Video Transcript

00:10 Ted Leonsis: I was mentioned that I started to make some movies and I made my first film. It went to Sundance and when you make a movie, it's like a start-up. It costs a couple of million dollars to get it going and you have to hire directors and producers and actors, and I didn't realize this at the time, but 10,000 movies get sent to Sundance and they accept 120 of them. It's very Darwinian, they physically show the movies. And then of those 120, 10 get bought for distribution. So I make my first movie, I send it in, and it gets accepted. Idiot savant, and it shows, Robert Redford honestly calls me at home. My wife answers the phone. She goes, "Ted, Robert Redford's on the phone." I said, "Yeah, it's probably Vinny Peka, my buddy who's always playing pranks," and he says, "Hey, I watched your movie. It's fantastic. We're gonna open Sundance Saturday night with it."

01:21 Leonsis: We showed the movie. People are crying, they're clapping. Studio exec comes and meets me and says, "We're buying the movie. Why did you do this?" And I said, "Well, I'm a filmanthropist. I wanna make movies that shine the light on a tough subject, that activate volunteerism, that right a wrong," and I think lots of people, 'cause the price of film-making's going down, wanna make movies that matter, and so that's why I've made this film. The film was called Nanking, won an Emmy Award, Peabody Award, totally blessed with how well it was received.

02:05 Leonsis: So they buy the film and HBO buys the movie. It's unbelievable. I'm so lucky, and a couple of months later, the head of the studio calls me and he says, "Good news. We're gonna launch your film in Manhattan, Christmas week." So Sundance is in January and the film is gonna be distributed Christmas week, 12 months later. Christmas week. So I say to him, "Have you seen the movie? It's a Chinese holocaust film with subtitles. Why would you open this film in Manhattan, Christmas week?" He says, "Well, there's 30,000 movie screens in 8,000 buildings in North America, and 500 of those 30,000 screens will show independent films and documentaries and you should be happy that it'll be Christmas and New Year's week in New York, in three theaters. And oh, by the way, you shot the movie in HD and now you're gonna have to turn it into analog."

03:28 Leonsis: I go, "I've spent my whole life and career taking analog and putting it into digital format, now I'm going digital, this is broken." So I said, "I want to fix it. I want to give back. I want to make everyone a filmanthropist." And we were in the midst of the melt-down and no one had any time and any money, so I said, "I need a new currency. What can people give? They don't have any free time, they don't have any... " I said, "Pixels. Let's make pixels a currency," and so I started a company called SnagFilms three years ago, and the idea was simple. We'll digitize your film and put it online and please go to SnagFilms, not StagFilms dot com.

04:26 Leonsis: And you come and you watch your movie and if you like it, you grab it, you snag it, and you open a virtual movie theater and you stream the movie to your friends on Facebook, on your blog. You can self-express, you can organize yourself in a community of interest. My mother has breast cancer and here's this powerful film on the diary of a woman with breast cancer and I want to share it with my friends. And we support each of those films with a one-click charity. "I want to donate some time. I want to donate money to that cause." So we launched three years ago. We now have 3000 movies. We have 150,000 virtual movie theaters open. We're streaming 20, 30 million films per month. Yesterday, if you Google it, we announced big new deals. Direct TV is carrying SnagFilms. SnagFilms will be available on the X-Box 360. It's being built-in to Sony televisions and Samsung televisions.

05:42 Leonsis: It is a double bottomline business. We will do well by doing good. That is the higher calling of all of the businesses now that I get involved with. I only want to invest, I've made lots of eventual investments in companies that have done pretty well. Revolution Money was a business that we started a couple of years ago and sold to American Express, I am on the board of American Express now. Groupon, at it's heart, is a double bottomline business. It funds small businesses upfront, it brings them customers. It helps young adults and mostly women manage their budgets by getting them great deals up to 50% off on a daily basis. People are running their lives based on the savings that they are getting in this new sharing kind of economy. And so, finding the double bottom line in your businesses is vitally important. With my sports teams, we have three income statements that we create. The first is, yes we want to get the most point, yes we want to win the championship, yes we want to make the play-offs, yes we want our players to score the most goals and get the most success, and how we metric that.

07:18 Leonsis: The second is the business, want to sell the most tickets, sell the most sponsorships, get the highest TV ratings, get the best media deals. And then the third is, how do we turn our 25 players or men and women on each of our teams into philanthropist. How do we activate charitable giving for our season ticket holders and us, cause we are part of the community. My three teams last year supported over 300 charities locally. So, last week we built a playground with one of our players and our fans. Like a $100,000 playground. We had 200 season ticket holders and sponsors, and all of our employees and players doing that. And we manage all of those, and the way you become a real star in our organization is you ring high on each of those. So, you can manage that double bottom line in your company and metric the kind of volunteering that you are doing.

08:25 Leonsis: And I can guarantee you that the employees that you have, that do the most volunteering will be your most productive employee. If you want something done, give it to the busiest person. That the people who volunteer, and the customers that volunteer with you around the cause will be most important. See I was with Howard Schultz and he put wireless in for free in everyone of his coffee shops. He did deal a with SnagFilms, you go to Starbucks and you power up, and you get on their wireless portal, and you can watch one of our movies. And I said, "Why would you want to be able to do that?" And he said, "Because there is more than 10% unemployment, and I know men and women need to get dressed and leave their house and have a good third place to go to. And I don't care if they stay there all day and they buy one cup of coffee. It's almost a public service what we are providing."

09:34 Leonsis: In pursuit of a double bottomline, in pursuit of a higher calling. "I'm not trying to sell a Caffè macchiato, I'm trying to do good for my community. And so, that's it in a nutshell." Embrace your reckonings, make your list. I encourage young people who work for me all the time... I'm simply amazed that the unbelievable talent that comes into all of our companies. And I can sit down with someone, and they can write a plan and do a deck and do competitive analysis, and give me full balance sheets and market share. And then I say, "Well, tell me how you are going to be happy and what's your life list?" And they don't even know where to start. Yeah, when you turn around a company, what's the first thing you do, is you sit down and kind of map out day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month, what the list of activities and big things, and vital few changes that you have to make.

10:40 Leonsis: So, embrace your reckonings, make your list. And then remember that you are in the business of happiness. I've been following that, it feels really good. It feels good being an entrepreneur, and knowing that it's not just about the exit, it's not just about the reward but the journey, the act of being the entrepreneur is really where the reward comes from. Thank you very much for your time.