417. Is Cerebral Valley the True Mecca for AI or Just Hype, How the FTX Meltdown Could Benefit Crypto in the Long Run, and The Pros and Cons of Taking on Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos (Morgan Beller)

417. Is Cerebral Valley the True Mecca for AI or Just Hype, How the FTX Meltdown Could Benefit Crypto in the Long Run, and The Pros and Cons of Taking on Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos (Morgan Beller)


Morgan Beller of NFX joins Nick to discuss Is Cerebral Valley the True Mecca for AI or Just Hype, How the FTX Meltdown Could Benefit Crypto in the Long Run, and The Pros and Cons of Taking on Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. In this episode we cover:

  • Stable Coins and Their Potential Use Cases
  • Crypto Regulation, FTX Debacle, and Market Correction
  • Space Technology, Satellite Repair and Competition
  • AI Companies in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley
  • Startup Valuations, Founder Skills, and Competitive Advantages

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Transcribed with AI:

0:18
Morgan Beller joins us today from San Francisco, California. She’s a General Partner at NFX, a pre-seed and seed stage venture fund investing in Gaming, Generative AI, PropTech, Space, Fintech, Marketplaces, and Crypto. Morgan has invested in companies including Ramp, Stoke, Starfish, EvenUp and Celestia. Prior to NFX, she co-founded Libra and was Head of Strategy for Novi, Facebook’s digital wallet for the Libra payment system. Morgan, welcome to the show!
0:47
Thank you for having me, Nick.
0:48
Absolutely. Tell us a bit about your backstory in your path to becoming an investor. Sure,
0:53
backstory depending on how far you want to go back, grew up on the mean streets of Long Island, which is not relevant, except that I did end up going to Cornell wasn’t too far from home. And the summer after my freshman year, I volunteered at TechCrunch Disrupt, just to fold T shirts and do whatever needed to be done. And I was very fortunate that one of my assignments was to walk this woman backstage fit and who she was. Her name is Shana Fisher. She’s a phenomenal early stage investor. And we hit it off, we had like an intense, brief conversation that resulted in me starting to work for her full time in the internship capacity the next day. So that summer was really my exposure to this world’s deed investing specifically with tech more broadly. And she gave me such a great gift that three days a week I worked in house for her two days a week I worked in house that portfolio companies, so I kind of got to see both sides of the coin at 18, which was really lucky. And then I remember I went back to school and I was like, that was the best summer ever. But you really need to earn being an investor. I don’t know what I’m doing. I want to go work at companies etc. And fast forward 10 ish years. I ended up coming back. But there’s we could dive into what happened in between. But that’s, that’s the short version of the gateway drug in
2:15
amazing any notable investments from that summer. Oh,
2:20
I didn’t do anything. I mean,
2:22
I did that I made you supported. Maybe she did. There
2:25
was one company called Lolly, Wolly doodle, which was kind of a Zulily competitor, I think maybe even before Zulily it was a children’s clothing brand. And they would post this was 2013. They would post pictures of whatever the item or items were that they were selling that day in a Facebook chat in the Facebook group, and moms from all over the country would reply and put their address in the comments. And then they had the scraper that would send them an invoice. And you’re like what a different world that people would put their address, Facebook group and also, I remember one of my projects was to like go through the profiles of their top buyers and figure out what the common denominators were because of ads weren’t what it is today. And I remember the common denominators being like Taylor Swift, the Bible Jesus. And I remember that being a big learning lesson. I’m not sure what happened to the company, but that’s the one I remember the most
3:22
amazing So refresh us. I think we’ve had a few different investors from NSX on the show, but remind us of the thesis in in your investment focus and FX FX
3:34
as a pre seed and seed generalist ish funds. So NF X stands for network effects. The thesis being a majority of value in Tech has accrued to network effects related businesses. And between us as we know it’s broad enough that it includes a lot, but it is narrow enough that it also excludes and we have six focus areas. Let’s see if we can get them you named a few but marketplaces prop tech, FinTech, gaming, bio and crypto and then some other areas where we’ve spent more time than others and then they’re not mutually exclusive. You know, it could be a gaming marketplaces company as an example. And my focus I joined January 2021, straight from Facebook, Libra, no vi DM all the names we went through. Not exclusively to focus on crypto, but that’s where my heart mind and friends were. So I did end up spending a disproportionate amount of time on crypto I still do, but broadly, anything weird? Anything that no one else really wants to look out happily talk to.
4:35
So we’re in. We’re in an interesting time for crypto Morgan. Let’s talk crypto a little bit. Maybe we can start off with PayPal. They recently announced that they’re fully backed regulated US dollar stable coin is active. What do you think this means for stable coins and crypto large?
4:53
Generally all for it generally can’t see it being anything but a positive or all of the above. though, when I’m biased to the strategy, we were hit our heads against the wall for four years trying to do something very similar of all the partners we spoke to me Pay Pal really is smart and is well positioned to, I think have a big influence in the space, both being crypto stable coins. And I guess broader FinTech because of their position of where they are, in relation to consumer wallet, share their position to where they are as far as like b2b wallet share and their position to where they are visa vie respect in the regulatory world. So I see that and I’m like, great. In hindsight, people are like, you guys were idiots. Of course, Facebook could not have launched the stablecoin we conceived the idea prior to Cambridge analytic it was a different world. And I still do think there was a chance but that said, Facebook was I think, more so than it is today, I’ve got quite a right we’re to use a hot topic in DC, despite Libra, alright, beyond Libra and Pay Pal is like pretty new, everyone kind of likes PayPal. So I’m hopeful that they could be an appropriate shepherd to bring adoption to stable coins in a more meaningful way than we were able to,
6:11
what are the three best use cases you’ve seen or considered for stable coins? The
6:17
US Dollar, like I mean, it could be more specific, but the broad hypothesis is like people, the dollar is awesome. People love the dollar. In America, outside of America, if anything in America, we probably don’t appreciate how good we have it with $1 relative to what the other options could be. And all of our research, from every corner of the world show that everyone wants dollars. And the best. This is not a direct answer to your question. But the loose answer to the question is the best use cases. And it’s a more frictionless way to get dollars and more people’s hands. So it’s a good use case, from the consumer perspective of a why dollars, like and get them more easily with the use case being just like preserving their wealth or utility of buying things. And then the use case in the eyes of the US government is like further dollarization, which Britain posts I’ve spoken about this pretty publicly, but that was the part that made you want to scream maybe more than anything else, which is like, the US government has tried hard for a long time to start and sustain dollarization. And like a digital version of the dollar is like such a hole in one to continue towards that goal. So what are you thinking not embracing that? But from the use case of the US government? Why wouldn’t you want more people? Dollar?
7:35
Any other use cases that jumped to mind? Preserving
7:39
wealth? You know, keeping money at a currency doesn’t lose value? dollarization for the US government? I mean, there’s also I mean, there’s all the answers you’ve heard, but for reasons of peer to peer payments, b2b payments, b2c? Anything the dollar is used for just better in many cases, I have like more esoteric answers about like, dollars can be used for self driving cars can speak to each other, you know, all those wild things. But I think the point of the boring answer is like, it’s not like we don’t need to overthink it. It’s just toddlers, better in many respects. And like, that’s kind of the point like, we don’t need to, like, reinvent the wheel on use cases. Get them out there. Morgan,
8:15
do you think the massive crypto correction was a function of the FTX? situation? Or was this inevitable?
8:21
All of the above? And so yes, and so I have a, we hosted a dinner with some crypto founders, like a few weeks ago, months ago, must have been months ago, because it was like FTX was fresh. And I was okay, I’m gonna put this out there. But does anyone think that there’s a world where we look back? And we think that the FTX debacle was a blessing in disguise? Oh, interesting. My brain was like, Absolutely not. And I was like, I think that there’s a case that it is been that it was nuts out there. So kind of is nuts out there. And like, we saw crazy valuations, you saw crazy wealth being created with the least amount of work ever required to as an input to create that will? Like everything was not that wasn’t sustainable. It didn’t make sense. And at some point, you ask yourself, you’re like, do the laws of gravity apply? And you’re like, Yeah, of course they must. But then more and more of these examples happened right away, maybe they don’t know, maybe I’m the crazy one. But I do believe that, like the laws of gravity do still apply to crypto slash, you know, AI, and that at some point, everything was going to be sobered up. And FTX was the most dramatic, quickest way for the market to be corrected. But there’s a chance that the sooner it happened, the better because you got rid of as my partner James calls them like the fruit flies like the people that were coming into the industry for the wrong reason. You got rid of these valuations that made no sense. You got rid of some of these projects that made no sense and like it was better to happen sooner than later. Of course, the other side of that is like FTX has painted crypto in a very negative light even though the crime that was committed was really just done the old fashioned way. Like Chris There was a tool that was used to get money into the casino, but like they just stole money, the you know, the custody funds and misappropriated them, but it wasn’t necessarily anything crypto native to that. So the biggest negative is that it people think FTX and crypto even though the crime should be a separate sentence. But I think there are potentially positives, which is just like flush it all out.
10:22
There, the regulatory regulatory environment here is, is uncertain, but we know that there’s going to be more regulation coming. If you had to predict the most critical one or two regulatory decisions that will be made in the coming years. What are the primary issues? And where do you think they will net out,
10:41
you can really get yourself in trouble making regulatory predictions, because it’s hard to rationalize irrational, I think, there’s belief that there’s gonna be some bitcoin ETF coming out, which is moving the markets, but I’d be positive, that’d be a positive one, which I think further solidifies and shows versus tells like Bitcoin is a different thing, you know, security, store value, etc. I fear that there might be some regulation around more black and white defining certain assets as securities or not, or certain types of assets and securities or not, maybe it’s not a fear, actually, cuz like maybe like right now, like everyone’s operating in this gray zone, where like, crossing your fingers and keeping your eyes open at night, like hoping that X, Y and Z is or is not a security, but some more clarity would actually maybe help people know what the rules are. So I’ll be optimistic, I think like some form of Bitcoin ETF, but then also some additional form of clarity around what’s good and what’s bad. In the eyes of regulators, so people can operate more freely, like the good guys can still good guys and women could still can still play ball. Because there is a lot of bad out there. There are things that really are definitionally securities, and they’re kind of ruining the party for everyone else. So the sooner we can make the rules more clear, get rid of the bad guys, so that the good guys and girls feel like they can operate freely in the United States and not have to take their business elsewhere. Like that would I think be a good thing?
12:11
I mean, that supports your point earlier that the FTX situation could Shepherd a better era for crypto, right, like some guardrails and some regulation can be good. I believe that, especially if it keeps out a lot of the, you know, the charlatans that sort of were just stealing money
12:33
now, there will always be charlatans stealing money and Ponzi schemes, but we can regulate against those. That makes sense. Awesome. So
12:40
I understand you spent a lot of time thinking about space, inner space, outer space and block space, this block space. Yeah,
12:50
my friend Ryan Shay came up with that, because he was visiting San Francisco when I was talking about, like inner space, spending more time on like wellness, mental physical health, and our space based companies seems like oh, you should throw black space in their black space, you know, broadly a crypto term so that could be like inclusive of that. Really also to give him credit was creative and also latent space, which is a phrase that can broadly include anything in the AI realm as well. So it’s just trying to be cute.
13:22
Let’s talk a bit about space proper then I know starfish space has had big headlines, most recently in May with their 14 million series A and they were funding you know, this company is using docking technology and and such for things to rendezvous in low or in low Earth orbit. More recently, their mission with the otter pup satellite had some catastrophic issues when the satellite went into a tumble that has since been unrecoverable. You know, how does starfish starfish space navigate out of this you know, what are the prospects for the company?
13:57
So, to give a bit more context for those who are listening who are unfamiliar with starfish, so starfish is broadly doing autonomous space operations as you mentioned, they are starting with low Earth orbit specifically with satellite recovering satellite repairing life extension. So a lot of people are sending satellites to space the lifecycle of satellites is not very long because you know conditions in space are hard. I’m not trying to explain this year five to be demeaning like this is the level at which I you know, translate it to myself. So if they are able to go on up there and fix these satellites that extend their life cycles by a few months that is like orders of magnitude better than where they are today. Every additional month that a satellites alive they get additional revenue and it’s just something that we believe are just like objective with all satellites could benefit from so they weren’t watching it test. And the other learning lesson from space. One of many is that there’s a lot dependencies so they can do everything right, and they still need to get there. There’s a lot of dependencies on other companies that need that they need in order to get where they’re get where they’re going. And there was an issue, there was a kick in the armor. And something went wrong with one of those dependencies. So again, they could have done everything right, which was kind of like shirt Ingres cat, we didn’t even get a chance to necessarily test that I believe they did everything, right. And there was an issue with the launch of getting to space. And we almost like kind of wrote it off, then as you know, this is a real bummer. But then, I’m really trying to translate this, like the satellite, or sorry, the otter pup, which is what they said to low Earth orbit continued to do amazing things, despite us almost thinking it was fully did. And it lasted longer and got more data and they were able to get more signal, get more data and run more experiments than they had expected to once they like initially thought it was maybe dead on arrival. So that was amazing. But then ultimately, it did fully die, which was a bummer. And I remember where I was standing. When Austin called me on like a Sunday, like two or three weeks ago. Tell me that and he sounded so sad. And it was the weekend of October 7. So I thought when he told me I had bad news, I thought he’s gonna tell me something horrible, the word is broke out. And it was at the otter pup was officially dead. So I we had this conversation around that, you know, this weekend puts things into perspective of what’s important, but also that he should be so proud of what they were able to accomplish. Even in the weeks leading up to that, you know, his team took something that was a really bad situation, that was mostly out of their control, did as much as they could do within their control and made as much lemonade as they could. And they knew that there wasn’t 100% guarantee that they were going to be able to run a fully successful experiment with this first otter pup Lodge. They are lucky, and I think they earned it. But it’s also lucky that they were able to close around recently, so they have money in the bank to run a few more experiments. And that’s where they go from here. So that was a bit of a long answer to emotional passionate one for me, but I’m confident that they’re gonna run it back. I’m knocking on wood and get back out there. But yeah, just Yeah, space is hard. Big
17:16
fan of that company, by the way. Thank you. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I’ve followed them for some time. And really, thanks for sharing that. That makes me feel good. Yeah, one of our venture partners is an investor earlier, man. So another space investment you’ve made Darkspace. Right. It’s a SpaceX competitor. The only other company building 100% rapidly reusable rocket rockets. You know, as I think about the leaders in the companies that I least like to compete with, is Jeff Bezos at Amazon and Elon Musk at SpaceX. Is it wise to be competing with a company that has had such success? And it may be the most challenging technological demand?
17:56
Time will tell every action as well. Yeah. For the right type of founder, and I think for most people know, for Andy, the co founder of Stoke and Tom, its co founder, the answers. Absolutely, yes. And I think for the right type of founders willing to go for it, their silver linings to going up against them as well. And one of those is that Tom and Andy both came from Blue Origin. And part of the initial work around this or learning for me, it was a steep learning curve, I’d never done anything in this world before other than look through a telescope and go to the planetarium but is that SpaceX and Blue Origin were founded to colonize Mars, you know, those founders, they want to get to Mars, with their families, friends, etc. And that, that’s the mission of those companies, which is incredible, but leaves a slightly different order of operations and like business than if, like your sole mission and purpose in life is to just run a transportation company to and from various places in orbit. So you’re built differently, you run your team differently, it’s all everything is a bit different. So they are directly competing, of course, but it is like slightly nuanced. And I don’t know how like political and racy to make this pack as well, like another writing that they don’t kill me for saying, but it’s like there’s big personalities running those companies. And I think that some of the folks looking at them for either investment or partnership are realizing that like the Western world, broadly American more specifically, like kind of needs more options, or employment, right, or employment or employment. Due to learning very, they’re doing very well with recruiting because they want to recruit from those places. Yeah.
19:47
Awesome. Love it. You know, I want to transition a bit to Gen AI, you had mentioned before some of your efforts in generative AI and I know there seems to be a new center of gravity for Gen AI in Hayes Valley, San Francisco, being referred to as cerebral Valley, do you think it’s a real thing? And have you visited these Victorian co live co living homes, you know, full of these supposedly Gen AI hackers.
20:13
I do think it’s a real thing, which I’ll caveat with, I have extreme confirmation bias. But we opened the new office about a year ago, we wanted to get out of downtown San Francisco and into a more residential area, we chose Hayes Valley in San Francisco and has since been, or become the cerebral Valley. So I have a lot of confirmation bias because we’re the only
20:31
they followed you, they’re more they
20:34
found, it appears like I have such strong reason to believe is the new center of gravity. With that said, there are also objective facts that confirm our hypothesis, like the number of companies springing up here. You walk through the streets, and people have their garages open, you see people like hacking inside, and it’s the way that I had had Silicon Valley describe to me from like the yesteryear. This hacker houses up into one but I know there’s multiple. And I actually spoke to someone who is starting there was researching and kind of starting these like hacker house co living facilities. And he said that he researched every zip code in the world for the absolute best place to start this and found that it is this one square mile, and he had all this data to kind of confirm it. To the extent that you can confirm it, but I think it’s real. We’ll see. I don’t know, we’ll see. I’m biased.
21:21
Amazing. I mean, is the profile of these companies different at founding? You know, is it a lot of PhD types, as opposed to your your typical tech Bros?
21:31
The profile of AI companies broadly are? Yeah, and
21:35
specifically the ones that are in cerebral Valley. In Hays,
21:39
you’re seeing, I mean, there’s so many AI companies now they feel like you could sign any archetype of any type of founder, and there’s probably restarted by that person. I’m trying to think of loose generalizations also. But you are, it does, I’m going to offend someone by saying this, but does kind of feel like you know, Revenge of the Nerds again, and that it’s like, people who just want to sit in the garage and build the coolest thing versus when the market was like really, really hot. There was always the question of missionary versus mercenary. And now I think you’re seeing a lot of teams who really are here, because they’re excited about you know, they’re here for the tech and excited about the tech. I think when the market was nuts. You were saying you were having this question about missionary versus mercenary. Like if someone’s starting this company, because they are genuinely interested in it or because they think they can get rich quick. The market cooling down, I think has stopped some of those founders who were starting companies just because they thought it was the get rich, quick scheme from starting companies at all. But the counter to that is, of course not the AI markets, not 08 mean, it’s all cutting in all directions. But the short answer is there’s so many effing AI companies being started that I think you could find one that fits any stereotype you have. What
22:52
are you looking for when you’re evaluating a new gen AI company? You know, are there certain factors that you need to see present for NSX to kind of lean in? Clearly some network effects. But beyond that,
23:05
clearly some network effects. So you got that I’m going to speak on behalf of Morgan at the firm, because I have a strong opinion on this, which is, I think that AI is being overused and investors are just getting like taken advantage of and whenever I get an email saying, Hey, my friend, or someone or whoever is starting an AI company or an AI company, do you want to speak to them? It’s so hard for my reaction to be anything but no, because I’m like, What the fuck does that mean? An AI company. And it reminds me of like crypto where people were just like overusing the word to the point that’s like, it doesn’t mean anything. So like, it got to the point when the crypto market was nuts, that people would say, Okay, do you want to meet my friends starting a crypto company? I bet what does that mean? What is it like marketplaces, companies that a fin tech companies have a gaming company? What is it actually? And then is crypto being used in a way that accelerates something that couldn’t be done before acceleration, growth? GTM, etc. And that’s how I at least personally feel about AI companies. Someone’s at an AI company, like what does it mean is a marketplace company, FinTech company, gaming company, consumer app for which they’re using AI to do something that couldn’t be done before. So I think I’m applying a similar lens to crypto where it’s okay, great. I recognize as cool and new, but also, like, it has to be more than this an AI company, and maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know. But that’s where that’s where I haven’t I but where I say I think investors are getting taken advantage of is I think it’s like reminiscent to crypto where like the laws of gravity aren’t necessarily applying. You’re seeing these companies that don’t have any materials or anything raised at these insane valuations. And maybe it will work but I do believe the laws of gravity will end up applying here as well and they are going to have to solve a problem and get customers and make money and do all the things that any other company has to do. But maybe not you bossom
25:00
let’s talk about the market just a bit, you know, graduation rates to series A have dropped all time lows, extensions and bridges are at an all time high. And company failures, Pete, is this the beginning the middle or the end of the recession and venture? You know, what inning would you say that were in? Comes back
25:20
to your other predictions only make you look bad? Or it’s risky. We’re prepping for annual meetings. I
25:26
mean, it’s it’s part of what we do, right? Because we’re portfolio
25:29
predict the future but lucky, you know, so all these things, but there’s so many variables, I really tried to be like a glass half full person, but it’s hard to think it’s the end. Like I would lean more towards beginning to middle than I mean, because World War Three starting, I don’t know that maybe, and then everything back a bit or does that not and like we’re gonna want to stimulate the economy. And it’s good. I mean, it could go in so many directions. But I will say that similar to FTX, being maybe a gift, like there’s a world where this is all like maybe a gift and like the companies that are failing, like it’s just celebrating the inevitable. Again, maybe this won’t make me friends. But there was this and is almost this but less so this, like founder fantasy where it was just the past like 10 to 15 years, like anyone that was perceived to be more intelligent, good at their job, and like product or engineering was expected to be a founder. So you had all these people becoming founders. And like, the truth is, takes a lot more than that. And I think you saw a lot of people start companies that never should have started companies. The awareness is a gift as they’re only starting a company today, if you really are crazy. And like the right ways, no longer just like this fun, get rich, quick thing like accessory that you could talk about at a cocktail party. So I’m like, maybe it’s not so bad. prices are coming down. And yes, companies are dying, but like the good ones are going to get stronger from it. So that’s a really brutalist view. But it’s a potentially, potentially true.
27:01
So what are you looking for, you know, new, crazy founder launching your company, you know, what are you looking for in a seed business, in a seed founder, when you first meet them,
27:11
they have to be insane. Hopefully the right type of insane. We just invested in that public yet, I’ll see if I get in trouble. But in the baby registry company, and I’m like, I would have never thought I would have done that. But the founder is insane. And on the right ways. If she’s listening, she knows I love her. There’s true network effects to the business. There’s a really strong community around it, the product is beautiful. That’s something necessarily that different. I think what’s different though, is I have this like working hypothesis that isn’t well formed. So it’s not going to be well articulated, but bear with me, but in this world of AI, everything, etc. It appears that the barrier to entry to build anything, overgeneralizing. So whoever’s listening like, I overgeneralizing, but the barrier to entry to build like an app or website or anything software’s lower than it was assuming you’re not doing something extremely like, technically new and novel, because there’s API’s for this, then everything. So you don’t need to be as technical to start a company that is like a technical company on day zero. And then the barrier to entry for people to come and copy and paste, it is also much lower than it ever was, like this working hypothesis I have is as the DNA of founding teams look different than we’ve been trained to look for. And that like when I was at Andreessen Horowitz, 10 years ago, this has changed when I was there, I made a very, very strong bias against founders that weren’t technical, literally at Salesforce. I was like, you know, What school did they get a computer science degree, and if not, the bar is almost insurmountable. And now the baby registry competitor that we just are, you know, baby registry company that we just invested in not a technical founder, she built the product by you know, she didn’t need one. And I think that like brand, marketing community, all these like more touchy feely facets of the business might end up being more of the competitive advantages, because that’s not what you could copy and paste, no bot can copy and paste the brand that she’s built with her early customers. But it can completely copy paste the website, and the app and all of that. So I’m wondering if I need to retrain my brain and look for founders that have competitive advantages and less replicable skill sets? Does that make sense? Yeah, it makes sense orthogonal to what it has been because it’s okay. Like, you could copy it. You could clone stripe stripe is sorry, yesterday, you could clone it overnight, and there could be 100 of them. Whereas that was like a technically advanced thing, and I’m overgeneralizing, but directionally that’s something I’ve been thinking about.
29:41
Love it. Yeah, I happen to be reading a book where the Masons, it’s from centuries ago with the Masons have all the power. And you think about how things have changed over time and architects and then developers and you know, in the in the building and in the real estate world, it’s not Not always the people that are actually building the structures that
30:07
we might end up going full circle because now there’s a massive dearth of those like that profession is just scarcity for it. Like we’ve seen a few marketplaces for trade schools instead of versus high paying jobs. AI is not coming for them. I don’t know there’s a world there’s a world where it just comes back. I
30:27
don’t know. Morgan, if we can feature anyone here on the show, who do you think we should interview and what topic would you like to hear them speak about?
30:34
I am obsessed with Trader Joe’s. And I don’t know if anyone has read or if anyone’s as obsessed as I am. Let me make sure I get the title. Correct. But okay, yeah, it’s called. So Joe collo is the founder of Trader Joe’s. And he wrote a book called Becoming Trader Joe. And it is the greatest book I’ve ever read on business. And I think people don’t talk about it enough. So I don’t know if that even directionally in the zip code you were looking for. But if you could interview him, and he doesn’t, I haven’t really heard him do any interviews. But I would love to interview him. Like even today, we were having a debate over lunch about this deal we’re looking at. And we were talking about how, in trying to be like the how weird should you be as a brand when you’re starting versus like where you net out? Because I mean, weird get you? It was a longer conversation. But the crux of it was like being weird gets you like attention might get you into this weird niche market that no one else is in. But then like over time, you probably get normalized a bit. And we were talking about what Okay, so what’s an example of a brand that stayed weird at scale for a very long time Trader Joe’s? Trader, I breed Trader Joe’s up at least once a day, as an example of something. So and I haven’t heard him interviewed on a podcast. So
31:56
I was gonna ask you for a book recommendation, but I think we’ve got it. What is it called again? In
32:01
Trader Joe? I’ll send you a copy. I’ve probably sent 30 copies of this book. Have you sent me? Oh my god,
32:05
I love it. You’re like entrepreneurship stuff.
32:08
I did not read this. For that reason. I didn’t read it as like a business book. I read it because I’m obsessed with Trader Joe’s. Bias. But I was like, wow, everyone should read this book.
32:20
Love it. Love it. Morgan, do you have any habits, tactics or techniques that are a secret weapon?
32:26
I bring my dog everywhere. I don’t know if it’s a secret weapon. Question. But, you know, she pays you plays hard to get.
32:37
There she is. Cameo, a secret
32:39
weapon. i That is true. Other secret weapons. I didn’t do this with the last deal. And she’s gonna call me out on it. But I do try to meet everyone in person. And then I think it’s a personality test of, I’m going to give away my test. I think it’s personality test, like what restaurant does someone take you to? And you know, it is expected that like a venture firm takes you to a Michelin restaurant or a really fancy restaurant to kind of like flex and show you how great they are. But that’s just not who I am. So I often bring someone to like the pizza place or the taqueria and see what one because that’s like, what I prefer. And to see how they react. And I don’t know if that’s a secret weapon or not, but it’s something I do.
33:25
I love it. What about you know, you mentioned culture quite a bit before, especially with stoke space. Have you come across anything in particular, like any books or guidelines on how to build great culture at a fast growing venture back startup,
33:42
you kind of gave me the layup but it’s obviously Trader Joe’s.
33:45
Oh, right. Again,
33:47
obviously the Trader Joe’s book related response, which was not a question you asked us I’m so biased in person teams, and so biased against remote teams. And that could be a hypothesis that doesn’t age well either. But I, I think in person is the way to go. Maybe not five days a week, maybe not six days a week. It’s just just math, you’re sitting on top of each other all day, you’re gonna get more done, you’re going to be more productive, you’re going to come up with better ideas you’re gonna have a better relationship with your co workers. We’re going to talk more
34:22
100% Couldn’t agree more. And then finally here Morgan, what is the best way for listeners to connect with you and follow along with and effects
34:29
connecting with me I am Morgan at an fx.com please shoot me a note. Following along with FX I think that there is a pretty blatant place to put your email address on fx.com and sign up for our newsletter which is wonderful. We are biased towards quality not quantity, I promise. And that’s the best way to follow along with us on Twitter, Twitter x x. You guys do it all Oh yeah, we have signal which is a way to connect and find find investors in your space. A brief language like Doxon for founders, we’ve got a lot. It’s all on the website and effects.com Awesome.
35:08
We’ll say hello to James and giegi from us. Morgan Beller. The firm is NF X. Morgan, thanks so much for the time and the insight.
35:15
Thank you so much. It was really great to spend time together. Amazing. Thanks.
35:24
All right, that’ll wrap up today’s interview. If you enjoyed the episode or a previous one, let the guests know about it. Share your thoughts on social or shoot them an email, let them know what particularly resonated with you. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that some of the smartest folks in venture are willing to take the time and share their insights with us. If you feel the same, a compliment goes a long way. Okay, that’s a wrap for today. Until next time, remember to over prepare, choose carefully and invest confidently thanks so much for listening