13 December 2022

“He told me: ‘I’ve seen a lot of ideas — but this has got to be the worst…’”

Tim Brown, Co-founder of Allbirds

Tim Brown sometimes talks about how much he used to dread dinner parties — and especially that moment when the conversation would turn to him and what he was up to for work. The truth was, Tim wasn’t entirely sure. A former professional football player in New Zealand who went to the 2010 World Cup, by his early thirties Tim had retired and embarked on what many people (including himself) though was a highly eccentric calling: creating a pair of shoes from his country’s greatest export, wool. Now, however, less than a decade later, his Allbirds brand is one of the great e-commerce and footwear stories of our time — and when it went public last year, it was valued at over four billion dollars. 

Today, Tim tells us why imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; how everyone originally told him the project was doomed to fail; and what it feels like to see Barack Obama wearing a pair of your shoes.