an origin story as you can get on me...
Back in the archaic Web 1.0 days at the end of the 1990s, I fit neatly into the stereotype of a "young hotshot" during the early days of the Internet, I was able to raise a bunch of money from angel investors and launch my own interpretation of an online community (back then we didn't have the terminology yet to call it a "social network.")
GAZM.org was my start-up, offering community tools for creative thinkers from around the world to collaborate, share works and opinions. Way ahead of its time, we had initial versions of many things that later became dominant - online avatars, customizable profiles, content filtering, people connecting directly with each other, feedback loops for product features and sponsored content, etc.
Although obviously it didn't turn into TheFacebook, I learned so much about networking, presentation skills, management and more. It's also fun to see that my passion for media, entertainment and talent goes so far back... among other brand partners, we were able to pull off unique marketing campaigns for several film studios and HMV Records (at the time they were the largest music retailer in the world). And on the talent front, I can share a strange bit of trivia... we held an online live chat with music superstars TLC, which ended up being Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes' last online activity before she tragically passed.
On the personal front, GAZM gave me great early experience with public speaking, press interviews and appearances. I got to be on the cover of the retail section of Billboard magazine and was interviewed live on CNN, among other coverage.
Some of the many unique campaigns implemented with our partners:
-Created the world's first Living Music Chart with HMV Record Stores whereby users decided the position of all CDs and every 2 weeks the top-voted CDs went on sale in all HMV stores nationwide - in special GAZM displays in each store.
-Produced the Global Goals Summit during the 2001 Cannes Film Festival for entertainers to discuss their role in positively impacting global challenges.
-Organized a group of 21 filmmakers from across to U.S. to attend the 2002 Cannes Film Festival with accommodations, lectures from executives, all-access passes and showcases of their films all included in the tuition-based program.