Ted Murphy, 37, wears a lot of hats. He is founder and CEO of IZEA, TD Rags, The BUZZ Line, MindComet and Odebo; co-founder and VP of creative services at MindComet; and founder/partner of Dogfish and Hardhat.
It’s a lot to handle, and Murphy lavishes time on each project. Right now, however, his main focus is IZEA, which connects brands with creators who blog, tweet, pin, and post on their behalf. The system works for everyone involved—brands receive influential consumer content, and creators are compensated for their participation. The company has completed more than 3.3 million sponsorships with creators ranging from Kim Kardashian to P. Diddy. Murphy has raised over $24 million in capital to date, including investments from billionaires John Pappajohn and Dr. Phil Frost, and he invests it broadly. Here’s a look at what he does with all his dough.
Who is that with you in the photo? That is one of my bearhawks. I raise them on my farm and teach them to hunt zombies and politicians.
According to Google, there is no such thing as a bearhawk. Google is sometimes slow when it comes to indexing the animal kingdom. Give it a few months.
So you have pretend pets. Tell me about IZEA—what do people come to you for? If Audi wanted to promote a new car, they could come to us and we would essentially pay people to blog about it, tweet about it, post on Facebook, et cetera. We have everyone on board, from college students to mommy bloggers to A-list celebrities.
How did you raise the capital to start it? My partner (Mark Marsiglio) and I maxed out our credit cards. Then, in 2000, we started another company called MindComet using the capital from Think Creative.
What’s the best part of your job? The creative process itself, for sure. I’m very involved in our products and in working with our engineering and design teams. I love creating new things, disrupting industries, and backing the next YouTube star. However, the most rewarding part of my job is when someone comes to us and says, “Hey, you put my kid through college.”
Tell me about your love affair with Twitter: I think Twitter’s biggest opportunity is in data. Everyone is already using Twitter for marketing outside of the Twitter Ads program, but Twitter has valuable data that nobody else does. I could see Twitter charging companies and well-known individuals a monthly fee to gain access to enhanced analytics and res
research tools based on the size of their organization. We’re still actively looking for other targets within Twitter. I also have a fake Twitter account about a non-existent food called a Meatzel, a meat-filled pretzel.
Do you invest in any art? No, I actually don’t find myself buying too much art. Most of the art around the house and the office is art I’ve created. I have two styles, one is graffiti— big, bold, and crazy—and the other is done with a pen that has a tip so fine you have to hold a magnifying glass in your other hand just to use it.
Where do you invest your stock? Tesla Motors is currently my biggest holding because I believe very strongly in Elon Musk. He’s the CEO of Tesla and the co-founder of PayPal and SpaceX. He is the greatest entrepreneurial mind of all time.
You refer to yourself an “Apple fan boy” on Twitter. While Steve Jobs is missed, Apple is sitting on 10 percent of all corporate cash and still delivers the best computing products on the planet. I buy Apple products, so I buy Apple stock.
What’s your “safe bet?” Berkshire Hathaway. The stock doesn’t move much from day to day, but it steadily climbs over time. Apple and Tesla are much more erratic on a day-to-day basis. Berkshire is my safety blanket.
You also invest in something called Lending Club. Tell me more about that. It’s a peer-to-peer lending network that crowdsources loans to people. Some people need help consolidating their credit cards; others need capital in order to start up a business. You can invest as little as $25 and up to as much as you like per loan. I’ve gotten phenomenal returns from Lending Club. It’s a real feelgood investment for me.
Tell me about your philanthropic efforts. I love Rock for Hunger, a local organization that gives food to the homeless, and Give Kids the World, an Orlando-based charity that helps bring terminally ill children and their whole families to Disney and on other adventures. IZEA also goes into Ronald McDonald House each year to cook dinner for the families living there.
What advice will you give your son, Zane? He’s 14 months old, so right now, my investment advice to him is to stop consuming all of his inheritance in diapers. —