LA Venture: UTA’s Sam Wick On Building Celebrity Startups

On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, hear from Sam Wick, head of United Talent Agency Ventures (UTA). Wick has served in senior positions at MySpace, AOL, — and most recently as the executive vice president of Maker Studios.

The UTA Ventures team focuses on building companies and investing in the intersection of entertainment, commerce and technology. Their portfolio, which includes MasterClass, Cameo and Patreon, reflects this.

UTA is neither a typical incubator or accelerator. Rather, Wick says “we really have a market thesis in terms of where we think the growth is.”

He emphasized the importance of trusting “talent,” which he believes are excellent creators and collaborators, with their finger on pulse of their audience.

“We have to understand that the talent have a real feel for what makes sense for their audience,” Wick says, emphasizing the importance of the connection between audience and creator.

“Part of what the companies are doing is borrowing that brand equity” that talent creates, and stresses that “at its core, it is the talent creating a business or product that connects with their audience.”

Wick says when “dealing with incredibly creative, passionate, and talented individuals who have their own point of view” that “having [a] soft touch, and that it’s a collaborative kind of back and forth with them” matters most.

Wick discusses working with Seth Rogen to launch his cannabis company, Houseplant, and discusses his love of music, offers tips on curating connections with audiences, NFTs and his take on the future of media.

Sam Wick is the head of UTA Ventures.

“I think that the lesson from both an investor and a building perspective is just how hard it is. So every time I sit down with one of our clients and we talk about building a business, I always say ‘if you’re willing, you know, to walk this path, I’m excited to walk it with you’.” —Sam Wick

dot.LA Engagement Intern Colleen Tufts contributed to this post.

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