Kevin Rose

CEO at HODINKEE. Builder of internet things. Tech investor.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON February 01, 2016


Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
Hi all, can’t wait to answer your questions today. Join me for a conversation around startups, investing, body hacking, product design, podcasting, or whatever. No question is off limits.
Ryan Gilbert@ryangilbert ·
Hi Kevin! 1) Are there any new Foundation interviews coming in 2016? 2) What three words would you use to describe raccoons? 😬 Thank you!
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
@_ryangilbert Nothing planned yet, I might turn this into an audio podcast so that I can crank them out faster, thoughts? re: raccoons: 1. evil 2. oily 3. beasts
Niv Dror@nivo0o0 · VC at Shrug Capital
@kevinrose @_ryangilbert Nice work Kevin. 💪
Vlad Gidea@gidea · Product Analytics
@kevinrose @_ryangilbert yeap, audio podcast would do just fine. we miss you guys and the funny stuff (aka insightful comments). Plus I bet there's so many things you'd like to say about what's going on these days :)
Michael A.@massoian
@kevinrose @_ryangilbert I prefer video, even if they are less frequent. Adds an interesting dimension to the conversations.
Amir Pakzadian@amirp · Sr PM @ Amazon / Founder of
Hi Kevin. Google ( + Youtube), Apple, Spotify and Amazon are all working on music streaming services. What are your thoughts on where the music space is heading? Any predictions or cool opportunities you see?
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
@amirp I'd stay away from this space and let the giants slug it out. If Amazon can actually launch a product that doesn't look like an e-commerce site I'd be a fan. I love how they are bundling a bunch of free digital media with my Prime membership, more of that please.
Mohit@mohitify · Developer - Product - UX - Mobile - SF
@kevinrose @amirp Haha. That Amazon comment.
Jeff Needles@jsneedles · Data @ Houseparty & Maker of Things
Hey Kevin! This is awesome 💯 thanks for doing it. You've kinda gone from being a very public person (TSS, diggnation etc...) to a more private one... A couple questions around this: 1) Have you had any issues with people having a preconceived notion of publicness in what you do? 2) Was something inherently more difficult/challenging in living so publicly vs. not so much? 3) When can we see more toaster pup? He's the cutest dog ever.
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
@jsneedles Thanks for the questions. I've never minded being a somewhat public person, meeting fans from TechTV/Diggnation/Digg, etc. was always a lot of fun. In the end, we're all geeks pumped up and excited by the same stuff -- it was always easy to relate to everyone. Then there was the time I was protested outside of my home, I think that's when I started to pull back a bit. At the time I was a VC at Google Ventures and the protestors pulled an old Diggnation joke from a few years prior (horrible joke based on the movie Clockwork Orange), they used this as ammunition and decided to stalk our family. I had Google security sitting outside my house at night for a few days. Honestly a pretty stressful time. After this and general tech burnout I needed some time off and a reboot. NYC was calling my name and now I'm out here :). Sorry, that was long, oh and more Toaster pics on my Instagram soon!
Andy Newman@andynewman
Hey Kevin! Thanks for doing this. What's been the biggest adjustment since moving to NYC? Has it shifted your view of tech and how it fits into your life?
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
@andynewman Mostly finding new friends, I had a great crew back in SF. It's refreshing how it's not all tech talk in the cafes, I love the industry diversity here (people from finance, film, tech, fashion, etc.)
Joe Arcuri@joearcuri · UX designer
When Digg pivoted after it was sold, it was such a big change from what you built, yet still remains a great site. The framework you and your team built with Digg can still being seen in sites like Product hunt, What was one take away from your time at Digg that had the most impact on you? oh yea..when are you bringing back the next live diggnation?, I saw you and Alex at SXSW, such a great time.
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
@joearcuri Thank you for calling out the framework, I do love seeing sites like PH taking things to the next level, continuing to push things forward :) Tough question, I think my biggest takeaway is this: If you're starting something new, and this is your first company, maintain control at all costs. If you're inexperienced, seek our successful mentors that you can trust. Preferably unbiased with zero ties to your company. Be open and honest with them, hell, with everyone. If you don't know something, don't hide the fact, find people that do and take it head on. After a few months of running digg things started to take off, I was scared of the CEO role so I hired someone. Sadly, we didn't see eye to eye on many things, and I couldn't force him to make changes. Later when things started to decline we had to let him go. It was years of this battling that burnt me out, and sadly most of this could have been avoided if I had stepped up and confronted my fears in the beginning.
Rui Gouveia@ruigouveia · Founder - Build Up Labs
Do you believe the Venture Builder / Startup Studio model has a viable future for creating stronger startups?
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
@ruigouveia I do believe in them as long as they are well capitalized. Obvious is a great example here. Medium took awhile (and lots of $$) until the product started to catch fire. The same can been seen w/ Expa. Operator and Reserve are great products but have yet to fully tip. If a studio is underfunded they won't have the time to iterate and find their audience.
Napoleon Suarez@napoleonsuarez · Founder, Fishbox
Kevin, congrats on joining HODINKEE! I've been following Ben and his team from afar and they're doing some pretty dope things. When you shut down Tiiny, you wrote a post on Medium about what you were going to do next and the first thing that you said was "No lifestyle businesses" To some, HODINKEE qualifies as a lifestyle business. I honestly don't see anything wrong with that, but I'm curious as to why you decided to change your mind on that one. Do you see HODINKEE as being something bigger than a lifestyle business? If so, can you explain how HODINKEE is different?
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
@napoleonsuarez Thanks for your questions! You are 100% correct. HODINKEE today is a lifestyle business, we closed out the year with revenue in the millions, but not hitting scale or going public anytime soon. That said, I look at last year as one of technical debt. We had to fix the backend, launch an app, fix the .com usability, etc. That's all done now, so 2016 will be about new products. Products that we hope will tap into something much larger. As I'm sure you know, new and vintage watch sales per year are in the double digit billions. We're investigating ways to reimagine portions of that pie.
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein ·
Kevin, if you could time-travel back to 2004, but retain all of your knowledge, skills and experiences as of 02/2016, what product/company would you build? Would it be a different version of Digg?
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
@tomstocklein I probably just wait for bitcoin to be invented. Then buy a gazillion coins at .01 cents. Seriously tho, I'd just stay true to the core digg audience, building tools for them, not the publishers.
Greg Moore@gmoore131 ·
When you're evaluating an idea you want to work on, what's your process? Do you have a framework that helps you weed out weaker ideas?
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
@gmoore131 Yes, getting it into wireframes and on your phone as soon as possible. I've killed a few ideas after having a mock UI running on the phone and it not feeling right.
Mark&Patti Clifford@markjohn1 · It's All Mishegoss "California Dreamn'"
What do you believe the future of podcasting will be?
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
@markjohn1 I'd like some rich media associated w/ the audio stream -- why can't we attach images or links to the stream during key moments?
Mark&Patti Clifford@markjohn1 · It's All Mishegoss "California Dreamn'"
@kevinrose That would be great. Maybe that's a new product? I'm spending more time podcasting and see a great result with that over blogging. Especially when it comes to pushing out some news.
Martín Granados@mvrtxn · Fullstack dev, Twitter is @mgranados_
What areas you think innovators should be focusing the most right now?
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
@mvrtxn I find we do our best work when it's something you're personally passionate about. So, I'd say to follow that and you'll find your focus.
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein ·
How did your Montessori education influence your approach to entrepreneurship, coding and product design?
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
@tomstocklein Montessori encouraged us to get our my hands dirty at a young age. The emphasis was on doing, not just reading.
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Hello @kevinrose Great to meet you here for the AMA. Which are your favorite podcasts? In the early days of Digg what growth strategy worked for you? Any recommendation for a first time entrepreneur?
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
@neeeharika FoundMyFitness is a great podcast: Early Digg was all about embracing the small audience and giving them a voice. Support your early users and they will act as your larger microphone.
Alex Greene@alexg473 · Engineer @ Spectrum Labs
Given a massive amount of time and money, as well as a large group of people dedicated to helping you, what is a problem in the world that you'd like to solve, or a system you'd like to improve?
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
@alexg473 We need to rethink how we deal with at-risk youth. School detention should be replaced with therapy. We need to focus on mental health for those in need. I'd love to see corporations embrace therapy as a mandatory (paid) benefit. Having witnessed domestic abuse as a boy, it's a problem that's close to my heart.
Sree Harsha Mudunuri@sree_harsha_mudunuri · Studying physics in Hampshire college
Next one big thing this world is gonna see dramatic change , and you want to be part of it ?
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
@sree_harsha_mudunuri I believe in the next ten years science will prove that too much technology (e.g. heads always in our phones) is actually a negative thing for the mind and longevity. I believe we'll be forced to find a sustainable balance between technology use and real life experiences. When I walk around NYC I try to avoid using my phone, rather I just observe others. Most of us are heads down in our phones, all the time. For fun, try this: pretend that you're a visitor to this planet and are observing humans for the first time, taking notes. When I do this, it appears humans are fully dependent on these devices. Twice now I've seen pedestrians almost stuck by traffic due to phone use. We use them first thing in the morning before leaving bed, and just before the lights go off. It's almost as if we're dependent upon them for some type of nourishment. But this nourishment comes as a tradeoff, less physical contact with others, not taking the time to enjoy our environment etc. etc. I have this idea for an Android app that would help by providing smart nudges around usage. Sadly, right now this type of app has limited appeal, as most of us would rather have all tech all the time.
Sree Harsha Mudunuri@sree_harsha_mudunuri · Studying physics in Hampshire college
@kevinrose Kevin, surprisingly I lost my phone just before my road trip in December, 2015. I decided to not get a new phone for next 15 days of my trip. It turned out to be insightful. While visiting theme parks I was the only person in the group without phone, so when my friends were using their phones I got time to look around. What you said is true about people always looking down in their phones. I used to look around, see what everyone is doing..etc. Keeping this aside. I got used to use phone only for calls and very few messages. So what is the result? I don't know if this is the right term but I started being aware in social situation, (eg. after the trip when i went out for coffee with a friend, i observed whenever there was a time gap between conversation, their eyes balls use to roll over the phone or hand automatically goes to check phone. Why do they do that? I feel it has become their reflex action, they don't know they are doing it normally.) And the change I observed in self is less of mental tiredness. Other thing which i observed is people don't talk directly looking into the eye but rather to their objects, so when i walk in public i try looking into eyes of people (not creepy, less then a second) and count how many smile back or react or roll their eyes away. Remember during one of your and Tim Ferris conversation, him mentioning about how during his conversation with someone, was distracting, when the other person received messages the person used to look at their apple watch. People think keeping busy themselves is always good, but they don't realize the productivity part. Checking mails all time then a fixed intervals during the day..etc. Taking breaks and sitting idle helps in concentrating and improving productivity during work. Hope you do come out with app soon, i really would love to see because i did think the same; about an app, but the question comes to my mind, is the solution for using less technology again using technology or can there be any other way. isn't it creating a loop? Sree
Chris Ziobehr@ziobehr · Advisor
Hey Kevin, great job over the years. I've been following your journey since the days of the screen savers. My question to you is why did you leave what seemed to be a cushy job at GV, which potentially gave you some great opportunities, to go back to the startup life? Then the move to Hodinkee?
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
@ziobehr GV was such a great experience. I was just talking to Bill (Maris, head of GV) a couple days ago, I miss that guy, we had some good times. I left because I was feeling the itch to build a product, and I couldn't do that while at GV. I still invest (personally, not through a fund) my last deal was Shyp (almost a year ago), and I'm looking at another potential deal now. HODINKEE is interesting because it's a massive unchanged industry (old mechanical watches), most brands still don't sell online -- there is potential to rethink this, lots of experiments coming this year. Thanks for following all these years, Chris!
Ryan Gilbert@ryangilbert ·
What are your long-term plans/goals with your new newsletter, The Journal?
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
@_ryangilbert I have some plans. I want to create an interactive newsletter (more on that in the coming weeks). I want the audience to be engaged and present. I'm going to spend a lot of time vetting these products, articles, podcasts, etc. you should feel confident clicking them. To that end, I'm going to develop some slightly strange features. One that I'll mention now: In the future should you stop reading my newsletter (meaning you haven't opened a few issues or clicked any links), I'm going to automatically unsubscribe you. I'd rather have a smaller list of people who actually want to read the content then fill your inbox with unopened mail.
@kevinrose @_ryangilbert <3 I've been waiting for someone to do this. Sounds smart, plus it gives you better (more realistic) metrics.
Snah Desai@s_haverford · Operations Analyst, ServiceTitan
Hey Kevin, If you had to choose one watch to own your entire life what would that watch be and why?
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
Rui Delgado@rui · Tech Entrepreneur • Consultant • TV Nerd
How are you feeling in the NY ecosystem so far? What do you think are the most notable differences from the West Coast?
Kevin Rose@kevinrose · Builder of internet things.
@rui seasons!