Brett Arends's ROI: William Shatner’s recipe for staying young? Keep hustling

Don DiCostanzo, the CEO of electric bike company Pedego, told me an entertaining story about how his company teamed up with William Shatner—once Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, and now the world’s oldest astronaut.

About 10 years ago, DiCostanzo recalls, Shatner came into a company showroom looking for a bike. Pedego power-assisted bikes then cost about $3,000, but Shatner wanted to know if the company would do him a deal. DiCostanzo offered him a free bike in return for a publicity photo. Shatner countered by asking for two bikes, in return for a publicity photo of him and his wife. DiCostanzo agreed.

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At the time Shatner was about 80, and probably already had more money than he or his family could possibly spend. He must be one of the richest entertainment figures in the world. He’s a global icon, with a long and storied TV and movie career. And StarTrek has been in syndication since I was a child, half a century ago. undefined

But even then he was still looking to save a buck.

Some years later Shatner came back. He liked the bike so much he wanted 14 bikes, for his entire family.

And once again Shatner wanted to work an angle. So he made a promotional video for Pendego, in return for 14 free bikes.

Total savings: About $42,000.

Personally, I find this story, which Shatner’s rep confirmed, even more interesting than the news that Shatner, age 90, shot into space briefly aboard Jeff Bezos’s rocket.

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There’s nothing more American than working a good deal, and Shatner (OK, so he was born in Canada) is an inspiration to us all. He’s even landed some Pedego stock warrants out of the relationship, which means he could end up making yet more money if and when the company goes public.

(That won’t be any time soon, DiCostanzo says. But he reveals that the company’s turnover has doubled two years in a row, to $75 million in the most recent 12 months. DiCostanzo launched the company in 2008.)

This route is nothing new for Shatner. It’s more than 20 years since he took a similar deal during the first dot-com bubble, marketing travel website (in some very bizarre TV commercials) in return for warrants. By that time he was already nearing 70. 

Cynics laughed after the bubble burst and Priceline stock collapsed. But reportedly Shatner cashed in some of his warrants before the collapse, and held on to others for an unknown period. And as the stock—now called Booking Holdings

—has risen 30,000%, or 300-fold, from its post-bubble lows he may have made out after all.

The moral of the story? Keep working the angles, no matter how old you are. Even when you’re 90. As the saying should go: You’re only as old as your last deal.

This post was originally published on Market Watch

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