We saw this column by our friend, Frank Williamson of Oaklyn Consulting, in the Memphis Business Journal and thought it was excellent. Frank captures well the way we, and many others in the Southeast, like to do business and both the importance and pleasure of focusing on building long term relationships.
COURTESY OAKLYN CONSULTING
Frank Williamson is founder of Oaklyn Consulting, a Tennessee-based strategy consulting firm that has a financial focus.
Source: Memphis Business Journal
As a Southerner by birth, I grew up in a culture where manners were of paramount importance.
When interacting with authority figures and peers, I came to understand the social benefits of maintaining proper eye contact, saying “please” and “thank you,” and having a firm handshake.
Yet, out in the professional world, I’ve been struck by how the continued value of these and other niceties isn’t commonly discussed. According to some studies, social skills are 85 percent responsible for personal success, as opposed to 15 percent from learned technical skills.
Out of the 10 U.S. cities boasting the highest levels of business growth, seven are located right here in the South, according to a recent CNBC article. The past five years have seen huge levels of business and employment growth in Southern cities, including Nashville, Orlando, and Charleston, South Carolina.
I don’t think this is a coincidence. Although our region’s economic success certainly can’t be attributed to solely etiquette, as a Southern business owner, I feel that it has played a part in businesses deciding to establish themselves here.
With civility seemingly on the decline in our world, it’s worth thinking about how we can incorporate this general attitude of courtesy into both our work and personal lives.
Respect in the negotiation process
First impressions are everything. When you treat a business partner with a lack of respect during the process of making a deal, you shouldn’t count on the relationship continuing. But, by bringing a different attitude to the negotiation process — treating it as an opportunity for both sides to solve a problem rather than as a situation where only one side wins — you have the potential to build a relationship that extends beyond a single deal and may result in a more mutually beneficial agreement.
In my experience, those who adopt the attitude of a hard bargainer are being short-sighted, trying to extract some kind of immediate value from a deal instead of seeing it as the first step in a lasting partnership. Naturally, you have to prioritize your interests in any negotiation, but empathizing with what the other party hopes to achieve can make a huge difference in the way you relate to each other.
I saw this dynamic play out recently with a client, a family-owned business that was up for sale. One buyer stood out from the others by the level of consideration he showed toward the family, which was understandably concerned with continuing its legacy. The buyer’s approach took into account the benefits of maintaining a strong, lasting relationship, while keeping his own business interests in mind. In the end, both parties felt the sale was a positive experience.
Balancing work and life
Some business owners may disagree with me, but I believe that the time we spend away from work is as valuable as the time we spend building our businesses. It may not always seem wise to leave work undone just so you can make it home for a family dinner. But, there’s a good argument to be made that the Southern tradition of keeping a healthy work/life balance has the long-term benefit of setting up the next generation for success.
I’m not advocating giving short shrift to business matters. However, there is real value to leaving the office at 5 p.m., staying largely offline during dinner and through the evening, and letting your home life be your primary focus until the next morning.
A major part of Southern civility is our continued devotion to passing on our values to each successive generation, both in our families and through nonprofits. By putting time and effort into this, we raise up a new generation that will eventually enter adulthood with an understanding of how Southern etiquette can be applied to their personal lives and business relationships.
Deal more than doubles Prepaid Technologies’ purchasing card portfolio, adds exciting new product enhancements for the business payments leader
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., March 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Prepaid Technologies, a leading provider of business payment solutions, announced the acquisition of Karmic Labs’ dash™, the San Francisco-based purchasing card portfolio and expense management solution, as well as other select assets.
The deal, which closed on March 1, 2019, adds several members of Karmic’s key personnel to the Prepaid Technologies team, with team members now operating throughout North America. The addition of the dash platform also adds a robust expense management solution and extensive card portfolio to the Prepaid Technologies suite of offerings, including payroll programs, business purchasing cards, reward and incentives and per-diem card offerings. Current Karmic and dash customers will benefit from an expanded range of services, products, and resources including Prepaid Technologies’ dedicated customer support.
“Integrating the dash purchasing card structure into our existing portfolio increases efficiencies and enhances our growing suite of solutions for businesses and payments service providers,” said Prepaid Technologies CEO, Stephen Faust. “This cardholder portfolio more than doubles our existing expense management business, elevating purchasing to the level of our payroll, incentive and rewards lines of business.”
Prepaid Technologies’ solutions provide customers with a mobile-focused platform enabling business owners to move money in real-time to individual cards and accounts for everyday purchases. It also empowers administrators with key insights into spending, providing better control in the expense reconciliation process. These solutions are significantly enhancing traditional payments for many business segments, particularly universities and municipalities.
“The addition of dash is another prime example of how we’re fulfilling our commitment to provide the broadest suite of payment solutions to our partners and commercial clients, with a focus on quality,” said Faust.
Over the next several months, Prepaid Technologies will integrate the dash portfolio into its service offering, working diligently to transition existing clients, while also providing them with access to additional payments and business management solutions including:
Revolutionary payroll card programs that improves bottom-line performance and provide value to employees.
State-of-the-art API Payment Integrations that transform internal operations, speed-up payments and create operational efficiencies.
For the past 20 years, Prepaid Technologies has built an extraordinary reputation as a trusted partner and advisor in prepaid payments, helping bank partners and clients deliver efficient and meaningful payment experiences, from concept to cardholder. Learn more at in-prepaid.com.
About Prepaid Technologies
A pioneer in financial technology, Prepaid Technologies has been providing innovative electronic payment solutions including payroll, expense, gift, reward and incentive card products to employers, financial institutions, and government agencies for more than 20 years. Learn more at www.in-prepaid.com.
Ballast Point Ventures II, LP and Ballast Point Ventures I, LP (“BPV”) are pleased to announce that they have successfully exited their growth equity investments in MolecularMD, a molecular diagnostics company founded in West Palm Beach, FL. MolecularMD was acquired by ICON plc (NASDAQ: ILCR), a global provider of outsourced development services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries.
Founded in 2006 by Dr. Brian Druker and Sheridan Snyder, MolecularMD developed a core competency in streamlining the development, regulatory approval, and clinical development deployment of precision oncology medicines for well-established, long-term biopharma clients. Drew Graham and Matt Rice, Partners with BPV, served on MolecularMD’s board of directors prior to the acquisition.
Dan Snyder, the Company’s CEO since 2014, remarked, “Our team has worked tirelessly to provide our clients with an exceptional, full-service diagnostics offering aimed at accelerating the approval of cancer drugs and therapies. Ballast Point Ventures has been a great partner and tremendous resource for us in driving growth in our business. We have relished the leadership, guidance, and expertise that Drew and Matt have provided, and we appreciate the support that the entire BPV team has provided MolecularMD throughout our multi-year partnership.” He continued, “ICON plc has a very complementary strategy to our focus at MolecularMD, and we are excited to become part of the ICON team.”
Drew Graham, a Partner with BPV who served as Chairman of MolecularMD, said, “We are proud of our partnership with MolecularMD and the Company’s growth from a small business in West Palm Beach to a highly regarded player in the molecular diagnostics industry with a blue chip client base around the world. Dan Snyder and his talented team built a great company, and I have no doubt they will help ICON achieve even greater success.”
Ballast Point Ventures, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is a later-stage venture capital and growth equity fund founded in 2002 to provide expansion capital for rapidly growing, privately owned companies, with a particular emphasis on companies located in Florida, the Southeast and Texas. The BPV partners have more than 80 years of combined experience investing in and building high-growth companies in several industries, including healthcare, software, technology-enabled business services and consumer. BPV has $360 million under management across three funds and seeks to make initial equity investments ranging in size from $4 million to $10 million. For more information, visit www.ballastpointventures.com.
With its unique origin story and approach to e-commerce, the St. Petersburg tech company strikes a chord with multi-location brands and franchises. Can it manage rapid growth while maintaining its culture?__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
PowerChord Inc., a St. Petersburg digital marketing company, comes by its cool name honestly. Prior to having a go at entrepreneurship in 2001, founder Pat Schunk played guitar for classic rock icon Stevie Nicks and wrote music for Seven Witches, a New Jersey heavy metal band. He also contributed to the soundtrack of the 1991 “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie.
The firm’s coolness added a level of competence in 2015 with CEO Lanny Tucker, who came to PowerChord from Celebration-based Channel Intelligence, acquired in 2013 by Google. Tucker, 69, broke into the tech sector with Hewlett Packard and in 2005 moved to Florida from California.
PowerChord’s genesis, Tucker says, stems from Schunk’s frustration with buying music equipment online in the early days of e-commerce. “The websites were disjointed and the product descriptions weren’t there. He said, ‘There’s got to be a better way.’”
There was, and by finding it, PowerChord, with some recent success, has bumped into a noted business challenge: Managing rapid growth without diluting the service that led to the growth in the first place.
“Great ideas don’t always come from your top dozen executives. They come from people who are out there facing the customer, who understand the customer and deal with them every day.” Lanny Tucker, CEO of PowerChord Inc.
Schunk, in launching the firm, saw an opportunity to create dynamic, geo-targeted “digital storefronts” for multi-location brands and franchises. Think products such as Kohler bathroom fixtures and Stihl power tools primarily sold via dealership networks. Using location-based data and advanced search engine optimization tools, the PowerChord platform converts online browsers into in-store shoppers.
Take Stihl, which has 10,000 dealers nationwide, Tucker says, “many of whom are independent businesspeople.”
PowerChord provides a digital storefront for each Stihl dealer, and, says Tucker, the company has the unique ability to control storefronts on a customized basis.
“So imagine if you’ve got a hurricane blowing through Miami, you want to be talking about chainsaws, for example, or brush-clearing equipment,” Tucker says “But let’s say that same weekend you’ve got a snowstorm in Boston and New England, so you want to talk about snow removal. We have the ability to change all of that dynamically.”
PowerChord’s solutions have been the equivalent of a Top 40 hit — in Stevie Nicks parlance, a “Landslide.” Its platform powers about 15,000 digital storefronts in more than 30 countries, and it has also worked with household names including Spotify, Hulu, PayPal and Facebook. Its revenue has doubled during the past three years, reaching $25 million in 2018, and Tucker expects revenue growth to accelerate even more in the coming years.
Rapid growth can sometimes be too much of a good thing, though, because it presents staffing challenges. Tucker says PowerChord has about 70 employees, with a significant chunk hired in the past year as the company strives to keep up with rising sales. “We’re interviewing every day,” he says, “for a broad selection” of positions.
Tucker says hiring employees who want to stay and grow with the company is a priority. That’s one reason why PowerChord has been diligent about implementing a unique organizational culture that involves staff from all departments in high-level decisions.
“I want to hire people who are smarter than me,” Tucker says. “What I’ve found is that great ideas, whether related to products or strategy or anything else, don’t always come from your top dozen executives. They come from people who are out there facing the customer, who understand the customer and deal with them
Proving the theory, Tucker involved some 30 employees outside PowerChord’s C-suite in the firm’s 2019 strategic planning sessions. That means hundreds of ideas can be brought forward. Then, through a distillation process, the sessions will produce a few key companywide strategic initiatives, as well as department-level goals ripe for execution.
Tucker, in the process, balances pushing staff with realistic expectations. “We’ve got to challenge employees, but we’ve also got to guide them,” he says. “As employees grow and mature, and as the company grows, you can start taking on more things and still not have plates hit the floor.”
Employee empowerment is also a major part of PowerChord’s culture. Company policy allows for a generous amount of paid time off, for one, and managers are instructed to be tolerant of mistakes. “You have to be able to accept good news and bad news equally quick,” he says. “I’m a huge believer in that because if you’re not out there trying, you can say, ‘Well, I’ve never had a failure.’ But if you say that, you’ve never pushed yourself and you’ve never really tried.”
(This story has been updated to clarify that PowerChord does not offer unlimited paid time off to employees.)
Ballast Point Ventures II, LP (“BPV”) is pleased to announce that Flexpoint Ford has led a majority recapitalization of BPV portfolio company YPrime, a global leader in cloud-based eClinical solutions. Ballast Point Ventures II has retained a substantial minority stake in the Company, and BPV Partner Matt Rice will continue to serve on the Board. BPV II originally invested in YPrime in 2013 to help the Company grow its sales and marketing teams and further enhance its technology platform with additional product offerings. BPV’s investment facilitated the Company becoming a premier provider of electronic Clinical Outcomes Assessments (eCOA), a large and rapidly growing segment within the eClinical landscape.
“When we decided to raise our first round of outside growth capital in 2013, we knew the Ballast Point Ventures team was aligned with our vision for YPrime and would be a great partner as we scaled the business,” said Shawn Blackburn, co-founder and CEO of YPrime. “We are grateful for the leadership and guidance that Matt and the team at BPV have provided over the years, and we are excited to continue our partnership with BPV as YPrime expands. The new investment from Flexpoint Ford will allow us to accelerate our growth of technology solutions across global clinical trial operations and will provide us with additional strategic resources and capabilities to support our continued rapid growth.”
Matt Rice, Partner at BPV, remarked, “At YPrime, we saw the opportunity to partner with a tenacious and innovative management team operating in a large, rapidly growing industry undergoing fundamental change. Shawn and the YPrime team made the right investments in both people and technology and have positioned the Company as a leader in the eCOA market. We are proud to support YPrime in this next chapter, and we look forward to the Company’s continued success during our partnership with Flexpoint Ford.”
Founded in 2006 by Shawn Blackburn and Jaime Cook, YPrime provides innovative software solutions and consulting services to pharmaceutical, biotechnology and life sciences sponsors, clinical research organizations, research sites and patient users to enable efficient and collaborative clinical trial data collection and information management. Data services tools eliminate data silos and help sponsors bring together fragmented clinical research data into contextual and actionable information. For more information, please visit www.yprime.com.
About Ballast Point Ventures
Ballast Point Ventures, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is a later-stage venture capital and growth equity fund founded in 2002 to provide expansion capital for rapidly growing, privately owned companies, with a particular emphasis on companies located in Florida, the Southeast and Texas. The BPV partners have more than 80 years of combined experience investing in and building high-growth companies in several industries, including healthcare, software, technology-enabled business services and consumer. BPV has $360 million under management across three funds and seeks to make initial equity investments ranging in size from $4 million to $10 million. For more information, please visit www.ballastpointventures.com.
About Flexpoint Ford
Flexpoint Ford is a private equity investment firm that has raised more than $2.3 billion in capital and specializes in privately negotiated investments in the healthcare and financial services industries. Since the firm’s formation in 2005, Flexpoint Ford has completed investments in more than 30 companies across a broad range of investment sizes, structures and asset classes. Flexpoint Ford is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. For more information about Flexpoint Ford, please visit www.flexpointford.com.
It was the first public interview Vinik has done since announcing earlier this month he would relaunch Vinik Asset Management, a fund he ran between 1996 and 2013.
Vinik, who owns the Tampa Bay Lightning and is partnering with Cascade Investment on the $3 billion Water Street Tampa development, became a well-known name in the investment community when he managed the Fidelity Magellan Fund in the mid-1990s. Vinik — who described himself as “relentless”— said he still spends five or six hours a day reading Wall Street reports.
“I love it so much I can’t stop doing it,” Vinik told Drew Graham, managing partner of Ballast Point Ventures, during the interview. “I don’t put many trades in, but I follow companies. Today is the busiest day of earnings season. There will be 300 companies that will report earnings today and from my analysts I’ll get Wall Street research on every one of them. I’ll spend 10 seconds on some, two minutes on others, looking for ideas.
“I’ve been doing that for the last two years and I thought, as long as I was doing all this work I might as well get paid for it.”
The market has shifted from active money management to passive management and computerized trading strategies. Vinik said he sees opportunity in active management.
“The story that I’m telling is that active has underperformed for so long and competition has decreased, that we are now finally at the time for active to outperform passive and I’m going to be taking advantage of that. I don’t really believe that,” he said. “I actually think passive will still outperform. I think the human emotions of greed and fear are every bit as strong as they were 20 or 30 years ago. I see hedge fund managers making the same mistakes, buying high and selling low … but reading so many hours a day like I do and having people feed me information, like a point guard in basketball, and being such a generalist, I think I can make it work for me, but I’ve got to prove it.”
He described his investment philosophy for public companies as simple — buy good companies with good earnings and good management. He’s industry agnostic but singled out Software-as-a-Service as a hot sector right now.
Vinik also has been active in private company investing, including putting money into local startups such as digital health firm Peerfit and educational technology company Knack. He’s also backing Embarc Collective, a downtown Tampa hub that will bring together entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other funders, and academic resources in one space.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for entrepreneurs to get to the next level. Many won’t but some will,” Vinik said.
Vinik – who has called on everyone in the area to be an evangelist for Tampa Bay — said he was speaking to a group of high school students a few years ago and was surprised by how many of them said they wanted to leave Tampa after graduation.
“That was like a light bulb going on. How do we keep talent here and attract talent, which I believe we can. It’s education, it’s getting this entrepreneurial movement. It will build on itself as we go along. It’s still early, but we do have momentum.”
Florida traditionally has been better known for tourism and for “Florida man,” a Twitter handle and a euphemism for weird news that comes out of the state.
“There’s an Arkansas man. There’s a Texas man. But it’s the Florida man that’s getting published every day … We’ve got to do a better job of getting the word out,” Vinik said. “I moved from Boston and it’s fantastic here … People don’t know what they’re missing.”
He predicted growth in Florida’s business community and the venture industry would outpace tourism over the next 20 years.
He touched on a couple of other topics in response to audience questions.
Sports. “If sports were a stock, it wouldn’t be the first stock I would buy.” That’s because young people spend less time playing and watching sports than they used to, as the internet has captured more of their interest. He has an investment in an e-sports company, Team Liquid, and said he’s bullish on that investment.
Attracting entrepreneurs to the area. It’s key to build critical mass, Vinik said, so that someone moving here from out of town knows there’s a fallback to go to if their venture fails. “The type of people we attract are early adopters,” Vinik said. “Tampa Bay is not Miami, which has blossomed and exploded. I’d like to think we have that ahead of us. People who are the early adopters come in and want to be part of that movement, as do I.”
November 21, 2018 – Ballast Point Ventures is pleased to announce a growth equity investment in SkuVault, based in Louisville, Kentucky. BPV led the $8 million Series A investment with participation from Poplar Ventures and Endeavor Catalyst. SkuVault will use the investment to amplify marketing efforts, add to the sales force, and further enhance its software product offering.
SkuVault provides a cloud-based inventory and warehouse management software platform designed primarily for businesses looking to scale with a competitive eCommerce and omni-channel distribution solution. The platform enables warehouse employees to fulfill customer orders more efficiently and allows purchasing managers to actively track inventory levels across disparate geographic footprints. Customers are able to scan products in and out of warehouses and retail stores via a simple barcoding system and sync real-time inventory data across multiple online marketplaces such as Amazon, Ebay and Jet.
“Billions of dollars are lost each year in the retail industry due to inefficient warehouse operations and substandard inventory processes. SkuVault’s real-time insight into inventory levels prevents overselling and out of stocks, and its barcoding and quality control features reduce picking and shipping errors, thereby increasing operational efficiency,” said SkuVault Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Andy Eastes. “SkuVault is excited to partner with Ballast Point Ventures and the Series A co-investors and for the possibilities this minority investment will provide. We are looking forward to expanding our profile within eCommerce and continuing to support our long-standing customers with world-class technology tools and customer service.”
“SkuVault’s success to this point without any outside funding is a testament to the vision and technology platform developed by a great team over the last several years”, said Ballast Point Ventures’ Sean Barkman, who will join the SkuVault Board of Directors. “We are very excited to partner with Andy and the SkuVault team and look forward to working with the Company to build a leading cloud-based inventory and warehouse management software platform.”
About SkuVault SkuVault, headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, provides a cloud-based inventory and warehouse management software platform designed primarily for businesses looking to scale with a competitive eCommerce and omni-channel distribution solution. Delivered via a Software-as-a-Service model, SkuVault’s product is directly integrated with channel management systems, eCommerce store platforms, shipping software, and many other operational technology platforms, creating a more seamless experience for its customers and allowing for more streamlined product fulfillment. SkuVault makes it easy for clients to connect their warehouses to the world while increasing fulfillment speed, accuracy, and profit. For additional information, visit www.skuvault.com.
About Ballast Point Ventures Ballast Point Ventures, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is a later-stage venture capital and growth equity fund founded in 2002 to provide expansion capital for rapidly growing, privately owned companies, with a particular emphasis on companies located in Florida, the Southeast and Texas. The BPV partners have more than 80 years of combined experience investing in and building high-growth companies in several industries, including software, technology-enabled business services, healthcare, and consumer. Ballast Point Ventures has $360 million under management across three Funds and seeks to make initial equity investments ranging in size from $4 million to $10 million. For additional information, visit www.ballastpointventures.com.
AVOXI, an Atlanta-based communications provider to global contact centers has raised $10 million from Tampa, Fla. VC firmBallast Point Ventures.
David Wise, AVOXI founder and CEO, said the investment will be used to accelerate product development, sales and marketing at the company.
“We plan in a very large global marketplace to use the money kind of across the board to continue to accelerate the growth of the company,” he said. “There’s a huge, huge market for us. We’re not limited in terms of geography or even in industry.”
AVOXI will also grow its Atlanta team of 80 employees significantly, Wise said. The company will look to add employees to its marketing and software engineering team.
“We’re looking at the business and trying to evaluate what is the maximum levers we need to work to kind of optimize the opportunity,” he said.
The company provides toll free virtual numbers to more than 2,400 corporate contact centers around the world.
“We help customers connect to their clients globally,” Wise said. “So we sell global virtual phone numbers. Clients selling goods or services located in Atlanta, Georgia—they want to reach customers in Singapore, we can give them local phone numbers in those markets and those phone numbers can ring over the top of any premise-based communication system.”
AVOXI also offers a cloud-based contact center technology that allows clients to deliver calls on their platform and measure the productivity of agents making the phones calls, Wise said. Clients can then look for ways to improve their sales closing ratio and how to better serve their customers.
Wise said Ballast Point was a perfect fit for AVOXI as an investor, because the team understands the market.
“They understand and appreciate the reputation that we bring to the table and what it takes,” he said. “And for them, they’re really smart, savvy guys that have the ability to do more if we need it and they also have the right connections in the Southeast for us to use as we continue to scale and grow the business.”
“We are excited to partner with David and his team to drive continued contact center market leadership and technology innovation,” Paul Johan, partner at Ballast Point Ventures, who will join AVOXI’s board of directors, said in a statement. “BPV has a strong history of supporting high-growth cloud software and communications companies throughout the Southeast, and we believe AVOXI has done an impressive job building a global communications business to serve the ever-evolving needs of its customers.”
When independent record executives gathered at the Libera Awards in New York in June to honor their label’s best releases, they had more than artistic achievement to celebrate.
Independently owned labels — ranging from small, artist-owned imprints to multimillion-dollar organizations like BMG, Big Machine Music Group and Concord Music Group — now claim 37 percent of the U.S. recorded-music market, according to a report released by MIDiA Research last October.
When the American Association of Independent Music, the independent-label trade group that presents the Libera Awards, was founded in 2005, that market share was 29 percent, says A2IM CEO Richard James Burgess.
The 2018 A2IM Libera Awards Will Be a Declaration of Independents
The MIDiA report, which was commissioned by the Worldwide Independent Network, a trade group of the independent music business, found that the indies’ share of the global music market is even marginally higher — 38 percent — and that indies generated $6 billion in worldwide sales.
“It speaks volumes for the tenacity, passion and entrepreneurship of independent labels and the public’s desire for musical diversity, that even in these times of global dominance by major corporations, almost four out of every 10 dollars spent on music goes to the independent sector,” said Martin Mills, founder of Beggars Group and WIN vice president, commenting on the MIDiA report.
In addition to expanding their market share, independents are growing revenue for their artists through their collective clout as Merlin, the global digital-rights organization for indie labels, negotiates with streaming services on behalf of their artists.
Billboard’s Indie Power Players report recognizes achievement at independently owned record labels, music publishers and distributors — but also distribution companies owned by the three major music groups that play a significant role in bringing indie-owned repertoire to market. In a volatile time for the music business, these executives assure the continued growth of indie music.
Founded in 2006 by Florida music producer Brea in a spare bedroom of his parents’ house, Latino-owned Symphonic is a key conduit to Spotify, Amazon and other streaming platforms for indie acts of all genres. Last November, the equity firm Ballast Point Ventures put $4 million into the Tampa, Fla.-based firm, which also offers design, audio mastering, marketing, merchandising and licensing services. “People were wondering, ‘Why are you taking money now? Is everything all right?’” says Brea. “I told them, ‘Everything’s more than all right.’ We want to invest more aggressively and hire more people.”