Most of us know Anthony Frasier as the young tech entrepreneur from Newark, New Jersey, who was featured in CNN’s Black in America 4: Silicon Valley. Many of us do not know that his biggest fear when it comes to being an entrepreneur is poverty. Frasier states, “I dream of not having to…I know what [poverty] looks like…I’ve slept on project floors before. I don’t even want to be at that kind of point again that’s one of the things that strikes fear in me so I work harder.”
Although, Frasier has transcended his humble beginnings he credits his background for making him a strong entrepreneur. He says in business, “you have to have thick skin.” He developed this mentality growing up in a rough area of the Newark, where he had to deal, “with so many characters so many different types of people, so there was really nothing new in terms of the type of characters [he deals] with in business today.” Frasier has never stated this in prior interviews he exclusively tells us at J.Paye, that he credits his experience as a cadet in the ROTC program it helped him develop the leadership skills he needed to become a successful entrepreneur. He said, “learning how to be a leader and those courses and those environments really prepared me.”
As Frasier says “success doesn’t come over night and there is a lot of ground work and time you have to put in.” Frasier took a non-traditional route to becoming a tech entrepreneur, he went to a community college for a year and a half and didn’t like the “vibe” so he dropped out and became a gamer. He realized that he had to turn his passion for video games into a way that he could make money.
In 2008, Frasier created the website Koalition with a friend. IGN a popular website for gamers was their competition. Frasier and his partners decided to differentiate their site from IGN by offering articles and other content for the urban audience. The concept was successful the site gets over 100,000 users a day and also had a content partnership with rapper 50 Cent. Frasier also co-developed Playd a mobile app that allows people to share what games they are playing at the moment.
Although, his business partner wrote the code for Playd, Frasier feels it is important for all technicians to learn how to write codes. He says, “You can build something with a whole lot of users without a whole lot of money…you can be a coder in your basement. Look at Facebook…I use the example everyday…those guys definitely need money for servers and stuff like that, but to start they didn’t need any money.”
Movies such as The Social Network and The Pirates of Silicon Valley depict how the tycoons of Silicon Valley feuded over codes. According to Frasier, you do not hear about this happening much anymore. This is because sites like Open Source makes it okay to use other people’s code. He recommends that if you develop your own code have all third-parties sign a non-disclosure agreement before sharing the code with them.
As an aside, Anthony Frasier’s favorite Platform is the Xbox 360. He recommends indy games, which are video games that are made by start-ups. If he had to choose one Indy Game it would be Limbo a game he is currently playing.
Frasier ended the interview by saying, he “doesn’t feel like [he has] ever had a major success yet. So [he] keeps going. Always looking at the glass half full and [he] has more learning to do.”
J. Paye In Brief…
As an intellectual property lawyer, you can imagine my surprise when Anthony Frasier stated that his company does not have any Intellectual Property. He explained, “In the tech industry…there is a difference…if you have something that you can patent…like the Google search algorithm that is valuable.”
During our conversation, I learned that tech entrepreneurs have a different definition of what qualifies as intellectual property. I can’t say if a trademark is more valuable than a patent, but it is in the interest of all tech start-ups to protect all of their intellectual property whether it is a copyright, patent, or trademark. A developer can copyright a source code by submitting an online application and paying the $35 filing fee. The name of the company can be trademarked electronically as well. It is advisable to consult an intellectual property attorney before filing a trademark or copyright application.
Frasier is correct that developers should have potential investors, outsourcers and other third parties sign non-disclosure agreements before transmitting a copy of the code to them. This will enable developers to maintain the confidentiality of their source code. Again, developers and startups should engage an intellectual property or contract lawyer to draft a non-disclosure agreement. In an earlier blog post To WordPress…or Not to Wordpress I explain the benefits and ramifications of using open source code.
As video games continue to evolve and offer more interactive experiences, the debate about their effects on minors will continue to grow. Currently, the video game industry is self-regulated and numerous states attempt to impose government regulation have been unsuccessful. Last year, the United States Supreme Court held that a California law prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under 18 was unconstitutional.
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In my opinion, “If you build something so unique that you need to patent it that is more valuable than the name.”
– Anthony Frasier, Co-Founder of Playd featured on CNN Black in America 4: The New Promised Land – Silicon Valley