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Business alum sees opportunities at USC

Business Alum Sees Opportunities at USC
From left, USC Marshall dean James G. Ellis, Chris DeWolfe, John Bendheim and Thomas Knapp

For Chris DeWolfe MBA ’97, a “serial entrepreneur” best known for co-founding and leading MySpace as CEO, Los Angeles and USC were – and continue to be – catalysts for new business opportunities.

“All the talent here matched with all the talent that’s already moved here. That, coupled with the seven accelerators that have started in L.A. in the last six months, is phenomenal,” DeWolfe told an audience of USC Marshall School of Business students, faculty and alumni last month during a Q&A session with Thomas Knapp ’86, associate director of the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and assistant professor of clinical entrepreneurship.

“It’s a great place to start a company. It’s a great place to do business, and there are tons and tons of opportunities,” he said.

DeWolfe founded MySpace with Josh Berman MBA ’97 and led the fledgling startup through the transition to its acquisition by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. for $580 million.

Currently serving as CEO of Social Gaming Network, a leading independent multiplatform game developer and publisher, DeWolfe shared hard-won advice with students as part of USC Marshall’s John Bendheim Executive in Residence program.

DeWolfe discussed his passion for building companies and how some of the enterprises he started were ahead of their time and thus not readily adopted by the public.

Asked about managing tech companies without a tech background, he stressed the importance of logic as a pivotal tool.

The most important piece of advice DeWolfe dished out? “[Company] culture is everything,” he said.

DeWolfe recommended limiting initiatives to five to 10 at the most, creating an incentive plan that helps retain top people and rewarding employees in ways that encourage risk and ownership in the enterprise.

“In any company, every single employee should be publicly rewarded for taking risks, as the collective creativity of the company is what leads to innovation,” he said. “Building the right team with the right people around you will give you additional strength that other companies don’t have.”

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