3 years of being chased at Kazaa

Phil Morle
3 min readFeb 19, 2022

I didn’t recognise Nikki Hemming when I arrived at the Luxe Hotel in Hollywood after my secret flight from Sydney. The CEO of Kazaa was waiting for me in the lobby, donning a black wig and dark glasses.

“You need to get out of here” she told me.

I had changed my flight at the last minute. Only Nikki and myself knew about my original flight but people were at the airport waiting for me with signs — pretending to be my driver.

In fact, they were waiting to serve me in US jurisdiction.

“How the f**k did they know I was landing at that time?”

Were they about to arrive at the hotel?

We knew the drill. We headed downstairs to the carpark where two black cars whisked us away in separate directions.

In my case, to spend the afternoon walking around a suburban shopping mall.

3 years in motion, always vigilant, rarely calm

The need for situational awareness was common between 2001 and 2004. We were being sued by the record companies and movie studios in the jurisdiction of California.

From my first day on the job, the other side tried many ways to serve us an order to appear before the court in Los Angeles.

It began immediately. A couple of days after I accepted the job as CTO of the company, I sat in my lounge with my 1 day old son, ignoring the people banging on my door trying to serve me.

This was something we all got used to.

The bootcamp for a deposition was not what I expected

On this day, I was in Los Angeles to be ‘prepared’ for my deposition with our lawyers. After an afternoon becoming too familiar with every product that JCPenney sells, the car picked me up again and took me to our legal team.

My training began.

I learned that my opponents would not be nice. That they would lead me down confounding paths to get me to agree to a proposition of their making. They would speak quickly, and end sentences with a statement of fact and the world “Correct?”

They would try to speed me up. My job was to slow them down. I learned about ‘wiggle room’ and to ask myself what I really knew before answering any questions.

It was intimidating. Frightening.

Then, that night, I was on a plane again for Vancouver where the deposition itself would take place. Finally I crashed into a bed and slept. Calm.

The next morning, in the board room of a law firm, high above the city, I watched a carpet of mist cloak the beautiful city of Vancouver below.

The lawyers from the record companies arrived and pretended to be nice.

Then they turned on the video camera and began.

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Phil Morle

Deep tech VC — Main Sequence Ventures. Ecosystem builder. Maker. Director. Startup Scientist.