Keir Dillon Makes Peace w/ FRENDS After Lawsuit | “It’s the small little stuff that keeps a culture together or rips it apart.”
Keir Dillon went from doing oversized ‘Keir rolls’ in the halfpipe to contest announcing to heading up the FRENDS brand that had his homies Danny Davis, Scotty Lago, Kevin Pearce, Luke Mitrani, Jack Mitrani, and Mason Aguirre behind him. They went from stickers to action sports headphones and then came a misguided attempt to become a female fashion headphone brand. Shit went south and there were rumors of some of the ‘frends’ suing Keir.
YoBeat got Keir on the phone and got the full story.
Brooke: Yeah that makes sense. Do you have comment on the partnership disputes and reports of lawsuits between you and Scotty Lago. Seven friends trying to figure it out, how did you end up as the one who ran with the ball?
Keir: From the very beginning it was just Danny and I at Aspen at X Games. My mom and dad were entrepreneurs and I’ve always wanted to do a company. After we didn’t make the finals that year we were like hey, let’s do a company. I think he came up with the name that same night and it was a sticker company. When it went from that to “let’s actually do something with this!” And create a product that requires a little more R&D than just cutting out stickers. From a timing perspective, it was also the 2010 Olympics and I was like, you know what, I’m pretty washed. The cow has been thoroughly milked, and this would be a lot of fun. Take a step into a role that I’m uncomfortable with, yet still have support and still be surrounded by the boys and them snowboarding, and that was formation of it.
Through that formation, we went through a lot of legal work to try and make it as fair as humanly possible. There were a bunch of sliding scales. If certain revenues came through certain distribution channels, we would give credit to more of the action sports space. If it was through a more predominant CD distribution channel, the scale would slide the other way, because we’re probably not going to have as much of an influence on those sales. That would be more like channel marketing and the actual product itself than, ‘hey I’m buying this because Danny Davis or Mason [Aguirre] owns and rides for the company.’ We tried to take all that into consideration. There were a lot of meetings. We talked to Andy from Nixon, he sat down with us for a couple hours, and was just like, ‘here’s all the ways this can play out and at the end of the day, here’s what it’s gonna look like, are you ok with that?’ It wasn’t done lightly but it was definitely the move in the company that, in hindsight, I don’t know how else it could have been done. To create a focus, and also to have a leader to make tough calls. Looking back, it was the first rip of the onion.
The second pivot, and this is the one that hurt the most, is while we were going down the road for women. A COO’s job is to manage the board and also investors. Especially being founding investors, I did a very poor job of pausing and bringing [the boys] along for the journey that they had helped create. That’s something that I know left really deep scars for them and for myself. That’s a true failure of, ‘sorry, I got caught up in this, we’re going over here here and it’s not fully attached so I gotta put all my focus over here.’ And it’s all glitz, glam whatever. And I can imagine [from their perspective] it was pretty much like, what are you doing? You’re abandoning us?