4 March 2021
Hey everyone! I’ve made a couple announcements recently about The Sample, another machine-learning-driven newsletter I just launched. I wanted to give a quick update on how everything is going.
I wrote a bit about why I’m interested in The Sample, but I didn’t compare it to Findka Essays. I have two motivations for trying out The Sample:
I think it has a higher chance of being able to grow quickly (see the link above).
It is easier this way to provide a variety of content, which is the most common request for Findka Essays (instead of just tech articles).
The Sample could even be a good source of articles for Findka Essays: I can make an index of all the links that are shared in the various newsletters and recommend some of those to Essays subscribers.
So, since I’m still doing this full-time and I’m aiming for a high-growth startup, I’m putting my focus on The Sample for now. The plan is to undercut Substack and Twitter+Revue before they solve newsletter discovery. But to be clear, I have no plans to ever shut down Findka Essays. It doesn’t require any ongoing maintenance. If The Sample grows fast, at some point I might merge them, or something. My long-term vision is still “a recommender system for everything.” A newsletter recommender could be a great beachhead.
That being said: having been a full-time founder for just over two years now, I am almost sick of it. So the next couple months will likely be my last push too see if I can get continuing growth. If not, I’m planning to start a consultancy, ideally spending 50% of my time on clients (or lower, if I can manage it) and the rest on my projects—but without necessarily trying to turn them into businesses. That would include:
Biff, my Clojure web framework
Future of Discovery, my re-branded personal newsletter
And whatever other projects I feel like starting (I have no shortage of ideas). I’d really like to make some kind of music recommendation project again; probably a simple web service that ingests your Last.fm listening history and exports some playlists. Spotify has really been letting me down. And I’ve also been chewing on some ideas for a protocol-based information manager thing for quite a while (I started a thread on HN about this the other day).
I wouldn’t mind spending more time on guitar either.
(A few people have suggested grad school to me before, but unfortunately that comes with the obligation to do research, which I have no interest in. And I’d rather not go back into The System, know what I mean?)
By the way, for anyone curious, Findka Essays has been remarkably consistent at 50 - 60 daily active users for the past few months (where “active” means you opened or rated at least one essay). There are about 160 - 180 weekly active users. Here’s a snippet from my last usage report:
Day DAU Signups 03 Mar 53 1 02 Mar 54 3 01 Mar 52 1 28 Feb 54 1 27 Feb 53 1 26 Feb 55 0 25 Feb 53 0 24 Feb 47 0 23 Feb 49 1 22 Feb 57 2
A few days ago I had a call with someone who suggested I start charging since he really liked it and would be fine paying $10/month. However, Findka Essays’ (and The Sample’s) value comes largely from user interaction data. The more users we have, the better it gets, so it wouldn’t be wise to reduce usage/growth right now by charging.
But, in case anyone does have a hankerin’ to send me money, here’s my Github Sponsors profile. Building income from sponsors is not a priority for me; I only made the profile because why not. Though if I get a few sponsors, maybe I’ll mention it on my YC application :).