June 23, 2017

How To Invent A New Sport

by StartUp

Background show artwork for StartUp

The Story
Mason Gordon’s dream is to create a new global team sport, something that hasn’t happened since basketball came on the scene in the 1890s. But Mason is determined. He invented Slamball—an amped up combination of basketball and football that’s played on trampolines—nearly twenty years ago. He had some splashy early success and got two seasons on TV. And then Slamball seemingly disappeared. But Mason is still at it, and now Slamball is surging in popularity on the other side of the globe.

The Facts
David Herman, Andrew Dunn, and Ian Scott mixed the episode. Mark Phillips wrote and performed our theme song. Build Buildings wrote and performed our special ad music. Additional music by White Flowers, Jupyter, Kevin J Simon, Kid Prism, Rosasharn, and the wonderful, Bobby Lord. 

Where to Listen


LISA CHOW: From Gimlet Media, I’m Lisa Chow. This is StartUp, the show about what it’s really like to start a business. Mason Gordon has heard a lot of pitches for new sports over the years...

MASON GORDON: Somewhere along the way I became the patron saint of misfit sports. Somebody came and pitched me a baseball with two mounds and two batters boxes and the whole idea was it was fast. So he called it fastball and that was the beginning and the end of the pitch.”

LISA: People come to pitch Mason not because he’s a big-time investor. They come, because back in 2000 ... Mason created a sport of his own. An over-the-top full-contact version of basketball … with trampolines... It’s called Slamball.

ANNOUNCER: And here comes another break. Campbell with Williams...Campbell...Williams! Are you kidding me ?! [Laughs] Now that’s high-flying, baby.

LISA: At one point millions of people were watching Slamball on TV. But Mason dreamed of something even bigger … Slamball spreading all over the world... being played in both neighborhoods and Olympic stadiums. But creating a new global team sport like this -- it hasn’t been done in more than a century… since basketball was invented in 1891. And when you set out to do something this ambitious it takes over your life. Which is why when anyone comes to Mason these days with ideas for a new sport, he always gives them the same advice...

MASON: Run screaming in the other direction and find anything else in life that will make you happy because this is not about like making you happy. This is about spending years and possibly decades banging your head against a brick wall and getting up the next day and coming back after it with the same amount fervor. If you're built for that, then yeah you might you might be able to make a sport.

LISA: Mason considers himself one of those people who’s built for it. Which is why he’s done exactly what he’s advised everyone else not to do. He’s been fighting for Slamball for almost 20 years … and he’s still at it. On this episode of StartUp, what does it take to convince the world that the sport you’ve invented is the next big thing? A quick warning, there's some swearing in this episode. Our producer Emanuele Berry takes us from here.


EMANUELE BERRY: Jennifer Constantine is Mason’s wife. And the first time she heard about Slamball, she and Mason had been dating about a year and she brought him home to meet her family. Her Mom had cooked this big holiday dinner…

JENNIFER CONSTANTINE: And my mom was trying to set the table and she couldn't set the table because Mason had commandeered it with like 100 post-it notes and all these drawings and bullet points and outlines. And I was like dude what are you doing. And he's like I've got something. I've got something. And at one point he just turned around and he said what if there was a sport. And I was like oh boy.

EMANUELE: Mason played a couple years of basketball in college. He’s tall. Over six feet with broad shoulders. And the sport he was about to lay out to Jennifer was something he’d been thinking about for years. It was a combination of his two favorites: football and basketball. He loved the aggression of football, but hated the slow pace of the game. With basketball he loved the speed, but he hated the constant foul calling. So he’d always wondered, what if there was a way to combine these sports, taking the best elements from both. He even had this vivid recurring dream where he'd see a moment of the game playing out in his mind …

MASON: There was this big athlete that kind of just rose into the frame and then another athlete just came in from an opposite direction and they just collided and then fell out of frame. And I would just see this over and over again and I’d wake up and that would be what I would remember from my dream.

EMANUELE: But when he shared this dream with Jennifer she wasn’t sure what to make of it.

JENNIFER: I thought it was like equal parts crazy and equal parts genius. Like I really did. I thought like this is an insane idea and whoever launched a sport. And I remember literally racking my brain while he was telling me how you know how his thought process was working like how is he going to do this. Like where do you start.

EMANUELE: Mason knew that getting people on board to create a new sport would be tough. So he turned to someone he thought could help him…. his former boss and mentor Mike Tollin. Mike is a TV producer and director. He’s worked on projects like Varsity Blues, Keenan and Kel and a handful of sports documentaries. Mike, like Jennifer initially thought the idea was crazy, but Mason was persistent. And eventually Mike got on board. He came up with an unconventional strategy to launch Slamball…

MASON: Mike was like well you can't launch a sport, that's impossible. But what you might be able to do is you might be able to get it on television. And if you can create that mass awareness maybe you can back your way into a traditional league model. And I thought that was brilliant because it was somebody telling me yes instead of no.

EMANUELE: If you look at a sports with a traditional league model -- basketball, football, baseball -- they've all evolved in more or less the same way: First, people play the sport on courts and fields around the world. Then the sports grow into leagues... stadiums pop up and eventually they end up on TV. But with Slamball, Mike thought they should start with TV first. So Mason had a plan. Get the sport on TV, build a fanbase, and inspire people to play from there. But what Mason didn’t have yet … was any idea how to actually play his new sport. Or even a PLACE to play it. Remember: it’s basketball but with people flying up to 15 feet in the air. To make that possible, Mason knew he would need to build a special court. So he rented an empty warehouse in a rough neighborhood in East Los Angeles, because it was cheap and no one would ask questions. His first idea to get players up high in the air was to get a spring floor, the thing gymnasts use in floor routines. But he didn’t have any money to just buy one … so he had to resort to other measures.

MASON: So, I would go around to these different gymnastic centers and I would tell them like hey you've got a new gymnastics floor and an old gymnastics floor if you got rid of that old gymnastics floor. You could put in a pommel horse or something.

EMANUELE: And the crazy thing is - he actually got people to give them to him. But the spring floors didn’t work the way he expected. For players to jump as high as he imagined, he needed trampolines. So he drove around L.A. trying to get trampolines, plywood. Anything that would help him build the court.

MASON:So I built the first slam ball court out of spare parts and that was not a great idea because I wasn't a tremendous engineer by any stretch. I had a lot of ideas. I had very little technical background.

EMANUELE: Which became clear when some friends ... who he played basketball with around L.A.... gathered to test out the court.

STAN FLETCHER: It was a … it was kind of like a makeshift slamball court. It wasn't put together pretty well.

EMANUELE: This is Stan Fletcher, one of Mason’s pickup buddies. He was one of the early slamball players.

STAN: The court was maybe about six feet off the ground. So guys would be flying off the court…sometimes.

EMANUELE: Stan remembers there wasn't a lot of padding … so guys were basically crashing down from 15 feet in the air onto hard surfaces. He also said people were getting splinters from a section of the court made of particleboard. For the first few days, playing the game was rough. Not just because of the makeshift court, but also because they were figuring out how to play as they went along… The game had only been in Mason’s head before this -- so there were tons of questions …When is tackling allowed and what’s a legal block? But it was also exciting because all of a sudden someone would make a new move on the court … and everyone would realize: this is what Slamball should look like. Some of the biggest innovations in the game came from Stan Fletcher.
Stan’s 6’4, not the biggest guy on the court. And so he was always looking for new moves—to help him get around taller players. Like this one move he invented called the chaser.

STAN: I would jump into a single spring bed and just take the bounce straight up and then I would toss it kind of to myself

MASON: Like Stan threw the ball to himself recollected it after the bounce and dunked all over the defender and literally everybody just turned to me and said is that is that legal. And I’m like, Hell yeah.

EMANUELE: Stan also invented another passing move called the shake-down and he was constantly coming up with big theatrical dunks. It was pretty clear -- he was Slamball's big star.

MASON: The joke around slamball that quickly developed was that Stan was an alien from the planet that already had slamball and he was just coming here to dominate and have a good time.”
EMANUELE: So they had a court, some idea of what the rules were, and a rag tag team, including Mason…yes Mason was playing too. And that was enough to work out a partnership with Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers basically gave them seed money … to fix up the court and hold a big scrimmage for media executives. The goal was to get someone to pick up a season. And so in the spring of 2001 ... eight players stepped onto the court and played an exhilarating game. One of the executives who was there watching was Albie Hecht.

ALBIE HECHT: It was like Space Jam. It was like people slam dunking and jumping up and throwing full court passes from 20 feet in the air and other people were jumping up and blocking things that were five feet over the basket. And it was like it was like chaos really.

EMANUELE: Albie was the former president of Nickelodeon. And he’d just taken over the The Nashville Network also known as TNN, which was undergoing a format change and relaunching as Spike TV. And Albie wanted Spike to be a network for dudes ... think the TV equivalent of Esquire.So Spike was airing things like a prank reality TV show, action movies, and also a Stan Lee animated show starring Pamela Anderson called Stripperella. Yes, that is a show about a stripper who is also a superhero. Remember ... it’s a network for dudes. But what Spike was missing was sports. The NFL, the NBA… They're tied down in big multi-year contracts with other networks. And so when Albie saw Slamball ... he thought it was original and exciting and exactly what he needed.

ALBIE: I thought it was kind of fantasy element to it. You know what what you could do with a basketball on these trampolines. That was exciting that it took the game to another level.

EMANUELE: Albie made them an offer.

MASON: We got a contract right there in the warehouse for a national TV deal for a sport that was about two months old.

EMANUELE: The deal with Spike was for one season. They held tryouts to field six teams, which included veteran Slamball players like Stan and Mason, as well as new hopefuls. Many of the prospective players were former college athletes like Jelani Janisse. He’d played basketball at Kansas ... but he wasn’t NBA bound.

JELANI JANISSE: So when I came back from Kansas I started playing for the Ontario warriors, which is an ABA team here in California.

EMANUELE: The ABA—American Basketball Association—is basically minor league basketball.

JELANI: We had maybe about 20 fans. 20. Not 20,000. Not 200. But about 20 fans in the stands when we played in our games.

EMANUELE: When someone told Jelani about Slamball, and that it paid $1,500 a week, he figured why not give it a try? So he went to tryouts in L.A.

JELANI:“ I fell in love. It was something that I would never imagine doing, but just having that feeling of flying through and dunking on someone's head and being able to talk trash to them on the way down and get 15-17 feet in the air. Who wouldn’t want to do that. So that's what I fell in love with.

EMANUELE: In the end, dozens of people, including Jelani, made the cut -- forming six teams. The Rumble, The Mob, The Slashers, The Bouncers, The Steal and The Diablos.

ANNOUNCER: You’ve got to be kidding me. You’ve got to be kidding me are you seeing what I see the triple windmill across the lane with attitude. That was for the country of Holland ...The Windmill factor on that.

EMANUELE: When I was a kid, I remember my dad flipping through TV channels and always stopping on Slamball. It was literally just dunk after dunk. My dad and I both played basketball in college, and it was really fun seeing crazy moves performed with such ease. The types of things you dream about being able to do.

ANNOUNCER: Here comes Fletcher, what a move by shakes. Oh that’s Fletcher esq. Look at the body control. The half hook round house and then just sweetly off the glass

EMANUELE: Mason made the media rounds. There were celebrity coaches like Ken Carter. Yes, Coach Carter from the movie, he coached slamball. They got veteran commentators who’d worked in the NBA, NFL and extreme sports. NBA players like Shaquille O’Neal, Shawn Marion and Jason Richardson would give commentary courtside. Slamball got renewed for second season. Here’s Jelani again.

JELANI: I really felt like Kobe Bryant at the time. Like I am the king of LA.

EMANUELE: So that first season happens, second season happens ... does it feel like this is going to be, like, your career ?

JELANI:Yeah I already counting the millions of dollars that we were about to have. I had already spent the money and everything. I knew where we were going to live and all that stuff. I just knew that this is it. We done made it.

EMANUELE: But they hadn’t exactly. Albie from Spike TV said the ratings were fine but without a major marketing push, he was concerned that they would never get beyond that. Because at the time the sport was airing on Spike, there were only a handful of places to play it.

ALBIE: Soccer is the most popular is the most popular sport in the world because what you go give us soccer ball you go to a piece of grass you can play you don't even need any equipment. Right. Slamball you could go and create a court… that’s safe You've got to be supervised you got to be trained.

EMANUELE: Albie thought that without organic growth, Slamball wouldn’t be able to build a lasting audience. Mason's plan all along was to have courts around the country, but it just hadn't happened yet. At the same time Mason says he wasn’t happy with the direction Spike wanted to take the sport. He says they wanted it to be more like pro wrestling, more entertainment less sport. So, after 2 seasons on Spike TV the deal ended. Mason and Mike Tollin decided to shop Slamball around to other networks. But they ended up in legal limbo for 3 years, trying to get the rights back from their original partner Warner Brothers. And during that time, Mason and Slamball were just trapped.
Mason picked up other jobs. He built websites and consulted for sports programs, and he kept working on Slamball. But still, he says these 3 years were pretty dark for him. He was emotionally invested in Slamball, but there wasn’t a lane for him to run in. And it’s during this time that people started telling Mason: give it up.

MASON: Everybody that loved me and cared about my sanity would basically be like what are you doing.

EMANUELE: Like who?

MASON: My family, my friends.

EMANUELE: Even strangers were telling Mason: just let Slamball go.

MASON: I remember this guy and he said to me like oh Slamball I really I really loved Slamball man that was an awesome thing. You know what a great thing it's over now but it was really cool for its time and I was like well what do you mean like I'm still doing it. Dude dude I'm still doing it.And he literally looked at me goes what's wrong with you like why would you keep pushing that. That you know sisyphus boulder up the hill like you got two seasons on national television. Just take the win and move on.

JENNIFER: I 100 percent can see how people would think that Mason is just insane for staying committed to this thing through that period.

EMANUELE: Mason’s wife Jennifer again.

JENNIFER: And I might be one of the only people that can understand that you know how they say like the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Well I'm a firm believer in the definition of success can be repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result and then ultimately getting one because using gymnastics as an example, you repeat the same trick over and over and over again. And you miss it and you miss it and you miss it and then it clicks and you land it. And so who's to say that you're not going to land it. And so for me the analogy was there in terms of not giving up on the sport. He saw what it was capable of doing so he wasn't just going to give up because he had a few years of bumpy roads.There was something about having invented a new game, and tasting success ... like this new sport really COULD be a thing ... that had taken ahold of Mason. And it wasn't just him, the players were holding out hope for Slamball’s return, too. Here's Jelani Janisse.

JELANI: I was applying for different jobs. I applied for the Los Angeles Police Department and they called me to give me my academy date. I said hello. You want me to start when. Monday. OK. I'll call you back. My wife says they called you for the job. You're going to start the Academy on Monday. Yeah I told my call but would you tell them before because I need to see slamball is going to do what you but I can't believe you got us live in here and you don't tell me that you're not going to start working for the police department because you're waiting on Slamball. I can't believe you're doing this. I believe in Slamball. I really do and I believe in the vision of where it's headed. So after carefully thinking about it. I called them back.

EMANUELE: Jelani became an officer for the LAPD. But he and the other Slamball players did end up putting their Slamball uniforms back on … Only this time on the other side of the world. Coming up after the break, Mason makes the biggest pitch of his life -- to the Chinese government.

<<BREAK >>

EMANUELE: Welcome back to StartUp. It was starting to look like Mason’s dream of making Slamball a global sport … wasn’t going to come true. But in 2007, he caught a break. He finally managed to get out of legal limbo and get the rights to Slamball back. Mason shopped it around again and even got another season on American TV. But once again it didn’t last. So Mason was back to square one.

MASON: The only assets that I had available to me were a pile of highlight DVDs and a bunch of frequent flier miles, so I started jumping on planes

EMANUELE: Mason says he didn’t see a way forward for Slamball in the U.S. right then. So he set off on a one-man world tour—visiting media outlets in other countries to see if he could drum up interest. Sports channels in Australia, Italy, and Spain all went for it and they started airing old Slamball games from the U.S. And then in 2008 … through a contact at IMG, a sports management company ... Mason got the chance to pitch Slamball to CCTV 5... China Central Television. It’s like the ESPN of China. And Mason went to China for the meeting. But before he could make his pitch the IMG executive told him...

MASON: Look you've really come all this way for nothing. I've been setting up this meeting for a year. I have an hour to present seven properties. And that's the priority. And I will give you five minutes at the end and that's if they don't just walk out and you've never been in a pitch meeting like this before in your life. It's going to be very very quiet. It's going to be very very stark. You're going to walk in and there's going to be a bunch of white people on this side of the table and a bunch of Asian people on this side of the table and nobody's going to say or react to anything and then Run Wei who is the executive from CCTV is going to be sitting at the top of the table and all he is going to say this is interesting that’s the only word that he will say the whole time and we will find out a month later whether they're going to buy any of our stuff. And in the three years I've been here we've sold nothing. So I'm not really happy about you co-opting my meeting but you came all this way. So I'll give you a few minutes at the end. So they go to the meeting and it’s exactly like the IMG executive said it would be.

MASON: People are watching these incredible like mass produced videos. You know they were put together by this slick agency for you know airplane racing and beach volleyball and it's like beach volleyball is going to take over China and they are everybody always looks at Run wei and Run wei goes interesting. Just no reaction whatsoever. Right. And so I'm sitting all the way at the end like there's nobody talking. There's a whole bunch of IMG guys and then I'm the dummy at the end of the long conference table and there's this little like projector at the end of the table and the IMG guy he just kind of slumps his shoulders and he says OK well. Mason Gordon has come all the way from Los Angeles in order to meet with you and he wants to talk about slamball or some shit and he just kind of sat down and “take it away, Mason.” And so while he was giving me that stellar introduction I unplugged the data cable to the projector. I'm like can I get the video. And they couldn't play the video. And so while somebody was trying to fix it I was like never mind I'll just show them on my laptop. And so I got up from the table and I went around to Run Wei with my laptop and I was like hey guys you can't see there. Get up from the table. Everybody gather round gather round so everybody gathered around, and then I was like go ahead press press play and they like played this little two minute clip and it was awesome. They were like they were high fiving each other. I was like stirring. I was like stirring the pot in like egging him on I was like guys is that amazing. They were blown away. And then Run Wei it was like I want this all I want on my channel. And the IMG exec was like just looking at me like “Fuck you, dude.”

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentleman are you ready … Chinese … now introduce the players and the coach ….

EMANUELE: This is Slamball, China style. CCTV 5 starts airing Slamball as part of their program Basketball Park, sort of a hodgepodge of basketball games and interviews. And Slamball is a hit. Whenever a game is on, the network sees a huge spike in ratings. A Chinese executive named Michael Sun notices this spike. Sun was there in the room when Mason pitched Slamball. When he sees the numbers Slamball is bringing in, he thinks ... this sport could be more than a TV show.

MASON: His whole thing was wow if you could double down on the grassroots side of this because that's what I felt like you didn't do right in America is give people a chance to play. So Michael said I'm going to find some investment for this and we're going to launch Slamball Asia.

MICHAEL SUN: China was the perfect experiment ground for such thing.

EMANUELE: Sun thinks this for a of couple reasons. One: China has massive manufacturing capabilities. So they can build courts quickly. Two: China is obsessed with basketball. And remember, Slamball has the most exciting elements of basketball. Dunking, blocking and fancy passing. And lastly, China has been going through a kind of sports boom. Until recently, there wasn’t much of a sports culture in China. At least not organized sports with youth leagues, the way it works in the U.S. China wants to change that, and that’s created a huge opportunity for new sports like Slamball to take hold.

MICHAEL: China didn't really have all that baggage of all this traditions in sport. You know where like say in the U.S. you know all these mainstream sport. You know it's so hard to to bring something new to the U.S.

EMANUELE: At this point it had been 8 years of ups and downs for Mason and Slamball. And now Michael Sun was coming in and promising to do something Mason had only dreamed of—build courts all across the country. So Michael Sun started pitching investors and built a factory to build Slamball courts. He and Mason convinced universities in China to start teams and build out big slamball centers. The first slamball center opened in 2014. As Slamball Asia started to grow Mason and Michael realized they needed to figure out how to teach people to play the game. And Mason thought he knew the perfect person for the job. The alien from planet Slamball... Stan Fletcher.

MASON: I was like hey, I'm looking for somebody that can come out here and really teach this and Stan was like don't even ask anybody else. It's like I want this I want I want to be the guy.

STAN: Initially I signed to come here for six months and now it’s been three years.

EMANUELE: Stan’s wife and kids moved with him from Los Angeles to Shanghai. In his new job, he runs training programs. And he starts with the very basics.

STAN: You know in the U.S. well our kids they have trampolines in their backyards. You know they never touched a trampoline here. It's like foreign land it's like they're walking on the moon you know so I get here and it just like face planning on a trampolines and stuff. And it’s so funny and so funny.

EMANUELE: But he says people get the hang of it. And soon they are landing big moves and dunks just like Stan used to when he played in the U.S.There are 4 Slamball centers in China today. The newest one is in Nanjing …where this year's college Slamball Championship was held.

EMANUELE: This is the Wuhan Sports University Slamball team getting ready to play a tournament game. The Slamball center is nothing like the court Mason built in that East L.A. warehouse. The building is big with a white domed roof. The courts have that shiny, just unwrapped look, with four giant heavy-duty trampolines under each basket. There’s a plexiglass wall surrounding each court … so no one is flying off. On one court … the Wuhan team is clad in blue and yellow jerseys. At Wuhan the sport is offered as an elective subject, and it’s so popular there’s a waitlist for the class. On the other side of the floor is Wuhan’s opponent Shanghai Jiao Tong Univeristy, in white and blue.

STAN: The team that plays the smartest that handles the ball, keeps possession of the ball, doesn't turn the ball over that’s the team that wins.

EMANEULE: That hoarse voice... that’s Stan Fletcher ... he’s coaching the Shanghai team.

STAN: Shanghai on 3 …. 1, 2, 3 Shanghai.

EMANUELE: There are about 50 people sitting in courtside bleachers watching the game. It’s a mix of players from others teams clad in two toned jerseys, and fans gasping with each dunk.

GULI AIER AI LIE: I’m coming here to support Shanghai team, I am a big fan of it.

EMANUELE: This Guli Aier Ai Lie. She traveled three hours from Shanghai to watch the tournament.

GULI: I learned more about Slamball through school club and become interested in it. Now I always go to watch them training or competition. Really love watching this sport. Everything was so fascinating that I also got a chance to go up and tried it myself. Eventually I fell in love with this sport.

EMANUELE: She says she learned about Slamball through a school club, and had a chance to play. She fell in love with the sport and now goes to games all the time. Mason is here at the tournament too and seeing these games and hearing these kinds of things from fans. It’s exactly what he’s always wanted.

MASON: The excitement level of the players is just through the roof and for me to come to the other side of the world and see that kind of enthusiasm and people playing the game with that kind of passion. It’s really kind of humbling.”
EMANUELE: By the end of the tournament … 25 teams have played dozens of games… And 250 thousand people have watched online. The heavy favorite going into the tournament …. Wuhan Sports University.... Wins it all. Slamball Asia plans to open 10 new Slamball centers by the end of the year, and more after that. But despite how far he’s come, for Mason … this tournament and China ... are just one step towards a much grander vision:

MASON: I don’t think the olympics are out of the question. I think we’ll have a world cup format every few years. I think you’ll see teams from over 100 countries involved in that.

EMANUELE: When you say stuff like that. Like olympics …

MASON: Do I sound crazy?

EMANUELE: You're just so optimistic.

MASON: I’m an optimistic guy. I mean that's that's really the only way to be. I mean why would you go through life like looking at the negatives. I'm getting to do something that nobody else has accomplished in 75 years. Nobody's put a team sport on the map with any type of global relevance in that period of time in a long long time. If somebody would have told you in 1975 that skateboarding would be in the Olympics. Snowboarding would be in the Olympics if people told you that in 1975 you would have thought they were crazy but somebody had to see it. Somebody had to fight for it. Somebody had to do the hard yards and somebody had to sacrifice for it. For Slamball, you know I drew that straw. Mason believes that to make Slamball a global sport, the next step is to bring it back to the U.S. And he thinks the experience in China shows it can work here. But the U.S. is not China. The culture and media are different. The U.S. has big established sports, and Slamball will have to compete with basketball, baseball and football for players and audiences. And they will still need to build infrastructure for people to play the sport. But Mason’s undaunted. He made his first successful pitch of Slamball in the US 17 years ago And now he’s back. Pitching media executives, hoping to bring Slamball games to the U.S. by the end of the year. Also this time around, he’s trying to create places where regular people can play so that Slamball fans can do more than just watch.

LISA CHOW: Emanuele Berry is a producer of StartUp. To see photos and videos of people playing Slamball, follow us on Twitter at podcast startup. Next time on StartUp, we listen in on a familiar scene...

ALEX BLUMBERG: So our old friend is back. The microphone. So you know why I’m doing this?

NAZANIN RAFSANJANI: I think it’s because… I think it’s for StartUp

ALEX: [laughs] Yes, that is correct. That’s correct. It’s for StartUp.

LISA: Alex Blumberg returns with an update on Gimlet. That's next week. StartUp is hosted by me, Lisa Chow. Our show is produced by Bruce Wallace, Luke Malone, Simone Polanen, Emanuele Berry, and Amy Standen. Our senior producer is Molly Messick. We are edited by Caitlin Kenney and Pat Walters. Production assistance and fact checking by Alvin Melathe. Mark Phillips wrote and performed our theme song. Build Buildings wrote and performed our special ad music. Additional music by White Flowers, Jupyter, Kevin J Simon, Kid Prism, Rosasharn, and the wonderful Bobby Lord. David Herman, Andrew Dunn and Ian Scott mixed the episode. Special thanks to Lisa Delpy Neirotti, Yuhan xu, Yang Zhou , and Rebecca Kanthor.

To subscribe to StartUp, go to Apple Podcasts, or whichever app you like to use. Or check out the Gimlet Media website: GimletMedia.com. You can follow us on Twitter @podcaststartup.

Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.