Dave Morin of Slow Ventures: Insights on Favorite Business Models and Products, Backing Founders With a Tangible Sense of Inevitability, and the Rise of Two Internets – Angel Hosted by Jason Calacanis (Part II)

Check out the Angel Episode Page

Check out the Podcast Notes for Part I

Key Takeaways

  • The biggest opportunity in the psychedelic space for the treatment of mental health issues lies in building clinics
  • What makes a great founder?
    • They have a certain sense of inevitability about them – you just get this feeling they’re going to be successful whether you’re with them or not
    • “These great founders, it’s almost like they come from the future… it’s as if they’re explaining to you a future that they already live in and you’re not in yet, but you should be”
  • You can tell the quality of a product based on how hard it is to unsubscribe from or return it
  • We’re starting to see the rise of two internets (a subscription-based internet and a free internet)
  • The hurdle to become passionate about something is lower than ever
    • The ease of access to media (like YouTube) and online teachers (through something like Masterclass) makes it easy to learn about whatever we’re interested in
  • Self-care tech (like the Oura Ring, Apple Watch, and fasting/meditation apps) is only going to keep getting better and better

Intro

  • Dave Morin is the co-founder of the social network Path and former manager at Facebook
    • He also founded the venture capital firm, Slow Ventures, and has invested in a handful of companies you might recognize – Allbirds, Twitter, Venmo, Nest, Robinhood, Pinterest, Postmates, Stripe, Airtable, Blue Bottle Coffee, Wealthfront, and Casper

Treating Mental Health Issues

  • Jason did EMDR to help him recover from PTSD he had surrounding the 9/11 attacks
  • The biggest opportunity in the psychedelic space for the treatment of mental health issues lies in building clinics
    • “At the end of the day, we don’t have enough therapists”
    • “We need startups building clinics”
  • The state of things:
    • The FDA has approved ketamine for the treatment of depression (a nasal spray which you take in clinic)
    • MDMA is in phase 3 of clinical trials for the treatment of PTSD
      • (Phase 3 is about safety, phase 2 is more about proving it works)

Jerry Colonna

  • Check out the Podcast Notes from Jerry’s appearance on The Tim Ferris Show
  • Dave went on one of Jerry’s retreats last year – “It was one of the best experiences of my life”
    • Dave calls him “really gifted”
  • Jason says his new book coming, Reboot, out is incredible

What makes a great founder?

  • “When you sit down with certain founders, there’s this sense of inevitability… they’re gonna do it whether you’re with them or not”
    • No matter what their saying, you just know they’re going to be successful
  • They also have an ability to thing BIG
    • They have an unique ability to generate high-quality ideas
  • Dave describes it further – They listen to feedback and then multiply what you’re saying in their minds, almost like they’re unlocking markets in their mind that weren’t there before
  • Jason adds – Just like Dave described Mark Zuckerberg in Part I, great founders have an uncanny ability to think 3-4 moves ahead
  • William Gibson has famously said – “The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet”
    • “These great founders, it’s almost like they come from the future… it’s as if they’re explaining to you a future that they already live in and you’re not in yet, but you should be”
    • In simple terms – They’re delivering the future NOW
  • “I also try to meet with people multiple times [before making an investment], and I do this with hiring too, because if you want to talk to somebody a second time, I think that’s an important signal to look for”
    • “If I want to continue talking to the person, that means everyone wants to continue talking to them”
  • Dave is always looking for learning machines
    • He has a bias for voracious readers/people who just love learning

Dave Morin – Product Guru

  • Jason comments – “Path was the most beautiful product ever”
  • “I’m always looking for product quality”
    • How do you gauge it? – You just know
      • For example – take a look at Hipcamp‘s mobile app
    • Further:
      • The aesthetics obviously have to be good
      • The user interface and the way the features are organized (aka UX) shouldn’t be confusing AT ALL
      • The software should be top notch (it should be crisp) – think speed
  • Investing advice from Mark Andreessen
    • “I try to invest in people who don’t need me”
    • Dave adds – “And I think there’s some validity to that”
      • (This is why Dave tends to invest in people who 1) already known product or 2) are learning machines, so they can quickly learn from him without taking too much of his time)

What has Dave learned about business models throughout his years of experience?

  • “This is a real art I didn’t have an appreciation for as we scaled up Slow Ventures”
  • Advertising-based business models are subject to variations in website traffic which can decrease overnight with a change in the Google/Facebook/etc. algorithm
  • Direct to consumer businesses (like Casper and Allbirds – both of which Dave invested in) are great… to an extent
    • They tend to only work up to a certain scale, until the business can’t grow further

Jason’s Rule

  • “You can tell the quality of a product based on how hard it is to unsubscribe from or return it”
    • Dave agrees
    • Examples:
      • Apple does a great job with this
      • Ben Thompson of Stratechery sends an invoice every month with a clear unsubscribe button
        • (Jason is a happy subscriber)

The Rise of Two Internets

  • “I think there are going to be two internets. I think there are already two internets, we just don’t think of it that way.”
    • A subscription internet and a free internet
      • ~Half of the bits flowing through the internet are accounted for by Netflix
      • We’re starting to see subscription podcasts and Substack newsletters
      • Millennials aren’t spending money on cable – this is being directed to subscription services

The Democratization of Passions and Interests

  • “Where we’re at as a society right now – we’ve shifted from a smaller number of deep relationships to a much larger number of loose relationships”
  • In the same way – people are broadening their interests from a few passions to a wide portfolio
    • The ease of access to media (like YouTube) and online teachers (through something like Masterclass) makes it easy to learn about whatever we’re interested in
      • “The hurdle to become passionate is low”
  • “The real world is now like news feed”
    • Instead of going to concerts to watch specific musicians, we prefer going to festivals where we can sample a wide range
    • Dating apps give us unlimited options of people to date
    • Netflix is the news feed of movies

Self-Care Tech is on the Rise

  • Meditation apps were the #1 category of apps in the Apple app store last year
  • “I really believe this is just the beginning”
    • Dave thinks of it as “self-care tech” – tools that help you expand your potential or heal yourself
    • “All these meditation apps are 101. This stuff goes to 701. These wisdom streams are 10,000 years old.”
  • The mobile phone is like a remote control for your life (at the click of a button you can order a range of items – from food to a car)
    • “The personal computer’s vision was always this notion of a bicycle for your mind, this tool that makes you a superhuman. I really think the next phase of everything going on with phones, or whatever the next computer is, I think we’re going to start getting some tools that make you healthier and able to learn things easier.”
      • The buttons on the remote control are only going to get better and better
  • The health and meditation apps/tech are going to keep improving
    • Dave wears an Oura Ring (he personally invested)
      • “It’s the only wearable I’ve tried that’s changed my behavior [in regards to sleep]”
      • Jason regrets not investing in Oura
      • Purchase a ring using this link for $40 off
    • The Apple watch is one of the most sophisticated pieces of tech that ever sat on a human body and it’s only 3 years in. I can’t even imagine what it’ll look like in 5 years.”
  • Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs)
    • For more about CGMs, check out these Podcast Notes
    • Dave wears a continuous glucose monitor
      • He says it’s really change his eating habits
      • “That would be a great tool to give everyone in the country” – Quite a few startups are working on this
    • “When everyone’s wearing a CGM, I think obesity will take a turn” – Jason

Additional Notes

  • All drugs are decriminalized in Portugal
  • Jason and Dave have been using Kevin Rose’s Zero fasting app
    • Jason says the app (and fasting) helped him lose 15 lbs. in under 6 months
  • Dave is an investor in Kevin Rose’s Oak Meditation app
  • “One of the great farces in the world is that there’s something that works for everyone”
    • “We’re all unique combinations of DNA, we’re all different… what works for me won’t necessarily work for you”
  • “Yoga for me has fundamentally changed my life”
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