Scaling Ben Thompson

People are wondering why there isn’t more Ben Thompsons* out there.

Well, for one thing, the dude is a smart thinker who single-handedly upped the disruption theory created by Clay Christensen in the 90s. And, for another, building a successful content outlet requires constant value delivery and Ben’s providing actionable insights or intel, not only opinions. What he does seems easy but it is not.

Question is asked by Andrew Chen, an investor who backed Substack as he is looking for ways to scale up the platform with Ben Thompson-like writers.

It is an interesting business case - while there’s lots of BT wannabes which Substack should definitely target, writing periodically good content is an incredibly hard job - you need to master a field, you need to be good at writing, be concise and clear in your thoughts and have an unique perspective.

Substack follows efforts made by Medium, which, beyond being a good tech product, has been struggling to become an investment success for some time now, capitalising on aggregating the granular opinions in an elegant format. Opinions of all sorts you can find anywhere and anytime, but the constant and valuable ones reflecting a strong voice... Somehow, all this reminds me of the Blogger business and the blogs enthusiasm from 20 years ago. Not coincidentally, Medium has the same founder as Blogger - Ev Williams.

Substack’s newsletter option may be an interesting edge feature, as DTC is the way to go for most media these days. Running mailchimp and the like is not exactly easy and not cheap, and an integrated CMS effort that includes a NL and a few-clicks monetisation feature makes a valuable product proposition.

The demand for such as tool is there, the media biz keeps getting fragmented, journalists are laid off in droves and there’s a lot of outsiders looking to build and sell their personal brand via a cheap and decent solution.

Btw, newsletters (also known as email marketing) are without doubt one of the most efficient sales conversion tools out there. They have been since the internet was invented, regardless of the business you are in.

*If you live under a rock, Ben Thompson runs Stratechery, a one-man, content-based business about strategy. Absolutely recommended.

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