Brian Norgard: Ex-Chief Product Officer of Tinder – Problems Sighted

Check out the Problems Sighted Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • When thinking about what to work on:
    • “If it’s not something that you literally cannot stop thinking about, DON’T DO IT”
  • “What should I build?’ is the wrong question to ask
    • The best companies are built by people who cannot do anything but apply EVERYTHING to that idea
  • The future of work is remote and shorter-term
  • Everyone rattles on about putting the user first, but hardly anyone ever does it
  • We’re in a “crypto winter”, but that makes it easier to separate the signal from the noise
  • Instead of trying to figure out how to monetize your existing users, figure out how to turn existing behaviors into “superpowers”

Books Mentioned


  • Brian Norgard (@BrianNorgard) is an entrepreneur, angel investor, and the former Chief Product Officer of Tinder
    • At one point, Tinder the top grossing app in the world

How does Brian think about choosing what to work on?

  • Brian doesn’t favor attacking the biggest world-changing problems he can think of
    • Instead, he obsesses on the small imperfections until they form a “beautiful tapestry”
  • Ironically, the biggest problems are generally right in front of you
  • But Brian’s guiding principle – Find an experience that’s flawed and then construct a notion of what’s possible

On Loneliness

  • The arc of Brian’s career has been focused on building tools that bring us closer together, avoid loneliness, and build community
    • “We’ve never had more connectivity and we’ve never been more inhuman”


  • Unlike other social consumer applications, it’s designed to help connect you with people you don’t know
    • Platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp are meant to connect you to people you already know
  • On monetizing Tinder:
    • “Instead of inventing a bunch of traps that most likely could have equated to lots of revenue, I wanted to extend behaviors that were already on the platform”
    • For background – here’s how Tinder makes money
      • Advice – take existing behaviors and turn them into superpowers instead of trying to preemptively figure out how to make money
        • Treat them as ways to “level-up” users as if it were a game
  • More advice from Brian – always put the user first
    • Everyone talks about it but hardly anyone actually does it

The Digital World Atop the Physical World

  • We’re seeing a new world being built on top of the existing physical world with interesting communication and socialization characteristics
    • People are finding others like them in these online communities
    • “There’s a clique for everyone in this new dimension”
    • These spaces will only get richer in their user experiences
  • Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)
    • Eventually, we will seamlessly straddle the line between the physical and digital worlds
    • VR
      • It hasn’t delivered yet because it’s currently cumbersome and costly
        • But this will gets worked out over time
    • AR
      • AR is sometimes misunderstood, and thought of as just augmented sight
        • But it involves all the senses – it’s augmented sight, touch, taste, sound, smell
      • Brian says AR will be more powerful in the short term because we’re closer to AR at scale
        • Snap has already built toys around AR and users love them
    • Apple AirPods
      • They’ll go down as “Apple’s 2nd most successful product in history”
      • They usher in a different consumption paradigm
      • AirPods are currently expensive (~$160), but cheaper options are inevitable

On Synthesis

  • “Great products are a synthesis of hardware, software, design, blood, sweat, and tears”
    • There isn’t one component that will change everything
    • It’s about the integration of these different technologies and building blocks
    • However, artificial intelligence (A.I.) is a key component technology for future products
      • Products like Amazon’s Alexa continually get better because of it

On The Future of Work

  • Proximity is important for certain things
    • Less so for others
  • We’re at the beginning of an era where people can build beautiful products without being in the same room
  • It’s arcane to work 9-5 for a company your entire life and then retire

On Crypto

  • There hasn’t been a killer app outside of money (i.e. bitcoin)
  • We’re in a “crypto winter”
    • But people are now getting back to the core of why they’re in crypto in the first place
  • Brian says there will be a consumerization of crypto once a killer app is made
  • It is a very tough space from a user experience standpoint
    • Entrepreneurs need to take a large abstract process and collapse it down to 1 screen
      • Like Uber did for getting around
      • Brian invested in Coinmine because they did exactly this for setting up mining operations
  • “All the tourists [in crypto] are leaving”
    • Building in down markets “reveals who the real players are”

On Angel & Venture Investing

  • Venture investing is about funding the riskiest asset class there is
    • It’s only been around for ~50 years
    • It’s on the bleeding edge of technology, yet has only recently started innovating
      • 10 years ago we saw the rise of small seed funds
      • Mega late-stage funds rose to fill a hole in the market caused by the complexities of going public
      • Y Combinator is probably the biggest innovation to the venture model
  • There’s never been more people building, and more people online
    • “Every metric is up and to the right”
  • The oldest millennials are about to age out of building companies, but age into investing in companies
  • The best investors “worship” the entrepreneur
  • Venture will go increasingly global as the lessons learned in Silicon Valley propagate across borders

What would Brian like people to work on?

  • Brian doesn’t believe in being prescriptive
  • “‘What should I build?’ is the wrong question”
    • The best companies are built by people who “cannot do anything but apply everything to that idea”
    • “If it’s not something you literally cannot stop thinking about, DON’T DO IT”
      • “When it’s your art, you can transcend
  • Brian’s new project (early seed investing/advising crypto products):
    • He followed his own intellectual curiosity until he was “just struck by lightning”
      • “I realized I had to do this. This was not a decision I was going to sit around and think through. It was just that sort of divine inspiration. I’m building this. This is happening. And I’m going to give it to the people.”

These notes were edited by RoRoPa Editing Services

Problems Sighted : , , , , , ,
Notes By Alejandro Ruperti

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