Looking Back on Newcomer's First Year
One year ago I quit my job in the pandemic and launched this newsletter.
First off, I want to say, Thank you for supporting Newcomer!
It’s been more than a year since I quit my job at Bloomberg in the midst of a pandemic and launched this newsletter on Substack. I published Newcomer’s introductory post one year ago.
Sincerely, I couldn’t have done it without you.
A year into the solo newsletter writer business, 1,374of you pay to keep me in the job that I love. (I feel a bit naked publishing my internal metrics, but I’m someone who would scoop your metrics if I got my hands on them, so I figure it is only fair.)
Newcomer’s Paid Subscribers
It’s hard to articulate how insane it is to have a recurring relationship with so many people, most of whom I don’t know.
Of course, lots of people sell products to customers. But I imagine if you’re selling, say, coffee mugs, it’s not so existentially flabbergasting. People can inspect the mug and see if it seems worth their hard-earned money. There are certainly other recurring business models that are popular. (I’ve read somewhere that software businesses are in vogue these days.) While I’ve never sold software, it’s hard to imagine it feels quite as personal as having people pay for your words.
When you, dear reader, enter your credit card information for Newcomer, you’re really paying for the unknown: those future pieces that I’ll write next.
You’re trusting me that it will be good. I’m supremely grateful to have earned that trust.
As a newsletter writer, it’s hard to convince yourself that you really deserve it, but 11,867 of you are signed up to read along. So, I know that you’re out there listening to what I have to say.
Newcomer’s Total Email List
People aren’t just reading along. They’re picking up the phone and jumping on Zoom.
In the past year, I’ve written interviews with high-profile tech leaders including Dara Khosrowshahi, Tony Xu, Bill Gurley, Kirsten Green, Chris Sacca, Jamison Hill, Ryan Petersen, Chris Urmson, Ellen Pao, and Keith Rabois.
I’ve dug into SPACs. I published an investigation into Palantir’s strategy of investing in SPAC-bound companies while negotiating lucrative contracts with those companies. I chronicled the rise of the SPAC market and I spoke with Chamath Palihapitiya about his SPACs.
I wandered (digitally) around Europe, writing about the American firms moving aggressively into the market and writing about some interesting local firms like Blossom Capital.
You learned about the Uber alumni network. I published a list of more than 120 Uber alumni that you need to know.
I’ve published “Stories of a Cap Table” — on DoorDash, Affirm, and GitLab.
I’ve scooped too many unicorn funding rounds to count.
And I’ve given you deep dives on venture capital firms with stories like the “Unauthorized Story of Andreessen Horowitz,” “Sequoia’s Political Paradox,” and my profile of Bessemer Venture Partners, “The Anti-Portfolio.” I told you before anyone else that SoftBank had come roaring back, deploying capital in “Is SoftBank the New SoftBank?”
There’s so much more I want to say in year two. The likes of Tiger Global, Coatue, and other late stage hedge funds remain endlessly fascinating. I want to take a look at how things are going at Y Combinator. There’s so much exciting stuff going on in NFT world — I want to sink my teeth into some of that. I keep toying with the idea of writing a big piece looking at the tech media. Your story ideas and tips are always welcome!
Mostly, I’ll go where my sources lead us. What are the people in the know talking about this week? What’s the next big startup to watch?
Fundamentally, I want to keep creating a digital space where the story of Silicon Valley can unfold online in a format that’s more thoughtful than Twitter. We live in this remote existence where tech icons are scattered all over the world. It’s more important than ever to maintain a sense of community. Silicon Valley is a small world, largely determined by a group of well-intentioned, powerful insiders. I want to keep telling you what your peers are thinking, framing up the questions that everyone is wondering about and trying to answer some of them myself.
There’s definitely plenty of room for this newsletter to grow. One problem with the media business that Substack hasn’t solved is that new readers still come from social media. I’m not particularly adept at writing viral tweets. So I’m always appreciative when you share these stories and spread the word about this newsletter. Definitely growth was slower in the second half of the year after founding this newsletter than the first. I’m the fourth ranked paid technology Substack, but I’m 38th when it comes to the size of overall distribution list. I need to keep getting the word out because when people hear about it, they think it’s worth their money.
I don’t know what’s in store for year two exactly.
On occasion, I return to what Bill Gurley told me at the end of my interview with him earlier this year: “If I had foresight guaranteed. I’d be the best goddamn investor you’ve ever seen. If I knew exactly how things were going to play out, I’d shock you with my prowess.”
I can’t promise you that I can predict how things are going to play out either, but with your support, I believe that we can figure the future out together.
Paid Technology Substacks
So help get the word out, especially today.
I would love it if you would share your favorite story, this post, or just encourage people to subscribe to Newcomer today. Show people that you’re in the know! Or if that’s not enough motivation, do it to help out your favorite small business owner.
If you’re not a paid subscriber, today is the day.
If I know you and you’re worried that I’m going to judge you for subscribing a year later, I’m declaring amnesty! If you’re a stranger, join the fold.
Here’s to Year 2
1355 paid + 11 comped + 8 subscriptions purchased as gifts = 1374. I put up the paywall in January so that’s the second big climb if you’re wondering.
I’m always happy to hear from you. Email me by replying to this post or writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can chat with me in the subscriber-only Sidechannel Discord. I’d also love to hear from you in the comments section.
Congrats!! For me this newsletter is very helpful. I am based outside the US and it helps me to understand the internal dynamics of SV and tech. Great work, thanks!!