Mike V Takes The Biggest Risk Of His Career By Launching A Company With A Three-Word Name

Mike Vallely is nothing if not a man of law. You support him, he supports you. You show up at one of his one-man middle America prefab skatepark demos, you get to see at least one brawny mute grab. You drunkenly wrest a hockey pole from a family member, and you may endure a televised pummeling that could ultimately cost Mike Vallely a coveted hockey blogging gig but not his dignity.

So it is then that Mike V, as he is known, once again cashes in his deck sponsorship chips to go it alone with the third (fourth? [fifth?]) hardgoods concern, after several years of diligent brand building under the Element/Billabong parasol. He extends his latest business venture into risky territory though by choosing not a mononymous nym like “Transit” or “Vallely” or even “TV” but instead taking a gamble with the powerful yet weighty name brand “By The Sword.”

It makes sense because the tri-nommed brand hints at the powerful conflict with which Vallely has long been associated. Yet also it suggests he is coming to terms with his own mortality, perhaps after shearing his locks, similar to the biblical story of Samson or Britney Spears. Vallely represents a figure of controversies and contradictions, but he remains emboldened by his do-it-yourself approach, signaled with his hiring of Jason Filipow to do the artwork for the skateboards.

But even bearing a personal brand as established and cultivated as Vallely’s, it’s hard to overstate the challenges associated with employing more than one word in the name of a skateboard company. History’s ditches are littered with the delaminated corpses of those who tried and failed: Sixty-Forty, City Stars, Tree Fort, Channel One, Gordon & Smith, Santa Monica Airlines. Zoo York and Alien Workshop got bought. Birdhouse Projects moved to the singular burbs, Powell dropped the Peralta and World Industries has all but collapsed under its own weight. Even the venerable Black Label was flirting with the singular “Label” for a while.

Can Vallely buck the trend? This is a question that must be and will be answered with time and the developing battle for market share he faces off against JR’s Ayn Rand-influenced venture, which has the benefit of a one-word name and a music career that may not be as long-lived as Vallely’s, but has certainly captured it share of blog attention, a priceless commodity in the 24-hour blog buzz cycle. He also is challenging this site in the realm of search engine optimization, a tall order against mounted men bearing halberds.

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18 Responses to “Mike V Takes The Biggest Risk Of His Career By Launching A Company With A Three-Word Name”

  1. mike Says:

    you forgot “american” zero?

  2. sk8-4-fun Says:

    Multiple-word company names are a bit unusual and you are right, most do not make it. Santa Cruz has more or less stood the test of time, but I don’t think they are at the top of many people’s lists.

    I am a little disappointed though. How could you have forgotten the most glaring example of companies that started with a two-word name but later dropped a word? Vallely’s former sponsor began life as Underworld Element.

    Oddly, the Element family has a little history of two-word company names that are no more. We can’t forget New Deal and Mad Circle.

    Anywho… Mike V. doesn’t have the best track record with companies he starts, but I wish him the best of luck. Please carry on with your musing, kind sir.

  3. will Says:

    lest we forget the other half birthed from the TV kerfuffle…
    toy machine i think is the best example of a two-word named company with no real interchangable kind of nicknames (even alien workshop often get the ‘workshop’ treatment) and is currently thriving with one of the best teams in the biz.

    • jboy Says:

      this reminded me of a video interview with ed templeton talking about the toy machine fists logo. he basically says that “toy machine” was a stupid name to choose because it works so awkward for graphic design. does anybody know what video i’m talking about? was it an epicly later’d?

  4. Rocuronium Says:

    So this is why blanks have been selling so well…

  5. Watson Says:

    Great fucking post. This new infrequency of posts is reminiscent of having to wait years to see footage of your favourite pros. When you do, and it’s this good you’re like “Daaaaaaaaaaaamn!”

    Something about the logo featuring the arm holding the sword, the name of the company By The Sword, and the announcement of the Glory Bound Tour screams of Nazi-esque propaganda to me.

  6. Kevin Davis Says:

    did anyone ever see the skateboarding video he did in 411, where he substituted the all pro skateboarding with amateur wrestling? Thanks for the memories, mike.

  7. Jonathan Says:

    I don’t hate the guy, I just feel he is a little too emphatic about skateboarding. Kind of like a friend who is way too into porn. We all like our porno (skateboarding) but you do not need to be preaching about it to everyone all the time.

  8. Random Matt Says:

    -Did “Powell drop the Peralta”? I thought “the Peralta” left just as everything imploded so he could go be a director.
    -He should shorten it to BTS, like how Dirty Ghetto Kids is DGK.
    -And to add to the list, though of varying quality: Rasa Libre, A Team, Foundation Super Co., Skate Mental, Anti-Hero (does hyphenated count?), Schmitt Stix, H Street, Beer City,Sk8 Mafia, A-1 Quality Meats (yeah I know it’s wheel company), Bummer High, and Sector Nine (not sure if this counts either)

  9. thecarbonite Says:

    i am baffled that Me Skateboards wasn’t more successful

  10. Anonymous Says:

    The bigger discussion this brings up is: what is the current formula for success for a skateboard product company?

    I see two broad categories.
    1) A cohesive crew with a unique and united vision/lifestyle. Thinking of AH, enjoi, girl/choc, creature…. This is only embraced and accepted by the public after a couple of years of sticking together.
    2) Very well financed NY Yankee-style recruitment with such a large heavy-hitter roster that its united front floods the media on any given month, thereby bedazzeling the impressionable at the obvious choice in the marketplace. Like indy, PlanB, Nike, etc…

    Given is that the company makes good product and starts off with the skateboard community’s support and goodwill on its side.
    I don’t see that BTS has much of any of the above, except maybe good wood.

  11. skateboardingpanama.com Says:

    tattoo removal anytime soon? i predict one year before Mike V, joins another company, just like it had happened in the past, sorry to say, but Mike V. trick list is way in the past….

  12. Silvio Brolusconi Says:

    MV would be a great on Shelfish Skateboards.

  13. Mike Vallely Explains His Element Escape at Boardistan Says:

    […] escape Billabong’s gravitational pull in recent weeks) we were too caught up in agreeing with Boil The Ocean’s take on the new company to get the official word from the man himself. And what a disservice that was. […]

  14. smorales Says:

    killer opening paragraph.

  15. Smackie McDouche Says:

    This is without QUESTION the most inane skate-related blog upon the Interwebs, with absolutely LESS than zero merit, direction or sense. Basically this is ass…

  16. K.bra Says:

    Maan, I love Boil The Ocean!
    So great to come to a skate-related place where natural selection separetes the steezkids, yoflippers and Doug Brown fanbase from normal people. Thank you Mr Pilot!

    Speaking of inane:

    Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2002 12:19:28 -0700
    From: Matt
    To: maddox@xmission.com
    Subject: haha

    hey Mr.Who Claims he can spell.
    Looks like you cant spell for shit,

    “”I win. When I go into work next, I’m going to surprise all my
    co-workers and put up pictures of myself instead of their ugly kids and
    their inane drawings. “”

    Inane Drawings? WTF is an INANE drawing?


    116949 stupid kids tried stepping to my iNsAne skills and got 0wned.

    1 Cloud9 stepped to your INANE babble and Bitch Slapped the FUCK OUTA YA.

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