Every company has a story. Learn the playbooks that built the world’s greatest companies — and how you can apply them as a founder, operator, or investor.
Mon, 30 Aug 2021 04:16
We sit down with the one and only Kevin Rose to talk about his journey from pioneering Web 2.0 with Digg to leading the charge on Web3 and NFT + DeFi investing as a partner at True Ventures and his new show Modern Finance. We cover it all -- TechTV, Digg's true origin story, Milk, Hodinkee, interviewing Beeple and where MoFi goes from here. This was an episode we’ve been wanting to do forever, and Kevin was truly a blast to hang out with. Tune in and then go check out everything he’s building now over at Modern Finance!
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Welcome to Acquired. Today we're sitting down with Kevin Rose. Kevin was one of the pioneers of Web2.0 as the founder of Dig and then became one of the Valley's first super angels investing early in companies like Twitter, Facebook and Square. Today he's a partner at True Ventures and host to the Modern Finance podcast. Let's chat with him. Did you like that? Should we put that in? I've always wanted to do that. Welcome to this special episode of Acquired, the podcast about great technology companies and the stories and playbooks behind them. I'm Ben Gilbert and I'm the co-founder and managing director of Seattle based Pioneer Square Labs and our venture fund PSL Ventures. And I'm David Rosenthal and I am an angel investor based in San Francisco. And we are your hosts. This was so effing cool. Oh yeah. Kevin is so great. We had such a blast. Of course we went deep. Covered the screen savers, the real origin story of Dig, the Dignation Parties at South by the Ben you were at back in the day. Totally. I wasn't expecting him to he like corrected the record. All the previous dig founding stories are wrong. I know Wikipedia is wrong apparently. Well listeners, this episode basically has two chapters. We start in Web2 and we end in Web3 and obviously Kevin is super deep on all things crypto blockchain and fts and he's doing a really cool thing on the Modern Finance podcast and he even ends the show with announcing a new thing that he's doing. So stay tuned for that. But I had so much fun this episode pattern matching everything Kevin learned from Web2 to the Web3 world. All right. Our presenting sponsor for this episode and all of our special episodes for the rest of 2021 is the Softbank Latin America fund. Now we started last time by having shoe and palo on who are the managing directors of the fund and we decided it would be fun to kind of go around the portfolio and hear from the founders themselves about the unbelievable companies that they are building in the Latin region. So today we are joined by Sebastian Mejia who is the co founder and president of Softbank portfolio company and Latin America mega unicorn. RAPI Sebastian welcome to acquired. We're so excited to have you here and hear a little bit more about RAPI. So I think most people listening will know of you all and probably think of you as the largest food delivery platform in Latin America. But really the better analogy here is Mayton and becoming a super app. Can you tell us a little bit about how RAPI works today and what you're building? So it's a common misconception that RAPI is just building analog of some US companies that do food delivery or the do grocery delivery and in reality what we built is a product that allows customers to solve their day to day life. So RAPI initially started as a product that was focused on convenience. By listening to customers RAPI started going into other verticals in the commerce like food delivery like pharmacy like large supermarket orders and now we are building a product that is also financial services in the form of a credit card and a product that also allows customers to have anything delivered in 10 minutes. And that's not just by picking in stores but actually verticalizing the business and operating micro fulfillment centers. So think of RAPI as this great product that basically allows you to solve their day to day. And our understanding is that this is uniquely possible in the Latin America market. Why is that? So if you look at the history and the evolution of e-commerce we haven't had that much transformational innovations and when we started building the company we went really deep to answer those questions and understand why it was that happening. And we realized that if you really wanted to build a foundational e-commerce business you had to go deep and you had to build logistics and you had to tackle payments and you had to be fully mobile. And what we learned is that when you are coming from a pretty much offline world and you come to customers with a solution that is so much better than their offline experience you have this opportunity to leapfrog but it only happens if you actually go deep and tackle those barriers. If you think of the US for example there are just so many more options so there's companies that can basically build large businesses by being just a specific category in e-commerce and the fact that Latin America is still so unbundled allows you to actually be the company that bundles and offers all of these categories and all of these products and then you start banking and then you start using our credit card and then you just stay in the ecosystem and I think that's very unique to the emerging world and very unique to Latin America. That's awesome. Well if people want to get in touch maybe to work at RAPI or if they're interested in investing in the company or perhaps being a customer if they're in a country where that's possible here in 2021 how can they get in touch. Yeah so easy Sebastian at RAPI.com and make yes, say of us at Twitter. Great. Well listeners if you want to get in touch with either RAPI or our friends Paulo and Shu at the Softbank last hand fund we have put links in the show notes and obviously Softbank is sponsoring this episode but hearing Sebastian at least for me it's clear there is so much opportunity there so if you're an entrepreneur thinking about doing business there or want to explore working there as an employee or you're another investor looking to deploy capital in the region you should definitely get in touch with Paulo and Shu and help be a part of RAPI or frankly the next RAPI just tell them that Ben and David from acquired sent you. Alright two last things one as usual this is not investment advice from either us or Kevin do your own research come to your own conclusions on making your own investments this is for entertainment and informational purposes only as usual to join us in the acquired slack acquired dot FM slash slack we are nearing the 10,000 person mark is a great group and we'd love to have you now on to our conversation with the one and only Kevin Rose Kevin Rose so great to be talking with you. Yeah thanks for having me on the show it's gonna be fun I think many many episodes of my teenage years watching dig nation later I feel probably the same way a lot of our listeners do when they run into David and I are like oh my god you're like a real human I feel very very similarly talking to you today so thank you for all the just massive indulgence of nerdery over the years. Yeah there is a bunch of nerd stuff there little comedy hopefully I didn't convince you to start drinking at a young age because we were of legal age but we did consume beers on on each episode. No no I was lucky I actually started watching you on screen savers when there was no alcohol involved so back when I was tech TV days a middle school take yeah tech TV oh we're gonna get into it. Let's start because this is acquired way back so Kevin I think we have it right you grew up in Vegas but your families from Wisconsin which is a state we've talked about recently with Mark and recent growing up there and people on your show what was that like yeah you know I the my earliest memories I was born in Reading California but I don't remember it and then I remember living in Oregon for a bit which is where I am now in Portland but we were living in a little town called Salem and then when I was in second grade we moved out to Las Vegas because there was just work there that was like a place where my dad could find a job and so we moved out there I kind of grew up thinking it was normal for you know 7-11's to have slot machines in them like there was just a lot of things that Vegas does to you and you know it was one of those things where I got geeky and got into computers and then quickly realized that the action you know really wasn't in Las Vegas if you wanted to be in the hotel industry or working gaming in some capacity that was the place to be but when I was around 18 or so I kind of realized well I should probably think about moving someplace else like Silicon Valley or you know someplace that had a bigger tech scene I'm super curious how did you figure that out I felt the same way I grew up in Pennsylvania but I had no idea that Silicon Valley existed like what was the process by which you like learned that this was a thing because like there was no you know there's the internet right but like it wasn't obvious in the way it is now yeah so basically when you started to get into computers back then you're right there wasn't like the internet where you could just go and figure all this stuff out so I was on bolt-in-board systems and kind of dial up and I remember going into computer stores and buying computer magazines because that's what we did to the state with all the latest trends you would just buy a magazine that was about computers take it home and read about motherboards right so I just basically would hear about these conferences and there was one called Comdex which was the world's largest computer convention and it was held in Las Vegas and so I was like oh I got to go to this Comdex thing right you're in high school at this point yeah I was in early high school and I filled out a Comdex application to go because it was free the passes were free but you had to have a business so I just made up a fake business name I called it foliage software and then I would apply and I received a badge in the mail and I was like okay I'm going and I talked my parents and the drive me down to the convention center this is before CES or CES was very much much smaller back then and I would go and just walk the aisles and look at all the different processors and motherboards and video cards and all the crazy every big manufacturer had a kind of a block a display there they could go and walk up and try out all the new products and it was like the coolest thing ever and this was stuff that hadn't hit the market yet right hadn't hit the market yet it was brand new and that's how I realized that all these companies were not based here they were based you know most of them were kind of California Silicon Valley based but I was the youngest kid on the floor like I had to kind of dress up I put a like a collared shirt on and then it was funny because they noticed a couple kids started coming and they banned you had to be at least 16 to get in and so the next year I think I was 15 and I was like how am I going to prove that I'm 16 I think if someone asked me I just told my 16 I had to have my birthday memorized for a year earlier and then the next year they made it so we had to be 18 to get in and I was like crap and so it is kept moving the gold line yeah exactly a fake idea to get into a computer convention so anyway that was the early days oh my gosh all these silicon companies that were like all the companies were exhibiting it come to exit oh yeah yeah they're all based out in Silicon Valley was really Silicon Valley but they weren't building fabs anymore and so they could just move it so to fast your face I remember this and was like all this new product all these chips all these you know PCI plugins for motherboards all hitting the market so fast all those awesome it was so exciting when you hear about a new clock speed come out right like Intel would announce something you're like wow a 66 megahertz processor or you know AMD would have out their new chip and then you know you have the weird folks that were all like the deck alphas like a completely different risk versus SISC based processors and yeah that weren't compatible with windows and they weren't compatible that is you're like whoa wait a second what's this unique thing and it was just it was a crazy time okay so before we move on from Vegas obviously you were died in the wool computer geek speaking to Goddegs that's amazing was there anything like sort of presaging your soon to be future career on in front of the camera like did you do like drama and ice no like what no I think I was like the most shy kind of kid growing up and just didn't have a ton of friends in high school and back then I don't even know with his holds true today but back then it was not cool to be in the computers and so you got made fun of a lot and didn't have a lot of friends we were definitely not the popular kids in school and got picked on and so it was not in my DNA to be I didn't apply to work a tech TV to be in front of the camera I just wanted to be behind the scenes and so I was a kind of like setting up all the technical demos and if they need certain you know version of Linux installed I would install that and just like you know making sure that things were moving smoothly in that regard so it was just by chance that that I would end up on camera yeah do you remember your sort of like break like the moment where someone was like hey Kevin you should be on air talent yeah I mean I had discovered a vulnerability in windows that was a way to spam people using this kind of internal messaging tool and so you could basically just send a message to any IP address and windows would displayed on the screen and well it wasn't necessarily kind of a vulnerability in the sense of the person wasn't getting hacked it was definitely a way to spam people you could just write a little utility that would just go through IP addresses and deliver you know little notifications to their desktop and so I told the host about it they're like well you figured this out you should come on and talk about it and so they invited me on we're Leo important Patrick Norton hosting at this point exactly so Lila Port had me next to him and I was so nervous I was just sweating and just like and I went on and I kind of delivered it and explained it and the executive producer Paul block was like hey I like what you did there like can you find more weird things to talk about that are not really known and I was thinking like well I know a lot of these like hacking tools and stuff that I mess around with at night like we could talk more about those types of things and he was like yeah do more of that and let's see how you do let's have you come on once a week and talk about a certain tool so you know I look back and kind of cringe at some of that stuff because it was you could just hear in my voice and the way I presented especially in the earlier episodes I just didn't it wasn't an idea to be on camera and actually they sent me to a talent coach that would come in and record you and play back footage with you and make you watch yourself and talk about how you hold your hands and like there's these dedicated coaches that will teach you everything I did that once I was at Microsoft and I was going to go speak on behalf of the company to a newspaper and they had me speak with a coach first and she videotaped and I think it was like 5k for like two hours like it was this is our unit corporate markup and she videotaped me for some of my talking points and then like made me watch it back while we were sitting there at the table and it was the most painful experience it helps a ton though I mean it's a good it's a good strategy for sure totally you were the dark tipper on the show right that was the horrible nickname they gave me on the show yeah was that from that first episode did Leo just like riff that like where did that come from well we used to have these things called like windows tips and like it was like a quick check in you're like okay when you're doing a segment so everything in TV is broken into blocks and so they'll have like the a block which is the very beginning of the show and they break it down into individual segments as a person keeping kind of a timer on making sure when you're doing live TV making sure the blocks don't go too long because it impacts other people segments and there's it's very tight well oil machine that has to run perfectly to pull off a live show and so they had these little kickers that they would do like it when you finish a block you bump out to a windows tip or a little you know 30 second 45 second one minute long max little tip and so they're like okay well we're going to do Kevin's going to do tips that are about the dark side of the internet let's call them dark tips and then they call them the dark tip or as a joke and then it just kind of like was a funny little thing on the on the show that's so great. Screech's Avers was live in front of a studio audience right yeah where they like change you go for the set while you were doing this on the on the main segment well the cool thing is that they could have basically because the number of cameras they had and the locations on the set you didn't have to do a lot of changing because there's always two locations to shoot and so you would have like one off to the side and one primary like front location and then even one of over in the neck where we took live calls so there wasn't a lot of quick set change unless it was like a guest interview and that was typically done between commercial breaks we go off to commercial you know you have three minutes and change and then they swap out roll away the main center console and then you know put in a couple chairs get the guests seated all the mics checked all like good stuff so it's a crazy thing because weird stuff breaks you know like a guest microphone goes out and somebody's running in 30 seconds before you come back on TV swapping out mics and like just demos break computers reboot randomly like weird stuff would happen and you just have to kind of roll with it so that's the fun dynamic of live television David we're so spoiled with acquired like infinite retakes just audio I was literally thinking I'm kind of jealous like that must have been such good trail like this explains like why you're so good because you had to just like roll with it whereas yeah we just we've been doing this for six years but like we have so many luxuries you know well there's something nice about just being able to say okay screw it like if I mess up like so be it and we're done then you're done you know what I mean like my podcast and stuff that I do now it's like I'm always going back and you know I'll listen to an episode that I think is really important I want to make sure the editor got it right you're like listening to it again you're like okay we can trim a little bit here and you know it's like you just walked out of the studio and you're like okay we're done for the day on to the next day so there was nothing you could do when it goes out you really can obsess for like a week like until it is out there and even after like you get any feedback that it was actually good you're like I just release something awful like this is just I have this pit and the feeling my stomach I wish I had spent more time editing even though I'm sure I just spent way too much cognitive load on this yeah and you'll you never know with your guests right like you'll have a guest and you're like okay this is a very important person to have on the show for xyrc and then you get them on and you're like so tell me about your background and they're like it was great and then they just like stop talking and you're like oh you come on like I got a pull more out of you this has to be entertaining you know so it can be challenging you know is it someone doing the interviews to kind of get people to actually open up totally well because we're having that enormous problem here I'm going to prime and deeper yeah so you did not move to the Bay area to work at tech TV you were was your first job digital marketing for like an online furniture retailer that's right yeah so basically there was a company called next office that had hired me to come out and just really track all of their ad campaigns and ad spend and so they had a marketing team that was going out and buying banner advertisements and people were click on those and eventually lead all the way down to a checkout and they wanted to know what the conversion rate was like and whether you should be spending their money and it wasn't ideal for me but I knew at that point I'm like I'll take any job that gets me to the Bay area like what can I do to get me out there because it was the dot com boom you know I was reading about magazines and it was a crazy web 1.0 and just like insane valuations and parties and like just all the madness that you saw IPOs and I was like I gotta get out there I gotta get out there you know so I just went online and posted something on I think it was monster dot com like the jobs board and you know Mike Maeser who later became really good friends reached out to me and was like hey I think it'd be great for this role we had a phone interview and then they flew me out and gave me a job offer and a ticket super cool do you recall how many years you were on screen savers before the whole G4 seemingly debacle from the outside yeah it wasn't that long actually because I think it was two and a half years that I was at tech TV which at that time you know it was the longest job I'd ever had and it was just oh it was so awesome it seemed like it was a special place a really special place or the majority of people were in their 20s that kind of like were around the set and hanging out and we would all just party with each other afterwards and go out and we were all really close we were just like a family we're and it's still even today when I see those people it felt like a very special time in our lives and we just had no kind of no idea what we were doing but also we knew what we wanted to create and it was a very creative group of people and the content was good and Leo was like a great anchor host who's a little bit older than us but kind of brought everything together and had a great executive producer that was hilarious and fun to work for and it yeah it was it was awesome and but the problem with tech TV is that we weren't as a network really making that much money it was indie right it was owned by Paul Allen that's right so Paul Allen owned it and he was pouring a lot of money into it to keep it alive and it was an expensive network to operate I mean we had hundreds of people and eventually they said okay I can't keep spending more money here we need to actually do something and be acquired and so G4 based out of L.A. came along and said we're a video game network we think this is the future we're going to acquire tech TV more or less for the subs so they bought tech TV and they also thought it was a very similar audience and they didn't want to lose that because we had some shows a couple shows screens it was being one of them that we're getting decent ratings so they're like okay how can we kind of bring that audience along merge it with our video game content and so that's what happened they bought us and they said okay by the way we're going to shut down server disco removing folks to L.A. and so you know they gave me an offer to come down and continue to host the show down in Los Angeles and so that's what I did in retrospect it seems so obviously silly because especially I mean even now but at that point the Bay Area was the center of everything that you guys were doing with screen savers to move it down to L.A. like because G4 was owned by Comcast right that's right yeah not to mention just the culture clash that has been rough they knew it was really rough and they knew long term that they wanted to morph the screens savers into another show and they weren't going to tell us that but they knew that was the plan so when I saw that was happening that's not what I wanted to be long term I didn't want to be an on air TV person so for me I the kind of writing was on the wall that I needed to go do something else and you know hopefully get back to the Bay Area and so it led me to write around when we created Dig and then also I created a podcast network called revision 3 that was about creating that more of that type of content like more geeky style content in podcast format does revision 3 predate the term podcast yes yes because we were doing video only and there was no way to do a feed of that and so Steve Jobs had announced that there was something called podcast that we're going to support and build that into iTunes and that's when Alex and I said okay let's get together and do a show called Dignation because now we have a place to distribute it at the risk of like being way too far down the rabbit hole of internet nostalgia I see remember an opening jingle from Leo's shows that was like net casts you love from people you trust that's right funny thinking that like net casts almost became the thing yeah he didn't want to use the word podcast and I'm not sure why that was I think that he wanted to brand it his own thing and yeah that I don't think I had quite the momentum it was it was Adam Curry that coined the term podcasts and I think that Leo was thinking at the time and I believe this is accurate that he was thinking that it shouldn't be just about Apple and about the iPod because that's what podcasts kind of like you know referenced because it was always big open source advocate and things like that's so Leo yes so Leo like how can we make this more broadly applicable which yeah it makes sense but once the kind of snowball of the term podcast grab hold there was no going back yeah it's like here I own zero iPods and listen to my podcasts on Spotify who's actively suing Apple right like it's stuck pretty hard yeah totally I always thought a lot of those terms were just hilarious like the iPod like I when you used to put I in front of things it meant like internet yeah and so I always used to like to say these things out loud just to hear how ridiculous they were like sometimes I still tell people to send me electronic mail because like that's what he stood for anything you know it's like it's so funny when you like actually pronounce them out it's amazing how long these things stick yeah all right so thesis with revision three though like there's a a very clear loud part of Twitter today talking about the creator economy and like beating the drum that this is the next emergent thing David and I feel like we've sort of experienced it first hand you've been experiencing it through multiple generations of the web did you have a thesis in starting that about the web in the internet is this new direct way to reach consumers yeah absolutely when we started revision three the thinking there was that video was working online like it was starting to take off and people could consume and watch video content it was easy to produce on our side like we could have some kind of mid-range cameras and gear and editor that we would just you know pay part time we could turn that out if we got enough people interested and excited there would be brands that wanted to sponsor it and that ended up being true and so we had you know an ad sales team and we had a network of shows and you know revision three grew pretty quickly because people were starting to tune in and they we found that niche audiences were quite large and when they would talk to each other and use the internet to kind of share that this type of content was out there we didn't have to rely upon these distribution agreements of these big old school television networks to get viewership and we could actually measured in a much more accurate way and so that's what kind of started revision three and yeah that went on for many years and actually what had a great outcome it was sold to discovery networks for 35 million and even that sounds small these days at the time it was a big deal yeah and it became discovery networks kind of digital arm basically they were all about you know traditional media and so for them to get into digital is gave them a handful of folks that could come and lead that effort on the digital side so it was pretty cool that's great and so at what point did you realize the like flywheel effect of having a media stream with dig nation and other ways that you're reaching people and being the founder of dig like having this web 2.0 property yeah it's a good question when we started dig nation we thought of it as a way to because we had a base of people that really loved the dynamic that Alex and I had back when we were hosting the television show together so when we started this we were like okay here's a great way for us to talk about the stuff we would normally be talking about which is like the geeky news our favorite stories I also happen to have the website dig and so it's a great way to surface the best stuff for us to be chatting about and it became this kind of like way to engage the community and highlight their names I had a top leaderboard back then on dig and it still is it sounds like it was it was really people love seeing their name and lights like sitting like oh Kevin and Alex mentioned me on the show like that's they mentioned one of the stories that I submitted so it just led to more usage of the website and yeah the right there was this little kind of like flywheel that happened and then eventually at some point dig became much bigger than dig nation like it was like clear that there were so many people listening or watching and reading and consuming dig and dig nation still had a pretty niche following of the hardcore original people but that was totally fine with us we were just having fun doing the show dig was reaching I think that what did it cap out at like 38 million monthly uniques that's right yeah wild I mean at that point that was an enormous audience to be reaching on the web yeah it was pretty big it was like top 10 web property and it's still pretty big I would love to have another site that does that mean well I guess like when I say at that time like because Facebook now reaches what three billion monthly active users I think if I have it right you were out ahead of Facebook and Facebook hadn't really started becoming the juggernaut that it is until the sort of late 2000s I think that was started in 2004 but at one point didn't mark come visit you when you rolled out the dig button that was like letting you upvote articles on their websites when they were thinking about the like button that is now sort of famous and everywhere yeah that's right yeah so we had a common investor gray lock and David Z who was a gray lock who's on our board and also on the board of Facebook was like hey you guys should get together and did an email introduction and he's like this is company Facebook it's like really taking off you guys should chat and dude was had already kind of taken off and gotten a ton of press and so yeah Mark hit me up and he's like hey let's you know I'll come to the city because he was down in Palo Alto and he's like I'll come to SF and love to see your offices and let's go grab some food and so he came to the office and we chatted about kind of just what voting meant you know for us it was voting on content was helping us serve as the best stuff and it was feeding back into our algorithm that would eventually recommend a similar content to people that we had this like suggested stories portions where we had a couple it was early kind of AI machine learning type stuff that we were applying to articles so if you like this you might also enjoy these articles and so you know Mark was really interested in that and this is before they had the like button pre news feed I think even pre mini feed yeah I don't remember what was going on at Facebook it was locked down to just colleges and then they started opening it up and that's when I got an account but yeah he was very curious and yeah it was nice it was like Mark was a nice guy like we ended up hanging out a handful of times and doing a handful of dinners and he was always just like a very thoughtful and and even once um Facebook took off to the it was clear that there would be going to be much larger than dig you know he was always really helpful he was he just said if you ever you know need anything like shoot me a text like happy to collaborate in different things and you know he invited us into the early Facebook platform stuff so we were like a really partner there when they first launched their platform and yeah I mean I have nothing but good things to say about how we got to know each other okay there's a one question I got asked we've seen it it's been reported but I don't think I've ever heard you talk about it so supposedly the story goes according to the media you were inspired to start dig to like make the leap and actually start this after you had lunch with somebody is that true are you talking about Commander Taco oh no the story I heard was you had lunch with was oh no it was not was no oh oh interesting okay so this is from the business week story like we went we read the story that was the the famous cover and they reported there that you were inspired to start dig because you had lunch with was and you were like I'm gonna go be an entrepreneur that's so funny there's so many different that's they're lazy they wrote that story that's funny yeah this is the problem like and this is so true with so many of my friends startups like success has a thousand founders like they say or they used to say a very like a thousand fathers or whatever it was but that's like not PC so there is so many different lore stories or there was even Wikipedia is completely wrong so when I look at Wikipedia and that founding stuff there it's completely wrong it's just amazing yeah so do you want me to just like cover the actually yeah let's do it let's do it what is the like non-apocryphal as you remember it even if it's like a bland the real what happened well this is the truth this is exactly how it went down and I don't know that I've ever told the full thing but I'll just do the quick version of it so basically what happened is there was a site out there called delicious that was created by Joshua Shactor that was all about social bookmarking and he would bookmark things and he would count the number of bookmarks on things and this was one of the very first web two properties and it would surface interesting bookmarks but it wasn't news because people didn't typically bookmark news they would bookmark things that they wanted to return to later and I would see that I was like wow it's it's servicing cool stuff here I wonder what would this look like if you applied it to everything okay so that was one piece of it the other piece of it was that I did have lunch but it was with Commander Taco who was the founder of slash that yeah yeah and so he came and he was a guest on the show and when I had lunch with him and this was on the screen savers yes but it was down in LA okay and so I had lunch with them this is 2004 early mid 2004 I asked him where all those user submissions went because slash that is great and it promotes like their favorite stories to the front page and they're all user submitted content but you can't see any of it so I was like gosh there has to be just so many good submitted stories here that they're just not servicing and I was like why don't you make it I literally told them I was like why don't you make it so we can see all the submissions and then we can like the vote up the best ones and he's like no I don't want to do that blah blah it's not the way it works and so I was like okay well I'm gonna go build this this is like when Vitalik proposed the idea for a distributed world computer to David who it was the color coins and master coin the Israel Bitcoin 2.0 projects he was like you guys we should just do this all as one like master thing and they're like no we're not gonna do that and he's like okay cool I'm gonna go start something new yeah I mean that was basically what had happened here with slash dot as I said well I'm just gonna go start something new then and then I went out and I kind of basically just sketched it out like I sketched out what it would look like what a dig button would feel like what an upcoming section would be where submissions would go like the whole thing I found a freelance developer I hired that freelance developer to create the first prototype his name was Owen it says on the website he was a co-founder that's not true he was a freelance developer and but you know he's the closest thing I had to a co-founder because we were in this together and he built it it also says the jaddleson was a co-founder that is not true I hired J to be the CEO like four or five months later it also says that Ron is co-founder Ron was my first technical kind of back end hire a few months later so it's like and I'm not claiming that these guys claim that even just saying this is the way it was written so I don't have any like ill will against any of these people but like when people see who the first few people are they call them all co-founders and all this thing gets written about who did this and that and I'm just like whatever like it's fine with me I don't care that Wikipedia never gets corrected but that is the origin story oh my god that's so great well it gets so twisted because so in the lore out there like they're having a guest on the show on the screen savers and then that leading to part of dig is out there but it says that you had J on the show and then you brought him in but it sounds like no there was commuter taco no J was on the screen savers and I met Jay through going out he was one of the co-founders of a company called equinix which was a big data center company huge and so yeah huge and so I went out and met him through that and then he you know about six months into well he really wanted to do revision three and he was the first check into revision three to create that content and so that was awesome that Jay supported us back in that day but he told me to get rid of dig he thought it was a distraction to revision three and he was like oh you should sell it like dude just focus on revision three this is our thing I put money into this like we need to focus on this and I was like Jay you don't understand dig is going to be big it's growing we can do both and so eventually about three or four months later Jay was like oh I see yeah it is growing quite a bit and I was like hey how about I give you some equity would you come on and run this side I don't know anything about raising from venture capitalists I've never done it before you've clearly been on this path you've taken a company public you can help out here and so we agreed to I give him some equity a few percentage points to the company he then built out the right legal folks to work with brought them on board you know I had formed the company using like one of these like it was there was no rocket lawyer at the time but it was like a rocket lawyer asked type like thing so the docs were all done wrong I didn't have any like board meetings or meeting notes and like it was all jacked up so we had to have the docs already done and so Jay was very good at helping kind of correct a lot of my mistakes that I had made early on but yeah he didn't actually come on and tell like six or seven months later after there was some real momentum there there's a thing that I've referenced and you've referenced here which is web 2.0 what did that mean to you at the time I didn't know I didn't even know what it was called like I literally Jason Calacanis came up to me who had run web blogs ink which was in gadget and a bunch of the other sites he tried to buy dig very early on he saw that it was driving traffic to his sites and he sat down with me at sushi in LA and this was after dig started to have was very small and he's like I'll give you a million dollars for this and then I was like okay classic low ball like so jcal yeah well honestly I was like okay you know I came from nothing man like my parents had zero dollars as did I and so I was like yes let's do that and he sent me and you just been making a salary a text you didn't have equity in that no I had like $10,000 in savings and I spent a lot of it on building the prototype of dig and my girlfriend was pissed at me for that and so basically you know he came in but then there was like he sent me a term sheet and it was like you get 200k up front and then if you hit these milestones you get like another 100k here and was like this really complicated I was like I don't like this like we're growing a lot and so ended up saying no and actually raising money instead but he said to me during that lunch he was like you're like one of the biggest web 2.0 companies and like literally I thought is there a software I need to upgrade on my servers that makes me web 2.0 I was like there's something I'm not aware of I need to upgrade because I'm not web 2.0 I did not do that upgrade like I had never heard that term before which is so fascinating because to me and maybe it was a couple years later dig was the embodiment of web 2.0 it was dynamic content it was Ajax it was user submitted content it was what became social media dude after I found out what it was I said of course I'm web 2.0 yes yes of course we are I have been doing this stuff no idea what it was well it's this amazing thing that like I think the people who are the deepest in a thing that's becoming a thing in the world aren't the people who get to name it which is the most fascinating thing like when we were interviewing Vlad from web flow he was like oh I found out like two years ago that we were a no code company but like our company is 11 years old so good to know about this no code thing and now of course they like have embraced it and have the no code conference and all this stuff it's so good I mean on your show like you're having all these awesome NFT artists on and I feel like that's their story right like that like people like everybody they're like yeah I don't know like I'm just making my art yeah it is one of those things that almost everyone a lot of entrepreneurs that I meet it's a dirty secret it's like you go back and you look at these different covers of magazines and it's great success and like no one really has a clue that they're ever going to be as big as they become when you talk to the top companies that are out there it's always like this should exist I'm going to go build it but it's 99% of the time it's quite shocking that it gets as big as they you don't really plan that it was kind of like I remember when it Uber first came out I was like oh how many people are going to get to other people's strangers cars okay I guess it'll work for black cars it'll work for black cars that's that's what it'll be and that and that was the launch the plan was like black car service like with an app like never did the founders ever dream it was going to be applied to a random Toyota Corolla you know like it just that was never imagined that you would feel comfortable what are you you must have known Garrett from this whole oh yeah era right Garrett and I were really good friends and he could create stumble upon and we didn't see each other as competitive really so we had always go Garrett and I just like we're really close in the web 2.0 days and we would just go have beers all the time and talk about features and and building out some of this stuff but then yeah I later ended up dating his ex-girlfriend and and then we kind of had a little that didn't go over so well but we're we're cool now that's why you jcal invested in Uber and angel invested in Uber and you didn't that would be a big reason why I didn't invest in Uber but we're good now it's like the dumb dumb shit you doing your 20s you know it's like it was it was such a small thing though like you got to remember that web 2.0 and you know this whole world it really isn't as big as startup scene as it is today and so when we would go me up at a bar we say okay okay fly bar into Visitoro and in SF let's go hang out and scrap some beers it was easy to grab Garrett from stumble upon and you know get Josh Echter from delicious to show up to something or you know Ev from Twitter whatever like we would just all hang you know so it wasn't like we never knew that these projects were going to be that big we were just having fun building software meanwhile let me just insert a midpoint so today tech is like the five biggest companies in the world and Kevin you're describing this era where like basically all the people that run a lot of those big companies or started them or were involved in the founding or were angel investors are like hanging out getting beers there's this interesting midpoint that I remember viscerally where I went to South by Southwest and I want to say 2011 and you and Alex were doing a live dig nation at Stubbs barbeque huge sort of like outdoor like great barbeque but like concert venue and 4000 people it was huge and I'm pretty sure after you did the show the food fighters played was it the food fighters yeah I think you know it was a big band though I can was it the food fighter I was I wasn't a fan of the food fighter so maybe it was but I remember there was a big band we had played one year that I was just kind of like I don't know I wasn't a huge fan and everyone was thought it was a big deal and then we had the walkman play another year which I was a huge fan of and so that was awesome I stuck around for that one I was like oh this is really cool but yeah that well that was the cool thing about South by right is you have these big bands coming in because they would play music the next week and they'd come into town early and it was easy to book someone like I'm ever snoop dog was going and doing different South by things because he was going to be out there anyway for the following music week or whatever so it was easy to get a big name to complain your little dad that makes sense podcast live show yeah it's still definitely accomplished this feeling though of me feeling like as someone who was totally following this all that from the outside because I was in high school in early college in like oh five to oh nine and feeling like there's a bunch of insiders and I'm not part of the insiders but like they're like spitting distance away where like when I grow up I want to be like one of them that dig nation moment where I was looking around at South by I was like oh this is like pretty mainstream this has become a part of culture dude it shocked us all literally we booked that venue and I'm like I hope it looks like there's enough people here otherwise this is going to be a little awkward we had no idea that that many people would show up and it was crazy because I brought my dad out to that show and my dad had really no clue I mean he'd seen that we did these live dignations and and I kind of hid it from him because he didn't like me swearing a lot even though he swore so it was just like what we want to do like you know I think he'd be cool with it today if you still around but anyway he saw that show and saw all those people and then when we left the venue you know all these people were back in the day trying to come up and get my autograph and all that stuff and like they kind of follow me out to the car that we were getting into which was just crazy because I was like a geek and to have that kind of treatment was odd but my dad saw all that and he and my dad was just blown away and he ended up passing away two years later I remember just being like you know it was a special moment for me because we didn't have a whole lot growing up and my dad was really proud I'm just really glad I had that I'm because I didn't I didn't I decided to fly him out I didn't know whether I should or not and I and I was like okay I should fly my dad out because he should be part of this and and it was just like it was the right call those are very special moments for me for sure I bet there's an interesting like looking backwards moment there where that probably applies universally it's almost always the right call if you're like should I do something that overextends myself financially or is you know an inconvenience or something to have a family member come see something that could be special it's almost always the right thing to say yes yeah and experiences I would say are definitely like the number one thing to invest in like to the best money spent all right it is time for our second sponsorship for this episode and literally no one could be more perfect here for our modern finance crossover then that's right modern treasury the worldwide leader in payment operations for customers like gusto pipe class pass revenue and marketa who manage complex payment flows modern treasury completely automates money movement from payments all the way through reconciliations with modern treasury customers can manage all of those flows via software and give their overworked finance teams a break modern treasuries robust APIs allow engineering to build payment flows right into the product while finance can monitor and approve everything through a sleek and modern modern modern treasury modern finance modern web dashboard they are one of the hottest young fintech startups on the market today having raised 50 million dollars from top firms like benchmark altimeter and y-combinator and once again in modern finance modern treasury connection theme here they also help leading crypto companies like blockfi and ledger x build the necessary on and off ramps to traditional finance for their own customers so if your company manages complex payment flows or provides embedded financial services go check out modern treasury and because the only thing that the team is anywhere near as nerdy about as payment operations is acquired they have made the LP reverse interview that we did with them back in February available for free to everyone you can go to modern treasury dot com slash acquired or click the link in the show notes to listen to it and learn more about both us and modern treasury thanks modern treasury we love you we love you guys well gosh I could do this absolutely forever I do want to talk about some web three stuff and I I want to make the point and I think we have a little interlude in in the middle where I want to talk about before you became mofai kevin but after dig there's some interesting chapters in there a lot of the things that you're observing about that era feel similar to what's going on in crypto right now like it's kind of the true believers it's kind of everybody knows each other there seems to be a lot of like real genuine information sharing and just like belief in a common purpose even though everyone kind of interprets the purpose differently does it feel like that to you to it does yeah I was say this is the first time since web to where I felt that type of connection and camaraderie around a new technology that the mainstream has yet to embrace is starting to embrace but is yet to embrace and we're all early and we all see it and we all believe in it and it's just a matter of time yeah time creates confidence it's interesting you feel like it's the first time since then because you look at like all these theoretical waves since then that like the media and VCs were sort of calling the next big thing some of which sort of have been you know machine learning is you know a reasonable one and like obviously there was the mobile wave after the sort of social wave but the mobile wave felt like a kind of land grab it was very obvious you know the mobile wave was something where when the iPhone came up one's like oh of course this is going to be huge there was no doubt you know and he consumers hands immediately right and so there was none of this you have to believe it just it was a given well it was also just it was an expansion of the existing web 2.0 market really right like Instagram was flicker right like what's app was you know aim like it's not the analogies were one to one right and then and then the big players were like okay we'll just make apps like Facebook and mobile app and like Twitter made a mobile app and like that was just an easy kind of transition for them and in web 3 is very much like web 2 when web 2 first came out people are like I don't know if this is going to be big what are these social networks things about real am I really going to show people what I'm into by voting on things like there's a lot of like just I don't know that I believe this to be true and that's the same thing that's happening in web 3 now like does this crypto thing real is it really going to scale are these NFTs really collectibles it just people you know making up stuff and you know there's a lot of doubt there so I that's that's the kind of excitement because I love there's an excitement that you get when you see something early that you believe to be true but everyone else disagrees with you that's always going to find so many more entrepreneurs like we say like you know NFT artists entrepreneurs D5 projects where like they're building stuff because they're like oh I'm in this community this needs to exist right not like hey I've got this business plan and there's this obvious you know see mom going to go attack it's true where I'm a partner over there we don't invest in business plans we sit down with an entrepreneur we listen to their their idea we want to be new novel exciting and if it works it should be massive and that's what we get excited about we want to back incredible people building very ambitious things okay so let's talk about kind of during this transitionary period what was your journey like encrypted like when did you first hear about it when did you buy your first bitcoin like how did we go from the end of dig to mo5 it's a great question I'd have to go back and search Twitter I think I first tweeted about Bitcoin in 2012 have you ever searched your Gmail to try and figure out you can use like the before search operator this is kind of a fun thing to do is like open your personal Gmail search Bitcoin or crypto and figure out what the very first mention of it is in an email exchange oh that's interesting the question is yeah I guess I would have had that in I never even thought to do that I mean can we stop down for a second I do that really yeah let's do it let's see here so the first email I have about Bitcoin is June 12th of 2011 and it's an angel investor business plan Andre from Canada says he likes dig nation and foundation and wanted to tell me about this idea around Bitcoin that is the first time that I actually see it mentioned in my inbox and then the first coin based transaction I have is from okay yes I apparently I tweeted out my coin base link to get referrals and they were sending me on Tuesday August 14th of 2012 I started receiving a tenth of a Bitcoin point one oh my god which is says this is what it says hi Kevin Rose Coinbase to set you 0.10 BTC worth one dollar and 13 USD using Coinbase hell yeah congratulations your friend and there's email address has verified their account on Coinbase we've credit you 0.1 BTC to your account and so I was started getting a quarter of a Bitcoin and then I have just like dozens and dozens of those emails worth a dollar 16 was a quarter so yeah Bitcoin was pretty cheap back then and that so that means that I had a Coinbase account back in mid 2012 okay also we're going to get back Coinbase month's back but we got to have one little digression you mentioned foundation it's Trent Resner right is the music in the beginning yeah yeah the starting music on foundation yeah that's another another little show I did where I interviewed entrepreneurs okay how did you get Trent Resner music well he released that as a complete open source and he got rid of all the rights all the stems right even the tracks so that he had one album where he just released the entire thing to be used for any purpose and we were doing I don't know if he had commercial right I don't think he would say commercial rights in there but we were non commercial we weren't putting any ads in or anything so we used that I had a chance to go and visit Trent at his house because we had him on for we used to do these before they were asked me anything we did these things called dig dialogues where people could vote up different questions yeah people they ask and so we had the community vote up their top questions for Trent Resner and then I went and interviewed Trent and that was that was a ton of fun oh that's so awesome I like love searching old tweets and all the emails as you can tell in preparing for this episode I I think the first time I tweeted about dig was a link to the dig dialogue with you and and Trent oh that's awesome yeah that was it that was a so much fun to do that show with him his house is crazy he's like the most rock star coolest house ever like it's all dark and like leathery and cool looking dogs everything about his house is cool he's such a pure artist yeah yeah yes well it's crazy I was like we were chatting and we're talking about like all this different stuff and we were walking out and he's like you want to see my recording studio like he's got one in his house you're like nah I got to go yeah exactly like in my mind I'm like you don't understand like my high school years were all about night snails and like some that was my favorite music and it's like that kind of nonchalantly I was like yeah yeah you've got time I'll check your recording studio and so we like just walk down there and it's exactly what you expect it's like you walk into this room it's all sound proved and it's like racks of old analog equipment with like wires going between them like a mad scientist like room to be a fly in the wall in this room it's just so cool like he's creating all this music with real analog oh yeah yeah yeah which is how all those guys used to do it like fat boy slim and like they're bunch of great documentaries that cool that era now where like it wasn't it was digital but it wasn't like like the source was analog right exactly I love it all right Kevin bring us back I found your first three tweets with Bitcoin in it in June 2011 you tweeted testing out Bitcoin can someone send a couple cents to this address thanks and then you have a wallet address yeah that address I lost the keys for so you can look up that wallet address and I think there's over a Bitcoin in there or something like that so there's like whatever the prices are lost 50 grand you and everyone else man yeah I'll never recover that if you pull up that tweet please do not send anymore Bitcoin direction second one for those asking about Bitcoin this is also in June more info here we use coins dot com still haven't got any coins must be doing something wrong hmm I was started mining I think back then oh and then here it is the big one 2012 playing around with coin base a new startup that hosts your Bitcoin wallet check it yeah so that I was um Brian I had him on foundation Armstrong the founder and he I saw him at demo day at YC and I told him I wanted to invest and I was a investing at Google Ventures at the time and so I was a partner over Google Ventures I brought that to the Google Ventures team I won't call it any partner in particular blood just say one partner who absolutely adore and I'm not going to call them out but if you hear this I adore you call that tulips and basically said that you know we can't the fear and this is a valid fear back then and so I'm not not slamming this person you have Google corporates money what if you invest Google corporates money and it's something that becomes or is called a scam later down the road that does not look good for Google this is like a great argument against corporate venture because like that is basically what venture capital needs to do in consumer right so it's okay I ended up investing in in coin base a little bit later personally that's it all worked out but Brian's a awesome human we got him some great early exposure through that foundation and I just delighted that we helped get that company off the ground because I know that foundation episode he told me later really recently like maybe like three before four months ago he told me that people still refer to that foundation episode where he was on as like the first time they actually got it in a crypto so we got a lot of people on board in intercriptor currency with that and on at the end of the day that is the thing that gets me excited about doing the foundation podcast about doing podcasts around finance the reason I don't take sponsors and I don't try to like monetize this stuff is like that's not what it's about for me at this point in the stage of my career it's about getting more people on board and then excited about these new and upcoming technologies and hopefully helping them avoid a lot of the crap that's out there because with anytime there's money involved there's people that are trying to scam and take advantage of others and I want to put out content because there's a lot of that other content out there you know there's a lot of people on crypto twitter not the groups that I run in but if you just go a layer too deeper you'll see so much shilling and flipping and trying to like pump and dump and like that's the stuff we need to get rid of do you have any hot takes on something that has a large user base but you feels pretty scammy well I would say that it depends on what the goal of the project is like there's a lot of knockoff projects that happen like dogecoin for example when it first got started I had Jackson Palmer the founder on my podcast as well on foundation and it was meant to be a cryptocurrency that could be used as a way to more or less give away for good deeds so people were using it to kind of tip there was all these dogecoin tipping bots and reddit metallic got a ton of doge yeah I mean people were like back in the reddit days of when doge first launch people were using the tip bots and they would send you know a thousand doge here like 2000 here oh that was a great comment here's 50 doge and so that's why the supply was so large is they he wanted to create this enormous supply so it wouldn't be hoarded and it would just be thought of this fun thing to kind of like create this little tipping economy and I thought that was a really cool idea and one that was worth playing around with now there is a lot of knockoffs and clones of that with not the intention of pushing technology forward in any meaningful way but with just the intention of price appreciation because they want to jump on ride it sell it make money and rinse and repeat and you see that happening over and over so those are the projects that I think are to be avoided you know I certainly believe that doge did not have that intent I know that they didn't have that intention when they launched it was not a pump and dump scheme it was just like let's have fun with this and see where it takes us and that was the thinking there it makes total sense I mean anytime there's a new paradigm or a new opportunity let's just phrase it as new paradigm everyone's mindset has to shift to become a believer in the new thing look at web 2 the easiest thing to do would be to say like no why would I submit stories that other people could see or even worse I mean I remember my parents been I'm sure you remember this being like don't put your personal information on the internet like don't join Facebook which it turns out may actually be pretty good advice I should be more succinct anytime there's a paradigm shift it requires a leap of faith to become a true believer in the new thing and the earliest people that have to do that there's the most upside for them because they get to be early to that thing which could accrue them reputation or actual you know shares and whatever the new thing is but it requires that leap and so it's really easy when you you are someone who's looking around and seeing other people become awakened to this new thing to have some shyster convince you that oh you should just become awakened to my new thing too that looks a lot like the legit awakening that's going on with other people that's paying big dividends for them right and and I get that I think that you have to ask your question this is happening in the NFT space as well you have to ask the question like what are the real motivations of this project and so I will certainly miss some things that start off as a joke and eventually have real legs to them and evolve into a place where they are innovating in some interesting capacity that means multi billion dollar kind of ideas out of a joke right like that will happen communities will form and they will evolve and it makes something that is more than just that initial kind of a hype cycle that happens or we see a lot of but for me when I evaluate new cryptocurrency projects I always look through the lens of one is there a use case here that needs to be solved that this company is going out and solving is it a credible team behind it and is there a discussion of price appreciation is that the main topic because the easiest way to see through a scam is to look what are people talking about are people talking about the moaning of the coin the price going up or they talk about why the underlying technology and what is being built is so important for the future of the world and the if the conversation is around making money there's a good chance you're in something that is going to be some type of pump of dump where eventually this has the bottom fallout from underneath it so you know that's how I try to evaluate things and it's a part of why I want to start focusing and having more NFT related content is because there's a lot of that happening in the NFT spaces as well now is like anyone armed with Photoshop can instantly turn out 10,000 characters with different glasses and hats and goggles and all that other stuff right and people they call it aping into something where you just kind of go all in people see this and they ape into something and you know a community can be built around that and you can have some serious growth there but I worry about the long term durability of these projects like is there going to be so many of them that they just seem all like kind of copycats and clones and so for me that means I'm very selective about which investments I place there and I do consider them investments you're talking about when you personally buy an NFT right exactly an NFT or cryptocurrency but when I personally buy an NFT I'll say first and foremost well what's the price point the price point is hundreds of dollars and it's something that you know you could afford to lose if you had to then I want to love the art you know I bought some cool cats like a few weeks ago it wasn't because I thought cool cats were going to be the next crypto pongs I just thought they were cute little characters and I like to swap out my avatar from time to time right and they had a great community that was following them and they had plans to launch other little cool cats related things and I'm like this is a fun little community and so that is why I went in and bought a few of them at lower prices and I'm okay with losing that money because there's no money to be lost I'll always consider them fun little things that I can put it into digital frame or have them up around my house and it kind of marks a moment in time of when I thought that was cool right so that's fine now when it comes to spending like real dollars and like actually making an investment then I'm looking for more blue chip related stuff and so that is in my mind projects that are not clones but that were actually the first at something like you know the first fully on-chain generative artwork or you know crypto pongs to finding the ERC721 standard and being the first to kind of put that out those are the projects I look at and saying those will always historically look back and say those were important for this space if you believe in the NFD space and I think they will have long-term collectibility and durability from a price standpoint so that's how I I look at it when I buy those things it's funny implicit in what you're saying is the very same reason why the founders of some new groundbreaking consumer thing always have way more upside than any investors or anyone who comes later it's because they were true believers in the thing for the value of the thing even before it had any notion of being an investment that's right and that's why oftentimes anybody who's seeing a trend and saying oh I got to get in on that and they develop their business plan just to use the same parlance that we used earlier that's why there's always less opportunity there than for that like initial core sort of like community where there's a lot of heat right it also strikes like man the parallels to modern art right like you know anybody can make a knockoff painting of a Campbell soup can or Marilyn Monroe right but nobody was doing that before in Warhol it's just like such an obvious analogy here yeah I mean there's things on the NFT side that are first you know there's certainly some of the programmability that you can do on NFTs and what's coming there is really interesting there are going to be new genres of art that are created which is a very exciting thing I mean this idea of generative art like what's happening with our blocks and that the user doesn't know what they're going to receive when they make a purchase for the first time and that you know that transaction hash is used as part of and fed into the algorithm that actually generates the art I mean that has never really been done before in a way that we could capture it and hold on to it I mean it could have been prototyped and done in a way that could be displayed you know a decade ago but there was no way to like prove ownership and so yeah there's some really cool things that I am doing seeing and I'm excited for the depth that is going to be coming to NFTs rather than it just being about a place to mint a JPEG or a GIF it's going to be or I guess it's called GIF I was getting corrected when I say that oh no it's GIF it's GIF it's GIF it's actually GIF we had a whole debate on this I know technically but like the developers that created it say it's GIF like the peanut butter so the community has rested control of it yeah it's crazy but anyway yeah so there's some really cool you know new thinking there that I'm excited to hopefully invest in were you into art before NFTs yeah I have been for quite some time not not in a deep way but it's something that as someone that has built a bunch of projects I've always kind of been a usability a feature and a branding kind of person so you know everything that I've created is always been the names that I've come up with logos things like that always work very closely with designers on iterating and kind of refining and so I'm someone that can appreciate it and you know I've always been a big fan of certain artists but yeah this is just like a whole new level like this new digital first NFT artists like X-copy and some of the people that are just doing really bold fun things I just get really excited about I didn't realize it until now but you're kind of the perfect person to really understand a lot of the value with NFTs because in a lot of ways you're an artist yourself you look at a lot of the products you've built that have always had really strong design sensibility were literally been you know in things like watches or I mean even the the more recent apps you've built with fasting and it's called oak right yes oak the meditation app yeah it's very clear that you have a strong point of view on how something should look and feel and be as an object to use and also you have this great investing lens at true and formally at Google Ventures and doing all these incredible angel investments have a been a founder and so it really is this fascinating sort of convergence of art and investing and the internet that is kind of like this like Kevin Rose stew I like that's to it's a good to do that's a great way to describe it yet that those are all the things that I care about and for me that's what makes doing these types of podcasts like just a lot of fun that's why I want to produce more of this type of content is I love chatting with these artists and these founders and these creatives that are doing new and exciting things and bringing that awareness to other people so how I'm curious about how do you get hooked up with true do you know home from the I knew home for back in the day yeah and he used to cover dig a lot when he was a writer but true had actually backed and invested in my company milk that I sold to Google Ventures then they went on to back Odinke and zero and so they've they've backed several of my companies and so I just met them and just fell in love with the people there I mean they have a fantastic team of very low ego I love everyone at true anyone that I've worked with I'm always I always walk away feeling like that person has the longest view in the room to use a Sam Hinky parlance of caring deeply about relationships above all else yes that I mean that's it exactly there's such long-term long view kind of investors we pride ourselves in and trying to take us all the pressure off the entrepreneur you know like we backed Matt Moellweg from WordPress 15 years ago and we still have a board seat and we still have stock and we're not saying hey you have to go IPO or you have to sell like that's not in our DNA we we want entrepreneurs to it's their babies their company we're just they invite us in for the ride so it's like who are we to go and try and force outcomes and do all the mean nasty things you read that other VCs can and have done in the past and so I realized that working with true early on you know when I was going to sell to Google it was going to make a tiny bit of money for the investors but not world-changing money and the partner I was working with was like Kevin this is your company do whatever you want man if you want to go sell it then then sell it if you think the time is right like make it happen and so it was just that kind of like it just makes me as an entrepreneur you have so many things that you're trying to juggle on your head and wrestle with and just knowing that your investors is not one of them is is one of the reasons why I was attracted I said I have to work with this group and so yeah that's how we got hooked up and you initially became a venture partner right and then transitioned into a full-time partner role yeah it was a venture partner so I was still building stuff you know I built zero and we decided to bring that Mike Maeser took that over CEO and then we funded it true wait Mike Maeser your first boss yeah the dude who hired you yeah that's awesome yeah Mike and I just remain friends for a long time so I hired him to work for me a dig he first hired me then he left the office company when it started working electronic arts was a VP over there yeah left EA was a VP at AOL for a while left there and then I hired him to run marketing and be a dig wow and then yeah eventually he's the one that got me into fasting because he had about with a really serious stage four cancer that he beat back and went into remission and in conjunction with chemotherapy also implement and fasting so he's a big believer and so he took it over his CEO it's so cool that's awesome okay so how did you make that call of you know sitting in that emotionally of I'm a venture partner so I'm helping to bring great entrepreneurs to the firm it gives me lots of flexibility where I'm not where are you sitting on boards at that point no so you're you have time to sort of tinker and explore and start things and build and do media and transitioning into that you know full-time partner role to have investing be your day job how did you make that call and how is that felt yeah well I will say I was sitting on boards just not related to true so I was on the board of Haudenke and Harlan estate and the Tony Hawk Foundation and a few other things but like I was just it was one of these things where building is a lot of work and it just it is one of those things that you have to kind of go all in and give it you're all and so for me we had just had our first kid and I was just at this point in my life where I realized that I didn't want to go and do another startup so that's kind of the venture role thing is like you're trying to figure it out like should I do another startup should they fund me again should I go into this and and I thought you know I want I want to optimize quality of life a little bit more and so I was like you know what I think I'm going to come on and if they'd have me I'd be an investor there and they were like yes hell yeah let's make it happen and so I joined full-time a couple years ago and have been doing deals ever since that's really cool are you looking at crypto stuff in particular yeah I would say that 95% of my day job is evaluating cryptocurrency or blockchain related companies along with NFT related stuff so you know we've probably deployed a head of gas probably 75 million this year into blockchain related startups wow so it's it's a decent chunk we have a 750-ish million dollar fund so it's a big chunk of refund yeah 10% of a fund in a particular industry is pretty heavy yeah I mean it's pretty well diversified in that that spreads across a whole slew of different protocols and coins and DeFi and scaling solutions and you know NFT projects and like a bunch of different things there so but yeah we're we're firm believers in the future of blockchain there's no doubt that this technology is going to change everything especially the financial and collectibles world and gaming as well all right now for our final sponsor of this episode fund arise as we mentioned last time Ben and I collaborate not only unacquired but on our personal investing too and real estate particularly non Bay Area real estate and non Seattle real estate is something we've always wanted to add to our portfolios for diversification purposes but it just seemed kind of too hard and we definitely didn't want to manage our own income properties so enter fund rise fund rise is one of the only platforms that lets anyone not just accredited investors by fractional ownership and custom portfolios of private real estate assets these are the same buildings and properties that sophisticated pools of capital like university endowments have access to it was started back in 2012 and fast forward to today they have over a hundred and fifty thousand investors and over five billion dollars worth of real estate on the platform that's pretty impressive investors can track all individual properties in their portfolios including data like occupancy reports construction progress and market data trends it's truly the best of both worlds with the low minimum and diversification and ease of use of like say a reach but the granular control and low overhead that you get from buying and managing properties yourself you can learn more and sign up at fund rise dot com or click the link in the show notes okay so this brings us to I think the perfect place to start to wrap here is you know mofai obviously I'm going to keep explaining throughout the whole thing why you're doing it this whole conversation where's it go from here you know you could just keep doing what you're doing and and it would be great it's got magic it's wonderful but it's also like it's all about crypto and web three and it feels like there's also so much more that what used to be social media can become in you know web three world like how are you thinking about it like you could have a doubt you could be doing all sorts of stuff yeah it's a good question and I think that I'm starting to see kind of two individual worlds starting to separate a bit so in some sense you have traditional cryptocurrency scaling solutions and defy in one bucket and then you have all the craziness that's happening within ft's in another bucket so I'm actually going to be launching a new podcast if I don't already have enough podcasts that is dedicated to all things in ft's so just in ft content awesome yeah it's going to be called proof so it's proof.xyz is the domain name it's a great time oh that's awesome thank you um yeah so I'm excited proof is going to be just going really deep on all things in ft's and that will cover you know everything from the art and programmable side of things to the generative side to you know tokens that cover dows and what dows are doing to the gaming world and how in ft's unlock different assets and how people are buying virtual land as nft's will we'll discover it all there yeah and then modern finance the podcast will still do an occasion a little really important piece on nft's so like the you won't miss the people listen to that won't miss out on the the big deeper like peoples of the world or when you have someone really big on that you want to get out there but that will focus more on on everything is happening on defy and scaling and new coins and and that that world so I just was getting a lot of there was two camps with people saying give me more nft content and then there's the other camp being like hey get back to some of that crypto stuff that we miss and I'm like I can't please everybody so I got to break it it's funny we're getting that out acquired a little bit of like hey give me more than you know Atari like the classic tech history or even just you know non crypto stuff and people are like giving more crypto stuff yeah yeah so it's you know what I'm talking about it's like you can't the can't please everybody so for me it's just easy to carve out a separate feed and and say listen the best of the best from proof like the big names will always make it to the main modern finance podcast but if you want to hear about the new and upcoming artists that hasn't broken out yet but I think it's really cool because they're doing something unique novel you're going to find it on the proof podcast so it should be fun okay so like nerd out a little bit what's your strategy for launching are you going to have like do the first couple of a sets of proof in the mo five feed and then spin it out yeah most likely what I'm going to do is make an announcement I have the CEO super rare which is one of the big NFT platforms that I just recorded all announced at the beginning of that episode when we drop it on MoFi and then people can go subscribe I'll probably back date and put all of the the NFT content that we have in MoFi into the new feed so if you come into that feed people can always jump back in time and say hello I want to listen to that interview with Snow fro the founder of our blocks and the build to jump back and hear that or here when I interview the founder of crypto punks or whatever it may be so it'll be pre populated with probably five or six episodes and then I'll start releasing a new NFT episode hopefully every week to week and a half and I would say probably one a month or so of those will make it to the main modern finance feed and if you subscribe to both you'll know you're like oh I already listened that one I don't need to click it on MoFi but then MoFi will be more just like big name people in the crypto industry both in terms of creators and then people are analyzing it where it's going and so I want you know talking through where defies of how it's evolving and some of the new and interesting projects and more of that so yeah it's going to be a lot of work but this is the stuff I love to do because I feel like both of these industries are filled with confusion confusion and a lot of hype and a lot of you know back in the member of the ICO world a few years ago there was so many scammy projects there and it's like I hope that people can come in and know to trust me that I would not want to promote something that that is a scam or that is just there for the hype but actually you know I always call out why why they're on the show and why I think it's worth covering you know so it won't be everything it'll be a subset of what's out there I'm so glad you're doing this because I would say I've been a late comer in almost everything in crypto but I guess in some ways all of us who are currently participating in the ecosystem are early adopters because there's going to be 10 to 100x more people after us but I would say it took me listening to the people episode and which is so good by the way I can't listen to oh my god people what a character I love that I just want his accent like I want his like a manner of speech it's so fun oh my god he's the best he's hilarious I mean you couldn't it couldn't have happened to a nicer crazier dude truly but it took me listening to that and several other of your NFT episodes for it to kind of click when NFTs first started becoming buzzy I was definitely one of those people that was like the whole point of digital art is that it's infinitely reproducible and like why would I pay for something I give you on instant I was definitely one of those people and I think it took me till hearing people first of all learning about the artists behind the art is actually the value feeling close to those artists and why they're doing what they're doing that is the reason to buy it at least in my opinion and sure it's cool and it's fun to look at but it was also the realization that he brought up of like people aren't buying NFTs people finally have a vehicle to value digital artwork and like digital art has been a thing for like 10 15 20 years kind of in this format but there's been no incentive to make it since it's just infinitely replicable and easy to rip off and finally now there's like an incentive for artists to make incredibly cool stuff and rare stuff in a way that is totally driving the level of creativity and innovation here because there is actually now an incentive for it yeah there's so many pieces that unpack that is a major one you nailed it but then there's also just imagine we're sadly you know you say I'm a little older and you guys you guys are old too oh yeah yeah there is a younger generation that grew up skinning their characters and games and they're so used to purchasing and holding virtual objects and virtual goods and there was a survey that was done that there is a very large subset of gamers that consider it was like more than 50 percent it was something really scary they consider their online identity and their games to be more important than their offline like in person identity wow and so you have this world actually makes total sense like when you think about it it makes total sense and you have this world of people that have grown up digitally native that say I want to be able to show my friends something cool on my phone that I own and when they get older they're gonna say or flip it up on my wall and have it as something I can show my wall and guess what if the house burns down I don't lose my my painting or and I don't have to worry for me I think about my kids walk by something I don't have to worry about them taking a marker to it you know it's like there's just so many beautiful aspects to the portability and how you can showcase your favorite pieces of art and also just how you can unlock the potential like when they're programmable what if my art changes over time and the artist bakes in certain things that unlock it the longer I own it like some of that is just so cool so there's so many aspects to this ecosystem that what NFTs brings to the table that you can't have with traditional art that I think they're going to take another decade or so for people to really wrap their head around do you know that back in the day so when people moved from when canvas was created do you know that there's a huge blowback on it no so yeah there's a huge blowback on canvas because everything was painted on walls or on these like wooden yeah frescoes yeah so to move to canvas many people thought during that time it's portable why wouldn't you want something permanent it's like it can be taken and copied like there was all these like worries around movie so a lot of canvas art was actually worth less than things that were actually in a more permanent you know on the wood or on the on the wall so it was just like this transition that happened and it took a while for people to finally adopt canvas amazing I just thought that was a hilarious story and like the same things happening here you know oh man that's so cool I just love that like there's something really cool about being able to walk into a gallery or bar or wherever you are see something on the wall and being like wow that artist really connects with me oh it's $700 worth of ETH scan a code it transfers to your wallet it disappears from the wall something else appears there and now you own like that's freaking cool like that is going to happen you know well okay thinking here about the future of mofai kevin you're too much of a tinkerer to just let it be that the final form of mofai is like I record an mp3 and then I toss it into some podcast players so like is there an on-chain version of content media something that could make sense for mofai it's a good question that's a very very sharp and pointed smart question that of course I don't think of it as much for mofai as I do for something like proof where I think what can we do that is unique and well you just have to wait and see I can wait and see I wouldn't built you know Houdinki for a few years and Houdinki was a kind of a proxy for what proof might eventually become and like you know we did really in depth editorial around mechanical timekeeping and watches and that attracted millions of people per month still does I mean there's 150 people that work at a Houdinki right now it's a massive enterprise Houdinki has this unbelievable characteristic I think you guys do or did this best in the entire world of using content to enrich the value of purchasable goods it is half a content business half a commerce business and they are so wonderfully intertwined more people should take a look at that yeah I mean Houdinki they got that blend and honestly one of the things that we were really good at Ben the founder and myself when we sat down and we started planning out e-commerce we wanted to make sure there was kind of a church and state line between editorial and e-commerce because it's very important to be able to have independent critical pieces written about watches that you may sell and so we had to make sure and draw that line in the sand and say and let the brands know that like we can be critical about your watches still and talk about them like if we don't like the way that something is manufactured or your cut corners on some one of your movements and I mean it gets really geeky for people that aren't into the watch world think about like the mechanical insides of the watch and then think about the most hardcore vintage Porsche collector they care about every little tiny detail inside of that machine that is the engine inside of this watch and so the geeks and that's why partially why I'm attracted to it like some of my favorite watches are not expensive showing off watches are watches that would never get any attention at a party in New York but they're meaningful because of what's inside of them you know when you go and you pick up an omega that has a 321 movement that was the exact internal engine the exact movement that was taken to the moon like that is awesome and so like that's the kind of geekiness that got me excited about watches and that's what I want to bring to the NFT world I want to talk and go deep on with these artists and talk about what drives them and how they created some of the first especially when we're on the programmability of the stuff like it's going to be really fascinating eventually when I have Dermitri on that created one of the most popular projects out there called ringers I want to see code snippets of the ringers project and put that into the article and show I mean that's the geeky level I want to get to so that's where I'm hoping to take proof and what's so cool but well I don't know if this is how you're thinking about things but like with watches it's like this little preview of what it could be but the thing about watches is you know the super rare stuff you know it's hard to get my dad's really into watches I doubt if you're listening but you can also kind of buy it anywhere right like you don't have to buy it who think you like you can buy it who think you can buy it elsewhere right that may not be too depending on where you go with proof like it's not like a retail environment right yeah I mean the thing is for us with proof what I think about is and this is what Houdinkie did as well I don't think of these businesses being built in the next six months to a year we need to spend the first three years gaining trust right like that's the main thing is like in-depth editorial and content that is as worth reading and a brand that you can trust to bring the best artist to you and explain why they're the best that means above and beyond me I'm going to be looking to hire editorial folks that are both traditionally and classically trained art critics that are also embracing the inner two world and give us both perspectives you know like we need to know why something might be historically important when it comes to the new stuff that's being created on the NFT front so it's going to be a fun little venture all right well I've found a whole new thing that I'm imagining I'm going to be very geeky about so I'm excited to listen and tune in Kevin awesome well that's you're the first listener thank you so much sweet it hasn't it hasn't been it's not out yet so or it might be by the time this podcast is out but there certainly be a way to prove that xyz yeah proof to xyz there'll be a link up there to subscribe to the podcast even if there isn't an episode out yet there will be the historic ones that we've done so far so that'll be the best way to to join and then of course modern dot finance is for all things crypto and that's where we go deep on all the crypto stuff and and that that's a whole nother can of worms it's a lot of fun it's awesome probably our biggest segment of the acquired audience is entrepreneurs are aspiring entrepreneurs working folks get in touch with you for that or or yeah it's it's kind of hard on the true side in that we typically I would say 90% of our deals come from referrals from entrepreneurs that we've already backed so we have a little over 300 entrepreneurs that are kind of referring in new companies to us so we you kind of use that as a filter because if you just had an open submit form you would just be overwhelmed and it'd be impossible to get through so if you know a true company that's the easiest way to get a hold of us I would say outside of that you know my DMs are always open on Twitter I try to go through them like once a week but sometimes it gets a little crazy for me specifically I'm looking at all the new cryptocurrency blockchain related and NFT related deals so if it's something outside of that realm unless it's like health and fitness which I also am very passionate about or some consumer internet stuff as well I'm probably not the right partner for you to all to pitch but yeah that's those are probably the best ways definitely through the network of founders who backed love it okay one last little tip bit before we go he said Twitter had to get on the who to follow list suggested follow list that happened at the bar in San Francisco yeah that happened to Ted so at Ted in we were down in Ted conference this was when it was down in SoCal and it was me Evan Williams and Chris Saka at a bar having some drinks and this is when Twitter first started taking off we're just talking ever like to just crazy man there's like thousands of people signing up per day like it's not you know like at that point I think it was like you know he's probably hitting 10,000 plus new users a day it was like it was clearly working you know and Saka's like hey do you think you you know you think you can I can't deny to suggest the user list and it because it was like it was a manual list and so it was one of those things where you it was just hard coded it was no like algorithm yeah and so apps like he looked like said as he's like all right and so he pulls out his phone and he literally does it right there on his phone and it's like okay done well I thanks dude and like I had turned on notifications for anytime someone follows me because that's how small it was and instantly my phone was like boom boom boom boom boom I'm like holy crap dude this is taken off and I like went and turned off that the notifications and I was just like getting so many followers and then it was it was just like you know I kept growing and growing and growing and they kept that suggested users kind of the same for a very long time and then yeah I got this retweet from this woman this was like a month or two later and I like looked at the icons like that girl's kind of cute and I like click on her and it was like a foodie Liz and Sarah Cisco into wine into how the fitness no way working on her neuroscience PhD and I was like oh who is this and it was my my now wife Daria and it was all because Ev added me to the suggested user list and actually at my wedding I told Ev that like I especially called them out to thank you for and sock effort for making that happens because it's how I met my wife I hope you did something like really nice can you get him like a people or something or like a crypto punk I'll have to see if he's in the NFTs I haven't asked him about that I haven't seen him as much now that we've had covid but there should be a gift I know I've sent him some nice bottles of wine in the past so that is so cool I feel like you got to do more than one no it's a good point it's a good point you have like one of the best stories at a party behind the statement like oh my wife and I met online yeah definitely this was before I you know I'm kind of jealous though of these people that have it it seems like it's easier these days like I didn't have any of the swiping stuff that was like you know to date like a mine was all back in my day it was a 24 by 24 icon on Twitter that we use for dating you to upvote your future one yeah exactly now the crypto punks make more sense yeah it's true love it all right Kevin Rose thank you so much thank you guys thanks for having me this has been a blast it's always fun to walk through the history of all this stuff and talk about the future so so thank you all right likewise well listeners thank you for joining us on that journey that was so awesome to get to do this with Kevin as you could tell so much of David and my I don't know adolescents young adulthood was involved in things that Kevin has built so super cool to get to do that with them super super cool I have one special carve out for the end of this episode it is a company that we at PSL ventures just invested in we let a five million dollar round in a company called Trova trip out of speaking of Portland out of Portland and I am so pumped about this company and I just wanted to share a little bit because I think a people should think about going on trips but be I think it's an incredibly cool company to work for if anybody's thinking about their next thing whether you're software engineer designer market or whatever so what Trova trip does is they enable creators to create custom trips to over a hundred places around the world and take eight to 16 people from their audience on a group trip together so you're traveling with like-minded people to cool places with a person that you sort of identify with be it a yoga instructor or your favorite disc golfer or someone else that you follow on Instagram or TikTok or anything like that and it's just a really cool upending of the sort of group travel industry and especially now when travel is actually starting to happen again so it seems like it's it's just great timing and great team oh man this is so cool we totally need to get an acquired trip going we could do all the all the silicon Valley hot so well now after this episode we got to go find that bar on on to visit arrow in San Francisco where apparently everything went down in the web 2.0 days but I'll bet we can get a Stanford we can go the old pro and palo Alto go to bucks and woodside oh man actually David you and I we almost went to bucks one time right we went to that we did right didn't spot next door no we looked in it was full we ended up going to that other lunch place next store to the like the bakery yeah the woodside bakery whatever it is yeah oh man okay we got to do it we got to take you to bucks well we got to do it just so you and I can go to bucks bucks is a crazy experience this like diner in woodside which is right right next to palo Alto that has like all these crazy like airplanes on the ceilings and stuff and like all the old school like the Don Valentine era venture got even a little later too like all the entrepreneurs and vcs would meet up there for breakfast it sounds like David's going to be our tour guide this is great I'm gonna love me so well listeners if you are curious to learn more it's trove at trip.com click the link in the show notes or feel free to reach out to me in the slack or required FM at gmail.com if you're interested in the company in any way well with that join the slack acquired that FM slash slack become an LP we just dropped probably our nerdiest LP episode ever where we had mat McBrady on who uh has worked in presidential administrations for hedge funds advising on monetary policy to basically walk us through like the history of the fed and the feds roll in our economy and the difference between fiscal and monetary policy and what the heck is quantitative easing and for such a hot button topic right now is great to get like an expert two outward chunk of information on what are all these concepts and how do they interrelate why does everybody like trying interpret drone pals every last word and why isn't JP just say what he means like there are reasons for this oh so cool that it was and also check out modern finance it's seriously really good I've listened to almost every episode yep like we talked about the people episode is so great we'll link to that in the show notes man what a cool dude and not what you would like just think on the surface like he's you got to listen to it like he's awesome careful you'll become a NFT believer after you do yeah which is a good thing all right listeners we will see you next time we'll see you next time