Q&A With Martin Shkreli
artin Shkreli, a 33-year-old Brooklyn native, pharmaceutical executive and hedge-fund manager, is certainly no stranger to online controversy. In September 2015, Shkreli sparked massive outrage on social media after it was widely reported that his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, had drastically increased the price of the AIDS medication Daraprim by 5000%. But strangely enough, despite being branded an internet supervillain complete with the nickname “Pharma Bro,” it almost seemed as if he was glad to face the music, out in the open. In the weeks and months after the wake of the scandal, Shkreli kept himself busier than ever; he went on a media blitz in trying to explain himself, set up a YouTube channel and a Periscope livestream feed to interact with curious strangers online, and he even managed to make another viral splash after buying Wu-Tang Clan's single-copy album for millions of dollars. And Shkreli didn't just stop there. More recently, he dove head first into meme culture and appointed himself a public defender of Harambe the gorilla, while deftly leveraging his notoriety to launch a new career in rap music, something that he says has been a longtime passion.
We reached out to Shkreli to find out about his experiences with online fame and what plans he has for the future.
Q: How are you? What have you been up to lately?
Q: Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. Just over a year ago, you skyrocketed to online notoriety in the wake of the Daraprim price hike scandal, with news outlets and people on the social media calling you “the most hated man in America.” Without prejudice, when you look back at it now, has this experience changed you in anyway?
Q:Clearly, you are not the first corporate executive to be vilified as a "public enemy" on the Internet, but what set you apart from many others who had gotten on the wrong side of social media is that you didn’t go off the grid or hide away from the criticisms, as many tend to do. What drove you to embrace the attention?
Q: Since the scandal broke, you've kept yourself pretty busy on social media, from hosting video lessons on finance and live streams to offering commentaries on hip hop music and internet meme culture. Which brings us to this question: how long have you been following memes and how were you introduced to it? Is this a recent development or is it something you’ve been casually into before you became famous?
Q: Last year, you reportedly spent $2 million to obtain Wu-Tang Clan’s album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. Was it worth it?
[Note: Shortly after our e-mail correspondence, Shkreli release excerpts of tracks from the album via livestream, which he had promised to deliver if the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump won the election.]
Q:More recently, you made the headlines for expressing interest in buying 4chan. What happened with that?
Q: We've noticed you like to play League of Legends. What is your current rank? Who are your favorite competitive teams?
Q: Who did you vote for in this year's presidential election?
Q: What’s next? Do you have any new projects in mind for 2017?
Q: Finally, what is your favorite internet meme?
Martin Shkreli is an American entrepreneur and pharmaceutical executive who is the founder and former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, the co-founder of MSMB Capital Management and the co-founder and former CEO of Retrophin. This interview was conducted via email by the Know Your Meme staff in October 2016.