Kevin Rose on the next wave of consumer apps and what’s happening in the podcast industry

Kevin Rose is someone I’ve known for quite a while. I think it was 11 years ago we first worked together when he was starting out as an intern. The promise I saw in him at that time has undoubtedly blossomed into an amazing set of skills, insights, and passions that have contributed to the world in truly meaningful ways.

Kevin is a serial entrepreneur. He’s best known for founding Digg and Revision3. He also serves on the True Ventures team with me and many others, funding startups that capture the imagination. These days, Kevin is no small player – he’s been featured on the cover of Inc. Magazine, Bloomberg, Businessweek, RedHerring, and lots more.

Since it had been a while between conversations, I invited Kevin on the show to talk about the future wave of exciting consumer apps, what it will take to see them come about AND the buzz that’s happening around podcasting these days. The podcast industry has grown leaps and bounds in recent days and both of us are excited about the potential we see.

Join me for this fun conversation with a good friend.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:30] My introduction of Kevin Rose: entrepreneur and industry observer
  • [1:51] The overview of Kevin’s work – and why he’s doing it
  • [3:48] Motivations behind Kevin’s focus on intentionality
  • [7:27] Curiosity: a life-long trait that has compelled Kevin to action
  • [13:55] How Kevin stays positive in light of the ups and downs of life and business
  • [17:08] Things that need to happen in the consumer apps space
  • [31:04] The buzz that’s happening in the podcast industry: Kevin’s insights and hopes

Kevin’s development of consumer apps is a personal thing

Those of us who are into technology know that the consumer app space has had its ups and downs. Currently, in early 2019, we’re in a bit of a lull. There are not many apps hitting the market that are truly innovative and game-changing, not like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and others were when they first appeared.

Kevin became interested in apps like many developers do – because he was looking for solutions to his own needs. Way back in 2000 he made a personal commitment to improving his own health and in time, like the great entrepreneur he is, he was looking for ways to help others with the same goals he was pursuing.

The most recent consumer apps he’s created are personal health focused – a meditation app (Oak) and a fasting app (Zero). Oak has been so successful that he’s recently passed it off to a full-blown team to oversee its ongoing development and customer interaction.

As you can see, Kevin has a good deal of experience in the app marketplace, so his insights into where the app industry is and where it’s going are valuable. I hope you take the time to listen.

What needs to happen for another wave of great consumer apps to arrive?

Kevin and I agree, the consumer app space feels to be in a bit of a doldrums right now. There are no apps that are rising above the crowd in innovative ways as we’ve seen in the past. For example, when Instagram came on the scene it took the app world by storm. The company grew exponentially very quickly. We simply don’t see that happening these days.

Kevin says much of it has to do with timing. He believes that if Instagram had been launched even two years earlier it wouldn’t have gotten the reception it did. But he also feels there’s a lack of innovative ideas behind app development these days. We both hope for a brighter future, one that brings app developers with vision and drive to the table to solve complicated and important problems.

Big things are happening in the podcast industry

Kevin and I enjoy podcasts. Obviously so, since we both publish podcasts. There’s always something to learn and audio is a personal, non-obtrusive way to learn while doing other things. It’s also a great way for everyone to have a voice, as Kevin points out in our conversation.

Kevin believes the next major step in the podcast industry needs to be the development of a way in which relevant resources are parsed to podcast listeners AS they are listening, based on the content within the episode. With the advances in machine learning that are happening, it doesn’t seem far away.

Me? I agree with Kevin – and I also feel that there’s still a discovery issue with podcasting that needs to be solved. There must be better ways to recommend content to listeners, help them find the topics and experts they are searching for, and do it all in a simpler, more graceful way. In both of these situations, there is a huge opportunity for a creative thinker who has the drive and insight to solve problems.

And – in case you haven’t noticed, the podcast industry just blew up – in a good way. Actually, that depends on who you talk to. Since the time Kevin and I recorded our conversation Spotify has announced its plans to purchase both Gimlet Media and Anchor (a podcasting app). Clearly, one of the biggest consumer app companies is diving into the podcast industry full steam ahead. Only time will tell what this means for podcasting, but it’s clear that the leadership at Spotify believe that playing a larger role in podcasting is to their benefit.

Resources & People Mentioned

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