Former Lawyer Succeeds Online as Man Behind MediaTakeOut

Fred Mwangaguhunga went from practicing law to launching the popular gossip site

Fred Mwangaguhunga, MediaTakeOut.com founder

Fred Mwangaguhunga made a business out of Black news (Image: Press)

On paper, 37-year-old Fred Mwangaguhunga seems a lot like other successful businessmen. He has an MBA and a law degree from Columbia University, as well as a passion for his business that keeps him working seven days a week (and he says he hasn’t taken vacation in five years). But what makes Mwangaguhunga special—besides his difficult to pronounce surname—is his business, MediaTakeOut.com, an extremely popular and controversial urban gossip site.

Starting a gossip site wasn’t a lifelong aspiration of Mwangaguhunga. The son of Ugandan immigrants who stressed education and the security of a good 9-to-5 job, he initially chose a more traditional education and career path. After law school, Mwangaguhunga practiced corporate tax law at a Wall Street firm for four years, but ever since he was a teen he knew that he wanted to run his own business. “I started working at 14. I worked with a bunch of small business guys who videotaped weddings, and they started off pretty small,” he says. “At some point they were the biggest, or certainly the most reputable, wedding photographers in New York.”

Working with the small photography and videography company that did big jobs, like shooting the weddings of Donald Trump and Eddie Murphy, inspired the young New York native. “I knew that I wanted to do what they did—take something small and make it big,” he says. “I liked the idea that they were working for themselves [and] employing people, all that.”

Knowing that he couldn’t ignore the voice in the back of his mind any longer, Mwangaguhunga struck out on his own. He left his six-figure salary job to start his first venture Laundry Spa, a boutique laundering service for professionals like himself. Needless to say, his family and coworkers were taken aback. “Everyone I knew thought I was nuts,” he says with a chuckle. “At the time, I had graduated and was working at one of the better firms in a good practice area. Everyone at the firm liked me. They said, ‘Wow, you could really go far,’ and then I said, ‘Well, I want to leave and start a dry-cleaning business.’ They said, ‘What? Are you kidding me?’”

The business was no joke, and after only two years, Laundry Spa was so successful that one of its main competitors made Mwangaguhunga an offer to buy it. He sold the company and was back at square one, a little richer and wiser, but with no interest in going back to working for someone else. With a desire to fill the void for a different voice in entertainment news and a little less than $600 to buy the domain name and pay a Website developer in Bangladesh, Mwangaguhunga started MediaTakeOut.com.

But why gossip? “There’s this world of entertainment news, and at some point, entertainment news almost turns into just a bunch of press releases where no one was really telling you what’s going on,” he explains. “If you really wanted to know what’s going on, you had to listen to Wendy Williams or go to your barbershop or hair salon and hear the whispers.”

Identifying an untapped market for raw, sensational and often salacious celeb news, he has organically grown the business into “the most visited urban site in the world” as its tagline boasts. Often the first to dish major news on Black celebs,  MTO was the first source to break the stories like Chris Brown’s assault on Rihanna and T.I.’s 2007 arrest on federal gun charges. In six short years, Mwangaguhunga has seen the site blossom into a multimillion dollar business with a staff of four that averages over 14 million page views a day.

“Every decision that I make; it all comes down to the No. 1 thing, making sure the consumer has the best experience,” Mwangaguhunga says.  ”Whenever I walk around and meet people I talk to them and ask them what they think of the site and I want to hear everything—the good and the bad… The amazing part is that you touch all these people’s lives and that they’re waking up every morning and they’re like, ‘Oh, I wanna see what’s on MTO;” you’re a part of their life, you’re part of what they do. That’s the amazing part, if you can build a business around that that’s incredible.”

ACROSS THE WEB
  • Tablazines

    Nice article I was so sure that it was a woman behind the scenes of Mediatakeout. I like the site but I think the websites user experience can definitely do for an overhaul.

  • Tina

    Encouraging story, it goes to show you starting off small doesn’t mean you have to stay that way..

  • stupidDOPE.com

    DOPE!

  • Thalia

    For such an educated person to run it, it sure has lots of typos, horrible grammar and spelling… blatant filth if you ask me. It’s one thing to be a gossip blog, but another to be so sloppy and uneducated, almost blatant and maybe even on purpose.

  • Katrina Callaway

    Good job Fred Mwangaguhunga. It is very encouraging that you decided that you wanted to be in business for yourself and you actually stuck to your guns and did it! Keep up the good work.

  • Cici

    MTO is ridiculous. So many typos in their made up stories. Ghetto homophobic website. Some of these entertainers should sue MTO.

  • shar

    This is an inspirational story. I visit MTO every morning to keep up withthe latest celebrity gossip. I’m planning on starting my own internet business soon. It would be great to have the owner as a mentor.

  • lloyd

    lmao!!!!! Sell OUT

  • Come on, B.E.

    Seriously, Black Enterprise? Did the writer of this article actually look at the content of this site? Mediatakeout.com is the most race-baiting, homophobic, and sexist website supposedly directed to the afro American community. This site perpetuates stereotypes on a daily basis just to generate hits. They are also in the business of making up stories to go along with photos that you stole from other sites. That hardly seems like “hard work” to me. Its not gossip if it starts from you, its just a lie. Trying to pass it off as the black version of TMZ does a disservice to the readers of THIS site. Contrary to what most believe, not all money is good money. It does more to bring us down as a whole than to inform. He should rename it Crabs-in-a-barrel.com, its more fitting.

    • shenanyginz

      cosign

    • laura

      I agree. Mediatakeout.com is sickening and makes all black people look ignorant.

    • Sweets

      You hit it right on the head!

  • Bee

    A responsible journalist would have asked what is Mr. Mwangaguhunga doing to reduce rampant homophobia in the black community. Better yet, a responsible journalist would have asked why Mr. Mwangaguhunga’s website is contributing to homophobia in the black community and capitalizing from it.

  • scope

    Congratulations on your success.

  • Erica

    Interesting, I visit MTO.com quite often and enjoy it… I just find it a little shocking to know he’s went to Columbia University,I’d wish he’d invest in spell check for his site.

  • Keisha

    Great inspiring story! I hate to show my ignorance; however, what baffles me is how do you make money off of a blog? I know there are some advertisements but not many. How is it that this has become a multimillion dollar business…

    • Sweets

      Yeah, you pose a good question. They do have advertising, but not much…and none I’ve never clicked for sure. But, with 14 million page views, I’m sure he can charge a pretty penny to use just a square inch on that silly a** blog.

  • Darnell McCullough

    Nice article and I agree with the comment above. I thought for certain there was a woman behind media takeout. Especially, when there was a beef with global grind. However, someone really needs to check the articles before they are published for gramtical mistakes that make the site look very bad. There are more than a handful published on a daily basis.

  • Lj

    Maybe he will have a more respectable site now… Because the site is filled with ignorance, racist and sexist articles and comments. I guess peple like negativity. Fred do better! Black Enterprise has recognized you but I dont think you deserve it.

  • Marquis

    I don’t know what dictionary you read but “urban” does not mean “black”. Mediatakeout is a celebrity gossip site first riddled with pictures of lower class people doing obscene things so people can gasp and laugh at. Also, I would think that someone of his background would hire a decent editor for the articles, they have awful grammar/spelling. Just my 2 cents.

  • What A Dumbass

    So this guy was a lawyer,then he gave that up to run a site that basically sets every race back a hundred years?Yeah,he’s REAL smart.

    • CT

      You took the WORDS right out of my mouth -LOL!

    • Pablo

      If he so smart and got an MBA, then how come every time I go to MTO, it’s all coonish, bad marmgar, misspelling, and full of shallow ignorance. They even have articles about celebs having boogers hanging out of their noses and point out their flaws, that’s middle school crap! Grow up MTO, the website that praises ignorance and coonery!

  • Gaite

    i liked the article a lot. i still hate you fred lol – but i can’t lie , i go on MTO every morning

    • Eulalie

      MTO is a joke, and that’s it. I am appalled that an edteaucd ex-lawyer runs it. He should be embarrassed by the MANY typos and grammatical errors on their site EVERY DAY. And I have a HARD time believing that with a staff of 4, this is an all day, every day job. They release about 10-12 stories a day with 1-2 sentences each unless they copy, paste and credit another site. No vacation in 5 years? Give me a break. He’s on vacation everyday. Yet, another lie from MTO. Don’t get me wrong, I read the site frequently for entertainment purposes, but to pretend he’s some leader in the black community, is just preposterous!

  • gallyun

    Good for you Fred, you got a article in Black Enterprise. I wonder if they know this is a tabloid site that promote rumors about celebrities and creates ignorance in the comment section by the young people who read the articles on here? #justtellingilikeitis

    • Sweets

      Yeah, it does seem like Black Enterprise is clueless on this one…pretending he’s such an innovative, black leader or something. It’s like they never visited the site themselves…cause if they did, they would know its not really worthy of an article in their magazine. Maybe in VIBE or something, but not B.E.

  • D. Jackson

    In my opinion I believe if he is indeed hands on with the company that it needs improvement in spelling for sure. Not only that it seems that they (mto) get their jollies off by kicking people when they are down, degrading all cultures, and lacks any type of mutual respect for anyone other than their partners in crime (worldstarhiphop.com). That makes this guy a smart business man but a complete jack ass in the same sense. A lot of the stories contradicts each other, and some of it the material they but out be far from what it suppose to be which can lead up to serious repercussions case and point the rap star Lil Wayne probation terms that they are praying to catch him not complying with so he can go back. I understand tabloids and gossip columns and all nut look in the mirror and think about what you are posting for the world to see sometimes before you judge.

  • Lovey

    Wow, I am truly surprised. For someone with his background I would’ve expected a more professional, well written blog. He should refine it.

  • jason freeborn

    I think fred is an intelligent person but he’s exactly what’s wrong with the system. Money over morality, out of all the things they post on media take out not one single peace does anything to elevate their targeted community. All the MBA’s in the world couldn’t paint a better picture of Fred than that site does and it screams racial motivation for financial gain. How do you go from laundry to absolutely flooding the internet with filth and propaganda under the brand of “gossip”. Fred’s site has single promote the bashing of white women to the tune of branding them all becky’s. They promote the shenanigans of famous black people as well. How is this even not addressed in this article?

  • Crystal Franklin

    I too, visit MTO everyday because I wanna get a “head’s up” on any crazy mess going on in the entertainment industry. But yeah, a “spell checker” is definitely needed before the articles are printed by 10am. I know I would most certainly be impressed to read all the articles and the words are at least spelled correctly!

  • Natasha

    If he so smart and got an MBA, then how come every time I go to MTO, it’s all coonish, bad grammar, misspelling, and full of shallow ignorance. They even have articles about celebs having boogers hanging out of their noses and point out their flaws, that’s middle school crap! Grow up MTO, the website that praises ignorance and coonery!

    • Sweets

      You hit it right on the head! LMAO @ Coonish. They are ‘coonish”, aren’t they?!

      • voss1980

        I’m just confused with this guy Fred! If he was a professional lawyer, then why creating a website by posting pictures of celebrities with titles misspelled and like to bash others by putting them on blast? See this is why I’ve stopped going there and post comments about those stories they make up and that is just totally getting way out of line.I just don’t have no respect for him no more nor his staffs as well.

  • badazznezz

    He is so racist and hates his own ppl maybe he is from uganda thats why cuz most african ppl have low self esteem cuz they come from third world countries he diss his own ppl on his cheap a** paparazzi sites and bunch of hood rats works for him. I hate this guy.

  • Smoove

    I get on MTO EVERYDAY. i have been going to this website for about 2 years.. It’s entertaining but it’s mostly lies/made up stories. With horrible spell check. And i HATE how they just assume that people are pregnant,Married or they are dating.
    Also they are very racist.. I am sadly addicted to the website. Smh.

    • Sweets

      I’m with you there! Like a guilty pleasure.

  • Sweets

    MTO is a joke, and that’s it. I am appalled that an educated ex-lawyer runs it. He should be embarrassed by the MANY typos and grammatical errors on their site EVERY DAY. And I have a HARD time believing that with a staff of 4, this is an all day, every day job. They release about 10-12 stories a day with 1-2 sentences each…unless they copy, paste and credit another site. No vacation in 5 years? Give me a break. He’s on vacation everyday. Yet, another lie from MTO. Don’t get me wrong, I read the site frequently for entertainment purposes, but to pretend he’s some leader in the black community, is just preposterous!

  • Sweets

    Matter of fact…FRED, Hit me…I would LOVE to proofread your daily articles. I am very seasoned in that area, and can get your site where it needs to be. If you notice, the LARGEST complaint about MTO is the spelling and grammar. Let’s talk! :-)

  • dcalpha

    So there is always a lot of money to be made in degradation and stupidfication of black people especially poor urban black people. CONGRATULATIONS Media Take out!! Now you join the ranks of BET Black Planet, and MTV. Oh OK NOW I understand why the black unemployment rate and high school drop out rate is at a alarming rate…..SAD

  • disgusting

    Black Enterprise should be embarrassed to do a story praising this man like he is some type of role model for the black community. Did you even look at his website before writing this article? It is extremely racist against white people, very degrading to black people, homophobic, and constantly making fun of people. I don’t know when publishing this type of offensive trash on a low budget website became worthy of so much praise, or how the lies on his site can be considered “celeb news”. Black Enterprise just lost a lot of credibility and better realize that Media Take Out is an embarrassment to black people.

  • ajack008

    He probably feels little responsibility to change the format of his site because regardless of all the negative and extremely accurate comments about MTO, people continue to visit the site and comment on the articles. The readers are extremely engaged (as you see by the number of comments per article.) This means that they can go to a potential advertiser and say, “We’ve got millions of readers and they spend a significant amount of time on our site. You’d want your product or service to be exposed to this mass audience.” This is why it’s a multi-million dollar business. Personally, I wouldn’t want my goods/services associated with such tom-foolery, but that’s just me.

    The only way MTO would ever change its format or become more responsible is if readers STOP GOING TO THE SITE. A drop in readership = a decline in advertising revenue, resulting in a decline in Fred’s bank account.

  • Joshua

    When I think of minstrel websites such as MTO, BlackPlanet, BET, and WorldStarHip (actually, all of their clones, quite frankly), and the collective devastating effects of ZIP COONERY on our people, I think of the UNCF slogan:

    “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

    Yes, a previous poster was correct—it should be retitled Crabs in a Barrel.

  • Michael Jacon

    Every “race” Is coonish to other people of their same “race”. White, black, spanish or whatever. Its the world and its not fair. However there are more majority of people in all “races” who push on and make their lives better than to worry about other people’s ignorant opinions. We don’t decide what complexion we are born. Change your mind. Stop the hate you have against all people. Travel and see the world. There is no such thing as “race or stereotypes”. Its called culture which by definition means similar homosapiens doing habitual traditions. Smh. All you humas that commented are insecure and feed off “stereotypes of all races” because it makes you feel good to hate. I love all humas successes. There is one race, HUMAN RACE!! HOMOSAPIENS MEANS PEOPLE. DUMB NUTS…BY THE WAY I’M WHITE. I LOVE DARSKIN WOMEN: WHAT THE WORLD CALLS BLACK WOMEN..Amen

  • Joyce Dade

    Success stories like this one are really inspiring and wonderful! Thank you for presenting, Media TakeOut and it’s very young and cool, Chief Executive. http://www.saatchionline.com/JoyceDade

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  • Gretchen

    Interesting article. Young actress could be subject of gossip! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqkv0uhfJGM

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  • Brother JJ

    An electronic minstrel show that caters to the lowest common denominator with coonery and hate speech passed off as “entertainment news”. Is this what you REALLY think of us, Mr. Mwangaguhunga? It makes you wonder if he’s laughing with us or AT us?

  • CT

    I am sorry but Media Take Out is just TRASH as far i am concern.
    We have to get beyond this DIRTY LAUNDRY media mess.
    Fred has a MBA and a law degree from Columbia University and this is what he has come up with as his BUSINESS..
    I wonder what Marcus Garvey would say about this or Malcolm X..
    Just My Opinion of course..

  • moore2138@yahoo.com

    Yes very successful at making black ppl look STUPID, this site has all forms of ignorance, just read some of the comments. Blacks women and men are forever bashing each other over skin color. This site is so negative…created just to make fun of black celebs if you ask me and expose just how ignorant SOME blacks are, am sorry regardless of this man background its a damn shame he could not come up with somthing more positive and uplifting…this site tears black ppl down. It would be nice if people would stop supporting it, buts thats not going to happen

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