University of Southern California

Silicon Beach Entrepreneur Profile: Chris DeWolfe
Marshall alumnus speaks as part of Bendheim Executive in Residence program
March 2, 2012 • by News at Marshall

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 students, faculty and alumni during a Q&A session with Thomas Knapp, associate director of the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and assistant professor of clinical entrepreneurship, on Feb. 6. "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," DeWolfe said.

DeWolfe founded MySpace with fellow USC alumnus Josh Berman MBA ’97 and led the company from 2005 to 2009 – from fledging start-up through the transition to its acquisition by Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp for $580 million.

DeWolfe, who currently serves as CEO of MindJolt SGN, a leading independent multiplatform game developer and publisher, shared hard-won advice with students as part of Marshall’s Bendheim Executive in Residence program.

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

Asked about managing tech companies without a tech background, DeWolfe stressed the importance of logic as a critical 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," said DeWolfe. "Building the right team with the right people around you will give you additional strength that other companies don’t have."

The John Bendheim Executive Residency Program bridges the intersection of knowledge and practice through on-campus participation by business leaders and public figures. Former residency participants include: Robert Iger, president and CEO, Walt Disney Co.; Lynda Resnick, vice chairman, Roll Global; Thomas Barrack Jr., founder, chairman and CEO, Colony Capital LLC; and Rob Lowe, award-winning actor, environmentalist and political activist.

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.