Substack Reportedly in Financial Trouble
I had a Substack email for a bit. It was easy to use but lacked a lot of the functionality I wanted. It also was so restrictive in how it looked. Everybody’s Substack looked exactly like everyone else’s. So, I dropped it but held onto an account just in case things changed, or I decided to go all in. Seems that my wait-and-see approach was the right one.
Verge reports the company seems to be running out of money after failing to raise more capital. Substack, from what I can tell, is not doing well financially.
It tried to raise last year, seeking $75 million to $100 million from investors. But it had revenue of only $9 million in 2021, and a sky-high valuation on relatively little revenue was not the vibe in 2022. The company gave up. On its Wefunder page, the company says that the pre-money valuation on Substack is now $585 million, a 10 percent decrease from 2021. And now Substack has turned to Wefunder and retail investors. Friends, I do not like it, not least because the VCs last year got a pitch with Substack’s annual revenue, and I do not see that shit line-itemed anywhere on the Wefunder page. Where’s the money, Lebowski? Substack makes its money by taking a 10 percent cut of the subscription fees its newsletter writers charge. (Its payment processor takes another 4 percent, according to Wefunder.) The company says it paid out more than $300 million to writers, cumulatively.
They paid $300m to writers and only earned $9m in revenue. At least they earned revenue and are not operating in a deficit, but they are going to have to change something to remain viable. Lovely that they paid so much out, but investors want their money’s worth. Not sure it can remain viable long-term.
I guess I’ll just keep my account parked.