George Clooney’s Tequila Company Sold for Up to $1 Billion

George Clooney is an award-winning actor, a new father and a world-class prankster.

Now he can add “start-up founder who hit the jackpot” to his résumé.

Casamigos, the tequila brand that Mr. Clooney founded with his friends Rande Gerber and Mike Meldman in 2013, said Wednesday that it had sold itself to the spirits giant Diageo. The deal values the company at up to $1 billion: $700 million in cash upfront and up to $300 million more if it hits sales targets over the next decade.

“If you asked us four years ago if we had a billion-dollar company, I don’t think we would have said yes,” Mr. Clooney said in a statement. “This reflects Diageo’s belief in our company and our belief in Diageo.”

The transaction makes Mr. Clooney one of the most successful celebrity investors around.

Hollywood stars over the years have often played venture capitalists on the side, taking stakes in an array of start-ups. Among them are Kevin Spacey and Leonardo DiCaprio, who have poured money into Casper, the mattress maker, and Justin Bieber, who has invested in Spotify. Ashton Kutcher may now be better known for his investments than for his IMDB entries, having taken stakes in what Crunchbase reckons are 61 start-ups, from Airbnb to

Mr. Clooney and Mr. Gerber, the entertainment impresario who happens to be married to Cindy Crawford, took a different path. Per company lore, the two friends spent many a night conducting tequila “research” at their Casamigos vacation…

Sales Content Vs. Marketing Content: Do You Know the Difference?

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As the founder of a content marketing agency with 10 years in the game, I’ve worked with a lot of brands. But too often I’ve found that their understanding of “content marketing” is shortsighted. They want an infographic for their blog or a video for their landing page because when they think of content marketing, they focus on the single piece of content that will drive more sales.

When these clients kick off an engagement with this immediate sales focus, I encourage them to take a breath and look at their long-term goal.

The reality is there’s no silver bullet in content marketing. Content marketing is all about playing the slow game. It’s about creating content that starts a conversation, which will transition into sales down the road. It’s not selling out of the gate.

If you’re marketing through content, you can’t achieve popularity with your content and tell your sales stories at the same time. Why? Because you run the risk of diluting your message.

You have to choose one or the other: You either market your stories or you sell your products.

So, What Is Marketing Content?

One word: charm. Marketing content is about charming people. In fact, good marketing content will charm people to the point where convincing them to buy is easy.

Marketing content is about attracting people to whatever you’re selling and the kind of company you’re building. The content people love to share (and that journalists love to write about) is not the content that says how great you are. Rather, it’s the content that speaks to your customer’s pain points and speaks to your “why” or your values.

People want to work with people that they know, like and trust. But it’s hard to establish trust or affinity with someone when you’re also trying to sell them something. That’s why your marketing content needs to make the best impression – not be an immediate turnoff.

OK, Then What Is Sales Content?

One word: convince. Sales content is about convincing people that you’re the best brand to work with, your products and services are right for them, and your…

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Can Zillow ‘Uber-ize’ the hundred-billion-dollar real estate brokerage?

Earlier this month, when Zillow announced a record high quarter, projecting to surpass a billion dollars in revenue by the end of this year, many wondered whether the company, with its 75 percent online real estate audience market share and 171 million monthly users, can “Uber-ize” real estate agents, cutting out traditional brick-and-mortar brokerage middlemen in the same way Uber bypassed taxi dispatchers.

The answer is perhaps yes, but it’s not quite that straightforward.

Zillow essentially makes its money from selling leads to agents who usually work for brokers — like Coldwell Banker or Re/Max — that provide them with marketing, insurance, sales and transaction support in exchange for a “desk fee” or a cut of their commission income.
So-called “super agents,” who spend over $60,000 a year buying leads from Zillow and driving the company’s growth, are already spending more with Zillow than with Re/Max in desk fees, prompting accusations that Zillow is effectively collecting a “brokerage fee” without legally being a broker.
Between marketing support, lead generation, and lead management technology, real estate search portal Zillow now delivers more value to agents than most brokerages do. Given this position, Zillow has a golden opportunity to commoditize the brokerage value to the agents.

Traditionally, brokerages have flaunted their trusted brands as a key value to agents. But even as brokerages spend billions in marketing, with the Internet today providing most of the vital information brokers once did, as many as 97 percent of homebuyers and sellers now consider their branding to be irrelevant in hiring an agent.

Given that 3 out of 4 home shoppers now start their search with Zillow, the company sees a well-timed opportunity to close the “search-to-transaction” loop. If Zillow is able to assume all the roles of a broker without legally being a broker, then brokers could find their role increasingly limited until, like notaries, they exist only to fulfil a simple legal function: an agent must be affiliated with a broker to be paid.

Zillow’s acquisition of real estate transaction platform DotLoop for $108 million in 2015 may have been the first step in creating such an end-to-end home transaction platform. The next step would be to offer digitally the functions of a traditional brokerage such as hiring agents, scheduling showings, etc., to fully close the lead-to-transaction loop, significantly reducing the time agents waste chasing fruitless…

LendingHome Sets Stage to Accelerate Next Phase of Business Growth

Gains Fannie Mae Seller, Servicer Approval to Expand Consumer Home Loans;

Hires Mortgage Industry Veteran Robert Stiles as Chief Financial Officer


LendingHome, the largest, fastest-growing mortgage marketplace lender, today announced two new business developments that will enable the company to take its business to the next level. LendingHome has gained Fannie Mae seller and servicer approval, which will allow LendingHome to expand its consumer home financing business and better serve its customers. Additionally, LendingHome named Robert Stiles, former CFO of Nationstar Mortgage, as its new Chief Financial Officer.

This Smart News Release features multimedia. View the full release here:

Robert Stiles, CFO of LendingHome (Photo: Business Wire)
Robert Stiles, CFO of LendingHome (Photo: Business Wire)

Fannie Mae Seller & Servicer

As one of the largest buyers of conforming home loans, Fannie Mae’s approval of LendingHome as a seller and servicer will enable the expansion of its home financing business and the delivery of better outcomes to its customers. By working directly with Fannie Mae, LendingHome can streamline its operations and offer better loan pricing to its customers. At the same time, LendingHome can retain the servicing of its customers in-house so that they can rely on LendingHome as their one trusted advisor throughout the life of their loan, benefitting from a true end-to-end mortgage experience.

“Passing Fannie Mae’s stringent approval guidelines is no small feat, especially for a young company that started lending only three years ago,” said Matt Humphrey, co-founder and CEO of LendingHome. “This is a testament to LendingHome’s financial strength, leading ground-up technology platform, and the quality of our processes from end-to-end.”

“LendingHome focuses on using technology innovation to create efficiencies and deliver…

Marissa Mayer Will Make $186 Million on Yahoo’s Sale to Verizon

SAN FRANCISCO — Yahoo shareholders will vote June 8 on whether to sell the company’s internet businesses to Verizon Communications for $4.48 billion. A yes vote, which is widely expected, would end Marissa Mayer’s largely unsuccessful five-year effort to restore the internet pioneer to greatness.

But Ms. Mayer, the company’s chief executive, will be well compensated for her failure. Her Yahoo stock, stock options and restricted stock units are worth a total of $186 million, based on Monday’s stock price of $48.15, according to data filed on Monday in the documents sent to shareholders about the Verizon deal.

That compensation, which will be fully vested at the time of the shareholder vote, does not include her salary and bonuses over the past five years, or the value of other stock that Ms. Mayer has already sold. All told, her time at Yahoo will have netted her well over $200 million, according to calculations based on company filings.

Ms. Mayer did give up additional equity compensation that she would have received in 2017 as a penalty for her management team’s failure to act on a 2014 breach of the company’s systems that led to the theft of data on 500 million users. Last month, the federal government indicted four people, including two Russian…