SM: Why should it feel was wrong if he was not pulling his weight? You don’t get paid to exist.
JH: Now as a manager I do not feel that it was the wrong decision, but I did not like the fact that I was involved. Either way, I graduated on a Friday and started work on Monday, which was perfect for me. I quickly rose up the ranks there.
SM: That is good, because 2001 was not a good time to graduate.
JH: No, it was not. In some ways I was blessed to not be here in the Valley at the time. Before long, I went from assistant to head of the department. Six months after that I was promoted to an executive. My path to success there was hard work. The entertainment industry is very different from the technology industry in that hard work was a novel idea. Politics and positioning were very much part of the game. I just kept my head down and worked hard. I am a horrible negotiator and a terrible salesperson. I could not sell you money. That part of my brain does not work.
I could not really figure out how to position myself, so I just did my work and looked for more work. It was refreshing, and I was rewarded by moving up the ranks. Soon I was a protégée whom everyone wanted to claim as their own. I just ignored that and tuned it out.
It was a very difficult phone call to make to my parents that after all the time and work I put in, I was working on a show called “Jackass” and that they should not watch it. Your parents always want to see your work, and my mom has Google Alerts set so she is the first to see everything. If I speak she goes to watch.
After MTV I moved on to FX, where I worked on “Nip/Tuck” and “Rescue Me” as a current executive. When you oversee shows that are already on air, that is what they call you. I was there for two years before I came up here to the Valley. For me that was the evolution of my career.
SM: Tell me about Kevin. He is your business partner and your husband. How did that happen?
JH: I sat next to him at a wedding. My boss at MTV married one of his classmates at Stanford. It was in Santa Barbara. It was a very interesting mix of people. There were a bunch of technology people from Stanford and a bunch of folks from the entertainment area.
Kevin went to Stanford and studied history. He then went to Oxford and studied history there for a year. He came back and worked at SGI as a project manager, and that is when he fell in love with technology. From there he founded ConnectGroup with some classmates. That company provided high-speed Internet access for hotel rooms. They were acquired by LodgeNet. After that, he was a seed investor in PayPal. He had gone to school with a lot of those folks. He also joined Outlook Ventures for two years, where he became very passionate being an angel and investing in companies. He then went on to cofound Xoom, which offers international money remittance. At the same time they also developed the architecture for Eventbrite. When Xoom got funded by Sequoia they had to put all their effort into that company, which put Eventbrite on the back burner.
After two years, it was clear that Xoom was going to be a big financial services company. They decided to bring in a CEO who had done that type of work before. They brought in John Kunze, who was with Plumtree Software.