071: Bill Valenti – Linguist, Banker, Founder, Musician, Survivor
Bill Valenti is a banker, an entrepreneur, a cancer survivor, and a protest songwriter. Bill’s life is packed full of accomplishments. His tale starts by busking on the liberal revolutionary streets of Paris while attending school in the 60’s.
Next, is the Vietnam war. Bill decided to enlist. He was assigned to the Defense Language Institue in Monterey Ca. Bill became a Chinese linguist to counter the efforts of Chinese forces against US interests.
That experience directly led to Valenti working overseas in banking opening and establishing branches in Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong. Subsequently, banking created opportunities for him to invest in emerging Asian companies like Samsung and Hyundai.
Each step building on the other, Bill’s experience in the Asian markets enabled him to pioneer products that expanded the usefulness of cell phones. Tegic, a company that was the precursor to modern texting, solved the problem of placing 26 letters onto a 9 digit phone keyboard.
His next company Melodio pushed streaming music from the bounds of an iTunes account on a desktop computer and pushed it to the customer’s cellular device.
Finally, Bill met his greatest challenge, Stage 4, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His cancer, though stage 4, was indolent; meaning it was in a holding pattern and not an immediate threat. However, the diagnosis was enough to spur Bill to “Get off the Start-up merry-go-round” and get back to his musical roots. With this new focus, Bill’s penchant for a protest song grew. Bill realized that the words he wrote in blogs commenting on news stories delivered greater impact in song form. These songs were filling a gap left unfilled since the 60’s and 70’s.
Finally, finding the answers he sought in music, Bill got back to doing more than just performing. He began creating events called “The Art of the Protest Song.” In places like Austin Texas, Bill finds local musicians. These performers help set up an event creating opportunities for audiences to hear unifying messages that get beyond partisan politics. Along with the events, Bill began a new start-up called Rantcaster. Rantcaster’s mission is simple, “Rantcaster is changing the world of online journalism. We unite music and spoken word poetry to invigorate the news in the digital age.”
As life often does, Bill Valenti finds himself full circle. He’s returned to his musical roots. Bill notes, “Music is medicine. Music does something special for audiences, it’s “edutainment,” it’s hyper-energizing which is what I need to keep my spirits high. I hope to be like Pete Seeger and perform until the day I die.”