(This story has been updated with details of Jomboy Media’s growth and strategy in the 16th paragraph.)
Jimmy “Jomboy” O’Brien became a viral sports media star thanks to his videos of the New York Yankees and Houston Astros last year.
Now his fledgling startup “Jomboy Media” is ready to tackle the new Major League Baseball season with an office in the Bronx, 10 full-time employees and multiple rounds of financing.
At this time last year, the 31-year old was living off $300 a week on the Jersey Shore.
After graduating from Central Connecticut State University with a degree in history, the New Jersey native bounced around the country, working as a videographer and wedding photographer. He launched Jomboy Media as a hobby in 2017. O’Brien’s nickname came from an old friend’s phone that used to autocorrect the spelling of his name to “Jommy” until “Jomboy” stuck.
Using his self-taught editing skills, O’Brien first gained attention with a video breaking down a Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers brawl in 2017. But he still wasn’t making much money.
Then came July 18, 2019. O’Brien posted his now-famous video of ejected Yankees manager Aaron Boone defending his hitters as ‘f———g savages” to lip-biting umpire Brennan Miller.
O’Brien coupled his own lip-reading skills with an amplified audio feed from MLB.TV to capture Boone’s rant.
O’Brien’s tweet went viral with 6.4 million views, plus another 1.5 million video views on YouTube. The Yankees adopted “Savages” as their rallying cry.
“Everything blew up from that moment on,” said O’Brien.
That was further boosted when he followed up on The Athletic’s report that the Astros would signal upcoming pitches to hitters by bashing a trash can.
In a two-minute, twenty-second video, O’Brien featured in a step-by-step mix of incriminating video, graphics, four-letter words and snark. The video drew 4.5 million views on Twitter and another 4.4 million on YouTube.
That has not only boosted his social media profile but allowed him to build a business on its back.
O’Brien’s’ social media footprint has now grown to 481,000 subscribers on YouTube and 219,000 followers on Twitter. He and partner Jake Storiale co-host the ‘Talkin’ Yanks’ podcast. They just completed an RV tour of 10 spring training stadiums in 10 days across Florida.
O’Brien is also looking to hire an experienced sales manager. He should be up to 12-13 employees by this summer compared to two last year.
“Things are going well. This off-season we got a lot of work done so that we’re ready for the season coming up,” said O’Brien. “We wanted to get an office and we wanted to get our funding and investments all done. So far we’ve been successful with all that.”
O’Brien also credits Storiale’s move to New York from Denver for smoothing in-house production and collaboration. Jomboy will take the same approach with future hires, from editors to interns.
There is also a plan to expand beyond MLB. His fledgling media company offers 10 shows, including “Talkin’ Baseball,” “Talkin’ Knicks” and “Talkin Giants,” as well as his signature “breakdowns” of famous sports plays and brawls, past and present, including 46-year old Nolan Ryan pummelling 26-year old Robin Ventura in 1993.
O’Brien has relied on multiple revenue streams to stay afloat. Jomboy Media sells advertising on its YouTube videos and podcasts. The company sells merchandise on its web site, including a $25 “Our Guys Are Savages” T-shirt that bears Boone’s entire rant on the front.
From the beginning, Jomboy Media has invited Yankees fans and podcast listeners to support the company through the membership platform Patreon. These loyal fans were a big help in Jomboy’s early days.
There are also sponsored live events, including a bash at Billy’s Sports Bar across the street from Yankee Stadium on March 14.
“For a while last year it was mostly YouTube and merch,” said O’Brien. “Our merch numbers are kind of crazy. Now it’s pivoting to as many different streams as we can have.”
O’Brien said sports leagues and TV networks have not served him with cease-and-desist orders for his use of copyrighted game videos. But leagues and networks do “claim” the videos on YouTube, he said, thereby pocketing any money that’s generated.
O’Brien declined to comment on Jomboy Media’s revenue. But he said his old friend Andrew Chapin, a tech entrepreneur in San Francisco has worked with him as an advisor and early investor since the company’s early days.
During O’Brien’s moments of doubt, Chapin, founder of the Benja Commerce Network, reassured him they had a viable business idea. Despite his notoriety, O’Brien has not gotten job offers from big media companies.
“People always say, ‘When are you gonna go work for ESPN?’ Or, ‘When are you going to go work for Barstool (Sports)?’ From the jump, that’s never been my goal, to go get a job out of this. It was to create my own company,” O’Brien said. “That’s because I had an advisor and partner early on who said, ‘No, this is the path.’”
In recent days, Jomboy Media brought in an investment group that O’Brien said is “incredibly valuable at adding to the knowledge to the room.”
O’Brien said he routinely turns down business offers, reminding would-be partners that he had his new office and investment plans in place before he posted his Astros video.
“I’ve kind of built this company by saying ‘No’ to everything. A lot of people say, ‘Hey, I can do this for you.’ I say, ‘That’s great, I’ll just do it myself.’ Because if you pay someone to make you money, you’re not going to make money. That’s how I thought about it anyway. So it’s been a grind.”
O’Brien has not gotten any buyout offers for Jomboy Media yet, but he never says never.
“I will have to see when that happens. It would be about price and control and how that looks. But we’re not eager to do that yet. In my mind, we’re in the very early stages of growing this thing,” he said.