My guest today is Thomas Tull, the founder of Tulco LLC, an investment holding company that invests in businesses with high growth potential and helps them apply machine learning and data analytics. Thomas is also the founder and former CEO of Legendary Entertainment, the production company behind the Dark Knight, Hangover, Inception, 300, and many more iconic movies which he sold in 2016. In our discussion, we cover the movie industry’s value chain, the recipe for trying to make a successful movie and how Legendary pioneered the use of data analytics to improve those odds, and Thomas’ concept of the new physics of business and why it matters for what he’s now building at Tulco. Please enjoy my conversation with Thomas Tull.
For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here.
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[00:03:06] - [First question] - His overarching career philosophy and theme
[00:04:07] - Attacking a previously established industry in a new way
[00:05:20] - The origin story of Legendary and stepping into the film industry
[00:07:56] - Stakeholders involved in producing a movie and pre-existing profit pools when Legendary was founded
[00:12:44] - Topline and downstream revenue distribution of intellectual property from then versus now
[00:19:46] - Lessons learned about intellectual property writ large
[00:19:03] - What makes Chris Nolan such an exceptional storyteller
[00:23:42] - Power and defensibility of cinematic universes and transmedia storytelling
[00:22:21] - Applying quantitative data analysis to film production and marketing
[00:25:55] - Competitive frontiers in movie studios and his advantageous skillset
[00:28:10] - Potential investment opportunities in media or media adjacent businesses
[00:29:26] - Interesting new tools that could be developed in entertainment technology
[00:31:00] - His favorite mind-blowing and awe-inspiring movies
[00:32:41] - Telling Jackie Robinson’s story in the film, 42
[00:35:30] - Jackie Robinson and Chadwick Boseman’s quiet dignity
[00:36:56] - Building the holding company Tulco
[00:39:02] - The new physics of business that can’t be ignored
[00:42:40] - Modern velocity in the current era of business
[00:46:03] - Interweaving an antifragile mindset into the company culture
[00:47:55] - Who Tulco Labs is and what they do
[00:49:12] - What gets him most excited about exploring a new business for the first time
[00:50:48] - Unique characteristics he seeks out in a management team
[00:52:31] - Trends that make him feel worried about the future
[00:57:47] - Trends that make him feel optimistic about the future
[00:58:49] - An important lesson learned from his career on a personal level
[01:00:15] - The kindest thing anyone’s ever done for him