Work Hard and Dream Big: Joe Abrams’ Inspirational Kalmbach Lecture

By: Tonya

Last night Joe Abrams ’74 spoke to a standing-room-only crowd of Simon students, faculty, staff, alumni, and Executive Advisory Committee (EAC) members about his path to co-founding Intermix, Inc., the company that launched dozens of entertainment/social networking web sites including MySpace.

He told the crowd that in 25 years of business development one thing stayed constant – making plenty of mistakes.  And one thing he learned was to "go the opposite direction of the herd."  Joe went the opposite direction in the early 80s when many people told him that no one was going to buy computers and again later when naysayers said that there was no future for the internet.  Well, tell that to Joe now, who sold Intermix to NewsCorp in September 2005 for $580,000,000.  From 2003 – 2004 Intermix had approximately 45 million people spending hours on their sites every week, this made them as big as any major TV network.

Today Joe is the Chairman of Empire Interactive, a subsidiary of SilverStar Holdings, an interactive software operating company.  He also sits on the Board of Advisors for HandHeld Entertainment and Akeena Solar.

During the lecture Joe presented the question, "What is an entrepreneur?"  to the crowd.  In order to get the audience to ponder the question, he held up a plastic water bottle and asked everyone what they saw.  Answers shouted out included: a container, a vase, a fashion statement, a weapon, and Joe’s favorite, "a tool for playing spin the bottle."  The point that Joe drove home was that an entrepreneur thinks of new and different uses for the bottle.  "Sometimes the best company can take an old invention and think of new ways to use it," he enthusiastically stated.

Joe attributes much of his success to the "tremendous" education he received at Simon.  He felt that Simon prepared him both academically and for the leadership positions he would fulfill.  "I couldn’t have been better prepared," Joe told the crowd.  He then went on to say that the only things that can limit a person in life are energy and imagination, so he ended by encouraging the crowd to "work hard and dream big!"

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