I’ve mentioned Ben Thompson on multiple posts throughout the summer and he is one of the few people who has disproportionately shaped my thinking in an extremely small amount of time (I started reading his tech analysis blog Stratechery this February). So I thought it was only fair that I focus on his work and career in a single post. Bonus points because he’s a Northwestern Kellogg MBA alum – Go Cats’!
If this post can convince anyone to subscribe to his daily insights (for $10/month or $100/year), I would feel like I have given back to him in a small way. In any case, check out his free, once-a-week articles at stratechery.com.
Let’s dive into the lessons from his success:
Develop a worldview
In the deluge of tech news sites, Ben’s distinct worldview on the tech world is refreshing. It’s not just tech news, it’s tech news through an extremely educated and honed worldview.
Let’s take his idea of aggregators – companies with a direct relationship with the user, zero marginal cost, and self-reinforcing loops on demand and supply. This is a broad idea and through it you can analyze all of the influential tech companies. He also backs up all his analysis through data from filings, so it’s not just wishy-washy theoretical stuff.
This is truly unique and differentiated – it is no surprise that he is read by some of the most influential people in tech.
While Ben doesn’t share exact subscriber numbers, what he has build with Stratechery is an extremely scalable business. If you want to get his daily updates, you pay $10/month or $100/year. Even if we work with an extremely conservative subscriber count of 1000 people (the real number is probably a little less than an order of magnitude higher), we have a very comfortable living!
Since the marginal cost to serve another customer is virtually zero, every additional customer is pure profit.
What I like about his model is that he gives the common reader two free entry points – one is his weekly articles on a big concept or IPO and the second is his Exponent podcast with James Allworth. This allows a steady stream of new customers who aren’t convinced about paying $10/month to dip their toes in the water.
If it’s not obvious already, this is a really good business model.
That’s really it
This combination of a unique worldview + a scalable model is so foolproof that you don’t really need anything else. All the other things – the technicalities of setting up a blog/podcast, the raw information, etc. – are abundant today.