The Essence of a Great Product, Venture Capital, and the Power of Podcasts – Brian Norgard on Off The Chain, Hosted By Anthony Pompliano

Check out the Off the Chain Podcast Page

Key Takeaways

  • Keep your product simple and easy to use—this prevents you from having to educate your users (they should be able to educate themselves)
    • People should be able to use your product in a state of “no-mind”
  • All physical technology follows a similar trend: Over time, its size goes from big to medium, from medium to small, and from small to invisible
    • Take AirPods, which are now in the “small” category; companies like NeuralLink will one day make them invisible
  • “Good product design is always going to be scarce … The bar now is through the roof, and that will never, ever be a commodity.” Brian Norgard
  • Invest in people, not companies

Intro

  • Brian Norgard (@BrianNorgard) is the former Chief Product Officer of Tinder, the top-grossing mobile app in the world,
    • Before Tinder, Brian founded Tappy, a mobile messaging application backed by Kleiner Perkins
    • Before that, Brian built one of the fastest-growing Facebook applications in history, Chill
    • If that wasn’t enough, Brian is also a prolific angel investor with investments in Tesla, SpaceX, AngelList, and Coinmine
  • Host: Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano (@APompliano)

What did Tinder do differently?

  • Tinder thought of dating as content and entertainment, not as something that should stand behind a paywall
  • Tinder’s team viewed dating as a video game, giving users the option to pay for a variety ‘cheat codes’:
    • Purchasing ‘Tinder Gold,’ for instance, allows users to see who already liked them
    • Paying for ‘Tinder Boost’ increases the number of people your profile is shown to

Keep Your Product Simple

  • Keep your product simple and easy to use—this prevents you from having to educate your users (they should be able to educate themselves)
    • “People aren’t going to give you attention unless your product is very digestible” Brian Norgard
  • People should be able to use your product without much thought—in a state of “no-mind”

Match Your Product with the Correct Attention Span

  • Certain platforms/technologies require different attention spans:
    • Computers: 1-3, 45-minutes sessions/day
    • Phones: 4-20, 4-minutes sessions/day
    • Podcasts: 3-4, 45-minute sessions/day
  • You must match your product with the correct attention span
    • For instance, don’t mix long-form content with phones—people on their phones want short, easily consumable content (i.e., TikTok videos or Instagram stories)

The Era of Voice

  • Podcasting is growing at an incredible rate
    • AirPods are accelerating the growth—Brian calls them “the second-best product Apple ever launched” 
  • “Today, voice is not a platform; it’s an interface. It could become a platform.” – Brian Norgard
  • Why do people love the voice/audio interface?
    • It has a high information density
    • There’s a human touch (contrast this with words on a screen)
    • Multimodal consumption—you can listen while driving, running, walking to work, etc.
    • Storytelling is a primal instinct (people have been telling stories much, much longer than they’ve been reading or writing about them)
  • All physical technology follows a similar trend: over time, its size goes from big to medium, from medium to small, and from small to invisible
    • Take AirPods, which are now in the “small” category; companies like NeuralLink will one day make them invisible

Good Product Design is Essential

  • “Good product design is always going to be scarce … The bar now is through the roof, and that will never, ever be a commodity.” Brian Norgard
  • Companies embodying great design—such as Snap, Pinterest, and Apple—were all founded by designers
  • When products are designed well, people can easily use them in a state of “no-mind”

Brian’s Views on Venture Capital

  • “AngelList has always been at the absolute cutting edge of venture capital” – Brian Norgard
  • Every year, Naval, Nivi, and Brian, through Spearhead, give up to $1 million to 30 founders; the founders then use the money to invest in friends
    • “We wanted to create a frictionless environment with Spearhead to enable founders on the ground to fund the most interesting people and projects they know of at the very early stage” Brian Norgard
  • Invest in people, not companies
    • “I want individuals who see the world differently—people who aren’t afraid of dedicating 5-10 years to pursue their vision” – Brian Norgard
  • There are a ton of good founders who are bad at fundraising, and thus, don’t raise adequate capital. On the flip-side, there are a lot of bad companies that were funded simply because the founder was persuasive and good at raising money.

Additional Notes

  • The tech space in L.A. is growing
    • People like Peter Thiel and Elon Musk already live there, and many more bright minds from San Francisco are moving to the area
  •  “Monetization tools always lag scale” – Brian Norgard
    • This explains why there’s a lack of monetization tools around podcasts. First, podcasters need to scale. Then, over time, companies building monetization tools follow behind.
  • “Podcasting is still niche—it’s still small, but it’s climbing” – Brian Norgard
  • Brian is a big fan of the sci-fi podcast, Desert Oracle
  • Brian views Bitcoin as a product
    • “Whoever invented Bitcoin was 50 years in the future; it’s just amazing to me” – Brian Norgard
    • “I’m optimistic about Bitcoin because young people are optimistic about Bitcoin” – Brian Norgard