- Mikey Taylor started his career as a professional skateboarder making barely enough money to get by.
- A friend taught Taylor the basics of real-estate investing as he saved during his early career.
- He now runs a real-estate fund and educates investors on how to create a road to financial freedom.
Growing up in the 1990s, Mikey Taylor would ride his skateboard through the family-friendly streets of the Los Angeles suburb Thousand Oaks. He had no idea how far its wheels would take him.
These days, Taylor is the president of real-estate-investing firm Commune Capital, which manages over $200 million of real estate including self-storage properties and apartment buildings; he uses his social media platforms to educate the masses on “financial freedom,” a movement that is broadly defined as being able to live the life you want without having to worry about money; he serves on the Thousand Oaks City Council; and he even jumps on his skateboard from time to time.
Taylor, 40, credits his early challenges in skateboarding with his successes. Skateboarders inherently see the world through a different lens. For them, obstacles become opportunities — a mindset that helped Taylor get to where he is today.
“There was a part of skateboarding that really changed the way I looked at the world,” Taylor told Insider. “I never looked at a handrail to be used as anything other than the means to help you walk down or up stairs. When I saw somebody skate on a handrail, everything changed.”
Taylor laid the foundation for his life after skateboarding earlier than most
Before you could watch Taylor talk about financial freedom strategies like the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement on his TikTok and Instagram accounts, you could see him shredding in skate videos and competing in ESPN’s popular extreme sports competition, The X Games.
Taylor got his first sponsorship deal with Duffs Shoes while in high school. Soon after his graduation in 2001, he turned pro at 19 years old.
“My original plan was to skate for maybe a few years and then go back to college,” Taylor said. “And then at that point, skateboarding just exploded.”
He skated into his early 30s, not only making a career of it longer than most but longer than he expected. In the beginning, he was making about $800 a month, he said, but by the time he was 24 he was raking in six figures a year.
Taylor knew he couldn’t skate forever. “One hundred grand as a professional skateboarder doesn’t feel like one hundred grand in a more conventional career because our careers are so short,” Taylor told Insider. “Maybe by 30 it’s over.”
Taylor’s parents, uncomfortable with his decision to skip college out of high school, urged him to connect with family friend and financial advisor Randal Sanada.
“He taught me how to budget, he taught me about paying myself first, and then what to invest in,” Taylor said. “He taught me how to look at an investment through the lens of risk and return.”
Setting the groundwork for his life after skateboarding, Taylor started investing in the stock market and bonds at age 20. In 2005, Taylor continued to follow Sanada’s advice and invested in a self-storage facility.
Sanada’s brother, Jerry, ran a private equity firm that had self-storage properties in its portfolio. Taylor, admittedly, didn’t know much about real estate, other than seeing his father, Ken, own a rental and commercial property. But he’s a quick learner.
“Mikey’s a pretty exceptionally bright guy — he learns really fast,” Jerry Sanada, who now serves as Commune Capital’s co-president and CFO, told Insider. “What impressed me about him is that he asks good questions and he surrounds himself with good people.”
When Taylor began to receive quarterly dividends from his real-estate investments, he realized what was in front of him: a life outside of skateboarding.
“I became hellbent on the idea of getting to financial freedom through real-estate investing,” he said.
Taylor’s early investments helped him leap into real estate
Taylor was making good money as a skateboarder, but was living like he was broke in order to invest as much as possible.
“I was probably living off $20,000 of it and then just putting as much as I could after taxes into investments,” he said.
Taylor, alongside two partners, started Saint Archer Brewing Co. in San Diego through investor fundraising in 2012.
Three years later, the partners sold the brewery to MillerCoors. The Wall Street Journal valued Saint Archers at more than $35 million at the time.
“We got to experience that full circle,” Taylor said. “Raising money, using the capital to build a business, selling the business, distributing the money to investors.”
That sale allowed Taylor to become financially free at 33. (He defines financial freedom as earning enough money passively through existing investments to live comfortably.) It made the jump to real-estate mogul that much easier.
He made the move to real-estate investing to show other skaters how it’s done
In 2018, Taylor went all in on real estate and used the money he earned from the brewery sale to launch Commune Capital. The firm started off buying and developing apartment buildings, which are mainly in California.
“The idea of buying a bunch of homes seemed hard,” Taylor said. “So I liked the idea of buying one apartment with 50 units as opposed to buying 50 individual homes.”
The company now also invests in self-storage facilities across the country, including in Connecticut, Iowa, and Washington.
It also offers investors with a net worth of at least $1 million, or an annual income of $200,000 or more for the last two years, the opportunity to invest in and receive distributions from its asset-backed lending portfolio that provides loans to commercial-real-estate owners.
Taylor originally started Commune to inspire other skaters to build a pathway to a successful life after skating. He uses the company’s social media accounts to give the financial advice he feels lucky to have received as a skateboarder.
On his personal accounts, Taylor preaches and teaches financial literacy to his more than 821,000 and 659,000 followers on Instagram and TikTok, respectively.
His videos aren’t strictly real estate focused — he also lectures about career advice and the world reserve currency.
“On some of these platforms, I have a bigger following than I had when I was a pro skateboarder,” he said. “It’s wild.”
“A man who thinks outside the box and can pivot on a dime”
The hard skills you learn from grinding on a park bench are not transferable to sitting behind a desk, but Taylor has made the transition seamlessly.
“I haven’t worked with anybody who has been as successful as he has as quickly as he has with making such a significant transition,” Sanada told Insider.
Taylor continued to surprise even himself by running for city council. His goal is to make Thousand Oaks a more enticing place to live.
“It’s phenomenal for little kids, and as you get older it’s great, but there’s definitely a gap for Millennials,” he said. “When I looked around at where I thought my skillset could add value to our community, city council was the one that I thought was the best fit.”
His government colleagues agree.
“Mikey brings a very articulate perspective,” Dr. Kevin McNamee, mayor of Thousand Oaks, told Insider. “When I heard about his history of being a skateboarder and a businessman I thought, ‘Here’s a man who thinks outside the box and can pivot on a dime.'”
Mayor McNamee said when a self-storage company announced plans to set up in Thousand Oaks, Taylor was particularly helpful in coaching the council on how best to move forward.
Resiliency is a must-have attribute for skateboarders. Continually failing at the same task over and over again until you get it right can be maddening to some, but for Taylor, it prepared him for his position today.
“Business, for the most part, is just a bunch of problems, and it’s your ability to not get freaked out by those problems and then solve them over and over and over and over,” he said. “It never gets easier, but there is a comfort with chaos that came from skateboarding.”