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|Citizenship||United States of America|
|Organization||Wave Financial, SongLily, gridMob|
Les Borsai (born 1968) is a Los Angeles-based technology entrepreneur, music promoter and manager, and advisor in the cryptocurrency, blockchain and music-technology industries. He began his career in the music and entertainment industry, working in artist management and marketing, after first gaining recognition as a rave promoter in the Southern California underground scene of the late 1980s. He held positions at Avalon Attractions (now Live Nation Entertainment|Live Nation), MCA Records, and Bill Silva Entertainment before starting the musician management company Modern Artist Management. His client list includes country singer Wynonna Judd, pop artist Jason Mraz, and the alternative bands Burning Brides, The Icarus Line and Unwritten Law, among others.
In the later 2000s, Borsai became involved in other industries, including digital music, cryptocurrency and blockchain. He co-founded the iPhone application development company gridMob in 2008 as well as SongLily in 2012, a digital platform company that simplifies music licensing for mobile application and game developers. After being an early investor in cryptocurrency platform Ethereum, he served as an advisor to blockchain companies and in 2018 co-founded Wave Financial, a digital asset management firm.
Early life and career
Borsai was born Laszlo Borsai in 1968 into a family of immigrants and grew up in the city of Anaheim, California|Anaheim, California. He recorded his early suburban life in a novel, The Death of Wizdem (2005), a semi-autobiographical account influenced by the work of Bret Easton Ellis and Chuck Palahniuk. Reviewers described it as a hedonistic, "harrowing and nihilistic" journey through adolescence with stylized prose recalling A Clockwork Orange (novel)|A Clockwork Orange.
Borsai first gained attention in the late 1980s as an early promoter of the Southern California rave scene and importer of British bands for illegal underground parties in burned down racquetball courts and parking garages in Orange County; the bands included Primal Scream, The Orb, and Massive Attack. Over time, these parties were staged in more prominent locations, such as downtown Los Angeles warehouses and venues, and became increasingly elaborate, with bubble machines and themes. LA Weekly critic Thomas Kelley cites Borsai's 1991 "O3" event at the Long Beach Convention Center as notable for increasing the visibility of raves in American culture; the event headlined Manchester's 808 State with a guest appearance from Bjork. During this time, Borsai also ran live alternative music clubs with Todd Enneman, such as Ben-Wa Ball, which operated out of multiple locations in Orange County.
Frustrated by police and fire department shut-downs of his illegal raves, Borsai eventually turned to fully legal raves in collaboration with Avalon Attractions, an Encino-based concert promoter—a decision that some rave contemporaries considered controversial and that Borsai himself expressed ambivalence about. These events were larger in scale than earlier ones, and included a party at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena|Pico Rivera rodeo ring and one at a Pomona, California|Pomona cow pasture that featured an entire carnival. Another big event, "Techno Flight One" (1991) featured performers The Shamen and Moby and took place at a Disney facility that also housed Howard Hughes's prototype wooden airplane, the Hughes H-4 Hercules|Spruce Goose.
Entertainment industry career
In the early 1990s at Avalon, Borsai shifted to music promotion, booking industrial groups such as My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult|Thrill Kill Kult, before he turned to rock music. In 1994, he took a position as director of tour marketing for MCA Records in Los Angeles. He joined 911 Records, a Fremont, Caifornia-based record company and internet music site, as vice-president of artist development in 1997.
In the late 1990s, Borsai moved into entertainment management at Bill Silva Entertainment. He worked with Silva for five years, co-managing artists such as Jason Mraz, before he started the firm Mediocre Management. He managed alternative acts such as The Icarus Line, Unwritten Law, and Burning Brides, among others. Under Borsai's management, these groups often pursued alternative means of promotion and distribution and deals in which they retained creative and marketing control and ownership of their master recordings. In the later 2010s, Borsai has managed country music artist Wynonna Judd.
In the 2010s, Borsai has also been involved in television and film production. He has co-produced a Fox Entertainment music anthology series titled Icon with a season focusing on Naomi Judd|Naomi and Wynonna Judd that is in development as of 2021 and an unrealized Rob Zombie-directed film, Broad Street Bullies, about the 1970s Philadelphia Flyers hockey team.
Technology entrepreneurship and music
With the advent of widespread cellphone usage in the later 2000s, Borsai became involved in the digital music and mobile technologies involving phone-based promotions to augment concert tour revenue, virtual-reality audio and music applications, among other things. In 2008, he and Elias Manousos co-founded gridMob, a Los Angeles-based iPhone application company. The company produced "Funny Call"—a real-time vocal effects application—and "iOKi", a karaoke application that uses artist original and master recordings and offers studio effects. The company launched iOKi with a "Lady Gaga iOKi" application in conjunction with the release of her album "The Fame Monster" in 2009. This was followed by a generic version tapping into a wider catalogue and a "Jason Derulo iOKi" in 2010.
In the 2010s, Borsai co-founded the San Mateo, California-based company SongLily in 2012 with attorney Jodi Chall. The company offers a platform that simplifies and reduces the cost of major-label music licensing for game and application developers.
Cryptocurrency and blockchain industry
Borsai became involved in cryptocurrency in 2013, initially as an early investor in Ethereum, and later as an advisor in the music, gaming and digital asset spaces to technology companies, such as Ripple Labs. In the later 2010s, he has consulted on the Non-fungible token|NFT market.
In 2018, Borsai partnered with David Siemer—co-founder and CEO of the Los Angeles-based, venture-capital fund Wavemaker Partners—and investment executive Ben Tsai to form Wave Financial. He serves as the company's chief strategy officer, focusing on cryptocurrrency.
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