The Sunday Digest: Remain Calm

Everything we published this week + our latest takes on Amazon and the newsletter boom

Happy Sunday!

We'll be honest—the Digest opener haunted us this week. What would we write about, after a week where the opener basically wrote itself? Surely we couldn't cover GameStop again—but what if that's What the People Wanted? It was all very confusing.

Luckily, we had the benefit of...well, ourselves. An absorbing new Divinations piece explored the past and future of social audio—and led to an exciting conversation on a podcast of our own. Napkin Math examined the inner workings of revenue, and Means of Creation returned to one of its most useful questions—how can creators make bank?—with the help of Wattpad’s founder.

In other words, we were talking to ourselves, in the best kind of way. It was more of a conversation (maybe of...the Long variety?) than a monologue. And as it turns out, we had nothing to be worried about as far as what to cover, because there was a whole lot going on outside the comfort of our collective, too. From Bezos' next chapter to Substack's words of wisdom to social media giants, a common thread emerged: there's still plenty of unpredictable craziness going on. But the best way to deal with it is to stay calm and reflect. (That reference will make sense when you scroll down.)

Until we Digest again...

What We Published

The lowdown on this week’s output: 3 pieces of writing, 3 podcasts, and 2 live conversations.


A Post-Mortem for Social Podcast Discovery

by Nathan Baschez in Divinations

Five years ago, Nathan saw the future—or part of it, at least. It looked like a social podcast app, one that guided you to new audio content based on recommendations from friends. Shortly thereafter, Breaker came into his life, early-stage social features in tow. A lot's happened since then: People left RSS feeds for articles and kept them for podcasts; listeners hit their subscription ceilings; and the bases podcast apps need to cover in order to stand out have multiplied. Oh, and Twitter bought Breaker. Nathan hits each of these points in detail in this piece, painting a clear, deep portrait of how the ever-growing podcasting space has defied expectations while laying out his hopes for its future.

Read (9 minutes)

Revenue: It's Simple, Until it Isn't

by Evan Armstrong in Napkin Math

We live for guest posts, and the second installment in Napkin Math's "Finance, but Useful" series is no exception. Evan Armstrong has written a primer on revenue that serves novices and experts alike, as he moves from a simple definition of revenue—and the components that make it up—to tell us how the software and subscription booms have complicated our understanding of the concept, not to mention the rules surrounding it. But don't be deceived—Evan reaches a firm conclusion on what kind of revenue we should be looking to make, and h0w to get there.

Read (7 minutes)

Weekly News Roundup: Facebook Pushes into Newsletters

in Means of Creation

One media giant is reaching out to writers. Another has paid creators $30 billion dollars in a tenth as many years, and currently testing short-form video content. A subscription startup targeted at chefs, has entered the ring. To make sense of all of it (and so much more, of course), who better to turn to than Nathan and Li?

Read 🔒 (13 minutes)

On Friday, Li and Nathan talked to Allen Lau, CEO of the writing platform Wattpad—recently acquired for $600m—about the mechanics at work behind creative communities. Check back on Monday for Podcast and Video versions of the conversation!


#55 - Why raise venture capital for a media company? & #56 - Why audio has a lower “Dunbar’s Number”

Talk Therapy with Dan Shipper and Nathan Baschez

Dan and Nathan tried something new this week: simulcasting their conversations to Clubhouse. That made for some fascinating and unexpected post-episode breakdowns with experts and longtime listeners alike—but the episodes themselves were nothing to shrug at. Both were looks inward: an explanation of why they sought VC funding for Every, and a behind-the-scenes expansion on Nathan's podcasting article. It's the trademark TT blend of information, insight and pathos—and for our money, it never gets old.

Listen to #55 and #56 (15 minutes)

Stay tuned to join the next live edition of Talk Therapy!

#10: Fresh Brains

The Long Conversation with Rachel Jepsen

This week's Long Conversation was a crucial pick-me-up for anyone concerned about how they appear in their own writing. Rachel had just worked with Taylor on a new piece, and each had plenty of praise for the other to exchange. Meanwhile, Dan wondered about following your impulses when it comes to choosing what to write. TLC is always a great chance to hear our writers talk through specific concerns and triumphs—but like the best of their conversations, this one bridged multiple stages in the process.

Listen (36 minutes)

Check the TLC Podcast homepage on Monday for the recording of Friday's chat!

What’s Going On

News you might have caught or missed this week, with takes from our writers.

Bezos Steps Back

Whatever fraction of our attention was still occupied by shorts, longs and Dogecoin at the beginning of this week was quickly diverted (momentarily, at least) on Tuesday by the news that Jeff Bezos w0uld leave his post as Amazon's CEO in a few months. What's next? Space startup Blue Origin seems like the natural pivot. But Fadeke Adegbuyi had a different take... did we:

More News

What We're Reading

Our favorite writing from beyond Every

Substack to Socials: Walk the Walk

We weren't the only people paying attention to Facebook and Twitter's recent dips into Newslettering: On Substack's blog, Hamish McKenzie diverted from his recent (and excellent) Tweet-barbs to explain why he actually thinks socials "getting into paid newsletters is good for writers and a positive development for the media ecosystem." If you're doing a double-take right now, the full piece is worth a read: To Hamish, the Substack model is rooted in creating a "calm" space for reading and writing amidst the pressures of the attention economy—and he won't be mad if Facebook and Twitter try to do the same. "If Facebook and Twitter are earnest in their pursuit of this opportunity," he writes, they'll "do their utmost to give power to writers and readers."

More Reads

Tweets of the Week

On this very special edition of A Story in Four Tweets:

As of press time, we are holding this position.

An Invitation to Every

Not a subscriber? Intrigued by the bundle? Now would be a good time to subscribe — it’s just $20 a month for everything we offer.

Like this?
Become a subscriber.

Subscribe →

Or, learn more.

Read this next:


Finding the Truth

What to do when it feels like you're spinning your wheels intellectually

2 🔒 Jan 30, 2021 by Dan Shipper

Means of Creation

Facebook Pushes Into Newsletters

YouTube revealed $30B in creator payouts and is incentivizing creators to use “Shorts”, an OnlyFans-like platform connecting foodies with chefs, and more

🔒 Feb 4, 2021 by Li Jin and Nathan Baschez

Thanks for rating this post—join the conversation by commenting below.


You need to login before you can comment.
Don't have an account? Sign up!

Every smart person you know is reading this newsletter

Get one actionable essay a day on AI, tech, and personal development


Already a subscriber? Login