How a College Dropout Helped Sean ‘Diddy” Combs Build His Massive Fortune

Abu Mubarik September 20, 2022
Graham oversees all marketing strategies as chief brand officer of Combs Enterprises. DARRYL OMAR/CITY NEVER SLEEPS via Forbes

Sean “Diddy” Combs reportedly has a net worth of $700 million and a part of that success can be attributed to Deon Graham, a college dropout turned C-suite executive who serves as his chief brand officer.

Graham serves as the chief brand officer of Combs Enterprises, a portfolio of businesses and investments helmed by Sean “Diddy” Combs. The 36-year-old was once a marketing student at the Florida International University in Miami.

He dropped out of the university after just one semester to concentrate on his nightclub gig. He was a heavy nightclubber while he was a marketing student. He would later create City Never Sleeps, a website that helped Black people navigate the clubbing scene.

He started City Never Sleeps in 2008 after noticing the lack of diversity when it came to the clubgoers they advertised. According to Business Insider, Graham made deals with club managers around the country and hired photographers to take pictures of black clubgoers and then publish them on his website.

Graham says the move was to help clubs look “less racist” and also to assist Black people to find which clubs would let them in. Also, club managers were paying up to $20,000 at its height, in addition to paid advertisements on his website, making as much as the low six figures.

In 2009, he signed a contract with Ciroc and according to Forbes, he offered his services for a fraction of the cost the company was paying contractors for ad services.

“I carved out a niche in the digital marketing space. It caught the attention of Diddy’s marketing company at the time, Blue Flame. They reached out to see if I had an interest in doing ads on their website for Ciroc,” he told Forbes. 

His unique style soon got the attention of Diddy. His marketing team at the time, Blue Flame, reached out to him and wanted him to put ads on their website for Ciroc. They negotiated terms and he went legit ever since.

He later joined Combs Enterprises first as a freelance digital consultant helping build websites. He also helped do social media, marketing campaigns and more. 

“I then went on to become director of digital marketing then VP of digital marketing. When I came into the game, digital marketing was an afterthought,” he told Forbes. 

“This thing that I was so passionate about wasn’t necessarily what everybody cared about. I believe the first place you really interact with your customers is online, that’s the first place you tell your brand story. The team I worked with saw it, but the company as a whole just wasn’t there yet, at the time.”

He later became the chief brand officer and worked on everything from Ciroc advertisements to films with Apple Music, and music with Bad Boy Entertainment,” according to Business Insider. He focuses on building and fostering long-term relationships with consumers, even if that means having Diddy make TikToks, post a few Instagrams, or hop into Clubhouse for a talk.

Last Edited by:Francis Akhalbey Updated: September 21, 2022


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