457 Comments

Thanks to everyone who committed to our Community Round! We’re going to close the round to new investors on April 20th. You can invest (or confirm your reservation) at https://wefunder.com/substack/

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None of the links on the investment page are working today (April 19). Disappointing

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Hi there! I just checked and they appear to be working for me. Please visit here: https://wefunder.com/substack/ . Can you please let me know what links aren't working for you?

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I get to that page. The top of page graphic block is just a black screen.

Not one link on that page responds to selection.

The box that says "INVEST min $100" is nonresponsive.

None of these heads do anything when I click on them:

OVERVIEW DETAILS UPDATES WHAT PEOPLE SAY ASK A QUESTION

I'm looking for some other place to click, and I can't find one.

My selector works on all other stuff online from my computer. Oh well, I suppose it's some setting somewhere on my computer, and I'm not a techie.

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Mar 28, 2023Liked by Chris Best, Hamish McKenzie

At only $100 I can buy a piece of a company for about the price of a dozen eggs?!?

I’m in!

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I have organic eggs for sale at $50 each then, where are you buying eggs at? Got bridges too. heheh

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Hahahahahahaha

I honestly believe this is a good investment. Honestly, I once invested $5,000 in a business with the thought that I would get my money back and more. Oh well, pipe dream.

I learned that investing is not just for making money but lifting up a company that is making a difference. This company is making a difference.

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Totally agreed. I put my hat in the ring, I clearly believe in Substack and I’m happy to put my money where my mouth (and keyboard) is.

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Hahahahahahahaha love it.

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Time is money and I invested heavily in this platform. I want to see them make it but a hundred bucks from a thousand writers will not do it, they must do better and help us all make more money and the platform more viable. It does not do what it is supposed to already after several years and this gives some appearance of desperation by asking without giving us the benefits while they make millions administering it without results that profit us.

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I’m not buying organic, too expensive. Just regular old grocery store eggs. But I’m in Austin so maybe I should switch over to stay on trend.

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I have chickens. Live outside Austin, though I made my first few million there in the 80s-90s. Salvage, Texas is better. Eggs are much cheaper. Ha.

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Tiny-- I have no need to purchase eggs, my wife loses one every month.

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Miracle eggs that will be highly valued after this generation all gets jabbed. Blessings to your eggs. I am a bit old to crack more open but the world needs more heroes & miracles.

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Tiny-- That it does, now find a way to do that and at the same time reduce the world's population by 3 billion. Our planet can't sustain itself with the number of people living on its surface. They say our population will reach 10 billion by the middle of this century if we don't find a way to curb our numbers. You need a miracle, lets start with that one.

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As someone once said, a salvage business or, more poorly spoken, a junk recycle business owner never went bankrupt.

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Bill-- One man's trash is another man's treasure.

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Yes, and once stacked up, not taxable as inventory in Texas, so 10 million in salvaged materials is worthless until sold. Loopholology enables many to become millionaires from salvage. Still is the best path without banks. Few listen and learn though.

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There could be a double meaning there I’ll need to investigate. Writes Donald’s… oh that’s your name not TFG.

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Maybe you can clear something up for me. Over a month ago I paid for a years membership to the Substack's community, as of this date I'm still considered a non-paid guest. How do we fix this?

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I have many (1 dozen this year at least) subscribers mad at me because they were tagged at the bank for renewals they did not expect, bouncing their accounts, and causing them expense. I refund their paid subscription and give them a year free to pay for the costs at the bank. I can not get either Stripe or Substack to correct that by sending out some warning and though I started with 16,000 subs I am down to 10,500 range with only 83 paid subs after several years. I do not write for the money nor make a big deal about paying as I put the pay line low for the masses to read without being forced to pay for the bulk of it. Still, the idea that nearly half of the income is eaten by Substack and Stripe before I get it is extremely expensive and not a good ratio to work with given the lack of progress getting improvements such as notifying the subscribers before billing so they can agree to continue or drop it if they are broke or not able to pay the $80 annual fee or what ever it may be, a surprise none the less. This costs my reputation more than the money as It makes me look bad and I did nothing wrong.

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It would be great if Substack did that, but in the meantime to save yourself the losses from refunding could you set a filter and email paid subs before their renewal to warn them?

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at this point, if there is a method to resolve it, I would be the one to figure it out. Seems that my part of creating, getting the subs, and getting them to pay might be enough for a multimillion dollar tech company with the expertise to resolve or answer my call to stop the problem would jump on it. Especially by giving it so much attention here, where they might read it and react, not just say they will show me how to fix a problem that will be much greater when/if more than 2 million paid subs get into this cycle. As I see it, there must be a very small number for many in order for the few superstars, like at the casino with the jackpots, that are making all the money. 2 mil times $5 a month is distributed amongst 24,000,000 writers free subs too. How many writers? How much average per writer/blogger/cartoonist/musician and I fit into all of those categories on one location. Still, making money is not really the point or I would have gone bust long ago.

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You may not have registered due to pay wall conflicts that I have seen if you do not get on they do not always let you know. My readers have let me know, as well as being billed $50 a month for no reason for more than one month as I have no subscription like that. Pick your favorite writer but then that subscription fee only applies to their stuff. Multiple subs add up fast, some at $15 a month but the lump sum renewals are kicking some in the checking account teethe when they come without warning a year after signing up.

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Tiny--Substacks confirmed the payment, it even said I had paid next to my name during the caption contest. ???

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yea, I think the system is full of glitches as my payout from them does not match well either. Which writer did you sign up for and contact them. If me, I can search your email address to see if it registered.

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Tina-- I won the caption contest the week Biden was running on the football field. I paid that weekend and next to my name in the contest it said paid. I really have no idea who I signed up under.

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Can Biden run? I heard of a controlled forward stumble but I missed that event entirely. Sorry. Not a fan of Octogenarians being paraded to mock lucid elders day parades for sake of distraction and devisiveness. OOOPs was that politics slipping into the substreams?

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Why do you think that would change anything?

BTW, that's a good article! :)

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Is that paid subscribers or freebies? yes, at $5-$15 a month that is great... a career.

How much of that do you get to deposit and spend?

Impressive if paid subs.

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So only American Substack writers can have paid subscribers? Forgive my ignorance, I'm still new around here.

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No, plenty of paid publications are helmed by non-Americans.

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You never said if those were paid subscribers. writers want to know. Why not share?

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I haven't been with Substack since the very beginning, but kinda close to it -- I joined the platform in mid-2018, after talking with Hamish and Bill Bishop about what it was all about. Back then, it was essentially a CMS paired with a way to send out posts via email, and that was really it.

Since then, Substack has grown into something far more than I imagined it would five years ago. From discussion threads to podcasts and video, to Chat and Recommendations, the tools the Substack team has built for writers really are second to none. As interesting as all of that is, my guess is that's the easy part.

Now, Substack is poised to become a place where writers' work can not just get published and distributed -- it can get *discovered* too, which really is the holy grail we're all after as writers, right? You all see what's happening with Twitter, and how difficult (and increasingly more difficult with every passing month/year) it is to get discovered via social media.

If we can help Substack become the place where not just the writers are but the readers are too, just think about the potential that offers us all. That's why I'm investing today -- not a huge amount (I've got a mortgage and kids!) but enough that I hope makes a meaningful difference, while also knowing that it might go south. That's life, of course. But you miss all the shots you don't take, as someone once told me.

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ALL OF THIS COMPLETELY.

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The idea of raising this round is great. What Substack does for the world is great, and I love them for that. But the price of this round...that's just plain shady and I'm shocked that they would do it.

Based on the charts they've provided, Substack is currently processing approximately $17-18M/month in payments, and the associated YoY growth rates have steadily declined to approximately 40-50%. At a 10% revenue take rate, Substack's ARR is currently ~$20M/year.

For a company with revenues of $20M/year and 40-50% YoY growth, a $585M pre-money valuation means that they're pricing this at 30x their current ARR, or roughly 23x their next-twelve-months (NTM) revenue.

23x NTM revenue!!!!!

Hyper-growth software companies with >40% YoY revenue growth _that are already public_ are currently trading at an average of 8.1x NTM revenues. They're pricing this at a valuation that made sense when interest rates were 0% and a confluence of other very unusual factors had pushed tech valuations into the stratosphere. It's unethical - blatantly wrong - to raise money at this valuation from people who generally would trust Substack to do right by them.

I have to wonder: Why would they raise at this valuation? Is it because they've told all their employees that their stock should be valued using a $585M valuation (I can't imagine that argument holds water)? Is it because they want to signal a higher valuation to investors for a larger round (no investor would treat a crowdfunding round as a reliable indicator)? Or do they believe that their revenue growth will massively re-accelerate as we emerge from a post-COVID slowdown? If it's the latter, then I think it's right to price this round at _today's_ valuation and let all these investors who take the risk of joining now have a fair share in that upside.

I think Substack is taking advantage of people who are simply assuming that they'd price this round fairly.

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How is it that this comes up first when searching for the newest post first in order? Likewise it comes up as most popular??? Again, with Mike right here at the top... salesmanship and endorsements that appear to be just one of us regular writers but somehow you are getting the benefit of a statistical glitch that keeps the search engine from putting on the many posts newer than this one. Please, does your game have to be so obvious. Are wii really that easy to fool in your mind. Really, let the real search engine show the new stuff instead of planting your favorite choice to start the show at the top for hours and hours on end. You make this appear like a scam that way. Is it?

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Hi again. If you look at this post using a browser (not the Substack app), you’ll see that Terrell’s comment says “pinned” next to it. So the authors of the post pinned it to the top, meaning it’s the first thing people will see in the comments list regardless of sorting.

Mike seems to be the only reply to it, so it’s why you see that too -- because he’s replying to a pinned comment.

For some reason the “pinned” icon doesn’t show up on their app, only via browser.

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Conveniently, it is the only one pinned thus a banner of positive perspective to start the blog. Great idea for marketing but opaque, not transparently intended. Limited reader attention span and speed, word counts, etc all perfect to get a decision soon after, in standard sales jargon, a quick close on a product without proving its worth.

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Yes, there can only be one pinned comment. Now it is an update about the funding instead.

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I see. Any logic to the person or pinned focal point? Why not one on the many things that you could do to make this better based on the statistics and data you have in hand well before making this very optomistic forcast of growth that I do not see as a long term writer and contributors, i dare say one of the most prolific if Grammerly is any indicator on the average writer's output. I wonder at the platforms veracity in such a time that honesty is essential if you want to earn my trust. Why so much obscurity, marketing without materials to prove out your prognostications that would not be legal to use in a proper offering of stock based on facts, not just dreams. I have big dreams too, but I spend time, money, and a great deal of effort to write and get the information out for others to improve their lives. Your organization seems to ignore your writers who do make monumental efforts to support you and get attention to the platform. Wii, all the "I"s that are writing, drawing cartoons, making videos, yes wii are your product and best customers considering many of us are subscribing to other writers works to support them. You, not paying attention to that statistic to find the fact is, wii are also the reason you exist because I bet, if you check, Wii are also the best paid subscribers. If wii subscribe to two other authors, wii are your biggest income source, taking money from us on both ends but paying others to come write rather than promoting us better. How is that a good thing and why not address it and how you will fix it to convince us to give you more money, for time is money and this takes time. Why do you, that admin, not pay attention to that rather than forget wii exist and hunt outside talent rather than promote your supporters? Why do you fail to address this insult to us, your writers that could have used that money spent better than on the execs and outside talent that thought you were not worth their time until you paid them to pretend this is a great platform and to mimic them by coming here too rather than offer proof of your success helping those of us who supported you first, most, and put more product on your site that you could have paid for at a dollar a paragraph or article, post, in other words, our product. Why do you keep ignoring the question?

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Wait, what do you mean why I keep ignoring the question?! I don’t work for Substack! I’m just a writer like you who uses the platform. 😊

I was only sharing info with you about how pinned comments work. I think it’s only the person who writes the post who can decide what to pin, here or on any publication. So you’d be the only one who can pin comments on your own newsletter.

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I am not sure the pinned element has a life, or that anyone else can pin above or past it, thus it is really an ad banner for all to read predicating the perspective in advance of learning what else of importance might be in the comments below. Given few read far, this will suffice with a few more pins to lead one to conclude all is rosey in Substack land. Please, address some of us heavy hitting contributors and our concerns about service, help, addressing flaws, and an amazing lack of marketing to get more paid subscriptions in a format that lets more writers benefit. Single subscriptions are too expensive for the average person but a quarter a read would be fine and thus a partial read good if that is what they want. Anyone they read gets a tip that way.

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Exactly. It’s exciting because it’s a new and growing platform.

Michael Mohr

‘Sincere American Writing’

https://michaelmohr.substack.com/

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May I make a suggestion? What if you offered a general Substack subscription that could be used to access a set number of subscription articles, and content providers would be paid when these subscribers accessed their content?

I will admit that I currently am not a paid subscriber to any Substacks, although there are many I read regularly. Part of the reason for this is that there are so many, and it is hard to choose. If I think back to 30 years ago, I could subscribe to a print newspaper for a fairly low price and read daily articles on a wide variety of topics. I don’t know of any Substack that currently approaches that kind of variety and quantity of content, and I’d have to subscribe to many substacks to come close to that, at a cost that would be prohibitive.

If I could pay a rate that gave me access to, say, 10 articles a day (you could offer different tiers), and I could read what I want and each writer whose article I read would get a portion of my subscription cost, it would make it a more newspaper-like experience for the reader and would give writers access to additional revenue and exposure from people who want to try out their articles before deciding to commit to a specific subscription.

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Writers can gift each other subscriptions, but as everything is free on my site, I am not paying for anything, either.

It took me a whole month at the beginning to develop my profile, and I settled for journalism to inform, entertain, and motivate. I am sick of popular sites here; there are small ones that are a lot better. Also, popular topics bore me and I refuse to write the 111th article on the same whatever. Instead, I cover a wide range of topics that people might find useful and my commenters are forming a community in which people learn from each other.

I can't see why I would pay for anything on Substack; I am one of its sources of income.

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Readers paying is just a form of supporting the writing but they think more will get to the writer and only a few can subscribe to many and then Patreon, as well as the many other repeating payouts that people forget add up. Problem is the annual fees that pop into the accounts of readers with no warning and bounce their accounts. Has become a problem for me this third year on the platform but only the second year with paid subs that have been getting billed by surprise. I want them notified in advance.

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Annual fees where?

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The subscription fees are annual, mine at $80 before discounts. They are charged annually but not so easy to see that for many apparently and they get upset when it hits their account by surprise. I asked for a notice to be sent out email automatically but that is not happening so I have to refund, give a free year for the fees the bank charges when it bounces their checking account. You have any paid subs?

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Thank you kindly for the explanation. I haven't been familiar with this, because I do not pay for anything and my site is turning a year old only in early May. My first paid subscriptions came in probably a couple of months later, and as I predicted, it's about one in 100 readers are able, willing, or daring enough to pay. My subscriptions are not cheap, but I publish more than most, and I only offer a bonus book I wrote in 2012 and guaranteed e-mail communication to paid subscribers. It would take about 10 thousand subscribers to make minimum wage, but it's good to be below that, because it doesn't attract attention. For some reason, my site keeps coming up on the first page on search engines, when I have an article related to a search.

Currently, I am working for about $5 a day. :)

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I like this idea! I feel the same way. I enjoy so many Substacks but can't afford to pay and then I still hope folks will pay for mine. There are so many of us struggling on here.

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I agree. I’d pay a bundle but so far I only gifted myself one subscription because price multiply. Also I’d love to lower the price to 1€ a month. 5 is too much, especially for non-hype writings (I’m writing for Italians in Italian about Portugal. My niche is like...200 people? I decided to have away all for free, as otherwise nobody would read anyhow.

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great idea, tokens to read what ever you want and applied to the writers. Great format to let the people view this like a giant newspaper. Any other platform like that yet? Please share. Great idea. Get your patent in now. heheh

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Great news, and a good job of one-upping "The Hundred". I heard its Substack meets Masterclass meets the Economist meets the New Yorker.

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We're taking The Hundred DOWN

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Don’t waste your time. The Roy kids always take themselves down.

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oh no

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oh. Not you! The one from the TV!

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Haha just watched last night and this made me smile.

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Respect for living your values. Let’s keep growing and succeeding together!

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That's a big No, capital "N." There's no possible transparency here. What are the possible, realistic returns for a $100 investment? We are already the working capital of the Substack owners. The idea of Substack was to start slow, build free subscribers, introduce pay options: Substack gets a percentage of every paying subscriber we have. You're also paying well-known names an advance against future earnings: That's negative cost-flow for you until they earn back the advance, like the well-known model of the recorded music industry. I've experienced steady growth, more than 1,000 free subscribers. But I'm holding on to my wallet. There's a reason tech businesses can't find the investment capital they once did.

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Wayne--Those are fair points & I can't argue any of them.

That said, I think anyone considering investing in Substack likely views it more as an endorsement of the platform and it's values than as an "investment" per se. I certainly would, anyway.

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Yes, that's my viewpoint here. If I was considering a hefty sum purely (or mainly) for business purposes, of course I'd want to get all the numbers and do a lot more work. But as a way to say thank you and show I support what this platform has done and is doing for the writers on it, it's a no-brainer for me to give a small amount - on faith, and with gratitude.

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As someone who knows essentially nothing about investing, if I were to put $100 on this then what's the worst case scenario? That I simply never see that $100 again? If that's the case, then I'd consider a $100 like a thank you to Substack for enabling an ad-free platform where, as Terrell says above, writers can be discovered.

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I would normally agree with this sentiment, but I would at least expect Substack to price this round fairly. If people were sharing in the risk for a fair share of the potential upside, great.

In this case, it really seems like they're pulling a fast one on people who obviously aren't going to analyze the valuation, but instead trust them to be fair. The valuation of this round should be $200-250M, not $585M. This is WAY off.

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Agree. I find it suspicious that Substack is pricing this round at the same valuation as their 2021 valuation, even though tech startup valuations have been cut in half since then...

Even in 2021, TechCrunch thought the valuation was high.

https://techcrunch.com/2021/03/30/is-substack-really-worth-650m/

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If they have to misrepresent the situation to raise capital from those not used to analyzing potential of a corporation or their management mistakes that can take it down. The management can get rich without servicing the writers or subscribers needs, like notifying them before hitting them with renewals on subscriptions or multiple billings when your system glitches as it has done to my paid subs and caused me to lose subs, causing them stress and distress. NO RESPONSE from substack to add a simple notification to the program. Why not? To busy looking for other writers to pay to come to Substack. No one in the admin has addressed either the high pay to the top guys or the failure to address serious issues that are causing this platform to fail like a Netscape, or other early version of a platform left in the dust by leaders to self absorbed, ego centric, or drugged out to do the job after they get a taste of success. What is the problem here?

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Yes, exactly. I wouldn't invest more than I can afford, but I like the idea of supporting a platform that gives back in so many ways.

It's not always about profit. That's hard for some people to understand.

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I am betting that none of the executives, the people working at Substack who should be following and seeing the flaws exposed so as to correct or let us know they will soon for they are being paid to do this, based on profitability at some point. Know this first, none of them are working there without being paid, a profit to those who work their for their time, energy, or currency known as human energy that converts to dollars and shares for them. It is for the money for those who work there, plus, and how they spend it, on buying new writers versus helping the rest of us who have been here since near conception, that should be the first priority of growing our continued support by servicing us better, our needs being worthy, not getting money from us to feel like wii own a piece or have a say if wii do not. Clearly no one is addressing these issues Rayrayray, ebenezara johnson, myself and others are bringing up.

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As I said, it’s not mandatory. You’re not talking to a kid here. I’ve probably got grandkids older than you, so no need to try and convince me of something I’m perfectly capable of understanding.

These are your issues, not mine.

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At 67 I must respect anyone with grandkids older than me. Frankly, I must also doubt the veracity of your suggestion, though you might be old, wouldn't that mean 104 with the assumption that each generation got pregnant and birthed the first by 15. You do look young for your age if so. No one said it was mandatory, just suggesting they apply the money already poured through their hands better and show how they have done and what they will do to make this better for us who invest our time, a valuable thing at this age. Do you not agree? oops, saw your liars and such writing background... you do have experience too.

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I’m also vaccinated and boosted.

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Well I think it’s a nice idea. In fact, I’m inspired and have a similar announcement. You all have the opportunity to own a piece of my Substack. No possible way for you to financially benefit from it or influence any of my decisions with it, to be clear. But you can give me as little as $100 and feel like you’re part of something great! Let me know if you’re interested. You’re welcome.

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🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

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In all the time that you've been writing on Substack, hasn't it made you trust them, re. that transparency? At least as far as $100?

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The question is why they need my $100? Substack is a business like any other; you're much too smart to not see that, Mike. There are many charities that I support to which I would prefer to give my $100. What they are asking for is to claw back a piece of my meager earnings, from which they already derive revenue. I'm an old dude who has been a professional writer and nothing but a professional writer 50 years. I enjoy the outlet, having a place to write. But it is damn hard work to be a writer.

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It is damn hard! Agreed. But it's also damn hard to run a platform like this one, I suspect. Substack is cautious and smart when it comes to securing financing and making investments - so whatever move they're making, I consider it good for them and therefore ultimately good for us, allowing us to keep growing. So for me, that's one reason (the selfish one).

Since I enjoy the outlet too, this feels to me like another way to show it, by endorsing it in this way. (And I can't afford to give much, so I haven't).

But also - Substack's been super-vocal about wanting to put power into the hands of its writers. And isn't this just another form of doing that? The investors being the actual users? So in the wider sense, that looks like Substack following through on their promises. That looks pretty good to me.

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Where is the proof that they are supporting the writers here as I saw them pay to bring others here instead, at what cost to us from our subscriptions if that is their only income? What other income pool do they have but our work? Did the writers they bought pay off as much as they paid them in paid subscribers and their cuts then paid for them to come instead of your cut of my paid subs?

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Hard work and wii must also promote ourselves as Substack has not offered much of that after 3 years publishing on here, several million words, cartoons, pictures, music and more. There is little inner city network to show the success beyond what you see at casinos where the few winners get massive attention but the casino is built by the money from losers. Show us the winners or help us become them if not already. My having made millions through salvage to be able to write for free, millions of words on Substack alone without worrying about the reward but as a successful serial entrepreneur who teaches Loopholology and how to make millions on salvage and Tiny Texas Houses styles Pure Salvage Outposts, I wonder if this platform will ever start paying attention to the talent already here to grow this rather than the fish in the pond already. Please expand the marketing department, or at least their ideas, like tokens to read more people too as samplers, but pass it through to the writers instead of using up the income from your contributors efforts on buying other writers or wasted on advertising the hype of investing in it before you prove your worth. How many make a million if only 2 million subs pay? Can not be more than a few hundred and how much does Substack make on those writers, and Stripe? They should be heros to them. What about the other 95% of us who have less paid subs, 10,000 free, and still write 20,000-100,000 words, with pics, video, cartoons and more only to get ignored by your staff?

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Agreed, hard work and not intended to be done for a platform that promises to help get you paid only to come back having failed to do that well and beg money from us after the investment pool supporting them bails due to failing to prosper. I am concerned about this platform unless they get publishing to hard copy sweet deals and other ways to make progress other than getting paid subs on here and giving up 47% of income to them and their buddy Stripe, then buying other authors that would not come otherwise. What does that say to us who have patronized this platform and helped build it for years? Facebook or Youtube in the infant stages?

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People change! It might be for good now but there’s 99% probability that it would turn against the investors somehow…More money causes greed! Medium was paying their writers crazy amount of money until boom, everything changed; someone even called it madium… let’s just enjoy substack while it lasts. And please feel free to stop by my page. Thank you!

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But isn't taking that attitude condemning Substack for something they haven't yet done and is currently showing no signs of doing? Which is, you know, a terrible way of supporting something? Or rather, it's the opposite of doing it?

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To act like they are not ignoring these pleas by their writers to address some things or that they have issues is to be stupid, no longer ignorant of the issues. Are you saying to not address the shortcomings so as to get more people to invest in substack? I hope not. Transparency requires honest dialogue, not just the salesman side, or narrative, pitch is the lowest version of that storyline.

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Thank God you see it, they just cooked up a nice line and think it will sell out! That’s why I do not like all this perfect speech thing. It’s so full of glitter packages and no actual substance in it!

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I am beginning to wonder if there are not a couple bots or salesman trolling the discussion, which would be a bit problematic without disclosure of an interest or bias when marketing like this to people not trained in sales or propagana tools used in marketing ideas or politics. Nigeria is hyper aware of scam spotting and creating too. Thats why.

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I’m not condemning them, I’m just saying people should read the article again. They talked about risk, if you’re not ready for the risk do not opt in. The first 2 lines of the article were so catchy, we can’t say they are not smart. They’ve been good at least been doing good for the past years but they are not totally honest and I totally understand, no company is. It’s hard for an online company even a physical one to stay on the righteous track they’ve followed for a long time, take a look at Youtube, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, their guidelines keeps changing and it’s mostly for the benefit of the company not us… I really don’t know how Substack earns its money and yes it would be a good idea for them to get a good return but disguising under the fact of we owing a piece of the company is just a bait! I’ll tell you they’re not fully honest about their planned parole but we’ll see. The future is not far!

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Well, I'd rather base a judgment on Substack based on what they have been doing - which, as you say, has been mostly really good stuff. No public company is entirely transparent for all sorts of reasons, and everyone makes mistakes, and it's good to listen to critics and weigh up what they're saying. And yes, any investment is a risk. Who knows what will happen when it comes to business projections?

But a little show of faith based on a ton of goodwill generated from a lot of work helping writers carve out new, sustainable careers for themselves doesn't seem like it should be a controversial ask?

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Well, they’ve really now stated a valid reason why the investments, what they planned to do with money, they’ve only emphasized more on their worth, that we’re going to own a piece of the company and how to feel safe about investment with your country or state’s agreement whatever guiding you! Maybe after they let us know their plans are, I’ll reconsider but until then I continue to stick to my thoughts on this🙂

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No. I have had very little help when I let 3 months of paid scrips sit in their kitty, or Stripe then had a very hard time figuring out why I could not access when I had two accounts in their system for some reason, but finding out took months. The mafia sized cuts out of my income do not make me trusting and feeling warm and fuzzy when they spend their money on bringing in other writers rather than help us already on site who supported them for years by being here in spite of their slow progress to get our input and change.

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No, after 3 years and millions of words, being tagged for a stupid title that was not wrong in any way, and no help on problems, what are they doing but feeding on talent with very few relative paid subs to pay for the future returns? Great suggestions for better sub payment and payouts, lower costs than through Stripe, and other such things as they take a big hunk of the few of us that seem to have paid subscribers and give little attention or help to get more in return.

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Investors or shareholders receive voting rights for things like management compensation or approving a merger as well.

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Not the kind of relationship I'm looking for with an app, at its most basic, a platform at its most benign. But have a ball! Different strokes for different folks.

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I'm with you. I don't see any mention of that, which is the bare minimum a proper investor should expect. I can't imagine this "crowd-sourced" round will be anything other than subordinate, with reduced voting power, and last to be paid out in a liquidation/bankruptcy scenario.

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First smart reply I’ve read here that I didn’t write. These people that are happy have to be bots.

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We may also just like what we see here, believe in it, and understand that a small investment won’t have a huge pay off but there are things other than math at stake for the soul of the internet.

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Fads for investing happen every year. I sold the pet hermit crabs across America the year after the Pet Rock. Millions of people bought in and cared for crabs for years. Just because people like things does not make them a good idea that will be worth investing in for the long run. True, if you like it, buy it but do not expect a return. That is all they are saying too. NO GUARANTEES they will make this a successful platform and fix these issues they have now.

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I'd consider investing not for financial return, but to help protect Substack's independence and free speech values. I'd actually be more interested in voting rights and control with the investment vs

the financials.

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I have been censored for stupid thing... title used "No 4-letter words" about the unsubscribes I was getting after coming to Substack, 6,000 of them. They tagged the article for the title which was fine as "4-5-6 letter words".

Yes, somehow, investors who put in their efforts, works, time, should be rewarded with some stock options or special, with some assurances in return as to how it will be spent to help us already here.

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That's the principle behind all "community benefit" investments: don't invest if your main incentive is to make a profit, it's not guaranteed & that's not what it's about.

I am currently invested in three such (UK) outfits: two producing renewable energy -- one solar, one wind -- and one reducing consumer energy demand.

Getting dividends (or, from the latest, money off my electricity bill later this year) is a bonus.

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Mandatory gif of Iñigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Donating to a for-profit company, or a non-profit company, can be noble, but it’s not a financial investment and it’s a bit underhanded or at least not quite honest and transparent and possibly exploitive for such a company to suggest a financial return by using the word “investment” rather than “donation.”

And if a for-profit company is asking for donations, one has to assume that it is not doing well financially, and therefore is not a good investment, doesn’t one?

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Mar 28, 2023·edited Mar 28, 2023

Good point. And I hadn't registered that the spiel was asking for "donations" rather than investments.

What had immediately put me off was that the top ten Substack writers are alleged to make $25million between them: ie an average $2.5m each -- which makes me think they don't need my money.

And that perhaps (beyond a certain threshold) subscription rates for such writers should reduce, as the number of subscribers increases.

I might be willing to support renewable energy startups as a partly altruistic venture: but I also look at their balance sheets and projected earnings before making any decision. And huge profits for any of them or their constituent parts have never been in the picture.

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What do you get from investing in a company that has already raised $86M and is asking for more?

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You get requests for more money because no wise investors left in the world see an exit plan. Writers are not generally wise investors so this is like shooting ducks in a cage I suggest, with cheerleaders and banners pinned at the top of the marketing page. Where does one go next RayRayRay?

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Your choice. It's always your choice.

Mine, too.

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It’s so sad you see it this way...

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Adesuwa? Nigeria? Assumption on my part, but I’m correct, nice to meet a fellow naija on the platform!

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Nice to meet you too Franklin!

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Sad? I think it's realistic. But your bio says you're an NFT enthusiast, so we'll never agree on this, either. But I wish you the best.

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Oh my bad, I didn’t take my time to read the article and I guess you’re right. I do see some loopholes, owning a piece sounds like a bait … it was literally the first two lines, well since they talked about risk; everybody who is about to invest should be ready for whatever happens! I hope they tell us their future plans with the money, I think they should have dropped a few in the article but I guess their focus was about the money lol

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Appreciate your humility and second thoughts, Ebenezera.

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I agree. Seems rare these days

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Thank you Wayne!

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And good luck with your new Substack, and your ongoing spiritual journey.

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Yes, address the needs and concerns of the many writers who are clearly not just ignored but in spite of prolific contributions, unrecognized. If the Substack managers think paying for a name when so many are already here doing good work, that the owners think they need to pay others is absurd and shows they do not respect our contributions, lest they would promote them more instead and tell followers why paid subs need to be sought with that money instead of them paying other writers to come here and us pay them to do it and write, draw, make music, and videos for free like we did to build FB nd Youtube only to be censored, demonetized, or even kicked off later. No guarantees here at all.

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I would have added everything you said, but I thought it would be polite for someone else to state the obvious, so thank you. Yes, it galls me at the lack of support from the Substack management who are promoting the already highly profitable, and do little for the professional writers working hard to build our brand, and their brand.

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Why does management ignore us? Is there still a form of throttling that is less apparent in the early stages without any statistical analysis to use to understand their distribution of attention. Direction of the future depends on people being able to have multiple subscriptions rather than tokens to read what ever they want by subscribing and give us a piece if they read our stuff.

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I love the idea but I just don't see the numbers in the articles. Would be helpful if we can see the avg sub price, rev, exp QoQ etc... to justify that 585M valuation. I see the users growth but that's just half the picture for a 6yrs old platform.

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We’ll be including financial statements when we file with the SEC in 1 - 2 weeks; at that point, reservation holders will be asked to confirm their investment.

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How about some transparency in the statistics on the writers present, the income distribution and potential, as well as some link ups with the ability to publish some hard copy and distribute it from this platform before other platforms do that? Spend on upgrades but also transparency on how this is going for the bulk of us, the 24,000,000 free subscribers are not making anyone money so what makes Substack money other than draconian cuts of the paid subs? Promote us, get more money, but pay for other writers to come, wii lose.

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Thank you, Bailey.

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Sounds like a Pelosi Bill of 4,000 pages reaching the congressman and women just in time to vote, but not to read before voting, committing, and never understanding what the documents held within. Seems a bit late and short sighted for those of us here for years. Sounds great if you read thousands of words a minute.

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Don’t ask questions they don’t want to answer. Just believe in magical thinking.

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True! It is an investment that has meaning. The numbers will be the cherry on the cake, if I invest is solely because of the powerful tool they have created. They have succeeded in creating a trigger here 👉 you write magic you think Substack.

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A good tool doesn’t automatically mean it’s financially viable and by not even mentioning having the numbers that people need to know to make an informed decision, it just smells bad.

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First prove it is a good tool and not just a rudimentary version of what it should be. There are flaws due to misdirection and mistakes are expensive. Allowing more without answering for the others to show they learn and will do better with the millions they have already at their disposal. Show me the last cards to prove you won the hand in a poker game before starting a new hand please.

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thanks for asking the right questions.

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Mar 28, 2023·edited Mar 28, 2023Liked by Hamish McKenzie

If I had 2 million dollars to throw at you, Substack, I would throw 2 million dollars at you...

(...then I'd turn into a monster and start making unreasonable demands, like British spelling for everything - "LISTEN UP, COLOUR IS SPELLED WITH A "U", DON'T MAKE ME REGRET MY INVESTMENT NOW" - and deliveries of pastries and beer to my front doorstep every single day...)

...but I signed up for a tiny corner of this thing, and that makes me very happy. You've been a career-changer for me, and if this is one way of endorsing you and saying thanks, I'm in with both feet.

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I once worked in Las Vegas and learned about the shills and poker players at late night tables in casinos paid to be there so the suckers would come in to play. Seldom did they risk even the ante without a pair of face cards or better in their hand and they were being paid by the hour to be in the game. What is your interest that changed your life and career in dollars and sense or is that an opinion or exaggeration based on your enthusiasm rather than just a salesman?

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What a negative take on a heartfelt comment. Say what you will about this unusual valuation approach, sure, but it doesn’t change that there surely are people who weren’t sure how or where to funnel their talents, and Substack gave them that platform.

It may not be you, or me, but that doesn’t mean someone who feels that way is exaggerating.

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How much have you made from substack that changed your life, your career? Given there are only 2 million paid subs, I do not see how many can be getting rich off this platform after the intermediaries take their chunks out.

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I didn't become a writer to get rich.

I became one to find a way to make enough money to keep writing.

That's what Substack has given me. (And a lot more besides.)

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@Mike-- Well put & same for me. I can't distill it down any further than that.

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My peeps!

All that negativity! Makes me wonder why those people still hang around. Doors work both ways--as entrances and as exits.

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That certainly is worth mentioning as it implied there was a source of income to support calling it a career in the financial definition rather than a chance to publish. I agree, it is nice to have a place where a few thousand followers can read or see our works but the platform has much to do for the many contributors who are not making the income needed to live for them and a family. Thus, if you are one of the examples of a success that leads others to commit, invest, and share... I wanted to know. If just an early on writer who does the 10 or 20 hour week on a keyboard at 60 wpm, this is an especially great chance to get feedback, but so far, proof of great incomes to support a career are missing in the dialogue. Some are doing great, clearly though, the numbers do not reflect profitablility as a corporation without getting the means to publish and market, possibly paperbacks on demand as is possible today with the correct formatting. Substack may be crushed by another platform that offers reading tokens and publishing hard copy on demand soon. That sort of plan would merit commitment but not just more of the same I have seen over 3 years writing on here.

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Sigh... this comment is so condescending. A career is a career, there’s no gatekeeping needed. And if someone is supporting themselves on their income from publication, it’s still a career.

What is it you’d like from Substack? You sound really upset, throughout the comments here. Can you help me understand what you’re angry about?

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I won't have to go far to understand the rest of your canceling materials used to dam the leaks of logic and word transformation if you have to call any criticism angry, an attack, trollish sounding instead of offering the proof that the corrections to the issues I raise are

worth addressing. They are.

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Canceling materials? Sorry, still confused! I was just trying to understand what your grievances are -- you’ve left angry comments throughout this thread, and I’m trying to get to what it is you’d like to see. I’ve got no other motivations, though you seem to have subscribed some to me.

What is it that you’d like them to be doing to make things better for writers? I get that in today’s world people are often assholes online, so tone can be misread. I found yours to be condescending and the comments elsewhere here to be angry. So I wanted to understand them more. If you don’t feel like explaining, that’s your call.

And speaking of jumping to conclusions, no I’m not someone who thinks a race is just for being in it and whatever blah blah you’ve also ascribed to me. My writing supports me and has with various different streams since I quit my Corp job in 2008. But there’s no one right way to use a platform, is all I was trying to say.

As to the career side of things,

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I am guessing that for you, a race is just for being in it, participation awards for all who are willing to enter though not put in the time or effort to win the races by outperforming and getting the prize, in writing, recognition, money, or publishing books that others read regardless of making money, true a career. But, support your family, your children, and call it your source of income that proves your success is valued by the society, that is usually what is called a successful career. Now as to the semantics of it... I grew up wanting to become a writer. I never claimed it to become a career but an occupation of my time over all other things, a determination and will to write prolifically and have it be something of value, perhaps called literature one day long after I am gone. Thus the success of writing and calling it a career, of being a writer or arguing semantics, I simply wish to see if one of the few jackpot winners is the key salesman in the thread to get the writers already contributing the bulk of the value of the corporation that is running this platform. As a salesman long before being a writer, I prided myself in telling the truth and not obscuring it with altering the meaning of words such that a career need never make you a dime in your definition and there is no gauge of success. Call it what you want, in this Orwellian world of trying to tag me as angry simply because I expect a corp to do what they pledged several years ago and help their writers, not pay for others to come instead of focusing on making this platform more desirable for subscribers. I lost 6,000 coming here several years ago and still hope for better. Your success here makes this a career for you in your dictionary?

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>>" simply wish to see if one of the few jackpot winners is the key salesman in the thread to get the writers already contributing the bulk of the value of the corporation that is running this platform."

I'm sorry - are you suggesting...? What? That I'm a salesman for Substack? Or part of some kind of behind the scenes conspiracy to get people to sign up?

Here's the truth: *I am not.* I am just a guy who writes a newsletter about science, on Substack. That's it. I also wanted to be a writer, and it's taken me twenty years to learn how to do it. I'm still learning.

This isn't a jackpot. It also isn't a fight to the death, where for an annointed few to succeed, many others must lose. This is nonsense-thinking. It's anti-Substack.

Please, shelve your bitterness. It's helping nobody, particularly yourself.

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A serious suggestion, not meant as snark:

Have you asked any of those 6,000 people who unsubscribed *why* they unsubscribed?

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I love this!!!

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Great! Substack always keeps me impressed by how they build their community and motivate their writers!

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I have seriously considered two different Wefunder campaigns, and this is probably the third or fourth I've been pitched. However, I never invest because I can't get a serious, straightforward answer as to how, if at all, I could potentially make money off an investment like this. As I see it, there is only one way, and that's if Substack goes public. My shares would be converted into equitable stock shares. Another option would be a buyout from another company, which more often than not results in no equitable distribution back to shareholders.

Can you spell out in certain terms how an investor could make money in this model? I'm not saying I will, but how could I?

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We’re not able to make lots of future projections, but we have big ambitions for the company. We are working on a new economic engine for culture. We think the best way to achieve that is to build a successful independent company, which could involve going public one day, but for now we are focused on building.

Right now our (pre-money) valuation is $585M. If we have a successful exit in the future (like an IPO, merger, or acquisition) for more than that amount, you’ll see a return on your investment. Since we’re selling the same class of stock we sold to VCs in our Series B, you’ll get paid out at the same time that they do.

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Thank you for the further clarification, Katie!

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You couldn’t raise another round of funding last July due to cooling interest in tech start-up investment and the economic climate is worse now so you’re trying to get $2M from the people that use your service. IPO? That’s a fantasy.

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What was the source of the initial investment that made Substack possible?

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If you invest $100 at approximately $26 per share that just under 4 shares at a $585MM valuation. If it goes public at $1.2B valuation then you get back $200. If they stay private and the valuation stays the same and they pay dividends of 2% then you would receive $2 per year.

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Or it could be like Magic Leap that had a $4B valuation and was bought by the Saudis for $450M and most stockholders lost a lot of money.

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That’s why we don’t invest what we are not willing to lose.

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That’s why we also don’t waste time with considering bad investments even if we have the money to lose.

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Sounds like you are pretty set on your view of this investment and that's the freedom of the marketplace - one person is going long while another is going short at the exact same moment. One person is doing extensive research and another is investing on a whim. Etc. Etc.

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Just as it seems you are very set on your view. Or do you just want to be Devil’s advocate for s#it’s and giggles?

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You’re making way too much sense and are asking too many very good questions.

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Do you have a forum for writers sharing innovative ideas on what could be next for Substack to either double down on or explore? The chats are great but also some actual conversations might help writers, investors and Substack leaders be more aligned on things

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This is a great point. I would’ve love to see something where investors in this community round are regularly part of the discussion when it comes to company decisions. I know that can be a pain with so many people involved, but it’s certainly more doable these days.

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If wii, the "I" with eyes do not see their plan, are not included, nor benefit from them paying other writers to come to this platform instead of supporting us with the income gained from very high processing fees to them and their Stripe cohorts that take a lions share of all income if you should get some. I have 3 years into it and its crazy the cuts to others to get the money.

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Have you discussed NOT doing another funding round? I say this, only because every other great company that has thrived on the creativity of artists and writers has driven themselves into the dirt going on this path. I've been a part of a few of them. It was not fun, and in hindsight, it never felt like the right decision.

Let's face it. Companies like Substack thrive, not when they pay out dividends to deep-pocket investors (even when a small fraction of them may be writers). It thrives when those who are doing the work are the ones who benefit financially, directly. I think a lot of us here have been to this rodeo before, and those who have are probably thinking "own a piece of substack" really means: siphon off profits from your creative force who generate the revenue.

I write this not just to stick it to you, but because I wonder, if you have considered other options besides the standard Silicon Valley investor shuffle? Your huge stable of writers are radical innovators, you know. Might they (we) have ideas? Substack started off with a radical innovative idea. Why not apply that to how the company is run? To the structure? Why not challenge the notion of what a company can be and who it works for? Why not workshop different possible futures with the millions of creatives that are writing your content? I am certain that, together, we could come up with a far better idea than 'selling pieces of substack'.

Right now, we, all of us here, are on a path of continuing to work for venture capital and other outside investors. Personally, I want to work for my success and the success of the people right here in this network, and it seems there are probably many more ways to do that than to have another round of open investment for which we (your writers) will all have to pay returns and dividends on.

Why not figure out a way to become lighter on your feet as a company? Maybe we can become a true cooperative, or open source collective, or something yet imagined, but that is built and run by the only 'stakeholders' that really matter: your writers and amazing staff who keep this ship running and fill it with beautiful content. Then, when we do have excess, we can share whatever that is in a reasonable, transparent way with the amazing Substack staff and writers, instead of paying it out to people who were never involved in generating great content, let alone revenue. Does that structure not work with California law? Well, why not move? Does it not work with the structure of U.S. corporations? Well, how about not being that anymore?

I want to help everyone here succeed. So I do not feel so great about being an 'investor,' when logically this means pulling money from the pockets of my fellow writers. I would rather earn money by pushing myself to be a better artist and writer, growing my readership, and doing it while also helping this community of amazing world-changing creatives do the same, in an atmosphere geared towards collectively bettering ourselves. In other words, I would rather continue in the spirit which you started this thing ... rather than the spirit of all the other 'creative' tech startups that eventually crashed and burned or were bought out and deleted by the competition.

Apologies if all that sounded to brash. Maybe it was. I grew up in Silicon Valley and did that dance for too long. I thought Substack was something different and better than the others. Maybe it still can be? But only, I would argue, if you involve (deeply and meaningfully) your creatives in coming up with solutions for how to move forward, rather than relying on investors and old hat Silicon Valley advisors.

Does our collective brain trust of writers, hackers, artists, PR peoples, finance experts, business people, and coders have any ideas as to how Substack can 'grow' in a way that is more equitable than continued rounds of monetary investment?

What are other ideas for imagining where this ship could go, in ways that would support all of us in the long term?

With love and hope,

Patrick

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Brilliant comment, Patrick!

Once something like this becomes an IPO (which they see as one route to rewarding investors), the soul gets drained from it or it gets strip-mined for parts. You are absolutely right that the healthier model would be to take a different path, make something durable and sustainable outside of the deadening growth imperative.

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Thanks Daniel.

I remember that Chris and Hamish wrote about "democratizing" news and subscriptions, and building an "innovative" model that breaks the 180-year-old ad-based publishing model. That was a great moment. It still is great, because we are all involved in doing it together right now. I love that.

Of course like you mention, if we're looking forward, another old model that is pretty ripe to be broken out of is the Silicon Valley business model. I think a few of us are ready for that, but perhaps Substack isn't there just yet.

I still have a small hope hidden somewhere around here. Through our collective wisdom, we all can make sure this is not be the same show on repeat with a different name, but truly a platform does the things it says it wants to do.

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Thanks, Patrick. I have been super grateful for Substack as a platform and I admit I haven't looked under the hood at their business strategy for the future. This story from The Verge doesn't fill me with optimism: https://www.theverge.com/2023/3/28/23660473/substack-retail-investors-revenue-profit . Frankly, the current $585 million valuation sounds a bit ridiculous to me, unless Substack is planning a similar play with video-blogging. Good writing remains a limited commodity and will never expand exponentially, like Facebook reach did for a while until it also hit its limit. $16 million revenue is not terrible. If they have actually have around 550 employees (not much engagement in customer support), they can support those employees barely. There are certainly ways that Substack can grow. But if they think they will ever become a kind of unicorn, I think they are making a critical error. Developing a cooperative model would be a fascinating approach! I don't know much about the founders and what they really want out of this. I don't see that investing a few hundred dollars toward a company with such a massive valuation makes any sense.

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I get to invest in SUBSTACK, my favorite startup and the platform i use EVERY SINGLE DAY? I’m in.

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I'm in! I can't go big but I'm excited. I fully believe in Substack so this is my way of showing it.

And now I can feel as if I live here instead of just squatting. 🙂

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