Posts Tagged ‘Warren Buffett’

Is Nyjah Huston’s Element Victory Lap The “New Coke” Of Sponsorship Arrangements?

April 3, 2011

The above pic of a shirtless LL Cool J functions as a multi-purpose vehicle, in that it’s aimed to increase this blog-spot’s marketshare among female consumers of sk8 commentary [via content-farming] while also calling into question the much-ballyhooed (by Transworld this month) comeback of Nyjah Huston, 16-year-old Element prodigy turned hardgood entrepreneur turned Element prodigy. According to an exclusive interview given to the periodical, Nyjah’s two years in the skate industry wilderness nearly cost him everything, from sponsors to the coveted Maloof’s Money Cup, and his personal journey of becoming an older and wiser teen as a result begs the question of which other professions or pursuits involve making career comebacks at age 16 — those weird “Lil Miss” pageants? Gelding racehorses? Gymnastics?

Nyjah Huston’s skating doesn’t do a whole lot for me on a personal level (although much credit due for caballerialing onto the rail the hard way). Yet the TWS interview offers much to chew over. The Maloof powers that be preferred to hand the cash to a skater like Chris Cole who is backed by major corporate sponsors instead of a grassroots effort like Huston’s I&I although he retained the support of his loyal fans on the face book and even Element, who waited patiently and eagerly for him to return to the fold from the day he departed. He intends to shift his focus to technical skating as he enters the autumn years of his late 20s and is wary of becoming “lost in the core” if he strays too far from the spotlight of mainstream competitions and sponsorships. Manny Santiago is off the hook and he is more motivated than ever to expand his career.

It is possible this the drama of the recent years is part of a broader plan for Nyjah Huston. This entry on Yahoo! Answers! suggests that under a pseudonym he began planning his “comeback” as long as three years ago, even before he departed Element at the urging of his dad and launched what is described as a one-man operation in I&I skateboards, which found the then-ninth grader struggling to set up a profitable distribution model while simultaneously arranging demos and originating positively themed board graphics. Which leads us to ponder whether striking out on his own was a preemptive move to build anticipation for an ultimate comeback to Element and generate board sales revenue in the seasonally weak first quarter financial cycle, similar to the conspiracy theories that for years have dogged the introduction and eventual burial of the beloved “New Coke” recipe for all-time. Will Nyjah Huston’s market value, like that of Coca Cola Co., rise 2200% in the future and prompt an investment from the Oracle of Omaha?

Angel investors

May 31, 2008


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

So a few weeks ago word got out that Kris Markovich bounced from Crimson Skateboards, took the team and would launch something new. Now, we could make a lot of easy jokes about his sponsor tattoos, how he rode for Duffs like three times, or the Vegas over/under on how long Given will last, “given” Markovich’s track record as a businessman. (Markovich does seem to have a sense of humor about the whole thing.) But, in Markovich’s defense, his former partner in Crimson, Sam Uisprapassorn, is reportedly a non-skating schlub who used to do marketing for Stereo, so, you know, maybe this one wasn’t Markovich’s fault? I don’t know, I just hear these things.

Whatever the case, I gotta hand it to Markovich for getting back on the skate company horse time and time again, with extremely mixed results, because he’s such a deep veteran at this point. Unlike a lot of his peers who came up around the same time he never really disappeared and he’s pumped out so many video parts, including a few great ones. Plus he punked out Chad Fernandez.

However the first thing I thought of when I heard the Given news was, “who’s putting the money up this time?” I read somewhere that it was going to be entirely financed by Markovich himself, which I guess could be feasible. Are Red Bull and Hurley still paying him? Anyway, if by some chance this company goes south, I thought I’d put together a quick list of venture capitalists and financiers that Markovich could maybe hit up for his next venture.


Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway: Despite his net worth of $62 billion, which makes him the richest man in the world as of 2008, Buffett still lives in his modest Omaha home and pays himself an annual salary of $100,000. Made a bundle off a stake in Coca-Cola he took in the late ’80s, and he’s big into philanthropy, so a start-up skate company might be up his alley. On the other hand, he’s not a fan of high-risk investments.


Eddie Lampert: Multi-billionaire hedge fund manager who’s earned a reputation as something of a turnaround specialist, Lampert is a member of the secretive Skull and Bones society, items that figure heavily into Markovich’s past graphics. Lampert is also notable for his negotiating tactics–he once talked would-be kidnappers into letting him free, so maybe he could convince Markovich to stick around when they inevitably come to some disagreement. However, Lampert currently has his hands full with the Kmart/Sears merger.


Michael Milken: SoCal-born junk-bond impresario of the 1980s who did a couple years in prison for insider trading around the end of that heady decade. But he’s still got a couple billion in his pocket and his gift for packaging high-yield debt and selling it to investors could make him a prime candidate for getting behind a Markovich-headed skate company.


Jeffrey Lebowski: Multi-millionaire with a penchant for inner-city philanthropy and tasteful rugs. Known to have a weakness for vanity, linking himself to a skateboard company could be another way of expanding the Little Lebowski Urban Achievers and getting his name out there. Still, the venture would have to be profitable, as the money belongs to the foundation and not to Lebowski himself.


Mr. Slate: Head of the Slate Rock and Gravel Company, Slate is an entrepreneur far ahead of his time, and his foresight of getting into hard assets prior to the present run-up in commodities shows he has an eye for a good long-term investment. That said, if his interactions with Fred and Barney are any indication, he’s a little bit of a slave driver, which generally doesn’t work well when it comes to managing skateboarders.