Jeremy Weisz

Oh, yeah, I heard about that recently. I did not realize that though.

Steve Rosen

They partnered with brands, and specifically Star Wars, and it changed our business. They’re the biggest toy company in the world by far. Yeah. And I think that, you know, Magna-Tiles big brands, they do great business. They’re great business people. And they built this amazing product and some amazing brand. And what we’re trying to do is bring a whole new end to sell into different markets, different verticals. So what I brought was licensing and I had been in licensing for 13 years. And at a company called Scientific Games, we made licensed slot machines and other options but so very serendipitously I said to Aaron, my partner, I said, Look, I’m going to the licensing show in May Come with me in Vegas. Like it’s Vegas, right? Let’s let’s have fun if regardless, and he’s a spontaneous dude, and he like, let’s go. So he brought his dad. They’ve been in this family business for 30, 40 years. And we went out there. And Aaron can just sell like, I always say to him, like, you can sell ketchup popsicle, like a ketchup popsicle to a woman, like loves, like, he could just sell anything. It just, it just drives him. And I was like, Look, let’s go talk to some licensors. And before we knew it, like, like, I knew when we said Magnetize you know, you could see the bulb go off in people’s head. They’re like, Oh my god, I get it. Like you can do what you’re saying you’re doing a Magnet towels you can open up this whole new market. So before I came home, and I was so like, fanatically inspired by this that I was like, Look, I’m just gonna, I’m gonna do this with you. And I don’t want a penny right now. Like, let’s just go with this. You know, I was still working the other Scientific Games full time. So, you know, I was working at night doing this and before I knew Like we had two licensing deals in place within three months. And mind you, we didn’t have an artist or a product. Like we were selling air in many ways we were selling an idea. And so we came up with some concept for boxes, the Magnetize team took it to Target. And Target bought it like sight unseen exclusively. So we’re off and running like to the races. So this was this is like one of our our first products. This is Eric Carl and magnetize. Yeah, the brown bear brown bear. And as you can see, you know, they’re double sided, we print on both sides, so we have like a build. And then we also have like an inside play pattern, where it’s an early education toy and then you know, we started coming up with our own builds. We’ve got a rocket ship that does phenomenal. So the outside is the rocket, the inside you can sequence the planets. And then like I just kept going at it and going at it and I was with me and Aaron lived about a mile from each other and we would go on these like long walks. Just talk and like build a business plan. And you know, he had the foresight to really go after these magnetize guy founders and say, Look, we think we can do this, we do it together. And they love the idea and it’s really been like a prove it to a situation with them and we’ve delivered on everything we’ve said and then you know, sort of the feather in the cap right now as we have a licensing deal with Sesame Street and we’re coming out with three new Sesame Street bills in August and that’s it hasn’t been a year and we were in target exclusively in fact, Sunday. We go and we burn 500 targets now we’re gonna go to 1000 and then we go nationwide with the Eric Carle products in the fall.

Jeremy Weisz

That’s amazing. Is there Did you see a risk early on of you know selling air and be like Listen, why deal with you? Let’s go right to Magna-Tiles, is there a risk there? Not really.

Steve Rosen

No, I didn’t think so. I mean, no, there was a risk for me personally. Right. I mean, I’ve got two kids. And we just moved into this house in Deerfield. And, you know, I, I have a, I had a steady Good job. I mean, a really good job that I loved that I was, you know, entrenched in the culture, I helped build the place at Ws which became Scientific Games. And I just, I saw this opportunity, and I don’t know, I mean, you don’t get I never believe it. Yeah, it’s elite, but like, you have these moments, right. And like, this was a moment for me that I knew I had to sort of grab and capture, because I didn’t know I was going to get anything like this ever again. Because look, I was dealing with this, my co founder, who is just a whirlwind of passion and energy, and we just played off each other so well, and he’s become, you know, on the outside of the fact that we’re founding this company, he’s become a great friend and a mentor. And, you know, it’s a family business and family business. so different from my corporate structure life, right? I mean that these two worlds Any more different, but no, no to me the risk was not doing it.

Jeremy Weisz

It seems like a perfect combination, someone who’s an expert at printing and someone who’s expert licensing with a product that is like the Kleenex of that particular niche. Absolutely. It’s it’s like the perfect storm in a good way.

Steve Rosen

Yeah. And the other piece of this perfect storm was that the founders of Magna-Tiles Mike and Rudy Valenta let us sort of run with this with a leash in some ways, but they let us run with this and they saw they saw it too. I mean, these guys they’re really smart guys. I mean, Rudy Valenta is no I mean, this guy goes to the Toy Fair, and he’s like the he’s like Willy Wonka. I mean, people just want to be around him. He’s Mr. Magna-Tiles. And, and people just love fanatically love product. You know, this was my first boyfriend in New York in February. And the mag towels booth is in a small It’s at the Javits Center. It’s massive. Mattel’s got this massive, you know, has a massive movement. You know, we were in a 10 by 10 booth constantly packed, right? Where people just came in and saw what they were doing right and because people are just going to buy Magna-Tiles, but they saw what we were doing, and they’re like, Oh my god, like this has changed everything. Right? Yeah. We we could I mean, so, yeah, it hasn’t. It’s barely been a year. And here we are today.

Jeremy Weisz

It seems you know, when you say it seems it seems so obvious, right? It’s like, how was someone not pretty? It’s like the best ideas sometimes like how is someone not doing that before?

Steve Rosen

Right, right. And, and there’s a lot of competition, the magnetic construction. So Magformers is a big competitor of theirs. They had a brand so they were working with Pop Troll, but they just had these like little stickers on there and it really meant nothing. So what we always said when we started this thing is we didn’t want to be what is known in the licensing industry is sticker slappers. We didn’t want to just slap something on

Jeremy Weisz

Like the worst insult you could give to a licensor like yours?

Steve Rosen

Yeah, so we wanted to do something different. We wanted to take advantage not only take advantage of these brands, but this amazing children’s IP, like Eric Carle, and look, I, I read Brown Bear and Punk Cat for my kids before this even happened. But, you know, once we started getting the product out, I just didn’t realize the magnitude of who he is and what he’s done for children. Right. Like, it’s these books. I mean, they still sell Brown Bear, I think sells a million copies a year. So

Jeremy Weisz

that’s amazing that that book we have

Steve Rosen

now, of course, very hard hustlers. 50 years old. I mean, it’s been around forever, and people love it. And, you know, it’s all about timing in many ways. And I think we timed this, right. It wasn’t on purpose. But we just all things kind of comes with

Jeremy Weisz

Eric Carle Sesame Street and you could print people can send in their family pictures and things like that.

Steve Rosen

Yeah. So that that’s my Magna-Tiles doc. Offer create on where you can build and put your own family photos. And then on the right, creating, display, learn and play on the other side is where you’re gonna get all of our build sets, as well as

Jeremy Weisz

this is like there’s numbers like what else? Yeah.

Steve Rosen

So that’s the bus. That’s the 123 school bus, you can build a bus, right? And then you and the inside play pattern is all the numbers and the functions so you can learn math, we have a school house where you can build the school. And in the inside of the

Jeremy Weisz

rocket ship,

Steve Rosen

there’s the rocket and the inside is all the planets. We have a castle where you can build the castle, right? And look, the thing is, it’s very similar to Lego right? Where you have all these Legos and they all kind of get mashed together, right? But now, all these Magna-Tiles that you have that are sort of you know, playing clear colors. Now you can have Elmo on wall, right like you. It just is one of those things right? Like where kids are gonna take them build whatever they want to build with it, but now they’ve got characters faces or they could have themselves on.

Jeremy Weisz

Yeah, it seems limitless. So What What’s next? What what other if someone is like, oh, what’s the next time a doctor? Like this company or this brand should be, like, calling you for magnet for a party with Magna-Tiles?

Steve Rosen

Sure. I mean, look, I mean, I think the gold standard of licensing right now as Disney I mean, are we there yet? I don’t know. You know, we we definitely we could do something with them. You know we’re still relatively new and we got it I know we stopped prove ourselves and we got a long way to go here. What’s next for us though, I believe is customization. So like to me what what is going to be next for us and what we’re going to look to do in 20 2021 is customize these toys. So one of the things that we had done, you know, obviously the kids were out of school, my son, you know, everyone’s kids have been pulled out of school. The 123 school bus has windows in it, right? So it’s got all these windows. So for my son’s kindergarten teacher, we put the kids in the windows and made it the Miss B school bus right now. It’s a it’s an amazing toy. And it’s a it’s kind of a centerpiece in a collectible a little bit. I believe that we will and get to sports stadiums because we can build a basketball court can build a hockey rink, I believe we’ll we’ll get to that. And I believe that you sent it in. They are the my partner has always said this is paper, so you can do whatever you want with it. And I think we got a lot of graduates coming. The next one that launches outside of Sesame Street was sort of a stroke of genius too, because these these, this technology that we use for our printing capabilities can raise the ink. So we can do Braille. Technically if we wanted to, and I do believe we’ll get there, but we made like suncatchers on the tiles. So like you can raise the ink so it can catch paint, and we’re going to sell kits of tiles with Sesame Street and Eric Carle on it and we’re going to sell these little paint tubes. And the kids can use it to paint in whatever colors they want. It dries and now it becomes an our tile that goes in here. Wow.

Jeremy Weisz

That’s pretty cool. Yeah, it’s That’s amazing. Um, you know, right here is actually funny. So I the person or Baby Einstein, and they grew it to 20,000,005 employees, I think and then sold the Disney. Yeah. Yeah. So who else is the goldstick concerned? It’s like high up there with Disney. Who else is a licensing issue for Yeah,

Steve Rosen

yeah, I mean, you know, there’s a lot of things that we’re looking at I mean, we we look obviously, you know, Sesame Street to me the cue score. Everyone knows what Sesame Street everyone knows what Elmo is. You know, we we were partnering with them because I believe that they’re number one and amazing brand but they’re they’re coming back. I mean, they’ve got a movie coming out next year. They you can see on CNN, they did a whole thing about COVID with the Did something about, you know, standing for against racism so that they’re really Oh, yeah, it was amazing. Yeah. So they’re, they’re a great brand that I just think need a little bit of a kick there. They’ve got this show on HBO max called The Not so Late Show with Elmo. So we’re gonna product with that, because we can sort of turn on a dime and create a product. And we’re gonna, we’re gonna launch like a set that correlates to the show. So they’re just doing a ton of stuff, and we’re gonna ride away with them. And that That, to me is like our next year, I think we’ll probably look at one brand a year, I guess, to sort of add our collection. But there’s a ton of great brands and now we’re to the point where like, people are starting to come to us to say, all right, well, what’s that? What do you think about this? What do you think about that? And we’re still sort of

Jeremy Weisz

that’s a good place to be to talk about when you approach a brand. Before like you have the street credit like you do, what do you say to them? Like what do you say to thought to me Street to be like to let them see the vision and look

Steve Rosen

honest, honestly, with Sesame Street, they sought me. I mean, they were they, we I had a conversation with them and they said, they knew every single person on that licensing staff knew what Magna-Tiles were, they just never knew that you could do anything with them. Right? Like, they never thought that there won’t be any opportunity because they’ve done things with Duplo, which is like a younger brands Lego, and they’ve had other opportunities there. But this was something that, you know, Magna-Tiles is a big brand, right? Like it’s a brand new itself. So it’s it’s almost co branded in many ways, right? It’s Sesame Street. And yes, yes. Just like, like, Look Magna-Tiles tiles and in the world of aircraft. Right, right. Like, to me, this was just a no brainer, right.

Jeremy Weisz

You know, but sometimes you have to share a little bit of the vision. Yeah. Yeah.

Steve Rosen

And that, to me, the pitch was to every single one of these licensors was, you have Lego and you have lego star wars. And it’s all uniqueness. It’s all one if you

Jeremy Weisz

drop him and tell him walk out of there. You want to be Magna-Tile and Sesame Street. Let’s do this.

Steve Rosen

Right. So it and look, we, you know, see

Jeremy Weisz

that’s a key point, right. So like part of when you go to them, you show them a vision of something else that worked really well and then relate it to yours.

Steve Rosen

Right? Look, for instance, Hasbro right we you know, maybe we’ll do some with Hasbro I have a prior relationship there. They want to see a three year like your forecast. Well, we don’t have any right now. Right? All we know is is there’s a lot of interest, Target ticks something exclusively. We’re just not there yet. And that’s why like to me Disney is far not all they want

Jeremy Weisz

to see. They want to see, like success past, you know, past success or whatever it is,

Steve Rosen

right? Yeah. But some of these, you know, Eric Carle has 120 license sores, right? I mean, so they have a ton of licenses that they’ve paid. And they’ve worked with when they saw this, they jumped on it immediately. And we really haven’t had a lot of like pushback per se we, you know, I want failure along the way. This is not all going to be roses and

Jeremy Weisz

whatever, like give an example of another Eric Carle licensed like, what else do they put their stuff on?

Steve Rosen

You name it.

Jeremy Weisz

There’s not gonna be like hits out of the gate right so

Steve Rosen

yeah, I mean look, they’ve got Nightlights, they’ve got Plush, they’ve got actually one of the really cool ones that we saw at the show this year is a guy who actually farms caterpillars that turn into butterflies. So he sells he sells that to nature’s and Eric and it’s a it’s a Very Hungry Caterpillar butterfly that turns into a butterfly. So they I mean, they’ve got a ton of them. They do juice boxes and lunch bags, and I mean they’ve got everything right. It’s such a big brand. Sesame Street is is more They’re a little bit pickier. I mean, because they they are a non for profit. They’re 10 Sesame Street is a not for profit company. I mean, that’s just what it is. So they, they, they’re a little bit more selective, I would say. But, you know, look, I keep, I mean, every time that I’ve pitched this to a licensor, they get it immediately. And they’re how do we do this? Right, Bill Barisan another example. Right. You know, and there is this piece where stem is hot, right? I mean, stem toys are hot right now. So to get on board with a brand name, like Magna-Tiles is beneficial for both parties.

Jeremy Weisz

Yeah. Let’s work back for a second. Okay, create on scientific games. Tell me a story where you got pushback. Right. And this is, you know, I just want to point out, it’s an overnight success after 13 years, right. It’s like, you’ve been in this industry, you’ve built up this village, but it’s not like, you just show up like, Hey, I think we should do licensing like you have an app. expertise in this that you built up over a decade, right? And so yeah, it’s kind of all that stuff comes together. So, work back to scientific games. What were some of the stuff you were working on there?

Steve Rosen

So I mean, worked with every single movie studio. Our big brands were Willy Wonka. The chocolate factory was Rivas and then sort of my my big products that I sort of oversaw, you know, from start to finish were the Simpsons, and James Bond. So like, those were the two that that were like, sort of the feather in my fro, if you will,

Jeremy Weisz

wow, what kind of stuff do you do with the Simpsons?

Steve Rosen

So that’s, that’s, you know, that’s a That was a tough one. I mean, they look they’ve got success upon success. They are you deal with brands all the time? At least I did. Right. You have brands that are very protective over their intellectual property, right, that that’s what they have. And, you know, the great story with the Simpsons was as we went out to LA we were We made this pitch we had this PowerPoint I this designer and scanning Jamie van is amazing talent. And we went out there and we showed Fox and some of the people from the Simpsons what we’re gonna do. It was cool. All shook hands left. They called us the next day and they said, Look, we want you to come back next week. I want you to do that again at the fox studio and we want and macro macro is going to come. Great. So we go there.

Jeremy Weisz

What were you pitching? Exactly? Just give me a second

Steve Rosen

we’re gonna do for the first game. We’d already had the brand we already negotiated

Jeremy Weisz

this was for a slot machine. What was it?

Steve Rosen

Yeah, for this option

Jeremy Weisz

slot machines. Ok,

Steve Rosen

so yeah, so first Simpson slot machine ever. They had never been in the slot industry and look in the slot industry. brands are everywhere, right? Like everything has been done in the slot machine industry. But a few hats right. This instance was one of them. So we were we kind of got there and we were was a was when I’m back out to LA and we we Open up my computer and we’re about to start this meeting. This woman sits down, I didn’t know she was, there were like 20 people in the room. And all of a sudden, she stands up and she goes on Matt gradings assistant, Matt will not be coming to this meeting today. He doesn’t agree with the creation of a slot machine. She literally stood up, walked out, tried to go out the door, but it was locked. So she was fighting to get out before she finally gets out the door. And we all are like, okay, now what? So that that product in particular is probably the most challenging product ever created because they wanted control over so much of it as we went on. They didn’t understand what we’re creating a gambling machine, they wanted to create a video game. And we were creating a gambling experience, right, which is what slot machines are, they are their story there, but it’s not, you know, these are people who are looking to ride a wave and win money in many cases. So that’s That was a tough one. The other one James Bond. We

Jeremy Weisz

click on that one for a second. Steve, how did you overcome that the lady walking out like he isn’t agree with this?

Steve Rosen

Well, apparently Matt didn’t own all of the licenses. So they deal had already been done. But we had to work with their team. I mean, their team ended up creating a bunch of art for us. They did. It was a whole, it took almost three years to get the game out. And most games we do take between a year and a year and a half to make a product. Well, so it is it was not pretty and it But look, I learned a lot, right, like every step along the way as I’ve worked with a brand. Some are difficult, some are easy, but I’ve learned along the way of how to deal with all these people and look, every single one of these brands. I try and make a connection with someone they’re within within the team within the brand team at the company. The example for me was with James Bond, right James Bond was the next big brand that we went after it had nothing, they had never done slot machine before they had, you know, we finally came to terms with it, and it took 15 years. And I finally got, you know, I was the brand representative for scientific games, and they had a representative from Eon productions, which owns James Bond. Me and this guy, his name is Michael Damaris. We just became friends. I mean, we had no other we had no other choice but because we were really locked in this seven years together creating products, we had to explain what we do, right so it’s, it’s slot one on one, how do you make what is a slot machine and you’re explaining all these things, these people as you go, while they’re there in the movie, you know, space and assets and all this stuff and needed so much to create these these games because they become these big cinematic experience. And then they really became triple. I’d say triple A video games in many cases. That’s what the size and scope of the products and we I mean, we were creating four games at once. I mean, it Was it was brutal. But if I didn’t have that relationship to lean out with Michael appian, I wouldn’t gotten these, these games done. So that’s that’s the one thing that I always stress in these negotiations. And when we’re creating products, it doesn’t matter if it’s, you know, video games, slot machines, manga tiles, if you don’t have that one relationship with the license, or you’re in trouble because you need stuff approved, you may be in a time crunch. In many cases, you need to be able to go to someone say, look, hey, I need this, and I need this fast. And I have been able to cultivate those relationships over the years. And that’s, I believe, probably one of my strikes.

Jeremy Weisz

How do you choose? How did you decide okay, Simpsons, because again, like, I’m trying to think there’s too many options here. There’s so many ways you could take there’s so many, like brands and licensing deals. How do you decide okay, let’s zero in and focus on Simpsons

Steve Rosen

Jeremy, we had 60 brands at one point. I mean, we were doing games for the Beach Boys. We did a game about share. We had Michael Jackson, I mean, we had we did a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off game, which was my personal favorite. Gremlins, Austin Powers. I mean, you name it. It was done on The Simpsons. I mean, really, it was a, it was a passion project for a lot of people around the office. And we also thought that, look, when you’re walking the slot, you’re when you’re walking a slot floor. It’s bells and whistles, it’s lights. I mean, it’s it is sensory overload, right? So to see a beacon up top where we put this gold doughnut, right? You automatically knew that was a symptom. So maybe you would just go try that right. And then once you sit down, then it was the game developers shot to create a great product and a great experience and a great map experience. But yeah, I mean, a lot of it was just, you know, we did some research, testing and stuff like that, but it is It was the question of a designer or a design team. Here’s what we can do and they came up with some great ideas and we went after it.

Jeremy Weisz

And so back I left this

Steve Rosen

by the way I’m the last the last slot machine that I saw at what GTV which is the global Gaming Expo which I was like look we as an industry have hit rock bottom was the SIR mix a lot slot machine. I knew that this thing was almost over the name of the bonus in the in the slot machine was I like big bucks. Right there you go.

Jeremy Weisz

Nice pun there. Yeah. So is it declined? What’s the industry like now? I mean, obviously, you know, Vegas kind of shut down the past few months but besides that before that Yeah,

Steve Rosen

it’s a tough it’s a tough industry right now, man that that I I think I didn’t know what I was doing. When I left I in fact, I would have I would have stayed I would have stayed

Unknown Speaker

right here.

Steve Rosen

Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. A man slot the slot, the casinos are a breeding ground for germs. So that it’s it’s like I you know, I’m still very close to a lot of people that I wish them nothing but success and I you know, it’s just it’s gonna be a rough road the next couple years until there’s some sort of therapeutic Yeah, you know vaccine to forget people back in the casinos having said that I saw a video on Twitter a couple of days ago, someone walking through the cosmos and it looked like nothing ever happened. So you know, who knows, I would say these casinos are gonna take as much measures as they can. They don’t want to be the people that are going to be have that first outbreak potentially of COVID. And but there’s been a lot of consolidation in that space. The big we we while I was there for 13 years, we went through three mergers. I mean, you know, everyone was eating everyone, and they took to two of the biggest players between scientific games and ballet. combined them and thought they were going to get, you know, 40% market share because it was 20 and 20. And it just didn’t work out that way. So, there’s been a lot of new competition there and different markets and it’s a it’s a tough space right now, I think a lot of that stuff will go online. Sports Betting will obviously, you know, come up and that that’s a big part of what scientific games will do an online play. So, when you’re

Jeremy Weisz

doing deals, you know, Steve what kind of people do you need in place. We were talking before we hit record about, you know, patent attorneys a shout out to Rich Goldstein, he actually you know, we are talking about rich actually, before we get in he actually has already liked this. So he’s watching this Steve, Rich Goldstein. Hey, and talking. I talked to him earlier today about patents and licensing and all that stuff. What type of professionals do you need to have in place to do this type of deal because it’s a Yes, a lot of departure

Steve Rosen

tons. So I would say I was probably more on the business end, then we then absolutely had multiple attorneys on these deals, these are huge deals that would go through for multi million dollars. So they, you know, these deals would take in some cases six months to a year to get some of these deals done. Hey, rich, I saw that school. And, and then outside of that an entire game development team to do the pitch, right? I mean, we’d have to get put together Look what cabinet is gonna go on to what is the art gonna look like? What is the inspiration? If it’s a music artist, what What music do we need do we have to then sublicense that to have to sublicense an actor per se? I mean, we did Top Gun in like 2006 without Tom Cruise because he just didn’t want to be involved in it. So we did it with the other cast members. So there was a ton I mean, it’s a great game designer, obviously, and scientific Games has the best game designers I would say in the business, Jeff Naaman who did rampage I don’t know if anyone knows the original rampage. Oh, yeah. Yeah. And Jeremy hornick Jamie van I mean all these guys that Joel Jaffe all these guys have been there forever. And they are. They’re the best in the business Mike Mastro Pietro, a lot of guys.

Jeremy Weisz

Who do you consider some of your mentors? I know you I’ve talked to Roger Sharpe. He’s an amazing guy.

Unknown Speaker

pinball.

Jeremy Weisz

Yeah, there’s even what is it drunken? Something there’s history. Yeah, Drunk History is drunk history. You have to watch it. I bet it in my Roger sharp interview you Yeah, it’s, it’s amazing. You know, there’s a drill if you know you’ve made it when there’s a drunk history episode about you,

Steve Rosen

right? Yeah, absolutely. Um, Roger I would say was the guy who taught taught me how to build relationships. I mean, this guy legitimately by the time He was gone in 2012, 13 he legitimately had a physical Rolodex on his desk, he wouldn’t even go to the computer. It was this spinning Rolodex that you would have to get numbers out of an amazing guy taught me a ton. Another guy it signed what

Jeremy Weisz

What did he teach you about building relationships?

Steve Rosen

Roger was very hands on with everybody. I mean, it was a Hello a handshake. He always brought candy to the academy man. He’s a sweetest man ever. But he would cultivate these, these these relationships. And look, I mean, I, you know, I think I’ve been doing that forever. Just because of my parents do that. They’re like that as well. My mom is a choral director here in Buffalo Grove. And she’s been you know, she’s got 50 people in her chorus group and that my parents have been doing it forever. So I kind of came out of me a little bit. But you know, Roger, Roger was really the one and I think He really showed me how to be calm, cool and collected when dealing with a licensor lawyer because you’re dealing with someone’s intellectual property, which in many cases are really worth. Yeah, it with the Simpsons, it’s worth billions like that that property is worth billions of dollars. And they’re going to treat and that’s what they have. Right. And that’s their currency. So they’re not gonna let you screw it up. And we dealt with that through many licenses over the years, Hasbro and Papalii and some licensed are gonna let you do more and some less, some aren’t gonna let you do a lot but yeah, Roger for sure. You know, I had another mentor there two in particular, I had at scientific games, named Brad Rosen and Phil Gilbert. Brad was pure energy once again, Commander room was an amazing guy. He taught me so much and and like along my career, I’ve just had these cheerleaders I would say and like Brad was absolutely one of those guys who just pushed and Push Push me because, you know i when i got Scientific Games I was legitimately pulling lights out of these but out of like the button panels because they used to be these little LEDs and that’s what I did when I started here. I mean so I had to work my way up and and then another guy Phil Gilbert who would came from the video game industry but he’s a he’s a lifer at Scientific Games and he has been through so much I mean so much bullshit over the years they’re dealing with so much churn and change and I wear my heart on my sleeve and he did not he was calm cool and collected all the time and measured about everything he did you know, my dad, you know, I my dad has been one of these guys who just he’s he’s a worker, I mean, he just works hard. Even today he would I don’t know if he can retire me on golf right which is great. But he he just loves working and he just you know, he always was taught me how to be resourceful and And how to do a job and show up. My he’s a CPA, okay? He’s an accountant and you know I talk about this like right now you know a year in with with Aaron Singer, my business partner and this guy is just servant leadership man I mean walks in the door every morning, what can I do for you? What can I do that he’s the boss is like be called the boss right? Like he’s he’s definitely funding office and he’s on top of everything but he wants to know what he can do for you to make your day easier. And you know, also along the way I gotta say like all these people as much as they’ve been cheerleaders for me, let me kind of do my thing and learn as I go and make mistakes. Because that’s been key for me along the way is learning from the mistakes that I’ve made in my career in business and it’s important to, you know, create on we’ve made miss some mistakes, but like there’s been some Except I’m kind of sometimes I’m waiting for that other shooted up, which is which is probably just me in many ways, because I have a lot on the line here, because I want this to work so badly. But it’s very important to me to learn from whatever mistakes that I’ve made over the years.

Jeremy Weisz

Yeah, I want to go back also to kind of the start you moved to LA even though the real reason I wanted to this interview I want to know how to win the slot machines. I mean, is there I don’t play

Steve Rosen

that’s my advice.

Jeremy Weisz

Okay. Yeah. I was looking for the move to LA so this was after college. Yeah. So why did you go to

Steve Rosen

Indiana University. Go Hoosiers wanted to get into film. I mean, to me that was like my passion always. I love film. I love watching movies. I love the making of things has always interests me more than anything. I watch a ton of documentaries on just like CreateOn have things like I like to create at heart. And so after Ella after leaving Indiana, I had a cousin who lived in Los Angeles like in a, he was a doctor and didn’t really know him all that well. And he he liked my dad called him was like, hey, can Steve stay with you if he can for a job out there? And I was like, sure. I’m like, Alright, great. So on a whim, it was like something I would have never done like I would, I would say like, I’m probably somewhat risk averse. But to me, this was now or never, and if I was going to do this, I was going to do it. So I moved out there. And man, it was rough. I mean, I didn’t know a lot of people. I mean, this was like in 2003. So there wasn’t like social networks. I mean, I had a couple of buddies that from college so I had some friends and some guys from high school that I knew out in San Diego, one in Santa Barbara and I just started going on and I remember like faxing my resume to like, these different places on like, I just like

Jeremy Weisz

what do you know?

Steve Rosen

telecommunications design production so production work yeah. So so finally I got it I got a call from this company which was called Maverick films, which and which was Madonna’s film company. So, I went in for the interview, and she was an internship, right and no pay. And I walked in, I was so out of my element, like I had, like, you know, not, I mean, I didn’t know anything. And she called me like, two days. I was like, Look, when can you start? You can do script coverage, you sit at a desk and get coffee and be an intern. So, internship, you know, starts making friends and it’s great. I mean, I mean, like in the business like we’re like, make they’re making a movie like it’s Madonna’s Film Company upstairs Maverick Records with Alanis Morissette. And, you know, this guy guy Oh, Siri who was running the whole thing, and I think he manages you tune out. And so they’re making this movie agent Cody banks, which is with Frank The moon is very tough. So that movie had come out. And it done well. And I was the CEO of Maverick zone. This guy’s name is Mark Morgan, who ended up becoming very successful as well. He, he had an assistant, she, she I think she called Madonna at home in London and she realized that time difference if I recall, and I remember she fired her, like she fired her on the phone. And literally the next day I took over this guy’s this guy’s assistant, because I was probably just the next man up. So like, before, I knew she

Jeremy Weisz

woke her up too early, and then she just goes boom,

Steve Rosen

no, it was like in the middle of the night. Oh, yeah. So the next thing I know like I’m this guy’s assistant, and I’m you know, getting it I’m like, I mean, it was crazy. I mean, like shipping like I never thought I would do I was doing you know, we were having great meaning Jessica Simpson would come in like we had Amy Smarting from meetings like it was great was amazing. But like, I like all my buddies from Indiana. from Illinois, and everyone was home, right? So like, that’s like I missed that. And, you know, at some point, I mean, the crazy part was serendipity of all this was like, I had a guy who from Indiana, his name is Mike Farah, and he was going to come out and we were going to look for an apartment together. And because I was going to stay out there, finally, like, my grandma got sick. And I was like, you know, I’m just gonna come back. I’m going to see what’s going on. And I’ll come back. And finally, I was like, Look, I’m, I’m not coming back. I’m just gonna go back to Chicago. Mike ends up going a place out there. Mike Farah today is the CEO of Funnyordie.com. He’s one of the most powerful people Wow. Yeah. And an amazing guy and someone I keep in touch with today. And he’s helped me with some things over the years. And we did an anchorman game, and he’s close with Will Ferrell. So he helped me with some stuff, but

Jeremy Weisz

your co founder, is that work? Yeah.

Steve Rosen

Yeah. Hey man, Adam McKay. So it’s Yeah, it’s about timing. And it’s like, I came back and I went to Midway Games, which did Mortal Kombat. And I knew I like wanted to stay in entertainment. And I got to stay there for two years and meet some unbelievable people Midway Games. I mean, the guy who created Mortal Kombat, his name is Ed Boon. I mean, he was just this unbelievable guy. You know, this guy named Adam boys who runs a iron galaxy just came down and yeah, all these guys from midway. were like, ended up becoming so utterly successful. My boss was a guy named Matt booty he runs he runs Microsoft Studios, which runs you know, Minecraft today. And but like midway was just so poorly run. I think they’re doing a documentary about it that comes out soon. I can’t wait to see it. But

Jeremy Weisz

Midway Games do.

Steve Rosen

A home console games Mortal Kombat. NFL Blitz. slugfest NBA ballers mean they were doing a con games for Xbox and PlayStation. So I, I was an assistant there for the guy who ran the studio again. And then all of a sudden serendipity right, like, somebody needed an associate producer, but it was going to have to be in San Diego. So they asked me if I wanted about San Diego. I was like, No, I just I don’t want to go back out there. Like I’m comfortable. I think I had a girlfriend at the time.

Jeremy Weisz

Sadly, too nice. I want to be

Unknown Speaker

with I want to be bug free in my book

Unknown Speaker

below. Me Up. Notice. I shut up.

Steve Rosen

But so anyways, WNS and midway used to be one in the same state across the street from each other on Roscoe. And I knew someone at Ws and they were doing slot machines. I literally one day just I called him a walk across you from the interview. I got the job. I was there for 13 years. We built an amazing culture at scientific games and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything and to me, the experience is what led me to where I am today. Were you getting burnt out in LA?

Jeremy Weisz

What do you think pushed you out of there? Because it seems like you were you’re in front of some of the people and the things that you wanted or thought that you wanted at the time.

Steve Rosen

Yeah, look, I will 100% I think about that. I mean, that that it was a moment for me, right. Like, I definitely think about that a ton. You know, for me, I it has always been about friends and family. You’re like, living away from my folks. And watching my sister. She’s five years older, may grow up was just, it was hard. It was too hard. Right? And it was just, you know, my parents, and my family is everything. And, you know, I think just being away from them for for that long. And it wasn’t even that long, but just the thought of, you know, not coming back. But building a life out there. And I started and I tried and I’m like, you know, I had a girlfriend and I thought I thought it was gonna be out there forever. I really did. And then when my grandma I got sick and I came home and I was with friends and I saw my family and I was like, I just don’t think I don’t think I can go back. And, you know, and look, my dad, you know, funded me to go there and let me pursue a dream. And you know, they probably didn’t want me to go in many ways. But you know, they, you know, it was another life lesson that you got to let your kids kind of, you know, grow their grow and spread their wings. And that’s the thing, let me know.

Jeremy Weisz

First of all, Steve, I want to thank you, you always are so generous, and everyone should check out CreateOn.com. I have two last questions, but as you can see, check it out. Let me know. Yeah. And a Target near you and online, you’re on.

And then you’re

I always asked two questions. One, what’s been a low moment challenge point where you had to push through and then on the flip side, what’s been a proud moment for you? Because this Journey is kind of a winding road with a challenge point.

Steve Rosen

I have this very vivid memory of flying back from when my grandma was sick from like Chicago, I think No, I let I was leaving Chicago and going back to Los Angeles. And I was in a middle seat. And that’s a four hour flight. I mean, that’s, that’s a long flight. And I just remember seeing sort of probably for over three hours in my head and my hands, sort of like down. I don’t know what the other people next to me thought but I was just like, I couldn’t like I couldn’t believe I was leaving my family again, like, going back there. I think. I think I landed and I may have called my mom and I was like, Look, I’m sorry, I I’m coming home. Like I just don’t wanna I don’t want to be here anymore. You know, I want to be, you know, back in Chicago where it’s it was a much less comfortable, it’s just like, why would I want to live without them and watching all these people around me, you know? Look I have been in this place where this this thing hits me and I think about all my son all the time where it’s it’s this line it’s Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future and I would I have this amazing group of friends from high school and college that I wouldn’t trade for anything and we all have kind of come up and all these guys that I know and love so much are so successful in business and in their lives. And we are just so utterly connected that to never to not really be able to see them at times outside of zoom and getting to see you Although I do you miss you in 3d on Sundays. It I think going back in that was like my low point. But then, you know, I kind of came out of it at some point. I was like, like, I’m just coming home. The proud moment for me, like I you know, I’ve always built things for companies, right? Like I have built you know, slack machines and video games and, you know, seeing them on the floor after you’re done with them. And putting in all this hard work is very, very inspiring. It’s this great feeling right? Because it’s entertainment, you’re giving people entertainment. But man when I walked into target, and saw this product sitting on a shelf, I that was one of the most emotional moments for me because, I mean, I never would have imagined that that would have anything like this would ever happen to me. And like we did a did this with a small group of people, you know, couple of production guys, and you know, this amazing artists, Amanda lyris and Aaron and we did it together and to see that and like, in a couple of weeks, I’m sorry, on Sunday Father’s Day, it’s gonna go out to five or more stores where I’m an endcap at Target you know, to walk my kids into there to see what what I’m doing like nothing will ever top that right like I you know, it will it is it gonna be successful, I believe If it’s going to be right we will get back to normalcy at some point and people will walk target and see this thing right? But as I don’t care my kids have to go in a target with a mask and my and my wife and my family to see what we have done and then what I have really you know, took one email you know, on a whim to this guy that I didn’t even know that that set this thing in motion. I and that’s all it takes sometimes right? And just that one, you know, communication or whatever. And that to me, I will never forget we’ve got this amazing picture like people did done some articles on what we’ve done but sharing that moment with Aaron, and then you know, soon here with my family, like that’s, that’s amazing. And that’s something I will never forget.

Jeremy Weisz

Everyone, check out CreateOn.com Steve, amazing. Thank you for sharing your story.

Steve Rosen

Thank you so much him out of the free shit this love what you do.

Jeremy Weisz

Thanks.

Steve Rosen

Take care.