Neil Patel

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In the vast landscape of entrepreneurship, some stories stand out like well-composed symphonies. Sam Hendel’s journey, originating from the suburbs of New York City, resonates as a melody of innovation and passion.

From navigating the worlds of finance to orchestrating deals in the music industry, Sam’s life has been a crescendo of risk-taking, calculated decisions, and a profound love for the arts. In this insightful interview, he offers a unique perspective shaped by hands-on experience in both investing and deal-making within the business realm.

The emphasis is on understanding people’s motivations to ensure mutually beneficial outcomes and maintaining momentum even in the face of inevitable hiccups during the process.

Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.‎

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Childhood Overture

Born to entrepreneurial parents, Sam’s childhood was a harmonious blend of suburban life and artistic inspiration. His mother, a theater graduate turned stay-at-home mom, rekindled her passion for theater, eventually becoming a prolific Broadway producer with eleven Tonys to her name.

His father, a veteran energy and commodities trader at Goldman Sachs, embarked on his own entrepreneurial journey. Growing up surrounded by culture and music, Sam’s childhood set the stage for a life steeped in culture, creativity, and calculated risk.

He remembers being surrounded by interesting people all the time, like people in the Arts, actors, and musicians. Going into the city with his dad to see shows is one of his favorite childhood memories.
Yale’s Sonata
Venturing into adulthood, Sam found himself at Yale, studying economics—an entry point into the world of finance. His early career at UBS saw Sam managing a billion-dollar portfolio at the age of 25, a testament to his affinity for trading and finance.

Sam recalls how, along with other senior analysts, he was promoted to the position of co-portfolio manager by default. The excitement of the deal dynamics and the challenge of understanding diverse sectors fueled his passion, laying the groundwork for his future ventures.

Sam enjoyed infusing the human element, looking at companies across any sector as a generalist. He talks about his skills in viewing companies and identifying potential risks for investors.

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The Dataminr Intermezzo

A twist in the melody came when a call from a college roommate led Sam into the venture space. An old college mate, Ted, called him up with the idea that social media was a dataset and had potential. He approached Sam because of his experience with hedge funds, where they used data as a source of information.

Their third partner was Jeff, a computer scientist with a natural language programming background. Together, the trio created Dataminr, a company revolutionizing real-time breaking news and sentiment analysis, showcasing the ability to take calculated shots on goal.

Sam calls it a “good Yale story” since all three co-founders came together in college, Ted was an American Studies Major, Sam was an Econ Major, and Jeff is a Computer Science Major.

Sam looks back at the time when Twitter was their initial dataset and how they used real-time algorithms to find breaking news. These news alerts went to hedge fund managers, quantitative managers, etc., who could then invest in the stock exchange.

Dataminr went on to acquire public sector customers like the Department of Defense or state and local law enforcement, and allied nation governments. Today, the company has expanded in a big way and is the world leader in AI real-time breaking news. It employs more than 800 people and has raised close to $700M.

The Chord Symphony Begins

As one act led seamlessly into the next, Sam’s journey took a melodic turn with the creation of Chord Music Partners. Acquiring a vast and iconic music catalog, he ventured into the world of music rights. Chord Music is a joint venture between the Hendel family office, Dundee Partners and KKR.

Collaborating with industry veterans and leveraging a rollup strategy, Chord became the world’s largest pure-play music catalog, poised to redefine the relationship between fans and their favorite music.

The company now has a very broad diversified portfolio of music rights and owns assets worth $2B. It has acquired a section of John Legends publishing, Major Lazer, twenty one pilots, and other iconic artists. Sam considers himself lucky that he has been able to make his passion a career and described his time with Chord as an incredible experience.

Jukebox’s Harmony Unveiled

Enter Jukebox—a venture embracing the transformative potential of fractional ownership in music. In crafting this unique asset class, Sam’s meticulous deal-making experience and commitment to regulatory integrity became an asset.

With the raised capital and a curated investor list, Jukebox stands at the intersection of finance and fandom, opening channels for a broader audience to invest in the magic of music. The company has raised $16M to date, with Galaxy Digital leading the latest funding round.

Other reputable investors include Valor Equity Partners, Dataminr, and Marwick Associates, a broad base of strategics. Live Nation Entertainment, Red Light Management, the largest music management company in the US, and the Bertelsmann family have also invested in Jukebox.

Storytelling is everything, which is something that Sam Hendel was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.

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Reflecting on personal learnings, Sam advises against costly legal expenditures and the complexities of shared class structures when initiating a business. Acknowledging the value of trustworthy legal counsel, he highlighted the importance of having a consciously chosen expert in the legal arena.

In Retrospect

Despite past mistakes, Sam believes that errors contribute to personal growth and development. He accepts the ongoing likelihood of making mistakes but asserts that they have a positive role in refining one’s approach.

Sam thinks back to the pivotal moment in his career when the Satellite Asset Management Fund he was associated with closed, leading to new opportunities and perspectives. Drawing from experience, Sam stresses the significance of alignment, particularly in dealings with Dataminr.

The mention of bringing customers on board as investors and the unconventional move of having 65 angel investors from the finance sector in the first round showcase a creative approach that paid off, leading to partnerships with Twitter and influential investment partners.

While Sam acknowledged his mistakes, he also emphasized the value of product iteration and the importance of involving friends and investors in the beta-testing phase.

Promoting the Accelerate Yale Initiative

Sam went on to reveal his involvement with Yale’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, promoting the Accelerate Yale initiative and a not-for-profit fund aimed at fostering a supportive entrepreneurial community.

Several alumni have invested in the fund, including Kevin Ryan, Seam Glass, Noah Glassett, Jenny Fleiss, and Sam and Ted from Dataminr. Each person invests $25K per year, and the fund has also raised more than $450K outside capital.

In conclusion, Sam encourages fellow Yale alumni to engage with the exciting initiatives at the university and invites them to contribute to the collaborative ecosystem being cultivated.

A Legacy of Entrepreneurial Crescendo

From finance to music, Sam’s journey exemplifies the impressive blend of passion, business acumen, and a commitment to creating meaningful connections in the world of entrepreneurship. The finale is yet to be written, but one thing is certain—Sam Hendel’s melody will echo in the corridors of business history for years to come.

Listen to the full podcast episode to know more, including:

  • The entrepreneurial journey, rooted in a childhood surrounded by culture and music, weaves a story of risk-taking, calculated decisions, and a profound love for the arts.
  • From managing a billion-dollar portfolio at 25 to co-founding Dataminr, Sam’s diverse experiences reflect a unique perspective shaped by hands-on involvement in both finance and deal-making.
  • Dataminr’s evolution from using Twitter as its initial dataset to becoming a world leader in AI real-time breaking news exemplifies the trio’s ability to take calculated shots on goal.
  • Chord Music Partners, Sam’s venture into the music rights industry, has become the world’s largest pure-play music catalog, owning assets worth $2B and reshaping the fan-artist relationship.
  • Jukebox, embracing fractional ownership in music, stands at the intersection of finance and fandom, raising $16M to date and allowing a broader audience to invest in the magic of music.
  • Despite acknowledging past mistakes, Sam emphasizes their positive role in personal growth, highlighting the importance of alignment and a creative approach in business dealings.
  • Sam’s involvement in Yale’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, promoting the Accelerate Yale initiative and a not-for-profit fund, showcases his commitment to fostering a supportive entrepreneurial community among alumni.


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Neil Patel

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