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Tag Archives: Quincy Jones

Jonathan Keidan, the founder of Torch Capital, had already built a portfolio that included Acorns, Compass, Digital Ocean and Sweetgreen, before he raised single dollar for his inaugural venture capital fund, which just closed with $60 million.

Keidan, a consummate networker who began his professional career as a manager working with acts like The Nappy Roots, The Getaway People and a young John Legend, just managed to be in the right place at the right time, he says (thanks, in part, to his gift for gab).

The final close for Torch Capital’s first fund is just the beginning for Torch, which is angling to be one of the premiere firms for early stage consumer internet and consumer facing enterprise software.

The firm began raising its first fund in October 2017 and held a $40 million first close just about one year ago. Keidan and his partners had targeted $50 million for his first investment vehicle, but wound up hitting the hard cap of $60 million, in part due to high demand from the New York-based entrepreneurs that Keidan considers his peers.

In addition to backers like the George Kaiser Family Foundation and billionaire Hong Kong fashion mogul Silas Chou, Keidan was able to tap startup founders like Jennifer Fleiss, the co-founder of Rent the Runway; Casper co-founders Philip Krim and Neil Parikh; and Bryan Goldberg, the founder of Bleacher Report and owner of Bustle Media Group (which includes Gawker, Bustle, Elite Daily, Mic, The Outline, and The Zoe Report, which collectively form Bustle Digital Group).

“Because I’ve taken a more startup approach i was recruiting raising money and doing deals at the same time,” says Keidan. 


A sampling of Torch Capital’s portfolio investments

Along with partners Sam Jones, a former London-based investment banker; Katie Reiner, an investor at the data-driven growth fund, Lead Edge Capital; Curtis Chang, a technology-focused investment banker from HSBC’ and Chantal Haldorsen, a serial startup executive; Keidan has certainly done deals.

He started investing as an angel while still working at his own media company InsideHook, and began forming special purpose vehicles for larger investments as soon as he departed, about three years ago.

For the first year-and-a-half, Jones and Keidan worked on the SPVS, which allowed them to put together a portfolio that included Acorns, Compass, Digital Ocean and Sweetgreen — as well as startups like ZocDoc and the ketchup brand, Sir Kensington’s.

Since launching the fund, Keidan and his partners did 15 investments in the first year — including investments into . the consumer-focused Ro Health, which sells erectile dysfunction medication, supplements for hair growth, and more recently menopausal products for women.

Torch Capital has also backed the fintech company, Harness Wealth, sustainable cashmere manufacturer and retailer, Naadam; and Splendid Spoon, a vegan breakfast and lunch prepared food provider akin to Daily Harvest.

Keidan’s interest in investment stems from his experience in the music industry. It was a time when Spotify was just beginning to emerge and Napster had already shaken up the market. The creation of digital platforms enabled artists to connect more directly with the consumer in a way that traditional companies couldn’t understand.

Instead of embracing the technology labels and artists fought it, and the writing on the wall (that the labels and artists would lose) became clear… at least for Keidan. 

Following some advice from mentors including the super-producer and music mogul, Quincy Jones, Keidan went to business school. He graduated from Columbia in 2007 with an MBA and then did what all former music managers do after their MBA training — he joined McKinsey as a consultant. The stint at McKinsey led Keidan to Jack Welch’s online education venture and from there, Keidan started InsideHook.

Keidan grew the company to over 2 million subscribers in the five years since he helped launch the business in 2012. From that perch he saw the rise of direct to consumer startups and began making angel investments. His first was ZocDoc, his second, Sir Kensingtons (which sold to Unilever) and his third was the real estate investment platform, Compass.

That track record was enough to convince Chou, the Hong Kong billionaire that turned around Tommy Hilfiger and built Michael Kors into a multi-billion dollar powerhouse in the world of ready to wear fashion.

Like the rest of the venture industry, Keidan sees the technology tools that have transformed much of business are now remaking the ease and reach of building direct to consumer brands. Unlike most, Keidan has spent time working on the ground up to develop brands (artists and songwriting talent in the music business).

Everything that Torch Capital invests in has at least one eye on an end consumer, whether that’s direct consumer investments like Ro, Sweetgreen or the business surveying startup, Perksy.

Torch invests between $500,000 and $1 million in seed deals and will invest anywhere between $1 million to $3 million in Series A deals, according to Keidan.

“What makes a consumer company successful at scale is very different than enterprise software or consumer internet deals,” said Keidan. “VCs were having trouble getting their heads around this… [their companies] were overvalued too early… and when they couldn’t meet those goals they were doing things that were detrimental to the brand.”

Keidan thinks he has a better approach.

“Between InsideHook and watching companies grow and my own investments i’d seen the nuances of what it takes to get to scale,” he said.

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Seven months after Jones insulted the Beatles musicianship, McCartney finally claps back

The musician-on-musician public tiff, sometimes referred to as a rap beef, has become something of an art form in recent years. Drake and Pusha T, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B: these are epic battles in which artists use social media and the worlds greatest producers to release devastating diss tracks about each other, often responding to the latest slur within hours.

For older artists, it can be hard to muster that kind of animosity. But Quincy Jones and Paul McCartney, with 161 years and 45 Grammys between them, are giving it a go albeit without quite as much malice as their hip-hop counterparts.

It began in February, when Quincy Jones gave a wildly unguarded interview with New York magazine in which as well as claiming that Marlon Brando had sex with Richard Pryor, that he knew the true identity of who killed JFK and that he had dated Ivanka Trump Jones cast aspersions about the Beatles musicianship.

Jones said: They were the worst musicians in the world. They were no-playing motherfuckers. Paul was the worst bass player I ever heard. And Ringo? Dont even talk about it.

I remember once we were in the studio with George Martin, and Ringo had taken three hours for a four-bar thing he was trying to fix on a song. He couldnt get it. We said, Mate, why dont you get some lager and lime, some shepherds pie, and take an hour-and-a-half and relax a little bit.

So he did, and we called Ronnie Verrell, a jazz drummer. Ronnie came in for 15 minutes and tore it up. Ringo comes back and says, George, can you play it back for me one more time? So George did, and Ringo says, That didnt sound so bad. And I said, Yeah, motherfucker, because it aint you. Great guy, though.

The interview was well received many cheered Joness honesty but Jones felt bad about what was said, and later apologised, saying it had been a case of word vomit and that bad-mouthing is inexcusable.

Now, seven months later, McCartney has responded, not via a YouTube diss video, but via another lengthy profile with a legacy media title, this time GQ magazine. In the piece, McCartney recounts the apology call from Quincy.

So he rang me, and Im at home on my own. And Id finished work, so I had a drink, and now Im grooving at home, Im cooking, Ive got a little bit of wine going, Im in a good mood, and I dont give a shit. So I get a phone call: Is this Mr McCartney? Yes. Quincy would like to speak with you. Because hes always worked through security guys.

I said, Hey, Quince! Paul, how you doing, man? Im doing great how are you, you motherfucker! Im just jiving with him. Paul, I didnt really say that thing I dont know what happened, man. I never said that. You know I love you guys!

I said, If you had said that, you know what I would have said? Fuck you, Quincy Jones! And he laughed. I said, You know I would say to that: Fuck you, Quincy Jones, you fucking crazy motherfucker! So actually we just had a laugh. And he was like, Oh, Paul, you know I love you so much. Yeah, I know you do, Quince.

McCartneys rejoinder is not exactly a knockout blow, and it seems the two men have buriedwhat was already quite a blunt hatchet. Still, McCartney was at pains to point out that hes actually quite good at the bass guitar.

I dont think Im the worst bass player hes ever heard, he said. Or maybe hes never heard bad bass players.

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Record producer takes swipes at the Beatles, the machiavellian Michael Jackson, U2 and more

Quincy Jones: ‘The Beatles were the worst musicians in the world’

Record producer takes swipes at the Beatles, the machiavellian Michael Jackson, U2 and more

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Jennifer Lee Pryor, who was twice married to the comedian, corroborates claims by music producer Quincy Jones, noting that it was the 70s and drugs were still good

Richard Pryor and Marlon Brando were lovers, Pryor’s widow confirms

Jennifer Lee Pryor, who was twice married to the comedian, corroborates claims by music producer Quincy Jones, noting that it was the 70s and drugs were still good

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Music producer wins four-year fight for fees related to music from albums Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad

A jury on Wednesday found that Michael Jacksons estate owes Quincy Jones $9.4m in royalties and production fees from Billie Jean, Thriller and more of the superstars biggest hits.

The award from a Los Angeles superior court jury fell short of the $30m the producer sought in the lawsuit filed nearly four years ago, but well above the approximately $392,000 the Jackson estate contended Jones was owed.

The jury of 10 women and two men had been deliberating since Monday.

This lawsuit was never about Michael, it was about protecting the integrity of the work we all did in the recording studio and the legacy of what we created, Jones wrote in a statement. Although this [judgment] is not the full amount that I was seeking, I am very grateful that the jury decided in our favour in this matter. I view it not only as a victory for myself personally, but for artists rights overall.

Estate attorney Howard Weitzman said he and his team were surprised by the verdict. I understand everybodys going to say it could have been much worse they were asking for huge amounts, Weitzman said. Were still disappointed.

He said the estate planned an appeal.

Jones claimed in the lawsuit that Jacksons estate and Sony Music Entertainment owed him for music he had produced in Off the Wall, Thriller, Bad as well as the This Is It soundtrack and two Cirque du Soleil shows.

The lawsuit said the entities had improperly re-edited the songs to deprive Jones of royalties and production fees, and that he had a contractual right to take first crack at any re-edit or remix.

The Jackson camp held that Jones should be paid only licensing fees for songs used in those three productions. Jones claimed he was entitled to a share of the overall receipts from them.

The trial centered on the definitions of terms in the two contracts Jackson and Jones signed in 1978 and 1985.

Under the deals, for example, Jones is entitled to a share of net receipts from a videoshow of the songs. The Jackson attorneys argued the term was meant to apply to music videos and not feature films.

Jury foreman Duy Nguyen, 28, said the contracts were the strongest pieces of evidence the jury considered, and said hearing Joness testimony was also helpful.

He said he and many members of the jury were Jackson fans, but that didnt factor into the deliberations. He said the verdict amount was a compromise figure based on an experts testimony.

Jones took the stand during the trial, and was asked by Jackson estate attorney Howard Weitzman whether he realized he was essentially suing Jackson himself.

Jones angrily disagreed. Im not suing Michael, he said. Im suing you all.

The defense attorneys pointed out that Jacksons death in 2009 has already been lucrative for Jones, who made $8m from his share of their works in the two years after the singers death, versus $3m in the two years previous.

You dont deserve a raise, Weitzman said during closing arguments. You cant have any more of Michael Jacksons money.

Jones insisted he was seeking his due for the work he had done rather than merely seeking money. His attorney Scott Cole accused the defense of using word games and loopholes to deny Jones, the Hollywood Reporter said.

The producer worked with Jackson on the three-album run widely considered the performers prime: Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad.

Jacksons hits from those albums including Billie Jean, Thriller and Dont Stop Til You Get Enough are among the songs Jones claims were re-edited.

The lawsuit initially set the amount Jones sought at at least $10m, but his attorneys later arrived at $30m after an accounting of the estates profits from the works.

Jones and Jackson proved to be a perfect partnership, starting with 1979s Off the Wall. Jackson gave a youthful pop vitality to Jones, who was known primarily as a producer and arranger of jazz and film soundtracks. And Jones lent experience and gravitas to Jackson, who was still best known to most as the child prodigy who fronted the Jackson 5.

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