We have a lot of prospectors in this sector right now, and honestly, a big part of the reason for this is that Substack brought venture capital into the game and expanded the market artificially in the span of about a year, without really considering how it might have hurt the newsletter space in general.
Now, we all find ourselves competing for the same real estate with Andrew Sullivan, which is really unfortunate because it makes it significantly harder to succeed with doing newsletters without the benefit of an existing name behind your back.
If I could pull up a time machine, I would do whatever I could to convince Substack to leave the VCs out of it, because their added weight on the scale ensured that this ecosystem brought a lot of people here that weren’t quite ready for the newsletter space.
In this light, Substack’s closing promise in its blog post about reaching 1 million paid subscribers reads like a threat, almost. “We see no reason why the trend will slow down,” they wrote. “Next stop is 10 million subscriptions. And then we keep going. Come with us.”
We need a publishing ecosystem that’s unencumbered by the added influence of money, which breaks things. Let us have that, venture capital.