One of the rising tech sectors today is data aggregation with many millennials coming to the forefront of the industry to bundle information and convey it in a summary form.
Aggregating is all around us
To fully understand what data aggregation is, let’s look at this example: Data-collecting companies, like Facebook, gather intelligence such as likes or page-visits users consume. This information is carefully organized to promote ads or document what users see in their feeds. In business using behavior metrics such as the number of transactions, or average age of the consumer, helps the company focus on bestsellers.
Vasiliy Fomin is an excellent example of someone currently cashing in by way of running a data aggregator, bundling information from various sources into a single API, and allowing all types of businesses to power their offerings to consumers. He’s been able to build a thriving business earning millions in revenue by selling aggregated vehicle data, arrest record data, and more to a network of qualified resellers.
For entrepreneurs, research and development are essential in understanding the market behavior so as to provide the best services to their customers. Data aggregators embrace innovations, new ideas and critical questioning by syncing with the industry’s changing trends in various aspects like leading, hiring, retaining and technology.
Most of us have heard the phrase, “It takes money to make money.” It’s often necessary to invest in order to make more. This isn’t always an easy decision, but the question that many entrepreneurs ultimately have to ask themselves is, can you really expect customers to invest with you if you’re not willing to invest in yourself?
When you consider investing in professional development such as a coach, consultant, mentor or online course, making sure this is worth both the time and financial commitment is strategic. But if the statistics are anything to go by, this strategy can quickly turn into fear for many women in particular.
Research shows that 71% of all assets held by women are in cash, but that 68% of women lose sleep because of money worries. It’s time to stop letting the fear of not having enough stop you from investing to build your wealth.
These are my top three tips for making smart investments and minimizing money worries.
The first step is to write down your biggest goal for your business. What is it you really want to achieve? Is it to make six figures in fewer hours, or perhaps to build a big company that you will lead with lots of employees? Getting clear on this will protect you when you come across “shiny objects” — complex websites, funnels or branding that the sales world will try to convince you is absolutely necessary.
We usually succumb to these entreaties when we’re not focused on our end goal; when we procrastinate and look for quick fixes. Deciding what is just a shiny object or a really good investment starts with the question, “Will this investment help me achieve my goal faster?”
Only when it’s a yes should you consider the investment seriously.
Work out your boundaries
Next, you need to decide if the investment is in alignment with what you want to achieve and how you want to get there. Write down what you are and are not willing to do to hit your big goal in your business. For example, will the commitment of the investment mean you’ll have to work 50 hour weeks when you only want to work 10? If so, then it’s probably not a good fit.
It’s also a good idea to write down your values. Don’t let your feelings or mental blocks get in your way. Take your time so your fear doesn’t interfere. You might think that you don’t want to do sales calls. However, sales are a big part of a successful business. So, is it actually true that you don’t want to sell and thereby help other people, or could it be that you simply don’t want to feel like an old-fashioned salesman cold-selling by knocking on doors? If you were to feel good about selling, would selling be aligned? Most likely it’s a yes.
Essentially, if your boundaries and values are in line with the investment, you should move forward to the last step.
Assess the level of support
Investments are a vehicle for getting you from A to B, and it’s up to you to decide how you want to travel. Think of it like an airplane: You can go from London to Paris flying economy, Business or FirstClass.
If you know that your money is tight and you are willing to have less support on your journey, an online course could be the way. If you know that you are willing to find the funds to get fully supported and get to your goal easier and faster, bespoke one-on-one coaching could be an option. If you want to be around other high-achieving entrepreneurs to push yourself and achieve more, a mastermind could be a great investment.
This is when you need to ask yourself the question, “Is this investment providing the right level of support that I want?” If that’s a yes, you’re on the right track.
Overthinking is often a massive pitfall, making you say no to things you really want and ending in you missing out on great opportunities. Investing in something is supposed to make you feel nervous and excited at the same time, and will most likely be a true game-changer in your business.
When I started out, I had no savings at all, only debt. But I wanted to move fast, and my family couldn’t afford for me to not make money, so I found a way to make it happen.
I started with “smaller” investments — $500 or $2,000 — which felt just as scary as the six-figure investments I make now. Since then, I have learned from experience that if the investment is not a stretch, I’m not really taking a risk, so the likelihood of me building success momentum is small.
Today, women invest with me at all levels — from $ 1,000 to $ 100,000 — and I celebrate them all for making the commitment financially, mentally and emotionally. Investment is always a risk, and having the tools to help you decide if it’s one worth taking is essential.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conducted a study to determine which countries offered their workers the best balance between personal life and work life . The researchers considered a number of factors including average work hours , personal time, and number of working moms. In the end, the Netherlands took first place with a rating of 9.3 out of 10, while several countries in America ended up presenting a very bad rating.
Not being able to balance work and life can put your health at risk. In fact, many studies have shown that people who work long hours and do not have time for themselves have a 33 percent greater chance of having a heart attack, and a 13 percent greater risk of cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, there are many ways to balance your personal and business life to protect your health .
Put into practice the following tips that will change your life:
1. Get rid of unnecessary activities
Many entrepreneurs work longer hours than they should because they are wasting their time on unnecessary or low-value activities. Find out if this is your problem by recording every minute of your time for a few days. Then review what you wrote down and identify the activities that do not add value.
Eliminate distractions like checking social media or taking personal calls while you work. These activities may not take you more than a couple of minutes, but they add up. You should also analyze if you are wasting a lot of time on activities that someone else could do. For example, if you are wasting time going to the supermarket, maybe you could hire someone to do it or order the supermarket at home.
Getting the most out of every minute of the day is essential to find the balance between work and personal life. By cutting back on non-value-added activities like distractions and errands, you can work fewer hours and take care of your health.
2. Schedule social activities on a recurring basis
Studies have shown that having an active social life is important for health. People who isolate themselves from others increase their chances of dying sooner by fifty percent. But making time for social activities can be tricky, especially when you’re trying to grow a business. One way to overcome this is by scheduling recurring social activities with your closest friends.
For example, plan to have one dinner a month with a group of friends. Put this activity on your calendar, and now you can organize your work schedule around dinner, and not the other way around. This strategy is effective because it forces you to make time to disconnect and have fun with your friends. Think of this social activity as a meeting with an important client, something you can’t cancel regardless of how busy you are.
3. Learn healthy ways to cope with stress
Being an entrepreneur is stressful. No matter how many activities you cut off your list or how often you see your friends, you can’t escape stress. Chronic stress has a negative impact on your mind and body, which can lead to dangerous health conditions such as cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure. But this does not mean that living under stress will shorten your life expectancy. The key to finding a balance between work and health is learning to manage stress.
Get into the habit of taking a step back from stressful situations, just for a few moments to calm down and collect your thoughts. For example, let’s say a client sends you an email demanding something almost impossible. If you feel like your heart is racing and your blood is starting to spike everywhere, get up from the computer and take a walk, even through your office. If you can go for a walk, do it to calm the thoughts that were accumulating in your head. Going for a walk, even for a few minutes, reduces stress and brings clarity to the head.
Dr. Michael Galitzer, author and physician, recommends entrepreneurs to practice deep breathing to relieve stress. Put one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Begin to breathe deeply from the abdomen to fill your lungs with air. As you slowly breathe in and out, focus on how your abdomen rises and falls. This will make you focus on something other than what is causing you stress and it will be easier to calm you down. Inhale for a count of four, hold the breath for another four seconds, and then exhale for a count of four. Using one of these methods to deal with stress can calm your mind so that you are better prepared to handle the situation that stressed you out.
As an entrepreneur, you are most likely not used to putting yourself first. But it is important to understand that doing so does not mean putting your business aside. By following these tips, you can find the perfect balance between your work and your health, and be more successful than ever in the business world.
On the surface, Eric Lefkofsky’s Tempus sounds much like every other AI-powered personalized medicine company. “We try to infuse as much data and technology as we can into the diagnosis itself,” Lefkofsky says, which could be said by the founder of any number of new healthcare companies.. But what makes Tempus different is that it is quickly branching out, moving from a focus on cancer to additional programs including mental health, infectious diseases, cardiology and soon diabetes. “We’re focused on those disease areas that are the most deadly,” Lefkofsky says.
Now, the billionaire founder has an additional $200 million to reach that goal. The Chicago-based company announced the series G-2 round on Thursday, which includes a massive valuation of $8.1 billion. Lefkofsky, the founder of multiple companies including Groupon, also saw his net worth rise from the financing, from an estimated $3.2 billion to an estimated $4.2 billion.
Tempus is “trying to disrupt a very large industry that is very complex,” Lefkofsky says, “we’ve known it was going to cost a lot of money to see our business model to fruition.”
In addition to investors Baillie Gifford, Franklin Templeton, Novo Holdings, and funds managed by T. Rowe Price, Lefkofsky, who has invested about $100 million of his own money into the company since inception, also contributed an undisclosed amount to the round. Google also participated as an investor, and Tempus says it will now store its deidentified patient data on Google Cloud.
“We are particularly attracted to companies that aim to solve fundamental and complex challenges within life sciences,” says Robert Ghenchev, a senior partner at Novo Holdings. “Tempus is, in many respects, the poster child for the kind of companies we like to support.”
Tempus, founded by Lefkofsky in 2015, is one of a new breed of personalized cancer diagnostic companies like Foundation Medicine and Guardant Health. The company’s main source of revenue comes from sequencing the genome of cancer patients’ tumors in order to help doctors decide which treatments would be most effective. “We generate a lot of molecular data about you as a patient,” Lefkofsky says. He estimates that Tempus has the data of about 1 in 3 cancer patients in the United States.
But billing insurance companies for sequencing isn’t the only way the company makes money. Tempus also offers a service that matches eligible patients to clinical trials, and it licenses de-identified patient data to other players in the oncology industry. That patient data, which includes images and clinical information, is “super important and valuable,” says Lefkofsky, who adds that such data sharing only occurs if patients consent.
At first glance, precision oncology seems like a crowded market, but analysts say there is still plenty of room for companies to grow. “We’re just getting started in this market,” says Puneet Souda, a senior research analyst at SVB Leerink, “[and] what comes next is even larger.” Souda estimates that as the personalized oncology market expands from diagnostics to screening, another $30 billion or more will be available for companies to snatch up. And Tempus is already thinking ahead by moving into new therapeutic areas.
While it’s not leaving cancer behind, Tempus has branched into other areas of precision medicine over the last year, including cardiology and mental health. The company now offers a service for psychiatrists to use a patient’s genetic information to determine the best treatments for major depressive disorder.
In May, Lefkofsky also pushed the company to use its expertise to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The company now offers PCR tests for Covid-19, and has run over 1 million so far. The company also sequences other respiratory pathogens, such as the flu and soon pneumonia. As with cancer, Tempus will continue to make patient data accessible for others in the field— for a price. “Because we have one of the largest repositories of data in the world,” says Lefkofsky, “[it is imperative] that we make it available to anyone.”
Lefkofsky plans to use capital from the latest funding round to continue Tempus’ expansion and grow its team. The company has hired about 700 since the start of the pandemic, he says, and currently has about 1,800 employees. He wouldn’t comment on exact figures, but while the company is not yet profitable he says Tempus has reached “significant scale in terms of revenue.”
And why is he so sure that his company’s massive valuation isn’t over-inflated? “We benefit from two really exciting financial sector trends,” he says: complex genomic profiling and AI-driven health data. Right now, Lefkofsky estimates, about one-third of cancer patients have their tumors sequenced in three years. Soon, he says, that number will increase to two-thirds of patients getting their tumors sequenced multiple times a year. “The space itself is very exciting,” he says, “we think it will grow dramatically.” Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.
I am the assistant editor of healthcare and science at Forbes. I graduated from UC Berkeley with a Master’s of Journalism and a Master’s of Public Health, with a specialty in infectious disease. Before that, I was at Johns Hopkins University where I double-majored in writing and public health. I’ve written articles for STAT, Vice, Science News, HealthNewsReview and other publications. At Forbes, I cover all aspects of health, from disease outbreaks to biotech startups.
To impact the nearly 1.7 million Americans who will be newly diagnosed with cancer this year, Eric Lefkofsky, co-founder and CEO of Tempus, discusses with Matter CEO Steven Collens how he is applying his disruptive-technology expertise to create an operating system to battle cancer. (November 29, 2016)
“Damn, it’s hot out here,” says Tyler Perry, who isn’t making it easy on himself, clad in all black but for the shock of a white mask, as he directs a 12-person crew through a scene for the BET comedy Sistas. Last year, Perry might have avoided shooting in Atlanta’s July sun, but in this coronavirus era, you take any window you can, and “Camp Quarantine” at his Tyler Perry Studios is trying to pioneer post-pandemic entertainment making.
“Get out of the car,” he calls out to an actor in a cop car who walks over to a silver pickup driven by show regular Devale Ellis. Then he feeds Ellis his line—“What’d I do?” No one seems to have seen the script. When you’re looking to get an entire season of primetime television in the can in 11 days—all before the rest of Hollywood has made it out of hiding—corners must be cut.
Away from the shoot, sitting alone on a metal folding chair in the center of a cavernous and empty soundstage, a container of Lysol wipes at his feet, Perry explains his method. “I mostly go on my gut and my instinct. I like to challenge the system and see what I can do differently.”
That’s an especially winning strategy in a system that feels stacked against you. Mostly dismissed by the Hollywood establishment and even some other Black luminaries (Spike Lee once derided Perry’s crass slapstick approach as “coonery buffoonery” before later relenting), Perry has succeeded for two reasons: He has honed a product that too many others viewed as destined for the discount bin. And he made sure to control it all.
The 51-year-old entertainer owns the entirety of his creative output, including more than 1,200 episodes of television, 22 feature films and at least two dozen stage plays, as well as a 330-acre studio lot at the edge of Atlanta’s southern limits. He used that control to leverage a deal with ViacomCBS that pays him $150 million a year for new content and gives him an equity stake in BET+, the streaming service it debuted last September. Forbes estimates Perry has earned more than $1.4 billion in pretax income since 2005, which he used to buy homes in Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, as well as two planes. Quite a lifestyle for a once-homeless playwright raised in poverty in New Orleans. Today, Forbes estimates his net worth at $1 billion, with a clear path to future membership in The Forbes 400.
Rallying Around Madea
Anatural ham, Perry grew up making his mother laugh with impersonations. He was dealing with more than poverty: He describes an upbringing by an abusive man who he later learned was not his father. He was inspired to write out the stress he was feeling after watching an episode of Oprah Winfrey’s talk show, and spent his 20s touring small theaters around the country performing the plays he wrote, produced and starred in—a crash course in what was to come.
“You got to understand, I had no mentors,” Perry says. “My father doesn’t know anything about business, and my uncles and mother, they know nothing about this. I didn’t go to business school. Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned in progress.”
After dropping out of high school, he gained knowledge any way he could. In his early 20s, he worked at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans, home to the annual National Association of Television Program Executives conference. The young Perry would use badges left behind in empty rooms to sneak into closed gatherings. One highlight: meeting game-show host Pat Sajak.
He began writing scripts while selling cars and serving as a bill collector. He eventually cobbled together $12,000, which he used to rent space at a community theater in Atlanta to produce a work he had drafted in his spare time.
The play, I Know I’ve Been Changed, was a story of child-abuse survivors. It was hardly an overnight success. At one point it wasn’t generating enough money to enable him to pay his rent, and for three months, he lived out of his car on and off while he tweaked the production, working out the kinks until it started to garner some notice. He designed the set, made the programs and hung the lights; he even sold snacks during intermission.
It took me I don’t know how many days to finally get him convinced that the writer, director, does not do this,” says Arthur Primas, Perry’s promoter for more than two decades.
Perry toured relentlessly, slowly building a strong following among Black Americans, particularly the churchgoing set—older women like his mother, who had their burdens to bear and relished the chance to have someone give them a voice and, even better, a laugh. His iconic character, Madea, a straight-talking grandmother with a bad wig, a large stomach and even larger breasts, delivered her homespun moralism with brutally honest humor, becoming a must-see spectacle on the so-called “Chitlin Circuit,” a loosely defined network of small theaters in Black communities nationwide.
“I was aware of the traveling plays, but I never really took them seriously because . . . I considered myself a person who appreciates theater and Broadway,” Winfrey says. “But I went to see one in Los Angeles, and I was not just moved by it, I was changed by it.”
She invited Perry on her talk show in 2001, when he was in his early 30s. Onscreen they shared the requisite inspirational language of tenacity and renewal, but backstage they mined another seam altogether: money. Winfrey, who by then owned her show and Harpo, the company that produced it, offered Perry a secret, one he was already beginning to learn on his own: the importance of “writing your own checks” and being fully in control.
She became a friend, sounding board and, perhaps most importantly, a catalyst. Even before he made his first film or TV show, Perry hauled in more than $100 million from theater ticket sales, moved $20 million worth of merchandise and collected another $30 million selling videos of the performances.
It was time for him to go to Hollywood.
Retreat To Atlanta
The introduction was made at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, a 1,200-seat Italianate building opened in the 1920s, the dawn of Los Angeles’ ascension as an entertainment capital. In 2001, Perry booked a three-night run of Diary of a Mad Black Woman, an event designed to bring out the kingmakers—producers, executives, lawyers and monied benefactors—who could make him a star. The show sold out, but the seats weren’t filled with power brokers, just locals and some assistants sent to see what all the fuss was about.
“I couldn’t walk down the street without people screaming, ‘Madea, Tyler, Madea!’ ” Perry says, recalling his days on the road. “And then I got to Hollywood, and they had no clue. No clue to what I’d done, who I was or the following I had.”
One of the assistants who had seen the show worked for Chuck Lorre, the acclaimed showrunner high on the success of hits Grace Under Fire, Cybill and Dharma & Greg. After hearing about the play, he decided he’d try to pitch a sitcom built around Perry. The networks wouldn’t bite, though, so Lorre moved on to Two and a Half Men, the Charlie Sheen show that became a breakout hit for CBS.
“There was about a 10-year period where everything went on a deep lull and there was nothing being made for people of color,” Perry says. So he retreated to Atlanta, where he continued working on his stage plays and a film script. But he couldn’t stop thinking about television. A recipe for syndication he remembered from sneaking into those sessions at the broadcasters’ convention stuck with him: 100 episodes, a loyal audience and a willing distributor.
“The ignorance I had about Hollywood was so wonderful, looking back on it,” he says.
He rented a warehouse behind a strip club in south Atlanta and turned it into a soundstage, investing in the tools of the trade he knew little about—lights, booms, mics, set decorations—and began shooting. He focused on scenes of a multigenerational Black family living together in Atlanta, the origins of his first sitcom.
A break came in 2006, when two struggling broadcast networks, UPN and WB, merged to create a new one called CW. The new network needed content, and Perry had it. He went back to Hollywood, this time armed with 10 full episodes of television shot, paid for and ready to air. CW bought it and aired it as House of Payne, which pulled in ratings wildly above expectations. Executives at the much larger TBS network took note. Before Perry had filmed another scene, he landed a guarantee that TBS would air at least 90 new episodes of his show that he would own outright. The network offered $200 million to get him away from CW, pure gold for such cheap productions—“primetime programming on a soap opera budget,” as one top agent calls it—that spent nothing on writers, directors, producers or showrunners. Perry pocketed a huge haul: an estimated $138 million.
“It was so out of the box, such a different paradigm,” says entertainment lawyer Dan Black, who says Perry’s deal is still referenced in negotiations today. “You can get meaningful fees and meaningful back-end, but if you own the content, that’s very, very impressive and not an easy thing to do.”
Though he was clearly drawing huge crowds, the overwhelmingly white Hollywood executive set still didn’t quite get it. Perry’s attempt to rework Diary for film yielded little more than suggestions for rewrites and plot turns that would be more palatable for “mainstream” audiences.
“ ‘Black people who go to church don’t go to the movies,’ ” Perry recalls one executive telling him at the time. “I came from a place where Black people had already embraced me and loved me. I was completely happy there, and still am.”
So he forged opportunity out of others’ ignorance. He made Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer a proposal: He would put up half the money, collect half the profits and keep control of the content. The studio held the right to deduct all marketing costs from his cut, which Perry knew would be minimal, considering his following, as well as another 12.5% in distribution costs. The sweetener: Perry would eventually own it all outright.
“ ‘What do you want [Diary] to do?’ ” Perry recalls asking.
“Well, if it makes us $20 million I’ll be very, very happy,” Feltheimer replied, referring to its lifetime box-office haul.
“I said, ‘OK, great—$20 million the first weekend?’ ”
Diary, which cost $5.5 million to make, grossed $51 million in theaters and has since brought in an additional $150 million in video rentals, on- demand viewing, DVD sales and TV licensing.
While most of Hollywood shrugged off the movie’s success as a fluke, Perry and Lionsgate began pumping out Madea movies—11 of them over 14 years, all made on speedy production schedules and minimal budgets. By the time Perry decided to retire the franchise in 2019, it had grossed more than $670 million at the box office and netted him about $290 million in fees and profits, Forbes estimates.
That’s all now starting to come home, as those Lionsgate titles begin reverting to his control. With the help of financial adviser John Cary at Atlanta’s NextGen Capital, Perry is starting to exploit the films more aggressively overseas, with early success in South Africa, South America and parts of Europe, all while continuing to self-finance hundreds of new TV episodes and at least one new feature film every year.
Revenge On Rebel Soil
Poetically, Tyler Perry Studios, America’s most prolific production venue for entertainment for Black audiences, was once a Confederate military stronghold. Renamed Fort McPherson, the army base was used to house prisoners during the Spanish-American War and World War I. Its historic brick homes and structures have hosted luminaries including Franklin D. Roosevelt and Colin Powell, and its rutted 18-hole golf course, Perry says, once rivaled Augusta. The challenge for Perry, who once lived in a car he parked nearby, is to make it the setting for the denouement of his Horatio Alger narrative.
From the outside, it’s a hard piece of real estate to be excited about, bordered on the north by a long stretch of barbed wire, to the east by a mile-long stretch of train tracks and to the south by the din of State Highway 154. It’s sandwiched between two neighborhoods that have seen better days, with rows of middle-class houses, some spiffed up with bright landscaping, most with faded paint and chipped siding. More than a few are littered with old mattresses left to the elements.
Inside the gates, though, is a paradise no one enjoys more than Perry. During a visit last fall, he zipped around in a Polaris Ranger to the new soundstages he opened and christened with the names of showbiz legends including Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee, Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington. As he drove, he called out the highlights—a strip mall, a yacht, an empty soundstage, a house fronted by four façades—and then, after rumbling over the abandoned golf course, gestured toward his favorite new purchase: a replica White House.
“I own the lights. I own the sets,” Perry says, before settling into a couch in his office on the top floor of a modern, renovated four-story structure he calls the Dream Building. “So that’s where the difference is. Because I own everything, my returns are higher.”
He paid $30 million for the property in 2015 and has since spent $250 million building a studio operation that’s now more than twice the size of the storied Warner Bros. backlot in Burbank, California—all of it paid for with the cash he’s brought in churning out movies and television programming for the past 15 years. The acquisition was a masterstroke, giving him a place to build a top-tier movie facility in a state that aggressively courts Hollywood productions, as well as a huge swath of land smack in the middle of one of Atlanta’s red-hot economic Opportunity Zones.
“I love land the way some women love shoes,” says Winfrey, one of the few people to see the property when Perry was considering making an offer. “I said ‘If you don’t take it, I will.’ It was astounding to me. I am officially in awe.”
In truth, it was a deal that perhaps only Perry could have made. He’s been operating out of Atlanta since he released Diary in 2005; in the ensuing 15 years he has produced at least one feature film every year, as well as 13 more television series, nearly all of it filmed in and around the city.
When it came to the fading army base, Atlanta was in need of a development partner who might inspire commercial activity that could help revitalize the otherwise forgotten section of the city’s southern edges. Perry had an in—not only via his rapport with President Obama, who at the time could have nixed any deal for the military land—but through his history of offering jobs to local crews.
His timing couldn’t have been better. In 2008, the Georgia Film Office had piled on tax incentives for production companies, and Perry made his purchase amid the streaming revolution, which triggered an arms race for content that has spurred a boom in demand for soundstages.
Even during the pandemic, he’s keeping it all humming. With Madea retired and an exclusive deal with Winfrey’s OWN network expired, Perry set his sights last year on BET, which has been struggling for direction and has now practically built the BET+ streaming service around him. The network will pay Perry $150 million annually to produce a minimum of 90 episodes of new TV each year until 2025. BET, its streaming service—which hit a million subscribers in August—and other Viacom properties get exclusive rights to air those shows for five years, as well as the reruns of his House of Payne, Meet the Browns and For Better or Worse, plus some of his early stage work, which Cary is beginning to exploit. After that half-decade, the rights to all those BET-funded shows revert to Perry. The first two—The Oval and Sistas—became BET’s two top-rated programs in their first seasons.
The best part? “I don’t have a noncompete,” Perry says, which means still more projects, such as A Fall From Grace, which debuted in January on Netflix to terrible reviews—and 26 million streams in its first week. He also plans to start financing productions from other Black creators whom Hollywood has overlooked.
Fueled by those Georgia tax breaks, meanwhile, others are on hand to soak up extra capacity as well. Perry has rented studio space to major productions including Walt Disney’s Black Panther, the Will Smith sequel Bad Boys for Life and TV’s The Walking Dead. Last year Disney, Warner Bros. and other major studios, as well as new entrants like Netflix, Amazon and Apple, spent a combined $100 billion on original content, according to Frank Patterson, CEO of Pinewood Atlanta Studios, a rival lot 20 miles to the south.
With his studio humming, Perry is taking a page from Disney and Universal for lot development, with plans to build restaurants, shops and an entertainment complex with a theater and a theme park–like experience. Think Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, but with the feel of a down-home Southern kitchen. Perry admits that such a venture will take him outside of his comfort zone in terms of scope, control—and debt, since his business has always been, extraordinarily, a self-financed, all-cash operation. His plans also include housing for trafficked women and LGBTQ youth, and an academy to teach kids who grew up like he did the things he never learned—financial literacy, for one.
The risk, though, is worth it. “I can go outside and take this dirt and put it on my hands and know that there were Confederate soldiers here walking this land, plotting and planning everything they could to keep us Negroes in place,” Perry says. “The very fact that I am here on this land, the very fact that hundreds of people—Black and brown people—come here to make a living, that is effecting change.”
I cover the intersection of Hollywood and money—that’s everything from media moguls to the highest-paid actors to YouTube stars. When my reporting isn’t taking me to Hollywood restaurants and Atlanta’s movie lots, I’m writing about the world’s richest, including billionaires and self-made women entrepreneurs. Prior to Forbes, I wrote about media, food and education for the New York Observer, and about the New York shopping scene for Racked. Follow me on Twitter @MadelinePBerg. Have tips? Send them to me anonymously at forbes.com/tips, and submit sensitive documents anonymously and securely at SafeSource.forbes.com.