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Jazz Shaper: Damian Bradfield

Posted on 17 March 2023

Damian Bradfield is WeTransfer’s Co-Founder and Chief Creative & Sustainability Officer.

Elliot Moss

Welcome to the Jazz Shapers Podcast from Mishcon de Reya.  What you are about to hear was originally broadcast on Jazz FM however the music has been cut due to rights issues.

Welcome to Jazz Shapers with me, Elliot Moss, bringing the shapers of the business world together with the musicians shaping jazz, soul and blues.  My guest today I am very pleased to say is Damian Bradfield, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer at WeTransfer, you’ve heard of them, the content sharing platform.  After running a fly posting and leafleting business working with luxury brands including Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney, Damian spent a decade in advertising before setting up digital design studio, Present Plus.  In 2010 he joined the WeTransfer founding team, Dutch entrepreneur’s Bas Beeren and Nalden who built WeTransfer to solve the problems they face when sending large, design heavy files over the internet.  Setting up the company’s US offices, Damian then created its digital arts and editorial platform, WePresent, featuring work by musicians, film makers, photographers and designers and aiming to, as Damian says, weird, wonderful, unexpected stories celebrating the extraordinary impact of creativity.  WeTransfer a BCorp certified company now has over 80 million monthly active users and to give one example of their creative collaborations, the WePresent film commission, The Long Goodbye, won best live action short film at the 2022 Oscars – not bad. 

It’s very nice to have you here, you don’t live in London.

Damian Bradfield

No.

Elliot Moss

We happen to be recording in London.  You live in Amsterdam.

Damian Bradfield

Yep.

Elliot Moss

And WeTransfer came from Amsterdam.

Damian Bradfield

Mm hm.

Elliot Moss

Tell me why Damian…

Damian Bradfield

Still is in Amsterdam.

Elliot Moss

Still is in Amsterdam but I mean its origins, it’s place of origin.  Tell me why the values of Amsterdam, the values of WeTransfer and the values of Damian Bradfield are so aligned?  If they are.

Damian Bradfield

So WeTransfer did start in Holland, it is still very much headquartered out of the Netherlands but we have offices in LA, New York and London and probably the biggest part of the culture of WeTransfer is the sort of cross-section I think between the Anglo-Dutch relationship that we have in the company and that’s sometimes positive and it is sometimes detrimental.  So the positive side of it is that I think we’ve been truly supportive of the credit community for 13 years because we genuinely love this space.  The downside of it is that I think we were perhaps too observant, not aggressive enough, too patient, too anti-tech which had the company started in America we would be a very different business today.  We would be much more like Box or Dropbox but I think because of the sensitivities of being a bit more thoughtful in the relationship with our users and the contributors, I think it has given us this amazing brand but it has also meant that you know, we are not a super billion dollar business that Dropbox and Box and those other competitors are.

Elliot Moss

It’s interesting you say that though because one of your books which I happen to have read.

Damian Bradfield

Did you read the whole thing?

Elliot Moss

I did read the whole thing, back to back – The Trust Manifesto – it’s really good, nice cover as well and very, and really well written and it is kind of a book of I would say, three parts with the interviews being a different thing, the beginning piece which is kind of a sort of an interesting ramble.

Damian Bradfield

Thank you.  Yep.

Elliot Moss

In a way just like ‘here’s my thoughts’, it’s kind of crazy now let’s get into…

Damian Bradfield

Ah you really did read it.

Elliot Moss

No I really did read it.  There are sometimes people that ‘I’ve read your book’…

Damian Bradfield

Yeah.

Elliot Moss

…they haven’t read it, they’ve given… someone’s given them a…

Damian Bradfield

You comment on the colour, the cover.

Elliot Moss

I like the colour.

Damian Bradfield

So Penguin designed it and told me that they wanted to do something a little bit different and interesting so it’s this bright green, almost luminescent colour.  And then they told me that green is the worst selling cover.

Elliot Moss

Oh.

Damian Bradfield

Colour of a cover you could ever have.

Elliot Moss

Well I like the colour because…

Damian Bradfield

Thank you.

Elliot Moss

…I like bright things.  But in the book a couple of things come out and it is why I asked that question about your own values, you talk about people first as an approach, you talk about creativity second and you talk about technology third.  Which I think is a really nice paradigm which you say actually in the way you just talked about where you said, but that stopped us being a billion dollar business or a multibillion dollar business.  It strikes me that there’s a conflict of values that you have and that WeTransfer have and the guys that set it up as a group of people with the notion of making huge amounts of money just because you can and, and that’s the thing I am interested in when I think about your values, which is where I started.  Obviously your background is in advertising and you’ve done a bunch of other things and you are a creative person but today, how do you square that off from a business point of view?  Are you happy you haven’t been greedy for data or are you unhappy that the IPO didn’t happen and that you could all have been sitting there on your own personal islands?

Damian Bradfield

You covered all the bases.

Elliot Moss

Sorry.

Damian Bradfield

So going back…

Elliot Moss

We can, we can unpack it all of course.

Damian Bradfield

Yeah.  I’m very happy and very comfortable and firmly believe in this notion that without great people, empowered to be creative you can’t produce anything fantastic.  However, that requires time and in the tech sector there wasn’t any time.  Everyone was in a rush to produce something and get from you know, zero to a million in a space of minutes so amongst the investment community that was a challenge you know, it was certainly a challenge in us raising funds in the beginning which meant that we actually couldn’t raise any money until 2015, until we demonstrated that actually this way of working does actually work and we were profitable and everybody else wasn’t.  Profitability just wasn’t something that people were interested in tech, it was growth.  Today it is a completely different story.  Profitability is very important today but it wasn’t back then.  So you are from the agency world, the reason I think I understand the importance of good people is because I come from the agency world and we were talking about it in the beginning, I started at a company called Delaney Lund Knox Warren and I really do believe that they understood the importance of good people and if you are selling creative talent it’s people and if you don’t look after them well and you don’t give them that space to be creative they are never going to be able to do it, they are never going to be able to create great things.  I think there was a heavy reliance on technology that if you empowered great engineers to just make things you would be able to maximise revenue.  That was true.  It’s not any longer and I am really proud that we took a direction that I think is the longer term direction that I believe is playing out in our favour and it was all about you know, giving people respect, not treating them like users, treating people as if they are customers as much as you possibly can when you are in you know, a hundred ninety two countries and 80 million users.

Elliot Moss

WeTransfer to me is, is so part of my own experience of the internet, I probably assume that anyone listening might have the same.  Just in your own words, describe what WeTransfer does, I mean it is blindingly simple but just, again if people haven’t heard of it, what would you tell them Damian?

Damian Bradfield

So the WeTransfer that most people know is really just an enabler, we enable files to be sent from one place to another.  The WeTransfer that most people don’t know is that we have a drawing app called Paper and we have a presentation tool called Paste and a mood board tool called Collect and we have this platform called WePresent which is really I think the soul of WeTransfer.  It’s morphed over the years into different things but what it is today is really a beautiful inspiration towards I think of super rich stories around the world that I think is the most differentiating thing about WeTransfer as a brand. 

Elliot Moss

And you celebrate creativity, you invest in creativity emotionally and I guess, financially because…

Damian Bradfield

Yep.

Elliot Moss

…that’s the model and you mentioned as well the point, well I kind of said that you know, you said we could have been bigger and all that but actually I feel like you are comfortable as a group of people that you didn’t go treating people like users and you didn’t think about extracting as again, you’ve used in your book, that phrase…

Damian Bradfield

Yep.

Elliot Moss

…extracting value from individuals.  I briefly mentioned there was the 2022 attempted IPO.  I, as having personal experience of exactly the same thing, it’s you know, it’s a bit of an emotional rollercoaster looking at being inside of a business that’s looking at doing that.  What were you going to use the funds for?  What was the if you’re…

Damian Bradfield

Personally?  I was going shopping.  I was going to art.

Elliot Moss

He’s sporting a very nice knitwear over here, so he probably…

Damian Bradfield

Yeah knitwear.

Elliot Moss

…all that stuff but apart from you personally, what were the… what was the purpose of raising the money as a business and as an endeavour?  That’s the bit I am interested in and what does that say about the vision of WeTransfer?

Damian Bradfield

So the minute that you take on investment there has to be an exit and the choice is whether you exit to you know, another investor that carries it for a few years or you exit to a private office that carries it for 20 years or whether you exit to a private equity company that probably rips out all the soul and heart and tries to milk it for everything they can.  The IPO felt like the best of all of those options and putting it I think in the hands of you know, the man on the street, woman on the street, seemed like the best way for us to be able to ensure that what WeTransfer represents would carry on.  Hopefully for eternity.  As you said, we are BCorporation, we have a foundation, 1% of our revenue goes towards supporting emerging artists, a lot of those things were deliberately put in place before we IPO’d hoping that in the hands of the general public, they would remain and they would be sort of respected and I am optimistic in thinking that going forwards we as individuals, investors as individuals will be looking at companies that behave well as opposed to just behaving well financially.  I mean they are ethically good as opposed to just being financial strong.

Elliot Moss

But in terms of raising money and having, as you said, those shareholders that are the man and the woman on the street.

Damian Bradfield

Yep.

Elliot Moss

Was the intention then to continue to grow in the same way, in other words, we are not going to extract, we are going to still give value or was it going to be more of the same or were there other things that you wanted to do that weren’t counter to your initial mission as a business?

Damian Bradfield

I mean we are always investigating other things.  The thing that WeTransfer has that other companies don’t in our space is the brand.  So we have a pretty well respected brand, we have an awful lot of trust.  The book that I wrote was all about trust and I think what we managed to create serendipitously wasn’t deliberate; we just did something that we felt was intrinsically right.  With that trust I think you have permission to do many things and I think we have the permission to move into a lot of different fields within the creative sector where we can add value and that’s what we’d like to think that we do, we enable you know, the files to be transferred somewhere, we enable somebody to be inspired through WePresent or to be able to draw and illustrate something through Paper.  There are so many spaces that we could explore where we could play a role I think in the creative process, man that’s all the way from inspiration to delivery, so whether we IPO or not, WeTransfer I hope is going to morph into a sort of household name in the creative sector for representing many different things.

Elliot Moss

Much more coming up from my guest, Damian Bradfield in a couple of minutes.  You are listening to Jazz FM and he is my Business Shaper today.  Right now we are going to hear a clip though from the Mishcon Academy Digital Sessions, they can be found on all the major podcast platforms.  MDRxTech CEO, Tom Grogan talks about the metaverse, what it is, why companies would wish to explore it and the potential risks that we should be aware of. 

You can enjoy all our former Business Shapers on the Jazz Shapers podcast and indeed you can hear this very programme again if you pop Jazz Shapers into your podcast platform of choice.  My guest today is Damian Bradfield, Co-Founder, Chief Creative Officer at WeTransfer, the content sharing platform and WePresent, the digital arts and editorial platform.  I’ve sort of tried to get to the sense of this, this vision thing and you, Damian because obviously everyone has their journey and you’ve come to WeTransfer and it’s funny, I think of it and I feel like it’s been around forever but it hasn’t, it’s just as you said, it’s 13…

Damian Bradfield

13.

Elliot Moss

…13 years.  There was something about the book and again what I know that you are trying to take the business which is around this notion of responsible technology, technology used for good but not good in a completely earnest way, just not bad.  I mean it can be opposite of just not doing bad things.

Damian Bradfield

Yeah.

Elliot Moss

‘We felt our way along, we trusted our instincts, we listened to the golden rule’, that’s how I think you talked about the mantra if there was a kind of an unwritten manifesto or an unintended – I can’t remember the phrase exactly – sort of if we had to write something, it would be that.  What’s the golden rule?

Damian Bradfield

I can’t remember.

Elliot Moss

Is there a golden rule for you I guess, is there a sort of a thread that you go, if there is anything I do, it’s going to be characterised by a certain way of doing things?

Damian Bradfield

I do think that it’s long-term.  I haven’t done anything myself where I have tried to achieve something in the short-term that has been really successful, it doesn’t give me any meaning, it’s no reward.  I think anything that we are doing it needs to be ideally at least with the ambition of it being around for the long-term and as I am getting older I am thinking about how it outlives me, you know, the things that we set up with the Supporting Act Foundation, I am very consciously thinking about you know, what is this like for my kids or for beyond me and in our space, again in the tech world, it’s being thought about more today than it was previously but it was not being thought about 10 years ago.  It was all about the here and now.

Elliot Moss

I am pleased you mentioned meaning for a moment because I think, I think of course you are right that there is a discussion about good tech, bad tech, about the tech states as it were behaving badly, about data being capture and now we are more aware of it and again in the book you reference how can we suddenly wake up and say, we didn’t see it coming when it’s been coming for quite a while, whether it’s a conversation about TikTok and capturing data or it’s about YouTube algorithms causing harm and all the other things that are going on right now.  But for you personally, you, you have, there’s a programme called Influence – Interim Influencers which is part of the WeTransfer stable.  There is your book, there’s the business itself and I kind of wonder how you describe yourself.  If someone says, Damian what are you, are you a business person, are you an activist, are you a journalist? what are you because… or are you a creative person and I am not saying it matters but if you had to pull one out of the hat, what would you start with because as I think about you and what you are doing, I kind of see a bit of all of those things?

Damian Bradfield

I am smiling because we have this podcast called Influence and we are in the throes of working out what session 4 should be and in the discussion somebody said exactly that question, ‘you are referred to in Wikipedia as a British businessman, is that how you see yourself?’ and I said, ‘firstly I am not British, I am English and even that I am having issues with today and secondly as a business person, I think I am one of the least successful business people ever.  I am quite good at telling stories and I am quite good I think at conceptually thinking up ideas and then bringing them to life and I have a platform where a lot of that can happen and that’s just very fortuitous.  So I am somewhere in between a conceptual artist and a creative, I don’t know what it is but I am not a business person’.

Elliot Moss

You heard it here first, Damian Bradfield is not a business person but he is doing quite well considering because he is the Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder at WeTransfer.  It sounds like I want that sort of failure.  You talked about creating things and conceptualising all that.  Often with people who run businesses, they work with lots of people.  Are you more independent?

Damian Bradfield

What does that mean?

Elliot Moss

Well there’s a big team.

Damian Bradfield

Am I anti-social?

Elliot Moss

No, well are you anti-social?

Damian Bradfield

I am actually yeah.

Elliot Moss

Are you?  So when you are creating are you more introverted, is that part of the process for you?

Damian Bradfield

So this probably will go down like a lead balloon but I really don’t like collaborating very much.

Elliot Moss

Which is great because WeTransfer is not about collaborating at all.  It’s brilliant.  But that’s very honest and I know what you mean.

Damian Bradfield

It is deeply overrated, yeah.

Elliot Moss

So you like creating ideas solo?

Damian Bradfield

I need to be on my own.  I think I need to be alone with an idea to think it through and to selfishly sit on it before I am willing to share it because you know, sometimes it can be death by a thousand cuts and I’m deeply anxious about that.  So initially yeah, I want to be on my own, I don’t want to talk to anybody about anything and then slowly I’ll start revealing something but I certainly don’t want to open up a mirror board or whatever the collaboration tool there is and throw all my ideas in there so that everyone can comment and give me advice.

Elliot Moss

What happens though Damian because I am actually, I present as an extrovert but I am exactly the same when it comes to creativity, I find it very difficult to create in a room with anybody, I like to start exactly there.  I don’t react very well when people start to destroy my ‘brilliant’ quote/unquote idea.  How do you react?

Damian Bradfield

Well you used the word ‘destroy’.

Elliot Moss

Yes I did, it’s slightly loaded isn’t it?  How dare they comment on my idea.  It’s ridiculous.

Damian Bradfield

Yeah, a comment isn’t, isn’t destruction necessarily but that’s how you interpret it.  To be frank, not too dissimilarly unfortunately so yeah, I am a bit over sensitive, depending who it is.  So, I mean there are people that I work with closely who I am really happy to share stuff with, really early and I really value their opinion and I think they can constructively give me feedback that I appreciate.  Whether it’s positive or negative, it doesn’t have to be all positive, preferably.

Elliot Moss

Is there a muse though, joking aside.  Is there someone who you always know you will, will be protective of your own ideas, will understand how your, where Damian’s mood is and will be able to give you feedback that you will hear?

Damian Bradfield

Yeah definitely yeah.  But it really does depend on the work you know, what it is that you are talking about.  So you know, if it’s film it might be something completely different to I don’t know, a podcast.  I can also tell you depending on the weather so if I don’t want to share something then I will not do that and I will sit on it and then I’ll surprise everyone with something but…

Elliot Moss

So is that…

Damian Bradfield

…everybody else hates.

Elliot Moss

…you seem mercurial which is no bad thing and most creative people are in some ways. I used to have a tennis coach that called me Worzel Gummidge, for those people who don’t know Worzel Gummidge, he had many heads.  I am a bit like that.

Damian Bradfield

Yeah, I am not sure if that’s a compliment.

Elliot Moss

No it was not a compliment at all, it was a terrible insult.  Sometimes I would turn up I was great, other days I was rubbish.  I think I am the same when I work with people.  How do your team manage that?  How do you manage that because you are in a business and yes you are pretty, it sounds like you are pretty independent, you set your own agenda and people listen to Damian but when you have to be collaborative, how does that play?

Damian Bradfield

I am trying to remember the last time I was.  So I guess when we are, I am joking a little bit, I do collaborate sometimes but if you ask my team they would probably say that I don’t and…

Elliot Moss

But they tolerate you?

Damian Bradfield

Yeah because luckily I’ve had a few wins so if you have a few wins under your belt then, then it’s okay.  There are certain projects that we’ve done exceptionally well at that are done very well that had I asked permission or had we had discussions around them there is no way they would have got to where they are.  Case in point, The Long Goodbye with Riz Ahmed.  If I had presented that to the Board up front before that film was story boarded or scripted, they would never have approved it.  The Board saw that film the day it went live.  That was it.

Elliot Moss

And how did you manager that because people often, I want to talk about measurements in a moment, but people want to know, how did you, and there’s governance in business, how did you get away with that?

Damian Bradfield

Smoke and mirrors.  No idea.

Elliot Moss

But seriously, you know, people will say, Elliot there’s a process and what we do is we go from A to B to C.  How did you avoid any approvals or disapprovals of such a big project until it was live?

Damian Bradfield

This used to be something I lived by, it’s getting harder and harder today but it always used to say, you have to ask for forgiveness and not permission.  We are very lucky that the brand has this phenomenal reputation and we don’t spend millions and millions of dollars in production.  I won’t tell you what The Long Goodbye cost but it wasn’t very much money so I didn’t need to go and ask anybody permission to do it, we were, you know, we have a budget, we are working to what it is for the year and the things that we want to produce, have a great team, they execute it and we all share stuff when it’s, when it’s ready to be shared and sometimes that’s early and sometimes it’s late.  The Long Goodbye was just very late.  For those of you that haven’t watched it, it’s quite an intense 10 minute film.

Elliot Moss

He’s one of my favourite actors, he’s extraordinary.

Damian Bradfield

He’s amazing and Neil the director is amazing.  He came from Top Boy, they are going on to great things, I mean, they won an Oscar, they are going to go on to great things together I think but it’s a, it’s an intense film you know, and a lot of people questioned why an earth would WeTransfer have anything to do with a film like that.  It’s not about the fact that we are endorsing, you know, a particular movement or whether we think that you know, a film about racism in post-Brexit Britain is really fundamental to WeTransfer, we believe that there are stories that need to be told and we want to empower those creators to tell them and Riz is just one of those amazing actors, musicians, artists who is, to be quite honest, should be given cart blanche to just produce something because he won’t let you down.

Elliot Moss

Stay with me for my final chat with Damian Bradfield, my guest today and we’ve also got some Louis Armstrong, that’s a delicious cocktail I am sure.  That is all coming up in a moment as well, don’t go anywhere.

Damian Bradfield is my Business Shaper just a few more minutes.  We talked about a lot of things and you talked about sneaking The Long Goodbye through without showing anyone until it was live.  How are you measured, firstly yourself financially I mean, I am talking about boring financial metric, not an ethical metric, not a creative metric, not a brand metric but just financially, how does Damian get measured in terms of what he delivers for WeTransfer?  Because it is hard to say, that delivered X because there is lots of things that you do which add huge amounts of value but do they just let you do stuff?  Is that the truth?

Damian Bradfield

Yeah a bit.  But I mean they is also me.

Elliot Moss

Yes.

Damian Bradfield

So you know, we, I think collectively understand that there are some things that are in longer play, you know, need to have some space to grow and to test as to whether or not they work.  At the end of the day we are a business, you know, I can prove that my sales team is out there selling advertising on WeTransfer, we have beautiful advertising platform, I think we sell some of the most beautiful ads in the world and I am almost 100% certain that the reason that we sell to all the luxury goods brands of the world is because of the calibre of the creativity that we put out.  There is no way that Chanel and Richmond or all those large groups would want to be on WeTransfer if we were knocking out the usual branded content, top ten tips of how to make a, you know, SEO better or how to perform better at podcasting you know, whatever it is.  We wouldn’t, we wouldn’t have the type of advertisers that we do so I think there’s proof in the advertising revenue we generate.  There is also a lot of verbatim that we get back from users saying that they love the respect that we put into creativity, they want to be associated with us and we hear it all the time from artists, we just announced that Russell Tovey is our guest curator for the year.  Russell wrote one of the nicest pieces I think a brand could ever expect from an artist, you know, that we had given him permission to just go off and make a film about something that he feels very passionately about, he is making a documentary about a guy called David Robilliard who’s an exceptional artist that died of HIV Aids and almost got forgotten and you know, we just you know, facilitated Russell to go off and do this thing and what he said about us is amazing, what Marina Abramović has said about us is amazing and these are all examples I think where we have given those artists space and not got in the way of their process and the artist is grateful and our users are grateful and if you are a brand in creativity, there is no greater win that that.

Elliot Moss

And thinking about your own view of your prognosis of where technology has brought us to, exploitation of data, unsafe places to go, not enough public spaces, you’ve used analogies before about how long it took for land owners to have land taken away and given back to the people and all these other things, firstly are you positive about the future of all of that?

Damian Bradfield

Yeah.

Elliot Moss

And secondly, what role does creativity and the kind of creativity you just described and the space that you give to creativity, what role does that play in affecting the kind of change that you want?

Damian Bradfield

I mean these are massive topics.  So firstly, I wrote a book when I was angry about the way that tech companies were treating data.  I am over it because it is down to us and I think the way that we act and interact with technology and data and privacy and all the rest of it is shameless.  We are to blame.  It is not the tech companies, we are, to be frank, untrustworthy when it comes to data and devices and everything else.  We are creating the problem and if anyone is going to fix it, it is going to be us but we are incapable of doing it so I dread to think where that ends up.  From a creative point of view I think I was really pessimistic about AI and its effects on creativity but actually I am really optimistic having spent a lot of time recently investigating what’s possible and looking at different companies.  I think AI again, much like the algorithms that determine what you are going to read can only detect and determine what happened in the past, it can’t detect and predict what is going to happen in the future and great creativity is all about intuition and I think the faster we can educate our kids to understand what stimulates them and to give them the confidence to be passionate about things that they physically and mentally believe to be important I think that we are going to be fine when it comes to creativity and actually it is going to be… there’s going to be this massive gap between the works that’s produced by AI and the work that’s produced by great creatives understand their intuition and I am really excited to see what that looks like, I think we are going to see real you know, black and white in terms of work that’s coming out.

Elliot Moss

It’s been great having you here Damian, I hope it’s okay being interviewed rather than interviewing.

Damian Bradfield

It’s been great thanks.

Elliot Moss

I’ve really enjoyed it and good luck with everything.  I think the AI point is a really interesting one, I hadn’t thought about that intuition versus the stuff that is going to be derivative.  Just before I let you disappear though, what’s your song choice and why have you chosen it?

Damian Bradfield

So my song choice is from Kamasi Washington, Harmony of Difference.  The song is truth, it really represents a moment for me with WeTransfer where we just started in LA and we were working with some amazing artists and our relationship with Giles Peterson from BBC Radio 6.

Elliot Moss

And a previous guest here.

Damian Bradfield

And a previous guest here, culminated in this amazing event that we put on downtown in LA and Kamasi was one of the performers along with George Clinton and BadBadNotGood and Sara Creative, and I am getting goose bumps as I am talking about it, it was a, it was just a beautiful moment in time and something that I will never forget.

Elliot Moss

Kamasi Washington there with Truth, the song choice of my Business Shaper today, Damian Bradfield.  He talked about being in it for the long-term.  WeTransfer has always thought about the long versus the short-term, a really important distinction.  He talked about giving creativity space, how critical that’s been in his business and for himself and the way that he works and really important in fact in any business, whether you are intrinsically creative or not.  He talked about it being down to us in terms of the way that we use the internet, in terms of the way that we chose to share information about ourselves which ends up as somebody else’s data and the lovely last thought that I want to leave you with that he said, great creativity is all about intuition so don’t over engineer it.  Brilliant stuff.  That’s it from me and Jazz Shapers, have a lovely weekend.

We hope you enjoyed that edition of Jazz Shapers.  You’ll find hundreds of more guests available for you to listen to in our archive, to find out more just search Jazz Shapers in iTunes or your favourite podcast platform or head over to Mishcon.com/JazzShapers.

He joined WeTransfer founding team in 2010 as Chief Strategy Officer, set up the company’s US offices and created its digital arts platform WePresent. He was the co-founder of digital design studio, Present Plus, which was acquired by WeTransfer in 2016. He previously founded illustration platform Kuvva and owned an art gallery in Amsterdam.  

Damian started his career at Stella McCartney before joining ad agencies DLKW, AMV and later, J Walter Thompson. He is a published author of a book titled 'The Trust Manifesto', which debates online privacy, trust and big data and the comic book ‘Algorithmic Reality’. 

A true polymath with a focus on making the world a better place through creativity, Damian is also the host of the Influence podcast and sits on the Board of the Sarabande Foundation, The University of the Underground and WeTransfer's The Supporting Act Foundation. He holds a degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. 

Highlights

In the beginning, we were perhaps too observant, not aggressive enough, too patient, too anti-tech - and had the company started in America we would be a very different business today.

I believe in the notion that without great people, empowered to be creative, you can’t produce anything fantastic.

Profitability just wasn’t something that people were interested in tech - it was growth. Today it is a completely different story.

If you are selling creative talent and you don’t look after your people well and you don’t give them that space to be creative, they are never going to be able to create great things.

We are a B Corporation. We have a foundation and1% of our revenue goes towards supporting emerging artists.

I am optimistic in thinking that going forwards, investors as individuals will be looking at companies that are ethically good as opposed to just being financially strong.

The thing that WeTransfer has that other companies don’t in our space is the brand. We have a well respected brand and an awful lot of trust.

With the trust that people have in us come permission to move into a lot of different fields within the creative sector where we can add value.

I haven’t done anything myself where I have tried to achieve something in the short-term that has been really successful. It doesn’t give me any meaning, it’s no reward.

I think anything that we are doing needs to be ideally at least with the ambition of it being around for the long-term.

I am quite good at telling stories and I am quite good I think at conceptually thinking up ideas and then bringing them to life and I have a platform where a lot of that can happen and that’s just very fortuitous.

I am somewhere in between a conceptual artist and a creative, I don’t know what it is, but I am not a business person.

I think I need to be alone with an idea to think it through and to selfishly sit on it before I am willing to share it because sometimes it can be death by a thousand cuts and I’m deeply anxious about that.

From a creative point of view I think I was really pessimistic about AI and its effects on creativity but actually now I am really optimistic having spent a lot of time recently investigating what’s possible and looking at different companies.

AI again can only detect and determine what has happened in the past, it can’t detect and predict what is going to happen in the future - and great creativity is all about intuition.

There’s going to be this massive gap between the works produced by AI and the work produced by great creatives that understand their intuition and I am really excited to see what that looks like.

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