CNET Founder Halsey Minor: ‘I had no ability to manage my life’

November 12, 2015 Updated: November 13, 2015

Halsey Minor has seen it all. He made millions founding tech legends like CNET and building Inc. in the 1990s. 

He then withdrew from the world plagued by a severe bout of depression, which took him six years to overcome. 

He ended up losing his fortune when he declared bankruptcy in 2013. Since then rumors abound how he could have lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

In this exclusive and in-depth interview, Halsey Minor for the first time tells Epoch Times why he really had to declare bankruptcy, how he beat the disease that killed his father, and how he came out stronger at the end—in a powerful story of transformation.  

I have beaten the thing that killed my father.

Epoch Times: When you declared bankruptcy in 2013, was there anything left of your tech fortune worth several hundred million dollars?

Halsey Minor: Zero. I walked away from everything. It was the only way that I could get back to innovating and not having lawyers running my life.

The reason I had to file for bankruptcy is that there were so many lawyers and so many problems that I couldn’t start anything again.

Literally my whole life is about innovating. That’s what makes me happy, it’s what energizes me. It gets me up in the morning. It makes me a happy person to talk to my wife.

That’s what I love doing and there’s literally no way to do it when you have the whole world sitting on top of you, really with no vested interest in seeing you progress.

I had to literally put everything in the past and handed over everything to the trustee, all my assets, handed it over and said, “you go solve this.” And I went off and started a business, which I hope transforms the financial system.

Epoch Times: So all the issues from the past are settled?

Mr. Minor: It’s settled. The trustee sells off my assets, he pays the bills.

Epoch Times: And that was very liberating.

Mr. Minor: It was the most liberating thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.

Because I had now beaten the thing that had basically killed my father. I grew up never knowing my father.

It’s actually a sad story. My father left and I never met him. I moved to San Francisco in 1994. In 1996, I was on the cover of Forbes magazine, and I went looking for him. As it turned out, when I moved to San Francisco in 1994, he was 30 miles away, and he committed suicide two months after I moved there.

I turned my life over to lawyers, I had no involvement in my life.

So I was within 30 minutes of where he was and so I pledged to myself when I went through depression that I would never do to my kids what my father did to me. Now I have a lot more appreciation for him.

I used to be very resentful but I now know what he went through. He suffered his whole life. It was a different time, but he was very successful. He went to the University of Virginia, he played football, he was on an academic scholarship, he became a doctor. But he was fighting depression his whole life.

Epoch Times: So it was your own depression, which led to your declaring bankruptcy?

Mr. Minor: I was basically doing the same stuff I was doing at anytime. But I had no ability to manage my life.

I didn’t show up in court. Anybody that’s been through really severe depression, they know. The ironic thing is that I feel I’m far stronger because I beat something my father didn’t beat.

I see all of the positives. I’ve shown my kids that no matter what happens you can get back up, you can get going, and you can be successful again.

And hopefully I’ve shown people in general, even if you get knocked down and get knocked down hard, you can get back up and you can be successful again.

You can’t choose your path in life.

I hope part of my story is inspirational for people, because I was very successful and then it was cataclysmic, in very every regard: financially, personally.

But here I am today starting my most important company ever. Hopefully my story resonates with people who’ve gone through or are going to go through something similar to what I went through.

People don’t talk about it. I think it’s something people should talk about.

Epoch Times: So all of the ventures you were busy with, like the horses, the estate in Virginia, and the hotel would have turned out better if you had been captain of your ship?

Halsey Minor, founder of CNET, Salesforce, and Uphold, in New York on Sept. 29, 2015. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
Halsey Minor, founder of CNET, Salesforce, and Uphold, in New York on Sept. 29, 2015. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Mr. Minor: Who knows. The reality is, I turned my life over to lawyers, I had no involvement in my life.

The horses I owned actually ended up being sold for a profit. So people want to go look at those things because they want to find reasons and I never gave any.

I never talked to the press so I never gave anybody any reason. I let people fabricate their own reasons for why it all happened. And I was a nonparticipant in my life. I didn’t talk to people; I didn’t explain what was going on in my life.

When you go through [depression], you’re out. You don’t want to, you don’t care about anything, right?

I cared about coming out the other side of it. I started eating right I started exercising I did everything I possibly could. I’m way healthier now than I ever would’ve been had I not in fact been through this.

So I’ve been very focused on doing everything I could, giving my body every chance to emerge.

None of [the ventures were] the reason [for declaring bankruptcy]. It really was a fight with banks and those fights resulted in assets being frozen and not being able to be sold.

I cared about coming out the other side of it.

If you took the legal component out, it would’ve been a rough ride but it would’ve been fine. I would’ve been perfectly capable of handling all of my affairs and maybe even coming out stronger.

Epoch Times: How did this process influence you founding your new company, Uphold [previously Bitreserve]

Mr. Minor: I wasn’t really mentally in a place to do anything about it then, but I thought a lot about it. When I emerged in 2012 and I had really emerged from this dark place of being in severe, utterly painful depression, it was the first thing I wanted to do. What I did end up doing was filing bankruptcy in March of 2013 and started this company the next month.

You can’t choose your path in life and sometimes a path is chosen for you that you would not choose for yourself, but it has enormous benefits anyway.

After having gone through that, it gave me insight into what I hope from a business standpoint is the most important thing I’ll ever do. It never would’ve happened if I had not gone through this.

The company would never had happened, my insights wouldn’t have happened, I wouldn’t be building it.

I had no ability to manage my life.

Trust no longer being a part of a financial institution, it being verifiable transparency, it all came from that experience.

It would be great if our lives could always be daisies and roses from one end to the other, but sometimes it’s not. But what I do as an entrepreneur is I take my experiences and I use them.

I took that experience and I used it, hopefully in the most profound way that I’ve used any experience in my life.