Dave Morin

Entrepreneur, Investor, Founder & Partner at Slow Ventures

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON May 24, 2016

Discussion

DAVE MORIN@davemorin · Entreprenuer
Hey Everyone! Dave here. I've had a lifelong passion for entrepreneurship, technology, culture, design, nature, skiing, and improving society. Today I am Founder & Partner at Slow Ventures, a leading Silicon Valley venture capital firm that champions long term thinking and innovation. Slow serves a community of over 200 of the most innovative entrepreneurs and companies in the world. Including ProductHunt, Slack, Pinterest, Evernote, NextDoor, Postmates, Blue Bottle and more. I was the Co-Founder and CEO of Path which was acquired by Kakao in 2015. I co-founded Path with the mission of being a source of happiness, meaning, and connection through simplicity, quality, and privacy in technology and design. Path continues to serves tens of millions of people each month to this day. In the past I've served at both Apple and Facebook for several years during periods of rapid innovation and growth. I am also serve on the Board of Directors of Eventbrite, Dwell, Hinge and on the Boards of two Non-Profit Organizations the United States Ski and Snowboard Association and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I grew up under the big sky of Montana where I was ranked as one of the top downhill ski racers in America. Today, I live and work in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area with my wonderful wife Brit, my two sons Ansel and Austin, and my dog Pixel. Ask me about anything!
Cyan Banister@deleted-485751 · person
How can founders feel less lonely? Depression and anxiety is rampant in SV and yet we don't talk about it much or address it. What resources can you point people to? Any advice here?
DAVE MORIN@davemorin · Entreprenuer
@cyantology This is one of the most fundamental and important questions in Silicon Valley right now. Because of the stigma, I am not sure how to increase the volume on the conversation other than to just start talking about it as much as possible with as many people as possible in Silicon Valley. The resources are still in the very earliest stages of being developed not just for Silicon Valley but for the broader world. I am going to list a few resources that I think could be helpful for this question, but with the caveat that this list is not comprehensive and that there is still a huge amount of work to be done here. It is the area I am most passionate about in the world as I mentioned in another answer above. Here are a few things going on that are important: I think what Joe Greenstein is doing with InnerSpace is really inspiring and important. They are the one resource that I know of that is completely focused on founders as it relates to depression, anxiety and more: http://www.helloinnerspace.org/ Tristan Harris, former Google Chief Product Philosopher and Design Ethicist, has begun work on a new project called Time Well Spent (http://timewellspent.io) which is profound and fascinating. His first Medium post last week is a must read around how technology hijacks our minds: https://medium.com/@tristanharri... We are big supporters and investors at Slow of Mandy Silverman and her company Ivy which helps you find the best therapist for you: https://www.talktoivy.com/. Taking care of your mind should be as important as taking care of your body. As much as you love going to SoulCycle you should also love going to your therapist. Ivy helps you find the right one for you by setting you up with several quick 15 minute interviews with therapists. Everyone should have a therapist, especially founders in Silicon Valley. Of course, it is hard for any doctor that you work with, psychiatry/psychology or otherwise, to help you without a good understanding of your medical history and data. So, we've invested in the talented Noga Leviner and her Picnic Health (http://picnichealth.com) which is a complete revolution in patient-centric medical records. You sign up, tell them all of your doctors, and they literally go and find all of your medical records for you and put them into one amazingly well designed interface so that you can have them, and your doctors can have a complete picture of your health over your lifetime. It's a breakthrough. There are two new startups which we are not investors in which are also good resources for managing depression and anxiety. One called Lantern (http://golantern.com) and another called Joyable (http://joyable.com) and another called Kindly (https://kindlychat.com/). All of these can help connect you digitally with people who can help, but I would recommend this only as an augmentation to having direct human coaching/therapy in your life. Beyond that, on the most stigmatized of all topics is medication, even though it should not be. If you are taking a medication it can be hard to find feedback outside of direct interactions with your doctors. What Thomas Goetz is doing here with his company Iodine (http://www.iodine.com/) is a real revolution in building community around medication. Iodine has built a community of over 100,000 people so far which are sharing and collaborating around how different medications work for them, which cause what side effects, and more. They are then using this data to help you find better medication options, faster. So that you don't waste time and can find the right treatment for you. Beyond that, as I mentioned in my previous answer, my new project is called Sunrise, the goal is to find a better way to cure depression. We are working across the board on both the biological and behavioral sides to create a better experience for those that suffer with depression, anxiety and related brain health problems. If you want to learn more, contribute, or just talk, you can go to http://sunrise.bio and text us. The project is at the very very earliest phases so resources are limited but we will do our best to point you at resources that might be helpful.
Jordan Walker@jordanwalker · Co-Founder, Kind.ly
@davemorin Thx for the nod to http://kind.ly. I'm excited for Sunrise and hope to learn more soon. @cyantology @tristanharris
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
What was the most unexpected presentation you've ever gotten for investment and how did it turn out?
DAVE MORIN@davemorin · Entreprenuer
@russfrushtick one of my favorite new companies that I invested in last year is called Verge Genomics. Founder Alice Zhang is one of the most impressive humans I have ever met. She and her team find treatments for brain diseases 1000x faster and more cheaply than big pharma by using genomic data. When I saw Alice's presentation it was massively unexpected to me that this was possible TODAY. I have always been deeply interested in brain diseases and trying to reduce the suffering caused by them. However, my sense had been that it was not yet the right time to start focusing on the problem. In technology, timing is as important as ideas and execution. Most ideas have been thought of, and many times the ideas have even been executed. The thing that often matters most is timing, and the critical driver of timing is usually cost. Big pharma takes an average of $2.5 billion and 12 years to bring a single new drug to market. A big reason for failure is that researchers do millions of costly experiments on drugs that only target one gene at a time. In the last 10 years, there has been an explosion of genomics data which has enabled Alice and Verge to build proprietary algorithms and a drug discovery engine. Using the same breakthroughs that power Google Search and Facebook News Feed, Verge can use massive amounts of genomic data to map out the hundreds of genes that cause a disease and find drugs that target all of them at once, rather than just one at a time. They can also find new uses for FDA-approved drugs that patients can access sooner. The huge breakthrough is that Verge can take 8 years off of the drug development cycle and only require $1M per disease to discover new drugs ready for human testing. This was a revelation to me, that for $1M and less than 2 years time (1000x improvement) you can discover new drugs that can potentially reduce suffering. We are now talking about traditional Silicon Valley startup costs. A fundamental shift. To answer your question of how it turned out? This company, and combined with some other important data points that suggest that the time is now, I have turned my focus almost entirely to what I have been calling "Bio 2.0." I now believe that the time is now to focus on the true intersection of biology and technology. So, I have shifted much of my investing focus to BioTech. In addition, I have spent the last year of my entrepreneurial energy since Path was acquired focused on learning genomics and focused on a new effort called Sunrise (http://sunrise.bio) in which we are working to find a better cure for depression, which affects 1 in 4 women, 1 in 6 men, kills 1 million people per year, and by 2030 will be the single largest contributor to the global burden of disease as measured by the World Health Organization. It is still very early but I am optimistic that now is the time to start this important work and I intend to dedicate my entrepreneurial life to it.
Cyan Banister@deleted-485751 · person
What is the most important lesson you've learned so far as a new father?
DAVE MORIN@davemorin · Entreprenuer
@cyantology I've learned, mostly through advice from other fathers, that one of the most important things that you can do in parenthood is to not wish that the time in the current phase would pass more quickly. I think this is a normal cognitive bias that is built into the human condition: we also want what's next. It can be easy, I think, to wish that your child would be slightly older so that you can enjoy the next phase. However, I have found that each individual phase is so wonderful and amazing, yet they pass by so incredibly quickly. So, I have found that meditating and focusing on this is really important. Enjoying every present moment, because they change so very quickly, I've already found myself wishing some of the previous phases would come back. This means to me, that it is only going to go faster. So, enjoy every single moment.
Cyan Banister@deleted-485751 · person
What is your absolute favorite thing to eat? Like, if it is on the menu, fuck everything else -- you are eating that.
Brit Morin@brit_morin
@cyantology Haha best question ;)
DAVE MORIN@davemorin · Entreprenuer
@brit_morin @cyantology Brit knows the answer to this: CHOCOLATE.
Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of Commaful.com
Hi Dave! Thanks so much for doing this AMA! Also really love your tweets! I've always thought everything released from Path was amazingly well designed and well thought out. What are a few surprising things you learned about working on a product from building Path? Thanks! Sydney
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
Hi Dave, How do you apply the Japanese design philosophy of "Super Normal" to 1) entrepreneurship in general, 2) product design, 3) your personal life?
Charles Kunene@charles_kunene · Co-founder & Product Designer @Obaa
Hi Dave, with most of your customers in Southeast Asia - what differences do you see between them and US users relative to user acquisition, brand messaging and UI/UX?
Cyan Banister@deleted-485751 · person
We both feel that addiction will be one of the top issues of our time. Have you seen any promising companies trying to tackle this and if so who? If not, should we encourage entrepreneurs to work on this problem? What is your current thinking?
Jack Smith@_jacksmith · Serial Entrepreneur & Startup Adviser
@cyantology the startup Pavlok has an extremely compelling product to tackle addiction
Cyan Banister@deleted-485751 · person
How did you get into photography? I love looking at all of the photos you post. Do you feel that you've found your unique "Dave" style of photography? I'm still looking for mine and haven't found it. Not sure how many years it takes until you do.
DAVE MORIN@davemorin · Entreprenuer
@cyantology I was interested in photography at a very early age. I would say almost as long as I can remember. I attribute this mostly to my grandfather, who gave me my first SLR camera (a Minolta) at a very young age. He also had a darkroom in his basement that I would always go over and experiment in. As time went on, I became even more interested, and would always find ways to do more of it. In high school I was lucky to become a co-editor of the school newspaper, which shared resources with the yearbook team. Because of this I had the ability to take an almost infinite number of photos around school, school sports, and anything related to the social fabric of the school, and get them developed using the school account. So, a lot of my photos ended up in the school paper and in the yearbooks over the years. I was also able to get a job at the local newspaper doing sports photography, which also led me to doing sports writing in high school. In addition, I joined the photography course in my high school and then also ended up becoming a TA in that class. So, the passion ran deep and I think I was lucky to be able to probably put in the proverbial 10,000 hours fairly early due to having access to a lot of photography related resources. As time has gone on, I've stayed focused on it even though other interests have waxed and waned over the years. The internet and digital have completely changed the game in that you can practice all day every day, share and discover new styles of photography and photographers, and get feedback on your photos. One of my favorite early communities for this was what Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake did with Flickr, which was a great inspiration. At Apple I worked on iPhoto for a short minute towards the end of my tenure there and was able to get a few small features added such as Facebook integration. At Facebook I spent a lot of time working on our photo related products early on with Aaron Sittig and Scott Marlette and others. The example app that we used for working on Facebook Platform in the early days was always Facebook Photos and the question of: how do we give developers access to the same tools that made Facebook Photos successful? Path was, of course, centered on photos from the beginning and still to this day is primarily photos. One of the biggest things that brought Dustin Mierau, my co-founder, and I together to work on the project was our mutual deep love for photos and photography. The idea behind Path more than anything was that when you ask someone to show you their Camera Roll, they often times will not do it because of the personal nature of all of the photos. So, our idea was to build a "personal network" where you would feel comfortable sharing all of those photos on your camera roll that are never shared with the right people not just any people. I still think this is an important idea, we were probably just far too early. Snapchat enables a lot of this type of sharing now, which is awesome. My dear friend Amit Gupta had a profound influence on my photography through his site Photojojo over the years. We always have been collaborating and bouncing ideas off of each other when new photo technologies came onto the scene. One of my favorite of which was the "Dronie." I saw him last week and we did a photo walk in Muir Woods together, I have yet to post the photos but will soon. What Kevin Systrom has done with Instagram has been a revolution in photography for me in trying to discover my "style" that you ask about. I'm particularly drawn to the fast networks of creative outdoor photography. There are amazing amazing networks of photographers doing outdoor adventure photography all over the West, which I find deeply inspiring. Over the last couple of years what Joel Flory and team at VSCO are doing perhaps has had the most pure influence over my "style" in post processing. I have been doing almost all of my post processing on iPhone in that time period rather than on the computer, and almost all of it through VSCO. Most recently, what Art Chang is doing right now with Priime has been deeply influential over the last year. He's building one of the most fascinating networks of the best photographers in the world. Then, enabling them to turn their "styles" into filters which you can use for your on photography. He also goes on the most amazing and inspiring photo walks and adventures. I have had a few photography mentors over the years which have had a profound impact on me. The insanely talented Christopher Michel (http://www.christophermichel.com/) has most recently been helping me the most over the last few years. A dear family friend named William Thompson (http://williamthompson.com/), who was one of the original National Geographic Photographers, has been a life long photography mentor and I can not under communicate his influence on me. I still have so much to learn. I actually am not sure that I have found my personal "style" yet and still feel that I am searching for it. There are elements of it emerging, but I still think I have a lot of work to do in order to find it. I try to convey emotion through outdoor photography which can be very hard. What I do know is that I am going to keep searching for it until I find it, and then keep doing a lot more photography until my time is up.
Niv Dror@nivo0o0 · VC at Shrug Capital
Hey Dave! Thanks for joining us :) Can you share an interesting story from the early Facebook days that hasn't been talked about? 🤔
Chandra Kalle@chandrakalle · Maker @orangecaffeine.com
Despite all the attention design has received in the past decade, there’s only a handful of companies that have truly built a design-driven culture (Apple, Path, Pinterest, etc.). Why is that? How can a company build a design-driven culture from the start?
DAVE MORIN@davemorin · Entreprenuer
@chandrakalle I think to build a design driven culture you have to put design first in everything that you do at the company. Designers should be on the founding team. Design should be a core value, written down in the core values. Training in design thinking should be available for every employee in every function. To balance this, I should say that if you are going to do this design should be a competitive advantage in the product or service category that you are working in. There are many times that this level of focus on design does not make sense, but if design is critical to success in the particular category, then go all in.
Charles Kunene@charles_kunene · Co-founder & Product Designer @Obaa
What's the relationship like between a CEO-founder and a designer-founder (like Dustin) and are the things you wish you could change in that dynamic?
Hang Zhao@sgzhaohang
Hi Dave, thanks for doing this AMA. I'm always a big fan of Path. I'd like to know what is the biggest mistake you've made when building Path and if you got a chance to do it again, what could you do differently.
Lejla Bajgoric@lejlahunts · Intern, Product Hunt
Hi there! Most important thing you look for in someone hoping to convince you to invest in them/their idea?
Charles Kunene@charles_kunene · Co-founder & Product Designer @Obaa
Did it personally affect you when publications like Gawker attacked Path in the early days and how did employees and investors handle all that bad press?
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Hello Dave! Great to meet you here. Would love to know how much of product development is based on board members feedback? Which is best art piece that you find in the new SF MOMA?
Duane Morin@shakespearegeek
Run into a lot of other Morins in your daily life? :) Up here in New England we're all over the place. Pretty sure most of us came down from Canada. Do people still want to assume you're a Moran?
DAVE MORIN@davemorin · Entreprenuer
@shakespearegeek no but I wish I did!
Duane Morin@shakespearegeek
@davemorin I'll get you on the invite list for the next family reunion, cousin :)
James McCarthy@jjjams · CEO Placement Labs www.createbrief.com
Hi Dave thank you for doing this! Question - when you are listening to a pitch.... what is a deal breaker 100% of the time you hear or see it?
Jacob Catalano@jgcatalano · Founder
What is the most important thing to know about building a social network?