July 23, 2014

Dan Borislow, RIP

Bloomberg reports that Dan Borislow, the man behind Magic Jack, died Monday of a heart attack. He was 52.

Dan leaves behind a wife and two children. Our condolences to the Borislow family.


I met Dan when I was head of marketing at IdeaVillage. At the time, he was pitching this crazy new VOIP device and was interested in marketing it using DRTV. That day was interesting (to say the least), and I learned a few things about Dan. First, he was a proud maverick with 100% confidence that he would succeed at whatever he did. Looking at his track record -- even his amazing gambling record! -- it seems that his high opinion of himself was justified. As my dad used to say: "It ain't braggin' if you can do it."

Second, Dan expected other people to have as much confidence in him as he had in himself. The idea he was interested in our DRTV expertise died quickly that day. Dan gave a long talk about the telecom industry and explained how a loophole in telecommunications law would allow him to collect money from the big telecoms for every person who used his product. We listened intently, fascinated to learn from an expert in his field. Then came our turn. Our veteran CEO, Andy Khubani, and our team of experienced DR professionals explained our industry and concluded with several smart reasons why Dan's item was a long-form project and not a short-form project. Despite having zero DRTV experience, Dan disagreed and let us know he thought we were all idiots.

Later it became clear that Dan was more interested in Andy's money than his (or our) expertise -- and he was looking for a lot of it. A soon-to-be-infamous 'Dan quote' was born during the ensuing exchange. After recovering from the sticker shock of Dan's initial investment request, Andy sought some assurances that his money would be well spent. I'm paraphrasing the first part here because this is from memory, but Dan said something like: "All you should be doing is signing the check and saying, 'Go, motherf-er, go!' " Gotta love that kind of chutzpah!

In the end, Andy didn't invest -- and we all shook our heads over Dan's hubris. Personally, I was offended that he had so readily dismissed our advice. My ego didn't like being denied respect. Later, I got to have the first laugh when Dan's two-minute commercial for Magic Jack flopped. However, as we now know, Dan had the last laugh when the product kicked butt in long form and at retail and went on to became one of the biggest success stories of that time. It may not go down as "the best DRTV product ever," (another 'Dan quote' that underscores his confidence), but it will certainly end up in the top 10 in terms of revenue and legitimacy.

And that's my 'Dan Borislow story.' I've heard many others, and I'm sure many will be told as Dan's life is celebrated. He was truly one of those larger-than-life personalities and is sure to be remembered for decades to come. May he rest in peace.

1 comment:

  1. "He who laughs last, laughs best" however Dan is laughing no more. Jordan, you gave him the right advice about the long-form infomercial route, he took your wise advice. Success has many fathers. Like Steve Jobs of Apple, he was sometimes abrasive and obsessive about his vision, and that is how real innovation takes place.