Nathan Latka is a top author and podcast host. Is he also a con guy?
Nathan Latka is a bestselling author, a podcast host, and a candy talker.
And, relying on who you ask, he’s both a motivational hustler or a con artist.
On his podcast, The Top Entrepreneurs, Latka makes use of interviews to drive founders and CEOs of utility startups to cough up monetary metrics, like their corporate’s annual ordinary earnings and churn price.
The cut-to-the-chase, gimme-the-numbers taste has garnered Latka a sure degree of fandom within the software-as-a-service global.
But it has also created enemies. A part dozen marketers who’ve long gone on Latka’s display, in search of exposure for his or her corporations partly to draw technical ability, allege that the host’s pitch for approaching his podcast is deceptive.
They consider Latka’s podcast was once no longer simply a possibility to “focus on your launch/growth story” or to “share thoughts on the space” or to give an explanation for “why you set up shop in the city,” as e mail invitations from Latka and pals mentioned. Instead, one of the vital founders declare that one of the most podcast’s major targets was once to extract monetary knowledge from founders that Latka then packaged and bought to traders and different events.
The hurt? The monetary numbers specified by any given interview would possibly paint an incomplete or erroneous image of the well being in their companies, which probably affects long run hiring, industry partnerships, or investor pastime, they are saying. Latka, who has bragged that he is the “most sued podcaster,” has also been recognized to carry again the newsletter of podcast episodes via greater than a 12 months except a visitor introduces him to 3 different marketers that he can pitch at the display, consistent with emails.
“I advise any founder who gets approached about being on Nathan’s ‘podcast’ to ignore the email and report it as spam,” Jordy Leiser, this sort of marketers, advised Recode.
Latka’s ways are a window into the wider ecosystem of hustlers who’re looking to earn money in a frothy tech marketplace. Venture capitalists and founders are regularly approached via hyper-aggressive provider suppliers who want to earn a minimize of Silicon Valley’s winnings, and some other people mentioned that made Latka’s specific hijinks unmemorable.
But some marketers who had been visitors on Latka’s podcast are actually seething. Leiser was once stunned to be informed that Latka was once advertising his knowledge, after one among his traders got here throughout a spreadsheet of monetary knowledge from Latka that integrated Leiser’s corporate, StellaService.
Michael Katz, an entrepreneur who runs a knowledge startup referred to as mParticle and who bought his earlier corporate to Yahoo for $270 million, was once also stunned to be informed of Latka’s knowledge industry.
“They pursued me pretty aggressively, and I had no idea that they were going to sell data based on anything we discussed on the show,” Katz mentioned. “I wouldn’t have gone on if I knew what their intent was.”
While those marketers felt deceived via the invitation that landed of their inboxes, Latka in reality is up entrance about his technique in some public boards.
His RelatedIn profile, for instance, in reality lists his knowledge corporate forward of his podcast and describes asking visitors for monetary knowledge and publishing the knowledge.
And he runs audio promotions about his knowledge assortment endeavor sooner than a few of his podcast episodes.
These information again up Latka’s protection that “it’s all public,” as he advised Recode in a telephone name. He insisted there wasn’t a tale to inform.
Still, in a while after Recode interviewed Latka for this tale, he revealed a RelatedIn submit and a podcast episode pronouncing he was once discontinuing the podcast. “Shutting podcast down today (nasty attack)” was once the episode name. He refused to reply to a follow-up query about why he deliberate to finish the display if he feels his ways are above-board.
And the marketers are right kind that Latka was once no longer up entrance about one among his major targets for the interviews when pitching to marketers, consistent with emails considered via Recode.
Latka has admitted as a lot himself. “See, the podcast now isn’t about the podcast. It’s an excuse to talk to every private B2B SaaS founder. … My pitch is, ‘Come on, get exposure,’” Latka mentioned on a podcast on which he was once a visitor, referred to as Mixergy, previous this 12 months.
But Latka has also admitted that “a bunch [of his interviews] don’t even go live on the podcast or on the website,” consistent with the similar podcast episode. “Only to paying customers.”
“So there’s some people that you’re talking to just so you could fulfill the data for the private members?” Mixergy host Andrew Warner asks Latka.
“Well, yeah,” Latka mentioned. “Sometimes the CEOs get mad because my … follow-up after the interview is done is, ‘Hey, your go-live date is February 3, 2020.’ And they’re like, ‘What the fuck?’”
Leiser, a kind of unsatisfied CEOs, sat for an interview in March of 2019 however was once advised later on that the interview wouldn’t run till November 2020 except he presented Latka’s crew to 3 different marketers.
In the intervening time, Latka added the delicate monetary knowledge that Leiser published about his corporate to a spreadsheet advertised to potential consumers of this knowledge.
“Everything about this says ‘scam,’” Leiser advised Recode.
And that’s what’s difficult about Latka’s means. Leiser and different unwitting visitors really feel scammed, but when they’d listened to a few episodes of The Top Entrepreneurs display, they might have temporarily discovered that Latka makes use of the interviews to dig for knowledge.
They can have also declined to give you the monetary data Latka asks for, regardless that one of the vital marketers advised Recode they had been stuck off guard and feared the interview would pass off the rails if they didn’t resolution somehow. Others mentioned they supplied him erroneous knowledge as a result of they didn’t need to divulge delicate knowledge.
So what’s the hurt to them anyway?
“Well, we never decided to sell [our data], and we weren’t given the ability to choose, so my problem is first that we were misled,” Katz wrote to Recode. “The secondary problem is that those data points don’t tell the full story, for better or worse, so it could mislead those looking at it.”
Some of Latka’s luck appears to be predicated on sure visitors no longer having accomplished their due diligence to understand what to anticipate from the interview, past what they had been advised in Latka’s outreach e mail.
“This … CEO is busy so I’m sure he didn’t listen to any of my episodes beforehand,” Latka wrote about one among his podcast visitors in a contemporary e mail to his mailing listing. “Thankfully, he played ball.”
Others, regardless that, didn’t thoughts the dialogue subjects or the host’s means. Some founders have even referred the podcast to their very own traders and requested them to believe showing.
“I was … comfortable sharing,” one entrepreneur, Erik Kostelnik, wrote to Recode. “I also subscribe to his data to leverage as baselines for the companies I am involved in. I believe in the transparency of markets so you can cut through the bullshit and see how your metrics compete with best-in-class organizations. This did not exist prior to Nathan’s data.”
In a telephone name with Recode, Latka disregarded the proceedings from marketers like Leiser and Katz as bitter grapes.
“I … celebrate bootstrap founders,” Latka mentioned, regarding marketers who construct companies with out out of doors funding, not like those who tackle challenge capital like Leiser and Katz.
But challenge capital-backed founders aren’t used to being probed about their financials and don’t find it irresistible, he claimed.
“Nobody digs,” he mentioned. “And I dig and I get the answers.”
That digging has resulted in a industry that generates $60,000 to $70,000 a month in gross sales, Latka claimed in an interview on any other podcast.
“When smart people pay me, I give them more data (always with CEO permission) like what you got in this email,” Latka wrote in a single e mail providing his products and services, which he mentioned began at $1,000. “Valuations. Deal terms. Cap table info direct from CEO mouth – The BEST source possible!”
One investor advised Recode he has wised as much as Latka’s technique. He mentioned that once his founders had detrimental stories, and after he himself was once pitched to shop for the supposedly proprietary knowledge, he found out the ruse.
“I would never let any of my founders go on the podcast because I know where it’s going on the backend,” the investor mentioned.
Latka had also in the past bragged concerning the anger that his technique from time to time elicits.
“I can almost guarantee you I’m the most sued podcaster and I love it,” he mentioned at the similar above-mentioned podcast on which he was once the visitor.
“The CEO will come on, I will charm the hell out of them, they will reveal so much in 15 minutes,” he added. “I release it … The board hears it. Cease and desist three days later. I mean, I should start printing these and putting them on the wall, a wall of cease and desist. By the way, I win every time because the CEOs have to sign a thing that says, ‘I own the rights to the audio.’”
And Latka isn’t happy but.
In one contemporary e mail blast, Latka mentioned he was once now “testing something new” and charging consumers $79 a month for “The Latka List,” a per thirty days document chock stuffed with the similar monetary metrics that he’s derived from his interviews.
In April, Latka also wrote a submit on Product Hunt, a generation business message board for brand spanking new virtual merchandise and concepts. Latka was once introducing one thing he referred to as Operation Pie, a software that will display founders how their monetary metrics stack up in opposition to different corporations.
The catch? They’d must hyperlink their corporate’s Stripe bills account to Latka’s software, which might divulge who their shoppers are and what the ones shoppers pay.
“Yeah we need to add this,” Latka spoke back. “[T]otally looked past it.”