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Dec. 30, 2019

Failing a Business with Marcus Segal

Failing a Business with Marcus Segal

Failure is a part of the entrepreneurship journey. The "dot com" bubble was a period of time when the Internet was booming and companies offering everything from pet supplies to streaming music went down the drain almost overnight.

Marcus Segal's story is one of becoming aware of the inner critic in our life that blames us for failing and limits our beliefs in what's possible in ourselves.

Failure is a speed bump, not a stop sign. Marcus is successful -- now the CEO of ForeVR Games and the former chief operating officer for Zynga, helping take the gaming company from dozens of employees to thousands.


- Marcus Segal had a successful career as a producer for TV shows on the History Channel and A&E when his estranged father’s death made him change gears

- In 1998, Marcus was lured to Silicon Valley during the first ‘dot com bubble’ 

- He found a job and ultimately a path to career growth at eMusic.com which was the first legal streaming music platform

- The company went public and when the VP of Human Resources left, Marcus was tapped; he had made it 

- Napster, the pioneering peer-to-peer file sharing website that focused on music downloads, emerged and eroded eMusic.com’s value and relevance

- Shares dropped to $0.99 but Marcus was promoted to Chief Operating Officer

- Two acquisitions left the company on life support and Marcus was literally the last employee out of more than 400 and had to beg to be fired so he could move on

- Finally the road ended and Marcus’ inner critic took over the wheel

- Marcus had to get out of town to change his mindset and went to the Sahara Desert

- A calm night after a sandstorm with a nomadic family triggered gratitude and purpose

- Marcus returned to San Francisco with a renewed perspective, started a new startup, and began giving back to startups as a mentor



“At the time this is 1998 and the dot com boom Web 1.0 was really kicking off. You were reading about Internet millionaires and these, you know, women and men changing the world. And I decided that I wanted to be a part of what was next, that I didn't want to continue to spend my life telling the stories of what other courageous people had done in the past in these documentaries that I wanted to be a part of what was next.”

“The company (eMusic.com) went public. A V.P. of human resources left and I was tapped to take on that role. So now, boom, I'm a tech executive, which is really incredible because I majored in English literature in college. I had never written a line of code and I was just hungry and I just worked all the time and I was just thrilled.”

“So at that moment, eMusic was selling lemonade and Napster was giving away beer.”

“My great job of being the COO of this tech company became a job of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

“I had something to prove. I needed adoration and love and respect. And the way that you got something like that in my family. My family is just loaded with overachievers is to achieve.”

“The idea of work life balance work was my life, and in work I found my balance.”

“C.O.O. of a fifty thousand square foot empty building.”

“But the stink of dot.com failure was on me and the whole of the Internet all of the tech companies were starting to hit the wall.”

“It felt like my inner critic and karma got together and just decided to fuck with me.”

“Then the story I had told myself: Once you have the money, you'll figure it out. Then I had the money but I had no idea how to figure it out.”

“I felt like a failure. A clown. A fuck up.”

“Something clicked and I realized that this whole thing, this whole being alive thing is so special and miraculous. That I could have just as easily been born to this family. It's you know, we're just energy. I realized that I had an attitude problem. That I need to climb out of this. I realize that happiness is a choice. I realized that I needed to choose happiness, that I needed to change my perspective. I realized that I believed I had no options. Essentially, I realized that my inner critic was just an asshole and that asshole needs to be reckoned with. And that's when the healing began.”

“I think the most important thing, though, is really if you're going to beat yourself up, use a pillow, not a baseball bat, because it's not like you've been alive before.”

 “Life is to be celebrated. Celebrate it all. Live it all. Drink from the fire hose.”

 “I mean, that day out in the desert, I realized that I did not have a dream. I didn't have a dream for my life. I kind of had blinders on. I realized that I wanted to achieve. I wanted to work on things in my life that I cared about. And I hoped to earn enough money that I would be able to never have to work for a jerk and that I would be able to travel and these other things. But more than anything, I just wanted to be connected and love what I'm doing.”

Learn more about Marcus Segal


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David All

Creator, Storyteller, Producer


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