Home Tech EcosystemSD Tech Mafia MP3.com Mafia Part 2: How an Unconventional Culture Attracted Top-Tier Talent

MP3.com Mafia Part 2: How an Unconventional Culture Attracted Top-Tier Talent

by Neal Bloom

By Andrea Siedsma

One thing MP3.com was really good at was attracting top-tier talent from around the country and across different industries, from music/entertainment gurus in LA to tech players in Silicon Valley.

One of them was Derrick Oien, who had deep roots in the entertainment industry with heavyweights such as Sony Pictures, Disney, and Universal.

Oien’s bond with MP3.com began a little something like this:

Shawn Conahan and I worked at Universal Music in LA and our boss asked us to go look at MP3.com. So, we came down for the day and met people and had lots of great conversations, and at the end of the day, they said, ‘Hey, do you want to work here?’ and I said, ‘Yes.’ They gave me an offer and I drove back to Universal and I quit that day and started at MP3.com the next day.” (Shawn Conahan was also offered a job at MP3.com).

And so, Oien joined MP3.com in 1999 as Director of Partner Marketing and became COO until the company was sold to Vivendi in 2001. After that, he became president of Vivendi Net USA Music and Media for about a year-and-a-half.  Since then, Oien has founded and been involved with at least a dozen startups and organizations, including Boulder-based SocialThing!, which was acquired by AOL; and San Diego-based Intercasting Corp. (co-founded by Shawn Conahan), which was sold to Good Technology.

Oien spreads the love to other local tech entrepreneurs as a mentor at the Founder Institute, committee member of EvoNexus and as director of the San Diego Venture Group.

His latest gig is Solana Beach-based ScoreStream, a user-generated platform for high school sports teams.

“For me, it’s always been about self-publication and user-generated content,” Oien says. “Like at MP3.com, Michael Robertson was really good about pushing us to create tools for bands to promote themselves. The fundamental thing was almost every single day that I was at MP3.com from 1999 to 2004, 200-to-300 bands would sign up every day and upload 8-to-1,000 clips a day. So that was a machine of content.  For us now at ScoreStream, it’s how can we create tools for high schools to promote their teams?  We give them the ability to push information out to Twitter and Facebook, and they can make graphics, schedule their games, etc… If you create a content engine that is self-propelling, it’s a flywheel that starts to spin and never stops.”

ScoreStream, which Oien launched in 2012, provides a platform for high school sports teams across the US and globe, which share 30-second highlight clips, photos and chats with their fans. ScoreStream also provides scoreboards and live on-air tickers to media companies across the country, such as Tribune, Hearst, Gannett, iHeart, Associated Press and Snapchat, and syndicates content through TGI Fridays, Hooters, Buffalo Wild Wings, and McDonald’s.  ScoreStream is also a launch partner for SnapChat’s new developer platform, Snap Kit.

As Oien describes it, “We’re like Waze for local sports.”

ScoreStream is part of a growing crop of thriving tech companies in San Diego’s North County. Oien, who has planted roots in San Diego, said the region has created a strong ecosystem for attracting and growing startups.

“For a lot of startups in San Francisco, it’s like the cult of the celebrity CEO.  Here in San Diego we bristle at that,” he says. “We just want to make some good products that people use. Here it’s more like fish tacos and flip flops.”

Editor’s Note: This is part two of a multi-part series on MP3.com and the digital music scene amped by the radical entrepreneurs and the culture they created locally.

Read Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4.

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