I didn’t know Jake


This is Jake. Jake Millar.

I didn’t know Jake, In fact, until yesterday morning, his name was unfamiliar to me, although I had heard of his business, Unfiltered.

Jake was a young Kiwi entrepreneur who leveraged success with a high school business into Unfiltered. Unfiltered’s “thing” was interviewing high profile business leaders and making those interviews commercially available as training resources. It must have been a good idea as Unfiltered attracted around $4.9million in investor support.

Jake died a couple of days ago. Allegedly by his own hand. He was 26.

He had recently sold Unfiltered for a small sum, around $80k, possibly plus some stock in the purchasing company. The Otago Daily Times understates the response from investors as “Investors expressed some frustration at the sale of the business“. Overnight, Jake went from golden boy to devil’s spawn.

Investors and media hounded him around the world. They threatened friends who stood up for him. They attacked and attacked and attacked. Leading this assault was the rabid pack of hyenas known as the New Zealand media.

The fourth estate has some brilliant dedicated insightful writers but as a business group, our media has long side sold itself for click-based gratification, ambush journalism and gotcha articles.

It’s always easier to attack than to help, to push down than to pull up.

Startups fail. It’s a rule. Not all of them but a lot of them. Investors in start-up need to acknowledge risk. They need to do due due dligence and accept that the outcome may not be that which they desire.

Life in the fast lane.

The circumstances surrounding failure may be deliberate or environmental. Some times an idea just doesn’t find its place or time. Some time a decision goes the wrong way. Soem imes the markets changes. Sometimes a great whopping global pandemic comes along. Always though there is risk.

Life in the fast lane.

Many of the hyenas have accused Jake of living a high life, and of squandering investors’ money on that high life. But they present no evidence to support those accusations. When challenged, they threatened and attacked Jake’s friends and supporters.

They didn’t like the way Jake dressed or the shoes he wore. So what…? Business skill and dress sense are irrevocably linked. This is a young guy who sold his first business for six figures to the notoriously frugal New Zealand Government – while he was still at school. His list of interviewees is long and distinguished.

As an invest prospect, Jake and Unfiltered probably looked pretty good. But there’s always risk.

And no one deserves to be hunted and hounded just because they struggle to maintain initial success, certainly not by those who haven’t taken or can’t take- that’s you, NZ media – the plunge into high-end entreprenuralism.

When I was doing lesson learned, one of the early ephiphanies was that the best incentive for learning was a good punch in the nose. You don’t learn by walking, you learn by stumbling and getting back up again and stumbling and getting back up again.

Unfiltered was probably not Jake’s final destination. It was more likely a stepping stone on the way to something else. There is nothing to indicate that he wasn’t capable to picking himself up and starting over. He was only 26. Many of his attackers would have already had the same experience, some numerous times.

Except for the media hyenas. Those who cannot. But who choose to judge. Who stalk and and harass. Who threaten and attack when challenged.

Hardly the most professional of communication

National Business Review can say it was just doing its job, that it has to push hard to get the facts but really, all it was doing was bullying under the guise of journalism. Every good journo in New Zealand should be calling this behaviour out. Not just the publication but the individual staff that are doing it and the management that are allowing it.

If you;re going to read aout Jake, read the ODT. Or read Jenene’s post on the nasty side of this. Or read both.

Ignore NBR. But do contact your MP and shadow MP and ask then what they are going to do to introduce New Zealand’s media (or elements thereof) to the concepts of accountability and responsibility.

Do it for Jake.

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