How Diddy is Underestimated as a Businessman
Sean “Diddy” Combs is one of hip-hop’s most serial entrepreneurs. His business track record stretches 30 years with successes in completely-different industries — music (Bad Boys Records), clothing (Sean John), spirits (Ciroc and DeLeon), media (Revolt), among many other ventures. To take a closer look at Combs' empire, I brought on Tarik Brooks, who is the president of Combs Enterprises.
Many chalk up Diddy’s entrepreneurial success to his influence and brand alone. While Tarik doesn’t deny Diddy’s star power, he also argues that line of thinking understates Diddy’s business acumen — his ability to spot trends, attract talent, raise capital, and so forth.
Not only that, but the broadness of Combs Enterprises is a unique competitive advantage. Diddy’s different businesses across sectors give them unique data points that can drive decision-making. The group announced a new foray into cannabis in late 2022. However, they won’t enter the space completely void of knowledge. Using insights from Revolt or Ciroc, they can glean how customers think about cannabis already.
Tarik and I dove deep into Diddy’s sprawling business empire this episode — the “why” not the “how” behind Puff’s success. Here’s what you can expect to hear:
[0:00 ] Combs Enterprises’ focus in 2023
[2:22 ] Synergies between Diddy’s different businesses
[4:40 ] Using Revolt Summit as a testing ground
[6:29 ] Origins of the “Ciroc playbook”
[9:32 ] How much strategic overlap is there between Ciroc and DeLeon marketing?
[15:41 ] Entering the cannabis space
[18:00 ] Regulatory challenges in the cannabis industry
[26:01 ] Why Diddy is not just another celebrity entrepreneur
[30:03 ] How Combs Enterprises invests in startups
[34:21 ] Did Diddy really back Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter?
[36:45 ] No rush to sell Bad Boy Records catalog
[41:32 ] Sean John comeback
[47:05 ] Diddy’s attempt to buy the Carolina Panthers in 2018
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Host: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.co
Guest: Tarik A. Brooks, @tarikamin
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[00:00:00 ] Tarik Brooks: Twitter's impact in society is certainly bigger than how it shows up from a profit and loss and from a market cap perspective. And when you look at, you know, where Twitter is trading today is trading at a fraction of like Facebook or like Snapchat is the question from an investment perspective with some you could create meaningful.
[00:00:33 ] Dan Runcie: Hey, welcome to the podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from the executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.
[00:00:53 ] Dan Runcie: All right, today we got my guy, Tarik Brooks, the president of Combs Enterprises. Second time on the podcast. Great to have you back, man.
[00:01:01 ] Tarik Brooks: Happy New Year my brother. Great to be back.
[00:01:03 ] Dan Runcie: So what's the latest from the House of Combs?
[00:01:08 ] Tarik Brooks: Things are wonderful enterprises, man. Tremendous 2022, where we did a lot of investing in our existing platforms and in new platforms. And so, you know, the big push in 23. Is to operationalized and grow a lot of those new platforms. You know, a lot of people are familiar with the cannabis deal, which we announced late last year. We're gonna close that deal and get that operational. We've also been working on an e-commerce platform with Salesforce, called it Power Global, that will launch this year, you know, released music last year. That did great. I mean, he and a sub-Christian. You know, with the first father and son duo to be number one. At the same time, there'll be more projects from Love Records coming in this year. So a lot of new things are in 23, so I wanna accustom a lot of exciting developments.
[00:01:56 ] Dan Runcie: And I feel like one of the strengths for him whenever he is launching a new brand is being able to find some type of synergy between something that he's done that's already worked and finding some way to tie it all together. And for you, I know you've been there for a couple years. Is there like one company or one tie in that really stands out about, oh yeah, what Puff is able to do here? Tweak the formula a little bit, brought it over to this company and then it helped that one too.
[00:02:22 ] Tarik Brooks: Yeah. It is interesting, man, like, because you know, with the ecosystem we have that there are synergies all over the place that we work hard to exploit everyday. What I'll tell you bigger thing is that underneath our ecosystem sits the core premise, a core belief that our culture drives culture, that our people drive what's cool and what's next and what's hot in a meaningful way. So, you know, you go back to blues and jazz and rock and roll to hip hop, TikTok, viral dances, like our people drive that. And so if you look at all of the different elements in our ecosystem. What you see are different sectors that we drive through our cultural presence. And so when you look at our platform through that lens, you see how they all fit together. So then synergies just become finding places where, you know, we can work together to make one plus one equal three or four. Right? And so like, you know, easy examples when you think about how you know our brands will show up at the Revolt Summit. So Revolt hosts this amazing event every year in Atlanta. 10,000 people come. It gives us an opportunity to kinda have revolt, touch to people, but also have ourown touch to people for us to do research for new companies that we're developing the test concepts. These are ways that we don't place there with our ecosystem. I mean, I look at a great example. Deleon tequila. Used Druski in an ad, you know, super funny guy. Did a tremendous job with the ad. We then, you know, connected in with the team in Revolt and he did something with Revolt. It ended up being a great, great opportunity there. So like throughout our ecosystem, you see all these opportunities that exist with our portfolio companies and with the companies that we invest in. We think about how we invest and part of it is all the stuff you expect from any traditional investment vehicle. You know, do you have great leadership? Do you have a strong destructive concept? But what we also know about there two or three ways that this thing could be utilized is our ecosystem for the company. So it's an everyday activity, you know, finding, exploiting, and developing those things
[00:04:31 ] Dan Runcie: You mentioned earlier about the Revolt Summit and how that can be a test space for whether it's new products or new things. Can you talk more about that? Cause I think that's really interesting.
[00:04:40 ] Tarik Brooks: Yeah, so I mean this past Revolt Summit, the team at Empowered Global, which is the eCommerce platform that I just mentioned, had a space set up where they could introduce the concept to the participants at the Revolt Summit. And more than that, we actually had, and it was, I gotta find you a picture of this. A digital vending machine that was filled with black-owned products. So, and kinda like what you would see at the airport where you have vending machines, where they kinda have, you know, non typical vending machine products, headphones, and different things like that. Our vending machine that we had set up in the Revolt Summit was all filled with products that were owned by black that came from black owned companies. And so that was like just a real example. In that moment, we were able to introduce people to the concept of the platform, try out some new tech and get real time feedback from people who we believe will be a part of that target.
[00:05:34 ] Dan Runcie: That makes sense. Yeah. Because you wanna have people that are first bought in, you get the people there and I think the people that are gonna attend Revolt Summit likely end up being culture shapers or mavens within their particular area themselves. They start saying something's good, and then they can, you know, go back and that's how you're able to spread things.
[00:05:52 ] Tarik Brooks: 100%. It's the way, you know, everybody talks about it in terms of synergies, but we like to talk about it in terms of not planting there, right? Like we have these resources, we have these brands that mean something to people. You know that the most impactful thing we can do is find out how putting those brands together at different times in different ways produces more information, produces more insight, produces more, you know, revenue generating opportunity than any of those entities in silos. So for me, like the silo is the enemy, right? Like the key is to have all of our leaders and all of our team members continuously engaging in a very fluid way.
[00:06:29 ] Dan Runcie: Yeah, the one that always stuck out to me too was Ciroc and the on the ground promotion for that, because there are so many through lines going back to The Bad Boy Days, the Bad