Erika Nardini: Authenticity, Media, and Memes

Erika Nardini: Authenticity, Media, and Memes

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My guest today is Erika Nardini, the CEO of Barstool Sports. Barstool was started by Dave Portnoy in 2004. And Erica first learned about the company when she was living in Boston and she immediately became a fan. Now if you don't know about Barstool Sports, they are one of a kind. They cover sports and pop culture through a uniquely Barstool lens and they produce blogs, videos, and podcasts. They are part-media company, part-subscription service, part e-commerce company, and Barstool is responsible for many of the memes I grew up with. They are all over the place. For example, Barstool has an amateur boxing league with pay per view events called Rough and Rowdy. And some of their other shows include Chicks in the Office, Pardon My Take, Spittin Chiclets, and Schnitt Talk. In this conversation we explore every aspect of Barstool – from personalities like Big Cat, Uncle Chaps and El Presidente. We talked about the future of advertising, how Barstool thinks about its future, and how memes on social media become e-commerce products. Then we talked about Barstool's hiring philosophy, and how being an internet native impacts ad reads and content strategy. I hope you enjoy this episode.

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1:47 How Erika thinks about Barstool as a company and the future of media companies

5:41 The different personalities at Barstool and what Erika thinks makes them unique and authentic, the meaning of “being from the internet”, why Pizza Reviews are a premium format

14:03 Erika’s view of relationships that personalities have with their fans on the Internet, how that’s evolved over time, and all things Jon Bellion

18:09 Why the music industry has had such a tough time getting disrupted from within

20:52 The future of sports, what Erika thinks about sports rights in different leagues, and the idea of company orientation deciding end product experience

29:03 How sponsored content can be used effectively by brands, creative freedom for influencers, and how Erika found Barstool

33:16 David finding out about Barstool memes like “Saturdays are for the boys”, how that turns into an e-commerce product, and the balance between creative freedom and monetization

36:57 How Erika thinks about hiring at Barstool and the Barstool “it” factor

40:06 How is Barstool using data to influence decision-making, how people move through the Barstool brand, how internships turn into jobs for self-starters

47:17 Ecommerce at Barstool, switch from industries to media companies, which sports league would Erika bet for a 10-year time frame?

51:10 How have video games impacted Barstool, golf personalities, people stealing the Barstool way of doing things and why ultimately that doesn’t help them

1:00:10 Why did Erika choose to spend her career in the intersection of content and technology and monetization?

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