Dan Bilzerian – the king of Instagram, playboy, entrepreneur, marketing genius, professional poker player, is in trouble.
Dan Bilzerian’s is a modern day naked emperor. His backstory is a laughable fraud. His claims of winning hundreds of millions at the poker table are comically improbable. During interviews on the subject he has proven completely unable to explain even the most rudimentary aspect of the game, and analysis of his playing prowess reveals that he barely knows the rules, and would struggle to beat even the lowest stakes. He claims to play only ‘private games’ behind closed doors, thus shielding his outlandish story from corroboration.
What is known is that his father, Paul Bilzerian was a swashbuckling, serial, corporate scam-artist, who embezzled approximately 100 million dollars, was jailed, and fled America for the West Indies. Multiple court cases tried to recoup his misappropriated funds with limited success. Bilzerian senior defied regulators by launching endless legal challenges to their actions, used complex domestic trusts, partnerships, and charities to move funds offshore, and ultimately won a long war of litigious attrition.
It is entirely plausible that the father’s looted millions have found their way into his son’s hands. Dan Bilzerian has long fought the perception that he’s a trust fund kid, so the poker story was hatched as a cover for his unexplainable wealth. His monthly credit card bill is paid by an unknown off-shore entity.
In recent years Dan Bilzerian has moved into the cannabis industry. His brand Ignite employed a dastardly simple marketing strategy. Its goat horned logo was printed onto tiny bikinis. The bikinis were worn by paid brand ambassadors, mostly swimwear and lingerie models, and photographs of the models were posted onto Instagram. Bilzerian travelled the world on a seemingly endless junket and expected Ignite to become a powerful and profitable enterprise based on public jealousy of his hedonistic adventures.
However, recent filings reveal that Ignite is haemorrhaging money faster than a busted fire hydrant. Investors are aghast to discover that Ignite funds are routinely used to fund the Bilzerian’s lavish party lifestyle, from paying the rent on his sprawling mansion, to hiring private jets and yachts to circle the globe, all while the company produces almost zero income. $50 million has evaporated in ‘marketing expenses’ and Ignite faces the prospect of going under.
While this marketing-first approach might be part of some Bilzerian master plan, pesky accountants and lawyers are now involved. Will Dan Bilzerian be revealed as a business pretender, a serial liar who was the beneficiary of his daddy’s fraud, only to lose it all through stupidity and incompetence? Or can he convince another round of investors to keep the disco lights flashing while mundane matters such as product development and distribution can be resolved before the new tranche of funding runs dry? Watch this space.
Jackson Byrne – Business Editor