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How Ximalaya funded one man?s podcasting hype house dreams

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Studio 54

Beverly Hills
Los Angeles

Notorious.”Correction 6/11,

Positivity     50.00%   
   Negativity   50.00%
The New York Times
Write a review: The Verge

But here, alongside two studios equipped with hardware and support staff, was a vast view of Los Angeles and the cachet that comes with it.“It was the professional element,” Steele says when asked why he chose to work with HiStudios, a company spun out of the buzzy podcasting startup Himalaya. Vincer and his team would help launch their shows not just in the US, but in China, too, thanks to HiStudios’ ties to Himalaya, a US podcasting startup funded by the massive Chinese audio company Ximalaya. (Selah didn’t report any of this to Himalaya’s CEO, and Vincer denies everything.)“His personal lifestyle I felt was a runaway train waiting to leave the tracks, and it was just a matter of time before, you know, he would basically either take the company down or take himself down,” Selah says. “He’s just a bad guy, and unfortunately, he’s a bad guy wrapped up into this magnificent personality.”Still, Vincer succeeded at Himalaya and ended up with a promotion.Himalaya spun out a new company called HiStudios to produce podcasts, court creators, make shows, and sell ads — pretty standard podcast network stuff. Selah, however, says it was more like Himalaya wanted some distance from Vincer’s behavior, particularly after he allegedly lashed out at a subordinate employee, which Selah says he witnessed.HiStudios’ main office was based in Austin, Texas, out of a WeWork and states away from Vincer, who lives in California. “I can tell you that he was not into making a podcast after all that went down with his team,” Vincer says. He says the meeting was at 9AM, and Vincer came down to the hotel lobby that morning at 9:15 with a woman.Vincer denies this happening and says he’s close partners with Mandela Media now, although multiple requests to the team for confirmation went unanswered.“Peter Vincer should never manage people ever again in his lifetime, let alone even own a dog,” Selah says.HiStudios employees also allege they were on the receiving end of harassment throughout their time at the Los Angeles house, according to a lawsuit filed in fall 2020. The lawsuit claims she was eventually fired because Vincer said she gave off “bad vibes” and placed the Christmas tree in the wrong spot in the house.Vincer says the above incidents didn’t happen and that he fired Taylor because she deleted security footage from the home during her stay, and when he let her go, he alleges that she took control of the house’s connected thermostats and turned the heat up to “like 90 [degrees]” and started playing death metal music over speakers. “It really was like a horror movie,” he says.One of Taylor’s lawyers, Nick Rosenthal, says he “doesn’t know anything” about the smart house allegations, but “even if everything that Mr. Vincer just said was true, none of that excuses sexually harassing your employees.” One male employee also claims to have been the subject of abuse. About a year later, he says he took his old work laptop with all the recordings out during hunting season and “shot holes” in it.When employees informed Himalaya of their experiences at the hype house, the company told Vincer to open an investigation with HiStudios’ own budget, Vincer says. “It really did feel like a divorce or something.”Vincer denies locking Himalaya’s team out of any accounts, although a source familiar with the situation, who has asked to remain anonymous over fears of retaliation, says Vincer instructed the HiStudios / Notorious team to change all the passwords. This person recalls a time when ice cream was smeared all over a screen the team used to give presentations, and Vincer, this person says, laughed when the team pointed it out instead of offering to get it cleaned up.At the same time, this person also says men in the house, including Vincer, would hang out without their shirts on, adding to the frat-like environment.“I had to walk up to a guy [Vincer] that I worked for to talk about something business-related, and he’s got no shirt on, and he’s got his gut hanging out, and he’s got a beer in his hand,” they say, adding that food also sat out for days, attracting flies.This person also alleges the studio manager once had to hang up the phone after stepping in dog poop that sat in the studio.At this point, Vincer, his wife, three kids, four cats, and two dogs had moved into the home making it exactly that: a home. She says Vincer attempted to keep the two worlds separate: one in which professionals used the house’s podcasting studios and another where twenty-somethings partied late into the night.The source close to the situation also says that someone associated with an in-network podcaster moved into one of the studios and would leave dirty clothes out, particularly dirty socks, making the room smell terrible.Vincer confirms that other people lived in the home and stayed there, but he says there was no cocaine.Still, a record request filed in Beverly Hills by The Verge lists more than 40 calls to police about the home since Notorious took over, most of which relate to “disturbing the peace.” Nearly all of them came in during the COVID-19 pandemic.“[There were] young girls coming over and doing cocaine and drinking at this mansion in 90210 with what they thought were all these stars and famous people and Peter,” Bauer Feldman says. Bauer Feldman cut ties with Notorious in July.Even the creators who didn’t work with Vincer in LA, and in most cases haven’t even met him, say the company became a mess following the split with Himalaya. It’s hard to tell how much content or money the company is making, although Vincer says it’s “self-sustaining.” Some shows on the brand’s various Apple Podcasts pages haven’t published a new episode in over a year, while a few do appear to be in active production. Vincer says his current 30-person team, most of whom are 20-something-year-olds, are more interested in video and broad creative work than solely looking to podcasts as a business. The Instagram account calls the house the “Notorious estate,” and Vincer says “three or four” of his “most consistent contributors” stay at the home full time with a woman, referred to as the “house mom,” on hand to clean and cook during the day.The beer pong and partying also continues, except this time with a bigger backyard that’s adorned with Greek statues and an interior that looks like an attempt at a French chateau vibe with sconces and ornate tapestries. Nothing seems different, apart from a bigger place to hang and make content.“We don’t turn up that much because we don’t really have that much time to do that, but I couldn’t tell you how pleased I’ve been since I founded Notorious with how well my team, and especially the team that I have now, has been able to manage a unique work environment,” Vincer says.But on March 23rd, March 27th, and April 1st of this year, police visited the property because of a “disturbance,” according to an eviction notice filed in a Los Angeles court. Vincer’s new landlord gave him and the other people living in the house three days to vacate the premises, but because they haven’t, the landlord has since filed a civil case against Vincer asking for him to leave the property for good and pay damages of over $1,900 per day while he and his team continue living in the home.Vincer says he moved into the house thinking that he could host events there, not knowing the landlord and neighbors had a “longstanding feud,” which he says prompted the “aggressive actions.” At the same time, Vincer’s old landlord, from the HiStudios hype house, also filed a lawsuit against him for owed money, alleging he failed to pay for rent and damages to the property. The landlord alleges Vincer owes $71,967 in rent from May 2020 until he left the property in March 2021 and that damages to the home total up to $83,741.Vincer says this is “being negotiated right now,” but that he only didn’t pay the last month’s rent because he wanted “negotiating leverage.”For Steele and everyone else who’s been left in Notorious’ wake, they can’t help but simultaneously marvel and speculate about this new place that, from social media, looks like a hopping spot that’s carefree and fun.

As said here by Ashley Carman