June 6, 2007


Lala.com's Make-or-Break Move: The startup has a lot on the line with its plan to sell music for the iPod circumventing Apple's vaunted iTunes (Peter Burrows, 6/06/07, Business Week)

It doesn't take long to figure out what makes Bill Nguyen tick. The high-energy entrepreneur got rich creating a string of corporate software vendors, but he's only now following his real dream: running a music company.

His startup is called La La Media (don't call him CEO; nobody in the company has titles), and when he talks about it, he sprinkles the discussion with references to new bands only your kids have heard of, drops names of famous rockers he counts as friends, and reminisces about what music meant to him as a poor kid in Houston.

Nguyen really gets going when he arrives at the health of the music business. "Too many people are really questioning whether they want to buy music anymore," he says. "But it's so much more fun to listen to music than to read about what Paris Hilton did in jail this week," says the boyish 36-year-old, sitting with one leg tucked beneath him on a chair in La La's study hall-like offices in Palo Alto, Calif.

Nguyen's company is going for broke on a bet it can recapture consumers' hearts. On June 4, La La turned on a new online service that lets people with an Internet connection listen to all the music on its Web site, Lala.com, and pay only if they want to download a given album to their iPod digital music player. It's an audacious wager that will require La La to shell out a whopping $140 million to buy the rights to songs from major record companies and hundreds of indie labels—an especially risky maneuver for a 23-person company that has $9 million in the bank. "We're betting the company on this," says Nguyen.

I've been trading at La La for awhile now and it's a great, inexpensive way to get cds. Haven't really had much chance to use the player yet, but it uploaded all the stuff from iTunes rather smoothly.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 6, 2007 8:05 PM
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