I'm sitting in a WeWork office in San Francisco that looks torn from a West Elm catalog, talking with Michael Brandt about Nootrobox, a subscription service for "smart drugs," or cognitive-enhancement supplements.
But I can't stop admiring his shoes — a pair of fuzzy gray sneakers.
"They're really awesome. I don't wear socks anymore," Brandt, a cofounder of Nootrobox, says as he flexes his feet to show off his treads. "'Cause it's just like wearing a sock."
Allbirds' debut sneaker, the $95 "Wool Runner," has been called the world's most comfortable shoe by venture capitalists and startup founders — as well as the company itself.
Tim Brown was playing professional soccer in New Zealand when he dreamt up the idea for a wool sneaker. Allbirds uses merino wool from Brown's home country that's processed in Milan, Italy. The result is a shoe so incredibly comfortable, they're like slippers made of clouds.
If you choose to wear them without socks like Brandt, Wool Runners can be tossed into the washing machine on a wool cycle (delicate or hand wash cycles with cold water work, too) for easy cleaning.
Brandt isn't the only Silicon Valley techie hopping on the Allbirds bandwagon.
Liz Wessel, CEO and cofounder of WayUp, a startup that connects college students with local job opportunities and internships, also got pretty excited about her pair of Wool Runners.
But it's venture capitalists who are singing Allbirds' praises the most.
Brett Jackson worked for four years at Crocs, the titan of comfort footwear, before becoming managing director of venture firm v1.vc. He's now an investor in Allbirds.
— Brett Jackson (@brettrjackson) July 10, 2016
Kyle Russell, a deal partner at venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, is also a fan.
A photo posted by Kyle Russell (@kylebrussell) on Aug 7, 2016 at 11:20am PDT on Aug 7, 2016 at 11:20am PDT
Venture capitalists on the East Coast are catching wind of the shoes.
Here's a tweet from Andrew Mitchell, founder of the New York-based, early-stage venture firm Brand Foundry Ventures, which counts itself among Allbirds' investors.
— Andrew C. Mitchell (@mitchellcandrew) August 12, 2016
Henry McNamara, a general partner at Great Oaks venture firm, liked Allbirds enough to invest, as well. His video is worth watching because it shows off Allbirds' surprising packaging design. He now owns several pairs.
Allbirds is becoming a ubiquitous brand throughout Silicon Valley, as evidenced by the company's ability to raise a $2.2 million seed round of funding.
Their sneakers could become a quintessential part of the venture capitalist dress code, in the same way that a hoodie and T-shirt currently make up the "startup uniform."
— Rick Zullo (@Rick_Zullo) August 12, 2016
Get ready for the inevitable episode of HBO's "Silicon Valley" that rips on the shoes.
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