We interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals. We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.
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Jaeson Ma is a media executive, artist, investor and serial entrepreneur. He is a strategic advisor & financier of popular social music video app Triller, co-founded premium production studio Stampede Ventures, digital music label 88rising, ZASH Global Media a publicly Nasdaq traded media & technology conglomerate and east-west brand strategy & investment firm East West Ventures.
Jaeson is a Senior Advisor to Tencent Music Entertainment & KKBox fund KKFarm and a Network Partner for consumer tech fund GoodWater Capital. He is also a senior advisor to private equity funds advised by Courage Capital Management, LLC that invests in catalogs of music rights. As well, Jaeson is a Senior Advisor to Wise Road Capital a global Private Equity investment company, focusing on semiconductor industry and other emerging high-tech industries. Jaeson is considered one of the leading financiers to companies, institutions, and individuals investing in Asian media, entertainment, & tech. His investments include Musical.ly (TikTok), Grab, Coinbase, Triller, Slock.it, Brain, CAA Caravan, Oursong, Kind Heaven, NanoTech Energy, XiaoPeng, & MAUM (2 Star Michelin).
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Intro: (00:00:00) Hey guys, welcome to Asian Hustle Network Podcast, My name is Bryan.
And my name is Maggie
And we interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals.
We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.
Maggie: (00:00:23) Hi everyone. Welcome to the Asian hustle network podcast. Today. We have a very special guest. His name is. Jason ma Jason is a media executive artists, investor, and serial entrepreneur. He is a principal of Poplar social music, video app Triller co-founded premium production studio, stampede ventures, digital music label, ADA rising and east-west brand strategy and investment from east-west ventures. Jason is a senior advisor to 10 cents. Music entertainment and KK boss, fun to KK farm and a network partner for consumer tech fund. Good water capital. He is also a senior advisor to private equity funds advised by courage, capital management, LLC that invest in catalogs of music rights. As well as Jason is a senior advisor to wise road capital eight global private equity investment company, focusing on the semiconductor industry and other emerging high tech industries. Jason is considered one of the leading finance shirts to companies, institutions, and individuals investing in Asian media entertainment and tech. Jason, welcome to the show.
Jaeson: (00:01:32) We're gonna have to shorten that bio
Maggie: (00:01:36) extensive background. I had to fall in there.
Jaeson: (00:01:40) I'm going to have to shorten that for sure. Like a conference or something like that. Um, could it have me get a, it yet? Have it have neon? I'm really excited to do this.
Bryan: (00:01:51) You're willing to let the legends run the industry. Recent brief. I to have the odd man in. Top brands here, dude. So we understand that you grew up in East San Jose. Tell us what it's like to grow up in East San Jose. Uh, finally grew up,
Jaeson: (00:02:04) uh, East side of San Jose. I mean, If anyone knows East side San Jose, then you'll know what he says. Sales-ey is like, it's, uh, it's not, it's not the, it's not a sub, it's not the nicest neighborhood. It's um, I mean the East side and the West side is like, you know, it's like the hood and then there's like, you know, the suburbs, right? So the suburbs was the West side. It was like, You know, Cupertino and Los Gatos and Los Altos and Palo Alto, that's where you have Stanford and, and, and all the nice things. And then you go to the East side and that's pretty much, you know, where it gets rowdy. So, you know, I lived on the Northeast side, uh, more near various home Lapidus. Wasn't the greatest, but it wasn't like crazy bad, but if you go like a little bit up. North, uh, non North, South to that. Yeah, it gets, it gets, it can get a little, it can get a little, a little, uh, fun Um, but yeah, I grew up in East San Jose, um, you know, went to multiple high schools. Uh, I finally graduated Piedmont Hills high. Um, I got kicked out of three, um, Lynbrook, Cupertino, and then independence. I, um, Yeah. And just had an interesting upbringing for sure.
Bryan: (00:03:17) Was there a time period where you moved to Cupertino and back to East San Jose? Uh, I think we, we, we listened to one of your podcasts before and you're saying, how can we move to Cupertino? I didn't feel like home. And you wanted to move back to East San Jose when you're talking to your mom.
Jaeson: (00:03:31) Yeah. It's like fresh Prince of Bel-Air if you know this series, right. Like, so my mom was like, you know, you're getting into too much trouble. Um, you know, the East side of San Jose is not good for you. You're probably gonna end up in jail. So I'm going to pick you up and send you over to the West side where all the good, smart and decent Chinese kids are. Um, and hopefully that will shake, you know, shaping you up. Um, instead I got into more trouble because I just got really fed up with just a lot of, you know, ignorance there. And, uh, eventually got myself kicked out of my first two high schools in the first two in the first year, uh, six months at each. And then, uh, I basically told my mama, I want to go back to the East side. Cause that's where I feel like I'm at home and all my friends are. So I basically coerced her. And I moved in with my aunt in Flickinger park, which was close to independence high, which was this massive high school, mainly Southeast Asians and Hispanic, um, where I spent two years.
Maggie: (00:04:33) Wow. And can you talk about, talk a little bit about, you know, just like your upbringing, like what were the outside factors I kind of shaped your identity and like what made you kind of get into the trouble that your mom had talked about and talk about that experience.
Jaeson: (00:04:48) Um, you know, I think anyone growing up in a single parent family home, uh, you know, my mom was, you know, she hustle, right. Um, you want to talk about Asian hustle network? I mean, just talk to our parents, right? They all came here with nothing on nothing on their back and, you know, maybe. Few hundred dollars in their pockets and they had to figure it out. Right. And a lot of them ended up as restaurant owners or dry cleaners or, you know, odd jobs or multiple jobs. Um, you know, I think in the eighties and nineties later, there were more engineers that were hired, uh, from Asia, uh, from Taiwan to specific specifically. Um, and that kind of helped. The Silicon Valley, you know, uh, I would say demographic of Asians kind of have a higher income or, or, or a better income, but in the early days it was all hustle, you know? And my mom was single. Uh, I mean her and my dad had a very interesting relationship, but he was in and out. And so she had to support us, which is three kids and she did daycare. Right. And so she would just take care of kids. Uh, you know, in the house, there were like half, half, you know, six months to two years old. And, uh, and it was just barely making rent. And so sometimes we didn't even know if we're going to make rent. Um, and so, you know, for me being the only man in the house with two older sisters, I just had it originally. I think immediately, like I have to be the man, I have to be responsible. I need it, you know, uh, help mom out with the rent. I gotta, you know, see what I can do to put food on the table. And so that just began my hustle. Right? When I was 12 years old, I was raised selling candy to open a door in the hood and all kinds of crazy places, getting myself, you know, in danger. Um, but you know, in general, I just think that when you have that type of upbringing versus a traditional home, that's, you know, Dandelions or roses, you grew up with a different mentality, right? You grew up within a mentality that you need to survive, right. You need to overcome, and you need to figure things out in order to make it in the world. And that school has been the mentality that I've always had. Right? No one was going to give me a handout or a hand up and I figured it out for myself.
Bryan: (00:06:59) Yeah, that mad respect to that to really relatable to myself, to me, parents hustle all the time, really low income area. And the funny thing is you, you grew up in the East San Jose. I grew up in East LA it's all like version
Jaeson: (00:07:16) similar. It may East LA is very, you know, it's, it's, it's, it's Hispanic and Asian, right. It's Monterey park. It's, you know, San Gabriel partial of all that. Um,
Bryan: (00:07:27) It was a different time back then as a lot safer. Now I will go back on my man. The area like really changed, but you know, what was it, a turning point in life where, you know, you got out of trouble and you're like, okay, I want to make something from my, for myself. Now. I want to make my legacy. I want to do what I want to do. Like who did you meet and how did you get there?
Jaeson: (00:07:49) Um, you know, I think in life, you know, Life throws you chances, you know? Um, but you have to be ready for them. And I'm always about. 90% is doing the work. 10% is luck. Um, and I think that, you know, champions don't become champions overnight, right? They become champions through practice, uh, hours and hours, right. When everyone else is sleeping and everyone else is snoozing. You know, uh, you know, champions are there that are sacrificing their sleep. They're sacrificing, uh, what they're eating, right? They're there, they're fasting, they're focused. Um, they're giving up the pleasures of daily life that other people usually enjoy in order to be, you know, a winner. Um, and so when you actually get into that ring, right, that's when you know, it really shows, improves whether or not what you invest it right. Actually, uh, has paid off. And so for me, I think it was always just putting in the work, always hustling, always working hard, always just doing my best and more. Um, and just being excellent. You know, even when I got to college, you know, it's a three degrees. I graduated Summa cum laude. Uh, I had two jobs while I was still in university. Um, and even when I got my master's, you know, in LA, I was still. Uh, doing my own businesses and I was, you know, traveling the world, doing online master's programs. So for me, I'm just more pragmatic. Like I don't, I don't, I don't like being idle. I don't like sitting in a classroom. Some people love that. Like my sister's like a, MD-PhD like she could live in university for her whole entire life. Right. Versus me. Like, I can't sit in a class longer than 30 minutes from, I think I'm going to go insane. Right. So for me, it's always about, okay, what can I learn and how do I apply it? Right. And, and how do I actually use this education to my advantage to actually put it into practice? And so for me, I was just always very pragmatic that way. And so. No, just always hustling. And, uh, I think by the time I was, uh, shoot right out of high school, um, I was hosting a video game show. It was crazy. It's called gamer nation was on channel four, NBC. And, uh, it was with, uh, and I would just do interviews with all the latest e-sports and. PlayStation and whatever games we did. Like I think something crazy, like a hundred episodes. And then from there I decided to start my own TV program and, um, and people just thought I was crazy. I literally took a bunch of my high school friends. 12 of them went to a mountain view community center, uh, where they have these community TV stations. And they basically said you can learn how to make her own TV show and it's paid for by the city. So I literally went in with 12 high school kids and we literally learned how to work cameras, how to headache, how to produce, how to direct, how to set up performances. So I set up like, um, it was like my own Jimmy Fallon show. Uh, basically I did the trailer. Hosted it at dope ass artists come and perform. Um, had really, really cool people that we interviewed that were making like a positive impact in the community that we would, you know, tell their story, uh, local influencers celebrities. At the time we would do the B roll footage. And I literally made, I don't even know, like 50 episodes of that. Right. And then syndicated it to like 14 community cable networks. I mean, this is like 1997, right? I mean, I was like literally 17 years old and already like had a mindset. I'm not going to wait for someone to fail. You're out. Some Asian kid in San Jose is going to go make, you know, a relevant youth culture. TV program, uh, to somehow get picked up by MTV. I was like, forget that. I'm just gonna go do it myself. And so I think that that understanding that media has a. Massive influence on the minds and behavior culture was always in embedded in my thinking. And so I was always like, you know what? Media is the most influential, influential platform, uh, an apparatus to impact culture in the world. And this is what I want to do, and I'm going to not wait for anyone. I'm going to do it myself. So I have my own TV series by the time. I didn't think, I think I did for two years. I was like 17 and 19. And then I have my own radio program. Literally on a, on a, on a professional ham, uh, station. And it was a similar concept, but I just did it for radio, which was reaching out to young people. Um, and so it was very interesting if you just think about that, like, you know, you're 17, 18, 19, and you're creating your own TV program from scratch. You're doing your own radio program from scratch. And I never really thought back, like that was actually the foundation. To everything else that I'm doing now, 20 years later, right? And media, digital media entertainment, contents on TV, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So, you know, I was doing that. And then I had started as hip hop. I will study that's actually where it all started. I had this hip hop Bible study where on the East side, San Jose there's like deep East side. This is where my home church was. And it was a Chinese American church. And it was right on, totally into Loughlin, which was like the heart of the hood. And, uh, but every. Tuesday night, the place was empty, uh, because uh, most of the churchgoers came from the West side. Maybe they just came there for the weekends. Right. But there were well-off lots to do. So I said to the pastor a can actually take a hold of the church, uh, the auditorium on Tuesday nights when it's empty. And just invite my friends from the hood and get them off the streets and go, you know, study, study the liable. Right. But the, the reality was we, I tricked all my friends to come. So I had like drug dealer, friends. I have my gangster gangster friends. And I had like my hip hop, like hood friends, like my underground hip hop crew. And so basically it was like, yo guys, if you guys come to say the Bible for an hour, then the auditorium is yours. And you guys can use it for like four or five hours to be boy DJ, you know, MC whatever. And so it worked and his thing like blew up to hundreds of kids every Tuesday night. And what happened was it cultivated this place for talent? So now I have the best. Break break dancers and, and, and hip hop dancers and all the Bay area coming out Tuesday night. And I had the dopest, graffiti designers and writers. I had the dopest rappers. We had the dopest DJs, like a lot of them like John Milwaukee's now, like they came out with that. Right. I mean, that's how that's how far back it goes. And so looking back like, I was raised putting in the work, doing this right. Reaching out to the community. And then I was like, okay, well, what if I spin this into a TV program? What if I spend this into a radio program? Right. But made it like non-religious, but still relevant, positive, inspirational. And so that became the impetus for me to meet MC hammer, which is now the 23 year relationship, you know, literally host them clubhouse last night for six hours with hammer and, you know, He's he's, you know, he's like my dad, right. He was like my black dad and, and, uh, he's taught me everything. I know when it comes to startup, when it comes to deal making, when it comes to, uh, venture capital, when it comes to media and entertainment and music business, I mean, I literally, I still remember when I first started working for him, I was chasing them down for six months, trying to get him to come speak at a, the hip hop at that I had. Uh, an outreach event. And I finally got ahold of them. He agreed to do it. And he was like, you know, what do you do? And I was like, I work at a startup in Cupertino. And so that was my first job out of high school was working at a tech startup across from Apple. And we were selling websites to small and medium sized businesses literally would go store to store, like, just like, Hey know, do you need a webpage? And, um, he was like, Oh, you're in, you're in, you're in venture gear and started going to tech. And I was like, yeah, he's like, I invest in tech and that's the startups. He's like, you're Asian. You must not eat. Music theater can work for me. And so I was like, are you kidding me? MC hammer. And so I was bugging out that and hammer wanted me to, you know, work for Mazda. Like he was a legend right on the, I was a hip hop head and I was like, this is crazy. It's like working for Barack Obama, you know? So he was just like, You know, meet me at this address all the way in Tracy, California. I get to the office and it's just me and him. And he's like, okay, you're going to basically be my right hand. And just whatever I tell you to do, just figure it out and I'll figure it out with you. And you know, we're going to do it. And at that time, everything in the office of Bluetooth wireless, he was like rich content, digital distribution. Hollywood's going down. Music industry is going down. Hollywood is coming to Silicon Valley and this is in 1997. Right. And so I'm just like, I have no idea what he's talking about, but I'm just like, I'm just down. Right. And I still remember we were at a Fry's electronics in, uh, San Jose, uh, just picking up some stuff and he's like, he buys us rom book. It's literally a CD rom on how to write a business plan. And he was like, Jason. This is my gift to you. You're going to go right. To figure out how to write a music plan for our record label. And we're going to go raise seven figures. And I literally looked at him like, what are you talking about? Like, I have no clue how to write a business plan, let alone, like. What? So literally I literally went on my, you know, my, my, my, my, my, my computer, and just literally went slide by slide, figured out how to write a business plan from like SWOT strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, you know, to financials. I mean, I had no clue what I was doing and, but I would ask them, I was like, okay, so how does it work? Like, how does the musical. Label work. How do we do any? He was talking about back then, like this radio, when, you know, it costs $2 million to preserve records. And he was talking about payola and how all the DJs around the nation were getting paid under the table was radio one and clear China. So I was like learning all this stuff and just taking it in as a sponge, you know? So by the time I was. 19, we'd already raised multimillion dollars off of this little business plan that I wrote off of a Fry's electronics, CD, wrong and, and, and just got immersed right in the world of music. And how does, how does, how does, how does the music late the labels and the industry and, and hip hop work.And so, anyway, so those were like just early days and it was from that point that. Um, you know, it just opened up doors to so many other things like heroin, you know, he was partners with Ron Conway. They were best friends. Ron's a godfather silicone Valley in, in, in the Bay area. And so he coined the term angel investment.Um, so he was a first check into Twitter and Google and all these other major companies. And so he would always tip off hammer. On the next startup, that was like the next big thing. So I used to camera to all these crazy meetings. I still remember driving him to YouTube at San Mateo when those five people, and it was literally five people about pizza parlor and hammers is like uploading content to servers.You know, he would take out like a camp, a Casio camcorder starts shooting content of a music video with his own camcorder. It was like super cheesy at the time. Right. And I'm just like, Hammer like he's like, no, no, no. It's, it's all about user generated content. I'm like, nah, like you need to go call up, you know, watch him, I call it whatever his name is.Just do a million dollar Britney Spears music video at the time. And so again, it was just really, really ahead of his time. Um, the way that he thought, the way that he saw. Where the industry was going. If you look at Hollywood, today is no longer. Hollywood has controlled by Silicon Valley, right? It's it's Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google.And so, you know, who would have thought 20 years later is prophecy would come true. Um, that is really just having that foresight. And so. Yeah. So you know, that those are my early days, uh, doing venture capital and doing media deals, entertainment, deals, music, label deals, um, basically just running all things for, for hammer, Inc.And then from there, you know, I, I got inspired to go and do my milestones.
Maggie: (00:19:43) Wow. That is incredible. I love that story. I love how you're able to just scope out opportunities for yourself, you know, and you, you know, opening up that Bible study and bringing in people in to create opportunities for them to like wrap the people.I do anything that they want and that's, that's just incredible.
Bryan: (00:20:02) Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I appreciate the hustle and on top of that, there's a good takeaway. You know, they find a mentor and, and learn as much as you can. I feel like that's the biggest takeaway, but I'm kind of curious about that really? Beginning of 88, you know, so we read some articles about that and I was, was called rice. So we want to learn, um, we know that the inspiration was connected to Jeremy Lin during Linda's vanity. I want to hear more about the early days of ADA and
Maggie: (00:20:32) yeah. And what kind of made you want to represent Asian culture in the media with ADA rising as well?
Jaeson: (00:20:40) Um, you know, I think, you know, the impacted me greatly was a movie called Bella tomorrow, uh, director, Justin Lin. And so, you know, our connection with that was that hammer saved the movie. Um, when I was about to go bankrupt and shut down, and he had met Justin at CES, uh, one year on the ground floor. And, um, you know, he's just wired just in the cash, even though he had barely met him just once. Right. And to save the movie. And it launched Justin Lin's career, you know? And so when we saw the film, um, post Sundance, I remember it was at the Asian Asian-American film festival and, uh, it was opening opening film. I was just like, wow, this is such a dope movie, but also this a dope and true representation of Asian America. And, um, It was something that was done with excellence. Uh, the storytelling was incredible. The cinematography was incredible. So just in and of itself as a, as a film, it was excellent. Um, regardless of whether it was about Asian Americans or, or, or the culture. And I think that's when you're able to transcend, because you're not trying to do something because you're black or Brown or you're yellow and you're white, but you're just creating. A work of art or a story that is truly something great. And when something is truly great, it becomes undeniable and then you can then bring your culture and what you represent into, you know, that, that, that, that platform. And I think when I saw Bella tomorrow, it was just a great film that was directed by an Asian active by Asians. And it was a true depiction of Asians, uh, that I grew up with, or I knew. And so I thought, wow, this is amazing. Like there's a first film where Asians weren't just goblins or Goonies or geeks or geishas. Right. Um, like this was just a real life depiction of, of a real narrative and in play by Asians in an excellent way. And so when I saw that film, I was like, wow, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to represent Asian culture in mainstream media the right way. Um, and I, I want to do that by making more films and more TV and more content and more music, um, by Asians for Asia to the rest of the world. And so I told hammer that, and I left venture capital author. I don't know it was five, six years. And then I actually ended up having a missionary stent for four years where I was at 40 countries. Uh, before I got back into media. And there's a whole story behind that. But, uh, when I went to 40 countries from Africa to India, to South America, but that a lot in Asia, specifically Southeast Asia, uh, Nepal, uh, China, and I just saw, wow. There's like a whole continent of Asian young people. By like the billions. Right. And, and, and they're more savvy, electronically, digitally, right? They're just more connected. They're more progressive. And they have this role do where it's not about the West. It's about the East and it's about the rest of the world. And, and the East is leading that, that narrative. And I was like, wow, why is there not a platform that's giving voice and capturing what's happening in Asia? Uh, to the rest of the world. And so that was kind of the beginnings of, you know, what then led me into my first venture, um, which was a music label and digital media content platform, which was predating 88 rising, which is called Asian digital ventures network. And at that time I had raised about a million. And I've put that into this company. And out of that company, there was forest movement and MC Jen and the nest Wu and Daniel, Wu, and others. Right. And we were kind of like, I would say the first Asian Americans in the music scene that were really breaking, uh, molds right. Far as movement had like a G six, which was the first number one hit on billboard by an Asian American groups. And then that same year, yet Bruno Mars was half Filipino. And I had four tracks with Bruno before you guys super big. So seeing the bridge between that through music, right. That was a pre predecessor, um, to what you now know is Haiti Ryzen. Right? So then I started East West ventures, which is now by fund. I invest into consumer products, goods, and consumer tech companies between East and West. So I'd take companies from the West over to Asian companies. I invest in Asia over to the West leveraging. Talent and influence, leveraging consumer products and goods leveraging DTC. But before that, it was really about, okay, China's about to become the biggest entertainment market in the world. Hollywood's just going to go wherever the box office is going to count dollars, which was China. And so all of a sudden I knew that was going to be this massive, uh, uh, what I would call, uh, inner exchange, right of assets and, and capitals and, and resources, human resources. And so I started East West. Ventures at that time by bringing over talent from Asia to Hollywood and talent from Hollywood to Asia. And we basically became like a mini CAA and we put like lonely at home and like a big movie called black cat. And then we would take like, you know, act as Moe from Indonesia, you know, and put her on, you know, uh, and help her get her first bearings into. Uh, into the scene out here in Hollywood. And at the same time, we captured all this capital going back and forth with, you know, billions of money from Wanda to Friday brothers being poured into Hollywood. And so during that time, we did over a billion in transactions over the last 10 years, but I started seeing the power of one Asian talent and two, uh, the rise of digital media. And so at that time, it was about 2014 and a lot of these YouTube channels start sparking up. So there were like, Maker studios and full screen and all Def digital African-Americans and me too, for Latin Americans and no drama, fever, Mickey and all those different things. And I was like, well, that's interesting. And that saw things like vice media and box media and Buzzfeed on and on Tastemade. I was like, why is there not a digital media brand and channel representing Asian culture? Because there's so much of it. That's just unseen and unheard. And, uh, so at that time, uh, I went out and I met an investor who had just invested in all Def digital drama, fever, hand, and, uh, uh, MIT use the Latin American network and UN Machinima. And I was like, what about Asia? What about age? I was like, he's like you put together a team and a plan I'll rate the first chat. And so we basically had multiple discussions even gave me an actual term sheet. And, uh, at that time, uh, I was like, okay, this is on now. I got to go raise rest. So, so he gave the initial lead investment and they had to go raise another million and a half. And at that time I was trying to figure out like, who can I get to really, you know, do this vision with me. Right. And creating basically like an Asian vice and Asian vice media. And so at that time, Justin Shaun who's. Um, now a very famous upcoming director, uh, for goop and Ms. Purple, et cetera, et cetera. But he was famous early on as an actor and Twilight 21, 21 over, um, he was just a homie and he was just like, Jason, I want introducing my buddy, Sean. Um, cause you know, he actually works at vice cause I was sharing with them the vision of what I was trying to build and was like, that sounds like something that. My boy, Shawn would be perfect for and you guys should meet. And so he planned this meeting where me and Sean met, uh, cafe blue and K-Town, and basically he was still at vice media at the time. And I was, you know, I was an entrepreneur. So I was like, Hey, you know, I have a lead term sheet, I've capital, uh, ready to go. Uh, but I need a team and I need what you've done advice to do it for what we're going to do here. And at that time I was calling the company rice, R Y C E because. When I'm meeting with investors or like Asian, digital media, what, like, they don't even understand the concept was it wasn't even a concept or even a parallel to compare to. Right. And so I would just tell them all the time in meetings, like, you know, have you heard advice? And they're like, yeah. I said, what's the valuation. At that time, it was like 5 billion. I was like, well, we're Asian vice we're called rice. And so, you know, sign a dotted line, write me a check. And so. That was kind of the pitch we knew we're never going to call it that, but it was really just for internal, for venture capital fundraising. And so, you know, really that's what happened, right. Uh, Sean then left BICE and I was like, look, you you'll be the CEO. You'll be the face of this. I'll be the chairman. And, uh, you know, co-founder of the back to the back of the bus vaccines and, you know, I'll handle the capital fundraising investors is dev. You know, all the major partnerships, but you know, where Sean was really good at was finding the talent. Right. And so he was able to, you know, through his friend dumbfounded, he introduced key fame and then he introduced rich Brian. And then from there. You know, Joe G came along higher brothers was also founded internally through one of our staff. And then it kind of just snowballed into what it is now. Right. It was really originally going to be like 50% music label and 50% like lifestyle, culture, contents. Right. So it was kind of like a mixture of like a vice and like a bad boy records or an Asian Def jam. But I think ultimately, like, I think, you know, The company has narrative, uh, organically become what it is now, which is more of a digital music label and channel. Um, and, and now getting into film and stuff like that. But I think the music was always the driver. So we knew that was what was going to be viral. So anyways, so that's kind of what, how it all started. And then, uh, I, I, you know, our main office was in Brooklyn. I headed up our office in LA. And then I opened up our officer's Shanghai and that was super fun building the Chinese company from scratch locally. Um, and, and we just hustled around and WPP series a, uh, then bite dance and, you know, Jimmy IVN and, you know, Jack macho size family office, and just a lot of great investors who have backed this vision. And so it's amazing to see where it is now. He knows multi-billion views and. You know, tens of millions subscribers worldwide. And I think it's really shown the world that Asian culture, you know, can, can, can meet with the best of them. Um, and that is something that is not just on the rise, but it's the future. And it's where, you know, the pulse of everything is where everything is at global and culturally and digitally. Right.
Bryan: (00:30:58) Wow. That is very inspiration. You're I don't know, Asian house network stands in stories, but we do see some parallels there already. We want to be the Asian tent top of the world, you know, and the reason why we want to do the Asian desktop is because someone brought to me, I was like, Hey man, who we are. Who were your childhood heroes? I named three white guys. You know, I'm like, wait a minute. I want to make sure that by the time we have kids, we have grandkids that they have someone professional to look up to, and it looked like the Masonic club come from the same culture as them. Now, this is all your story. Like just gives us a lot of hope for what we're trying to do. An RN. Exactly there is that parallel where we see you guys as the pioneers and the people who've done it before as people to push for the vision. And for us, we want to push for professionalism. We want to push for the hustle, you know, want to push for, for people that look like for people like yourself, Jason, to fight even more well-known than you are now.Yeah. To our younger generation, especially.
Maggie: (00:31:57) Yeah, that's absolutely right. I think like, yeah, even like before 88 rising it's true. Like there was no platform for Asian artists, you know, like I couldn't, we couldn't find anything like that. And just like Asian hustle network, there was no online community or online platform for Asian entrepreneurs or professionals. And even if there were, they were like very exclusive, you know? So I think, yeah, we definitely resonate with idiot rising. Um, would love to know, like, what were the projects that 88 rising was working on when you guys had first started and how has that kind of shifted over time too?
Bryan: (00:32:24) Well, out of curiosity, when you're raising money that early, like, did you have a solid financial model and plan that you like pitch to investors or just like, Hey guys, here's my big vision and we're trying to do this. What is that? What is the process like?
Jaeson: (00:32:40) I mean like any startup, right? Things, always pivot things, always change. You always have an idea of what you want to do, but as you actually go and do it, you realize, you know, it actually. It's going to actually veer off and become something else. Uh, I think when Twitter first started, it wasn't even about what they're doing now.And so I think for us, it was originally, you know, digital media content, premium content, um, premium production services, uh, creative agency within that, that we're working with branded brands for branded native content. And then of course, uh, the talent management, um, musical, April sire, right? So it was always a hybrid of a music label and distribution. Live events, a creative agency that worked with global top fortune 500 brands, uh, and then monetizing content. Right. I don't think it's really changed that much other than the focus of contents. So if you w if you followed any arising, it's. Early early days in 2016 and 17, there was a lot of, I would say lifestyle content, right? There was fashion. There was food, there was tech, there was human interest stories. And then, but it was heavily driven by music, right. It's kinda like a digital MTV or Worldstar hip hop, right. For Asians. And, um, but then I think as we. Continue to build the business. We started seeing that the main revenue drivers were the actual artists, right. And, and the IP that they represented and us being able to build IP off of those brands. Right. And off of those platforms. And so it was a symbiotic relationship where, you know, there's venture capital that he knows that I had raised. You know, with Sean and my, and my other counterparts was going into content, but specifically the content of the talents and the talents content really took off, right. Took its own its own its own life. Right. The C Joji go from this to boom right. To, to, you know, playing Lollapalooza or rich CEG Alison becoming a rich Brian and hit a number one on the billboard charts. So I think it just naturally became. Uh, what it is now today, mostly known for which is Asian hip hop, Asian music artists from Asia to the rest of the world. I think that was one unique difference was that 88 was not about Asian America. It was about a celebration of occasions globally. And that we knew that there were all these stories and talents hidden in Asia that were just not seeing the light of day or getting the attention from the ANRs at the major labels for the major studios. Right. And so we want to take that. Richness of Asian culture from Asia and bring that to the rest of the world. And that's kind of, you know, what was the impetus from the beginning? And that's still what the company is doing. I'm not operational anymore. You know, I have so many other things that I'm doing as you read through my long ass bio. Um, but you know, I still remain as a major shareholder and, you know, I love what Sean and the team is building there and, you know, just, I, I'm just inspired by now. I get like, literally I probably have almost a hundred, you know, investor decks from multiple different versions of ADA rising. Like I've. People from Africa began like we're the reggaeton of 88. We're the afrobeats of 88 rising or we're the third culture version of Norway, 88 rising where the Tik TOK female tween version of ADA rising. So 80 and rise is really beyond just Asian culture. It's created a business model, uh, that there's one to emulate as success. And that to me is very,
Bryan: (00:36:06) very. Incredibly inspiring and amazing. Really inspiring.
Maggie: (00:36:08) Yeah. So I've actually, I want to shift and talk a little bit about Triller. Um, I know we know that you are like an integral part of the growth of chiller. Um, and for the listeners, our listeners who don't know it's an entertainment platform built for theaters.How did you first get involved? Okay.
Jaeson: (00:36:27) Um, so around 2018, I was introduced, uh, through. A VC in San Francisco, Adam. And he, at that time, I believe it was a vendor rock. I forgot exactly the fund he was with, but he had introduced me to the CEO, Mike Lu. And so he knew that I had invested in musically, uh, early stage, which then became to talk. And so he was like, you know, there's a company that's similar. Um, but they have a different demographic. They're really focused on the hip hop culture and community. And the U S and so I remember meeting Mike, uh, I still remember to this day, we were at the Waldorf Astoria at the top of top, top, top rooftop restaurant. He was showing me the product and he's a product guy. He came from the gaming industry. I was like, Oh, wow. The products actually really pressive. And so I brought him over to our fund, uh, at that time to take a look and see if you can invest. But it was still very, very early. Like it was super nascent. Um, It was like less than 500,000 users. Um, but you could see that there was activity and those growth most potential. So he passed on it. But I, you know, Mike asked me to just stay on as like an unofficial friendly advisor. So that's what I did. I just stayed in touch. Um, and just, you know, gay support whenever I could. And then around early 2019, um, w I had been, uh, uh, became a partner in a company called proximate media. And, and we're looking at a lot of different projects at the time with my partner, Ryan, and, and, and, and at that time, what had happened was I was in London and I was, uh, it was a funny story. Actually, I was, I was at this founder's forum conference speaking, and then I have this friend, who's an Asian board in the house of Lords. His name's actually board away. And he's like the only Asian dude in the house of Lords. And so he was like, Hey, if you're in town, come visit me at the house of Lords. I want to show you. The house of Lords. And I was like, sure, why not? So I took some time off, like two hour break, went over there and it gives me the whole tour. And then there's like this cafe inside it, some famous, like T-SPOT tea time. Right. Uh, you know, British duty. Right. So he was like, Hey, let's go to the tea room. It's like, we're a princess, Diana and Elizabeth have tea and we get in there and then he notices there's three of us, uh, colleagues or friends, uh, who happened to be, uh, Oxford, AI music professors. And he was like, Hey, you guys should meet Jason, Jason Mercer, 10 cent music and KK box. Um, and also was an investor in musically. And they, you kind of see their eyes just like, Oh really? So they're like, Hey, can we meet with you? And. Show you our technology, we we've got, you built a music, AI editor. And so I was like, man, I'm leaving tomorrow or in two days. And I said, I barely have enough time, but let me just carve out like 30 minutes later today. So they came over to me, presented it to me, and I was actually very impressed by the tech. We're basically detect. You're able to put any photo or video to the AI at any song to it. And it was spit out at different edit of a different music video to each song. And it was seamless. It was, it wasn't synchronistic. And it was, it was actually very disruptive. And I was like, what are you guys doing with this? And they're like, well, you know, we got offered for a major platform to buy us for X, um, or we're going to go raise 15 million pounds, um, or, you know, I said, I have another idea for you. Why don't we meet again? So we met the next morning before I flew out and I still remember writing the strategy on a page. It was, might've been a napkin or paper. I was like, there's a company called Triller that I know. And I, I officially advise, I said, um, my company Proxima, my partners re talking to potentially acquiring this company. Right. I said, but you know, what would be interesting is. With your music, AI tech, if you merge it with Triller, right, then we can actually justify, you know, a hundred million dollar plus valuation and they become Tik TOK number two. And so that's what happened. So they, they, they flew out to LA and, um, we basically had multiple meetings and worked out a deal and we were able to merge Triller. And, uh, this critical mass tracks into one entity, and then we raise capital. And at that time I had introduced, um, a few major, uh, first. Uh, uh, uh, investors, so a family office in Taiwan called WTT and also a group that's also my largest shareholder, needy rise in GDP ventures. And so they were the first capital in, uh, we structured it and then basically we acquired a majority stake in the company and then a bunch of major celebrity, hip hop artists like Migos and pit bull and, uh, marshmallow all became investors in that round. And then. After we announced it, you know, that's when we really started putting all of our resources into the company from the Hollywood side, from the Silicon Valley side, from the music tech AI side music relationship side, and then really just blew it up overnight where, you know, now children's really become a household name. As you saw with the Mike Tyson, Roy Jones Jr. Fight, um, that I helped put together. And. You know, the cultural meme moment, which they call and they Robinson, I mean, Trello's really kind of taken its own lane. And now the company's about to go public, you know, very soon. So
Bryan: (00:41:50) congratulations. Awesome. Yeah, that's awesome to hear. I mean, I love it. I love it. Journey. Everything connects to each other so seamlessly, you know, and, and I want to provide some context for the younger listeners to listen to that. They can do it too. So as you're doing this, like what kind of struggles have you faced where you're like, man, like maybe this is not for me. Maybe you start doubting yourself, you know, because. Well, you hear about all your successes, but you want to know like, w what, what are some of your darker moments that you were hoping to share with us? Because that's what makes you relatable to all of us. And that's how we can relate to you. It'd be like we can do it too.
Jaeson: (00:42:30) Yeah. I mean, I think, you know, every entrepreneur is not a true entrepreneur without fail and failure is almost a prerequisite to success. And, uh, it's only when you fail that you can actually. Become your true self because you have no more props that you can lie on or stand up on. And I think there's been multiple times in my career where, you know, I've had differences with my co-founders. I've had differences with, you know, people that I thought were going to be with me forever. And, um, and people turn on you and people backstab you. And he gets legal. He gets, you know, all kinds of stuff. And there were definitely moments in my life that, and my career journey that. I just want to quit. I just don't want to deal with, you know, just the drama of media entertainment is already a very high, intense, high stress, very smoke and mirrors business. Right. It's all talk, it's all hype. Right. It's all sales. Right. And it's all about who you know. Right. And who likes, who doesn't like you and it was talking shit about each other. It's like just saying that's a problem, especially with Asians. I think, you know, if you looked at like Jewish culture, like. You're Jew and I'm ju we're supporting each other, you know what I'm saying? Cause you know, we got to survive. Right. But like a lot of times the Asians, like I think for whatever reason, we're just like one of the highest, most insecure cultures in the planet. Right. I don't know if it's because our parents like not allowing us to grow up. Um, but you know, the read, the reality is it's very hard for Asians to celebrate other Asian success. Um, because it's like w w why her, why him? Why not me? Right. And so it's a very small minded. Mike microscopic in a worldview where somehow there's jealousy and insecurity versus Hey, empowerment, celebration community and, and furthering of the culture. Right. And I think, you know, there are many times that people just don't there's peel people just don't like me and just talk shit about me all the time. Right. But it just is what it is. Right. And you can't listen to what. People may say about you. What you need to do is always just have tunnel vision and know that this is what God's created you to do. This is your purpose, and you're just going to stay heads down focused and just make it happen. If you get caught up with what other people say and rumors and hearsay, and this, then the third, then you start losing your focus and you start losing your energy and you start trying to put out fires or trying to. When, when battlefronts, that shouldn't even be fought. Right? And so end of the day is you gotta know what you're called to do, and you gotta have the tunnel vision and the focus and the drive and persistence the tenacity to weather through any storm, which means hate the more successful you get. The more hate you're going to get the more criticism you're going to get the more, you know, uh, legal legalities and issues, and are going to become more and more, uh, continuous. But you just have to have, you have to have thick skin and be able to pump Pomo fruit. Um, so for me, you know, there are moments where it just was bad. You know, the moment where I was in a lawsuit with one of my first co-founders, you know, he was threatening me for everything. My mom had just had cancer stage four. And you know, it was just a time when I, you know, there's so many rumors that lost so many friends in the Asian community. People didn't want to even talk to me or even be around me, but I couldn't justify myself. You know, I say, you know what? Do I justify myself or do I go take care of my mom? And so, you know, I took, I took a year off from everything and just like took care of my mom and, you know, by the grace of God, she, she overcame stage four cancer and she's, you know, knock on wood, thank the Lord, you know, uh, uh, eight years cancer-free now. Um, but you know, it was during that time that, you know, when I didn't want to do any more media entertainment or tech and, and just. Didn't want to deal with it anymore. That was what I was at my rock bottom that I really then knew when I felt inspired to do it again, that it wasn't for me. You know, it wasn't something that I was trying to prove to others or prove to myself that it really was something I felt like a higher power was calling me to do. And I think, you know, coming out of that and then seeing everything happen the way it's happened now, you know, looking back it's, you know, I'm just thankful, right. And you just gotta be grateful, but you know, you always gotta just be ready for anything and know that bad shit's going to happen. And, but when it does. Make sure you have true friends around you and make sure that you remember what you were purposed Han originally set out to do and know that it's going to be hard, but if you don't give up, eventually it'll work out.
Maggie: (00:47:13) Once I block your mother is eight years cancer free. And I was really glad to hear that.
Bryan: (00:47:19) Well, I've seen Maggie chair already.
Maggie: (00:47:20) yeah. I mean, I think you said is so true. I think like Jen, growing up as an Asian, we. We grew up with that mentality of like competition and competing with other people because our parents kinda ingrained that in us. Right. And it's really important for us to just recognize that and kind of take a step back and we evaluate and prioritize what is most important in our lives.
Bryan: (00:47:42) Yeah. Yeah. I do want to lighten up such a good bit and talk about, you know, the, I think you mentioned earlier at the four years she took off or something just to travel the world, um, out of curiosity, Before, how you were ever performing existence before.
Jaeson: (00:47:58) Sounds like you listen to all your podcasts before
Maggie: (00:48:05) Brian actually was, we were listening on Brent's like she still performed an exercise.
Bryan: (00:48:10) I want to hear about it, our podcast too.
Jaeson: (00:48:13) I mean, look, I look, I mean, I don't want to, how do I say it? Um, Fan fan fan, fan fantasize, or make that fantastical, right? I think it was a very, uh, very specific time in my life when I was a missionary and I was in third world countries like India. Indonesia, you know, South Africa, shanty towns, uh, South America. And you just have to think about this way that a lot of, uh, the rest of the world by the way is not first world, right? The rest of the world. Most of them are still native tribal kingdoms, right. And most of them don't have access to water, food, hospitals, medicine. Right. And for a lot of these cultures, right? It's a local Shawmut. So local witchdoctors, it's a local, whatever it might be. And I've seen it in first-world cities, as much as I've seen it in third world. But in third world, you know, people believe in spirits and they believe in the spiritual realm and black magic and doodoo and witchcraft and all these different things. That's very normal. They're not even bad things. These are things that. Technically solve problems, right? Whether it's illness or, or droughts or famine or fear or whatever. And so, you know, I just was in situations where, you know, we would see literally as, as some of our rallies, hundreds, if not thousands of exorcism tap it at the same time. And, and so, you know, I would be an Indonesian. We'd have, you know, 30,000 come out to a crusade and. We would actually have tents, uh, specifically for deliverance or for exorcisms because, uh, in that culture, so many resort to black magic, it's part of the culture. It's not like some random thing. It's like. It's in their culture. It's like, it's in your food, it's in your music, it's in your, your folklore, right? It's in your customs, that's getting your traditions, right. You go to, you know, these, these, these, uh, which doctors would be shamans or these, whatever he was saying, answers, whatever you want to call it. And so. Many times at our events or crusades, we would, at the end, when we start ministering, we would start, you know, praying and hand and people would start manifesting and it would be so violent that we literally had to train hundreds of, of deliverance workers and volunteers to be able to like basically pick up people, put them on strippers and put them into a tent and then actually do deliverance with them. And so this was just like on a mass scale, a person I've probably seen at least a hundred plus. Personally, right. I had to actually get involved. Um, but you know, it's, it's just real, right. I mean, whether you choose to believe it or not. Right. I think, um, I think, I think the world's getting in some ways more spiritual as we're also getting more technological. I think that's why all these people are into yoga and crystals and like, you know, going to, I don't know, to loom and meditating. Right. So it's like people realize there's only so much to technology. There's only so much. To the things that you can have in this world, when you realize maybe we're created for something more, maybe there is a higher power. Maybe there is something beyond the flesh and, and afterlife, right? And I think whether you're Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim or Christian, the kind of main world religions or Judaism, uh, is that there's an understanding that majority of the planet believes in God and majority of the planet believes. In spirituality and majority of the planet has experienced spiritual encounters. Right. And so I was making a documentary about exorcisms about seven years ago and it got too hot. Okay. Too crazy. So I was like, you know what, I need to stop. Cause I didn't get killed or die or something crazy is going to happen to me. But, uh, anyways, so yeah, in general, no, I don't want to get into specifics on this podcast. Um, but I would just say that, you know, that was something in a time of my life where. You know, that was my life. I was out there as a missionary and I had a cast out devils heal the sick, raise the dead hand and preach the gospel.
Maggie: (00:52:08) Amazing. Yeah. I do want to ask this one question that I think would be pretty important on this podcast, in your perspective, how do you think artists can continue to represent Asian culture in the right way today?
Jaeson: (00:52:24) I think it's just about finding your own voice, make an excellent and great. Are and content and just being original. You know, I think the world is not looking for copycats. You know, I think that the world is looking for originals and that's why when you have an original anything, it's actually valuable. Right. It's not, when you have something that is a copy of a copy of something else. And so, you know, I mean, recently my friend was letting me listen to all this new music coming out of Asia, this trap, hip hop. And I mean, it's dope. Like I don't get me wrong. Like I'm listening to it. Like, okay, he's kissed and spit beats are tight. You know, the visuals are dope, but it doesn't really sound anything different. Right then what I'm hearing, you know, in, in hip hop and trap today in the States. Right. And, and, and there's no one that really sticks out, right? When you listen to someone like rich Bryan's, his voice is so low, you know, his comedy and sketches are so funny. Like he's just his own thing, right? When you listen to Joe G he's his own thing right. Far as movement, they're their own thing. MC gen he's his own thing. Jeremy Lin he's his own thing. So I think it's like what Asians find. Their voice and their original lane. And then you're able to honestly express yourself right through your own voice and through your own personality. That's when you can really stand out. But if you kind of just sound like everything else, are you kind of just mimicking or trying to be like something else that comes across and when it's not authentic and it's not original and it's not great. Like, there's a lot of good out there, but there's not a lot of gray. And, and that's the difference that, that extra hour, you know, invested that extra a hundred hours, that extra a thousand hours makes the difference. My people are born with talent, but not people are born with the principle of hard work. Right. There's a lot of lazy people that are talented and they go nowhere. Right. But it's people that you work hard and work harder than you. They're the ones that actually normally get far succeed. But again, What is it that you're trying to say? And what is it creatively that you're trying to bring that is uniquely you that no one else can do.
Maggie: (00:54:41) Yeah. Love it. Yeah. Very powerful. Jason, how can I hear it? Listeners, find out more about you online. And do you have any final remarks?
Jaeson: (00:54:51) Um, you know, I got social handles like everyone else. So just at Jason ma J E S O N M a, um, find me on the clubhouse if you're out there too. Um, I think in a day it's just be yourself, you know, care less about what anyone says and just be able to be the best version of you and whatever you are set out in your mind to do and work hard at it. And anything's possible.
Maggie: (00:55:21) I love that, man. It was awesome having you on the show. Jason, thank you so much for sharing your story.
Bryan: (00:48:10) Appreciate you, man.
Jaeson: (00:55:27) One love,
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