Climate Change · Cool Leaders · Sport

Introducing Team X44

By Lewis Hamilton

So proud to finally announce Team X44! ⚡️
Team X44 will be joining the Extreme E series and I’m really excited to share this project with you. It will be fun to have a different role from being the team driver. What is most appealing though, is that the Extreme E Championship will be not only raising awareness of some of the most critical environmental issues facing our planet, but also doing something about it through working with local charitable organisations to leave behind no trace and a long-lasting legacy of change. Every single one of us has the power to make a difference, and it means so much to me that I can use my love of racing, together with my love for our planet, to have a positive impact. I’m looking forward to the team taking part in this new series and I think it’s incredible that we can do so whilst raising awareness about the climate crisis.

#TeamX44 🌎🌍🌏

Climate Change · Cool Leaders · E-Mobility · Sport

It’s difficult to always be perfect when we go about our daily lives

By Lewis Hamilton

Recently I’ve been making many changes in my life to reduce my impact on the environment. The first step in this journey was to understand my personal impact on the planet so I could make changes to improve it. Since then, I have offset my carbon footprint from my Formula 1 career dating back to 2007, I have reduced travel where possible, I have gone plant-based and outside of the track, I try to use electric cars wherever possible. I also want to use my position as a racing driver to enforce positive and permanent change, which is why I’m working closely with Mercedes to slowly move their fleet of cars towards electric. This is my new dream car, the new EQS fully electric Mercedes. I can’t wait until it’s released!

It’s difficult to always be perfect when we go about our daily lives, but I’m continuing to learn how to be better and I’m committed to staying educated and informed so I can play my part. Small steps lead to big change, so it’s important we all take a moment to understand our footprint and the small changes we can make in our everyday lives to put our planet first. The last step for me will be when I step away from this sport and can focus fully on helping heal the world to provide a better future for our kids and our kids, kids.

Cool Leaders

Facebook is running the largest voting information campaign in American history

By Mark Zuckerberg

The US elections are just two months away, and with Covid-19 affecting communities across the country, I’m concerned about the challenges people could face when voting. I’m also worried that with our nation so divided and election results potentially taking days or even weeks to be finalized, there could be an increased risk of civil unrest across the country.

This election is not going to be business as usual. We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy. That means helping people register and vote, clearing up confusion about how this election will work, and taking steps to reduce the chances of violence and unrest.

Facebook is already running the largest voting information campaign in American history — with a goal of helping 4 million people to register and then vote. In just three days, we already drove almost 24 million clicks to voter registration websites. Priscilla and I have also personally donated $300 million to non-partisan organizations supporting states and local counties in strengthening our voting infrastructure.

Today, we’re announcing additional steps we’re taking at Facebook to encourage voting, connect people with authoritative information, and fight misinformation. These changes reflect what we’ve learned from our elections work over the past four years and the conversations we’ve had with voting rights experts and our civil rights auditors:

• We will put authoritative information from our Voting Information Center at the top of Facebook and Instagram almost every day until the election. This will include video tutorials on how to vote by mail, and information on deadlines for registering and voting in your state.

• We’re going to block new political and issue ads during the final week of the campaign. It’s important that campaigns can run get out the vote campaigns, and I generally believe the best antidote to bad speech is more speech, but in the final days of an election there may not be enough time to contest new claims. So in the week before the election, we won’t accept new political or issue ads. Advertisers will be able to continue running ads they started running before the final week and adjust the targeting for those ads, but those ads will already be published transparently in our Ads Library so anyone, including fact-checkers and journalists, can scrutinize them.

• We’re going to extend our work with election officials to remove misinformation about voting. We already committed to partnering with state election authorities to identify and remove false claims about polling conditions in the last 72 hours of the campaign, but given that this election will include large amounts of early voting, we’re extending that period to begin now and continue through the election until we have a clear result. We’ve already consulted with state election officials on whether certain voting claims are accurate.

• We’re reducing the risk of misinformation and harmful content going viral by limiting forwarding on Messenger. You’ll still be able to share information about the election, but we’ll limit the number of chats you can forward a message to at one time. We’ve already implemented this in WhatsApp during sensitive periods and have found it to be an effective method of preventing misinformation from spreading in many countries.

• We’re expanding our voter suppression policies. We already remove explicit misrepresentations about how or when to vote that could cause someone to lose their opportunity to vote — for example, saying things like “you can send in your mail ballot up to 3 days after election day”, which is obviously not true. (In most states, mail-in ballots have to be received by election day, not just mailed, in order to be counted.) We’re now expanding this policy to include implicit misrepresentations about voting too, like “I hear anybody with a driver’s license gets a ballot this year”, because it might mislead you about what you need to do to get a ballot, even if that wouldn’t necessarily invalidate your vote by itself.

• We’re putting in place rules against using threats related to Covid-19 to discourage voting. We will remove posts with claims that people will get Covid-19 if they take part in voting. We’ll attach a link to authoritative information about Covid-19 to posts that might use the virus to discourage voting, and we’re not going to allow this kind of content in ads. Given the unique circumstances of this election, it’s especially important that people have accurate information about the many ways to vote safely, and that Covid-19 isn’t used to scare people into not exercising their right to vote.

Since the pandemic means that many of us will be voting by mail, and since some states may still be counting valid ballots after election day, many experts are predicting that we may not have a final result on election night. It’s important that we prepare for this possibility in advance and understand that there could be a period of intense claims and counter-claims as the final results are counted. This could be a very heated period, so we’re preparing the following policies to help in the days and weeks after voting ends:

• We’ll use the Voting Information Center to prepare people for the possibility that it may take a while to get official results. This information will help people understand that there is nothing illegitimate about not having a result on election night.

• We’re partnering with Reuters and the National Election Pool to provide authoritative information about election results. We’ll show this in the Voting Information Center so it’s easily accessible, and we’ll notify people proactively as results become available. Importantly, if any candidate or campaign tries to declare victory before the results are in, we’ll add a label to their post educating that official results are not yet in and directing people to the official results.

• We will attach an informational label to content that seeks to delegitimize the outcome of the election or discuss the legitimacy of voting methods, for example, by claiming that lawful methods of voting will lead to fraud. This label will provide basic authoritative information about the integrity of the election and voting methods.

• We’ll enforce our violence and harm policies more broadly by expanding our definition of high-risk people to include election officials in order to help prevent any attempts to pressure or harm them, especially while they’re fulfilling their critical obligations to oversee the vote counting.

• We’ve already strengthened our enforcement against militias, conspiracy networks like QAnon, and other groups that could be used to organize violence or civil unrest in the period after the elections. We have already removed thousands of these groups and removed even more from being included in our recommendations and search results. We will continue to ramp up enforcement against these groups over the coming weeks.

It’s important to recognize that there may be legitimate concerns about the electoral process over the coming months. We want to make sure people can speak up if they encounter problems at the polls or have been prevented from voting, but that doesn’t extend to spreading misinformation. We’ll enforce the policies I outlined above as well as all our existing policies around voter suppression and voting misinformation, but to ensure there are clear and consistent rules, we are not planning to make further changes to our election-related policies between now and the official declaration of the result.

In addition to all of this, four years ago we encountered a new threat: coordinated online efforts by foreign governments and individuals to interfere in our elections. This threat hasn’t gone away. Just this week, we took down a network of 13 accounts and 2 pages that were trying to mislead Americans and amplify division. We’ve invested heavily in our security systems and now have some of the most sophisticated teams and systems in the world to prevent these attacks. We’ve removed more than 100 networks worldwide engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior over the past couple of years, including ahead of major democratic elections. However, we’re increasingly seeing attempts to undermine the legitimacy of our elections from within our own borders.

I believe our democracy is strong enough to withstand this challenge and deliver a free and fair election — even if it takes time for every vote to be counted. We’ve voted during global pandemics before. We can do this. But it’s going to take a concerted effort by all of us — political parties and candidates, election authorities, the media and social networks, and ultimately voters as well — to live up to our responsibilities. We all have a part to play in making sure that the democratic process works, and that every voter can make their voice heard where it matters most — at the ballot box.

Cool Leaders

The two sides of a world champion

By Lewis Hamilton

There are two sides to me. First, the one you see on TV. The competitive, cut throat, hungry racer in me that comes out when I close the visor. When the visor is down I come alive, all my fears, insecurities, and doubts are cast aside and my focus kicks in and will not break until the job is done. It feels like I get to have the superpowers I always dreamed of having, but behind the wheel.

Second, theres just me. Someone who is figuring life out day by day, just like you. Trying to find inner peace, manage time, balance work and life, finding time for family and friends, working on managing my emotions, and trying to find time for the other things I am passionate about. Like many of you, I’m just trying to be and do my best in everything.

I also have a lot of difficult days. Especially in the bubble that we’re currently in. You get lonely, you miss your friends and family, and with back to back race weeks it means there’s not much time for anything but work. So I’m grateful for the ones closest to me for helping me to keep a balance, even if it’s just thru text, phone or FaceTime.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, It’s never a bad thing to ask for help if you need it, or to tell somebody how you feel. Showing your vulnerable side doesn’t make you weak, instead, I like to think of it as a chance to become stronger, and better than we were. Where ever you are in the world, I hope and pray you know you are incredible, gifted, talented, beautiful and strong, and no matter what anybody says, you can do almost anything you put your mind to. All you have to do is believe and do the work. Love🙏🏾

Cool Leaders

Welcome to Dollywood

By Erick Moore

In 1990, the high school dropout rate for Dolly Parton’s hometown of Sevierville Tennessee was at 34% (Research shows that most kids make up their minds in fifth/sixth grade not to graduate). That year, all fifth and sixth graders from Sevierville were invited by Parton to attend an assembly at Dollywood. They were asked to pick a buddy, and if both students completed high school, Dolly Parton would personally hand them each a $500 check on their graduation day. As a result, the dropout rate for those classes fell to 6%, and has generally retained that average to this day.

Shortly after the success of The Buddy Program, Parton learned in dealing with teachers from the school district that problems in education often begin during first grade when kids are at different developmental levels. That year The Dollywood Foundation paid the salaries for additional teachers assistants in every first grade class for the next 2 years, under the agreement that if the program worked, the school system would effectively adopt and fund the program after the trial period.

During the same period, Parton founded the Imagination Library in 1995: The idea being that children from her rural hometown and low-income families often start school at a disadvantage and as a result, will be unfairly compared to their peers for the rest of their lives, effectively encouraging them not to pursue higher education. The objective of the Imagination library was that every child in Sevier County would receive one book, every month, mailed and addressed to the child, from the day they were born until the day they started kindergarten, 100% free of charge. What began as a hometown initiative now serves children in all 50 states, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, mailing thousands of free books to children around the world monthly.

On March 1, 2018 Parton donated her 100 millionth book at the Library of Congress: a copy of “Coat of Many Colors” dedicated to her father, who never learned to read or write.

Cool Leaders

7 Reasons Every iPhone User Should Be Worried About the App Store’s 30% Tax

By Pavel Durov

I hope you all liked the latest Telegram update – our 8th major update this year. This new version of Telegram could have become available to you several days earlier. But it didn’t, because of Apple’s desire to control every mobile app in the world. Few iPhone users realise how the policies of Apple make their lives worse. That’s why I decided to write the post below.

In the last few months, many prominent app developers voiced their disapproval of the App Store policies Apple imposes on all apps. Why should that concern you if you own an iPhone? Here are 7 reasons.

HIGHER PRICES. Apple’s 30% commission makes all apps and digital goods more expensive for you. It goes on top of the price you pay to developers for any services and games you buy on your phone. You pay more for every app, even though Apple already charged you a few hundred dollars more for your iPhone than it cost to make. In short, you keep paying even after you have paid.

CENSORSHIP. Some content in apps like Telegram is unavailable to you because Apple censors what is allowed on the App Store, which it fully controls to enforce the 30% tax. Apple even restricts us – app developers – from telling our users that certain content was hidden for iPhone users specifically at their request. Apple should realize how ridiculous their attempt to globally censor content looks: imagine a web browser deciding which websites you are allowed to view.

LACK OF PRIVACY. In order to install an app from the App Store, you must first create an Apple account and log in using it. After that, every single app you download and every push notification you receive is tied to your account, making you an easier target to track. Since the main reason you have to use an Apple account to download an iPhone app is Apple’s desire to enforce their 30% commission, the cost of their greed also includes your private data.

DELAYS IN APP UPDATES. You get new versions of your apps several days or weeks after they are actually ready, because Apple’s review team is notoriously inefficient and often delays approval for no apparent reason. You would think Apple could use the billions of dollars it receives from third-party apps to hire additional moderators. Somehow they are unable to do even that, and us – big apps like Telegram – typically have to wait several days or even weeks to publish updates.

FEWER APPS. Apple’s 30% commission on apps goes on top of all the other expenses developers must pay for: government taxes such as VAT (~20%), wages, research, servers, marketing. Many apps would have been net profitable in a world without Apple’s 30% commission, but being forced to surrender 30% of their revenue to Apple makes them unsustainable. As a result, many of them go bankrupt and lots of great apps you could have enjoyed just don’t exist.

MORE ADS IN APPS. Because Apple makes selling premium services and accepting donations one-third less meaningful for developers, many of them are forced to show ads in their apps in order for their companies to survive. Apple’s policies skew the entire industry towards selling user data instead of letting them adopt more privacy-friendly business models like selling additional services to their users.

WORSE APPS. Billions of dollars are taken from developers who could have otherwise spent those funds on improving the quality of the apps you use every day. Instead, this money rests idly in Apple’s offshore bank accounts and does nothing for the world, while app developers struggle to find resources for the research and development the world needs.

The situation is so bad that one would expect Apple’s 30% cut to be unsustainable. Yet it’s been around for more than 10 years and is still there. In my Telegraph post here, I’m explaining how Apple has been able to trick consumers and regulators into inaction for so long.

Cool Leaders

Unleash talent

By Steen Albrechtlund

A short tale of medieval virtue ethics or why the Beau Geste doctrine is ever so slightly exhausting.

Platons most important scolar, Aristoteles, study of character and ethics, is built around the premise that people should achieve an excellent character as a pre-condition for attaining happiness or well-being.

Aristoteles works has since been refined and further developed by numerous thinkers such as Aegidius Romanus and Erasmus of Rotterdam in the late medieval. The basic thought is that an individual at all time must strive for a higher level of sense and insights to become closer to a divine state. Romanus was advocating for a constant chase to achieve perfection.

The leadership literature today has a direct line straight back to Aristoteles, Romanus and Erasmus thoughts around impeccable morale and ethics. The likes of Covey, Horsley, Ole Fogh Kirkeby and Einer Aadlan are among the dominant preachers of modern virtue ethics in management. And their releases are sold in millions and millions of copies.

Both Aadland and Kirkeby recommends that leaders enter into a lifelong training camp and perform an askesis to become virtous, insightful, prudent, diligent and all round ethical lighthouses where their influence is imminent in every tiny corner of the organization like the eye of Sauron. This is the perfect human being propelled into commercial divinity. The perfect Beau Geste baby of the reformed Dr. Mengele.

First problem is that this is utterly unachievable. When you constantly search for perfection, you essentially end up searching for yourself in a constant loop where you will only find flaws and one day you will realize that it’s the same good old John Doe with Caitlyn Jenners make up. After you spend a fortune on books, seminars, boot camps to strive for leadership nirvana. What is the result of this extreme sport for perfectionists? Disillusion, resignation and burn out.

Second problem is bigger as seen from the perspective of an organization. You become intolerable for your team and the lust for perfection and control becomes a virus that paralyzes the greatest asset of a company: The people.

Modern companies are full of Beau Geste leaders and they prevent the company to unfold its full potential. The need to create and control processes, systems and decisions simply suffocate talent and cripple’s maneuverability. The C19 crisis has demonstrated that talent flourishes when they have space to perform.

A great leader must be insightful into own strengths and weaknesses and accept the virtue composition. Only in that way the leader can be truly credible as a human being and the fear of being exposed as a fake perfectionist will be reduced.

A great leader sets targets, milestones with the team. A great leader create the strategy with the team. And the rest of the time a great leader makes sure to nourish the right talent and remove all resistance and any obstacle in the company’s performance circuit. Unleash talent.

Steen Albrectslund is former CEO of Skagen Designs, Fossil Inc. and Fitness World.

Cool Leaders

What concrete steps we can start working on to improve our products and policies

By Mark Zuckerberg

I just shared the following note with our employees, and I want to share it with all of you as well.


As we continue to process this difficult moment, I want to acknowledge the real pain expressed by members of our community. I also want to acknowledge that the decision I made last week has left many of you angry, disappointed and hurt. So I am especially grateful that, despite your heartfelt disagreement, you remain focused on taking positive steps to move forward. That can’t be easy, so I just want to say I hear you and I’m grateful.

I believe our platforms can play a positive role in helping to heal the divisions in our society, and I’m committed to making sure our work pulls in this direction. To all of you who have already worked tirelessly on ideas to improve, I thank you. You’re making a difference, and together we’ll make a difference. And while we will continue to stand for giving everyone a voice and erring on the side of free expression in these difficult decisions — even when it’s speech we strongly and viscerally disagree with — I’m committed to making sure we also fight for voter engagement and racial justice too.

Many of you have asked what concrete steps we can start working on to improve our products and policies. I want to share more about the seven areas I discussed at Q&A that we’re focusing on initially. Based on feedback from employees, civil rights experts and subject matter experts internally, we’re exploring the following areas, which fit into three categories: ideas related to specific policies, ideas related to decision-making, and proactive initiatives to advance racial justice and voter engagement. I want to be clear that while we are looking at all of these areas, we may not come up with changes we want to make in all of them.

Ideas related to specific policies:

  1. We’re going to review our policies allowing discussion and threats of state use of force to see if there are any amendments we should adopt. There are two specific situations under this policy that we’re going to review. The first is around instances of excessive use of police or state force. Given the sensitive history in the US, this deserves special consideration. The second case is around when a country has ongoing civil unrest or violent conflicts. We already have precedents for imposing greater restrictions during emergencies and when countries are in ongoing states of conflict, so there may be additional policies or integrity measures to consider around discussion or threats of state use of force when a country is in this state.
  2. We’re going to review our policies around voter suppression to make sure we’re taking into account the realities of voting in the midst of a pandemic. I have confidence in the election integrity efforts we’ve implemented since 2016. We’ve played a role in protecting many elections and now have some of the most advanced systems in the world. But there’s a good chance that there will be unprecedented fear and confusion around going to the polls in November, and some will likely try to capitalize on that confusion. For example, as politicians debate what the vote-by-mail policies should be in different states, what should be the line between a legitimate debate about the voting policies and attempts to confuse or suppress individuals about how, when or where to vote? If a newspaper publishes articles claiming that going to polls will be dangerous given Covid, how should we determine whether that is health information or voter suppression?
  3. We’re going to review potential options for handling violating or partially-violating content aside from the binary leave-it-up or take-it-down decisions. I know many of you think we should have labeled the President’s posts in some way last week. Our current policy is that if content is actually inciting violence, then the right mitigation is to take that content down — not let people continue seeing it behind a flag. There is no exception to this policy for politicians or newsworthiness. I think this policy is principled and reasonable, but I also respect a lot of the people who think there may be better alternatives, so I want to make sure we hear all those ideas. I started meeting with the team yesterday and we’re continuing the discussion soon. In general, I worry that this approach has a risk of leading us to editorialize on content we don’t like even if it doesn’t violate our policies, so I think we need to proceed very carefully.

Ideas related to decision-making:

  1. We’re going to work on establishing a clearer and more transparent decision-making process. This is clearly not the last difficult decision we’re going to have to make, and I agree with the feedback from many of you that we should have a more transparent process about how we weigh the different values and equities at stake, including safety and privacy. I think we can provide more transparency into what goes into the policy briefings and recommendations that get sent to me. These analyses are done thoroughly by Monika Bickert’s team and take into account many voices. Since I accept the team’s recommendations the vast majority of the time, this process is where I think we should focus most on transparency. For the most sensitive escalations where I discuss with the team further rather than just accepting their recommendation over email, we can try to outline how we incorporate all perspectives into those follow-up discussions as well, even though that tends to vary depending on the equities at stake in each decision.
  2. More broadly, we’re going to review whether we need to change anything structurally to make sure the right groups and voices are at the table — not only when decisions affecting a certain group are being made, but when other decisions that may set precedents are being made as well. I’m committed to elevating the representation of diversity, inclusion and human rights in our processes and management team discussions, and I will follow up soon with specific thoughts on how we can structurally improve this.

Proactive initiatives to advance racial justice and voter engagement:

  1. We’ve started a workstream for building products to advance racial justice. Many of you have shared ideas in the past few days on product improvements we can look at, and I’ve been impressed by how quickly we’ve moved here. I’ve asked Fidji to be responsible for this work, and Ime will be shifting some volunteers from our New Products Experimentation team to focus on this as well. They’ll have more to share on the first set of projects we’re planning to take on soon.
  2. We’re building a voter hub to double down on our previous get-out-the-vote efforts. At the end of the day, voting is the best way to hold our leaders accountable and address many of these long term questions about justice. Our efforts will draw on lessons we learned from our successful Covid Information Center in order to make our voting and civic engagement efforts as central as our efforts around Covid recovery. We’ll focus on making sure everyone has access to accurate and authoritative information about voting, as well as building tools to encourage people to register to vote and help them encourage their friends and communities to vote as well. In 2016, we ran one of the largest get out the vote efforts in history. I expect us to do even better in 2020.

To members of our Black community: I stand with you. Your lives matter. Black lives matter.

We have so far to go to overcome racial injustice in America and around the world, and we all have a responsibility and opportunity to change that. I believe our platforms will play a positive role in this, but we have work to do to make sure our role is as positive as possible. These ideas are a starting point and I’m sure we’ll find more to do as we continue on this journey. I encourage you all to also check out Maxine’s post about how you can give direct feedback on product, integrity and content policy ideas as well. Thanks for all your input so far, and I’m looking forward to making progress together over the coming weeks and months.

Cool Leaders · Media

We are witnessing the emergence of a new media economy

By Hamish McKenzie

In 2010, at 29 years old, I came to the US as a freelance journalist. My previous job had been as a writer for an entertainment magazine in Hong Kong, and I had no connections here. That first year, living in Austin, Texas, I scrapped for stories about cartel murders, human relationships, and, um, the World Beard and Moustache Championships. I sent them to magazines and newspapers in Hong Kong and New Zealand. For extra income on the side, I wrote entries for ad agencies that were submitting their work for awards. At the end of the year, I tallied my pre-tax earnings and found I had made $35,000. 

That amount seemed small to some of my friends. Despite two advanced degrees and six years of journalism experience, I earned a lot less than peers who had gone into other careers. But I was so proud of myself. I didn’t care about getting rich. I cared only about earning enough money to keep doing work that I felt was meaningful – in ways big and small. A phone call I received a few years earlier during an internship for a New Zealand newspaper had stuck in my mind. I had written an article about a group of World War II veterans who were raising funds for a memorial trip to Crete, where some of their friends were laid to rest. It was a short piece buried in the middle of the paper, and I had thought little of it. But after it was published, a daughter of one of the veterans called to thank me, profusely, because the article meant so much to those men. I would go on to write much bigger stories in my career, but I was forever in search of the feeling I had on that call. My storytelling had made a positive difference in someone’s life. It was the best kind of pay a journalist could hope for.

Were I starting as a freelancer in a similar position today, I don’t think I could scrape together $35,000 in a year – even with corporate side gigs. An industry that once sustained so many writing careers is now in a freefall accelerated by the pandemic. I have been watching in dismay as news organizations of all sizes from around the world have been laying off journalists and slashing freelance budgets. My friends are losing their livelihoods. Writers I have respected for years are getting desperate. These people aren’t just in despair over losing their jobs; they’re scared that the very profession might disappear. Will being a journalist ever be financially viable again? Most of them have never sought riches; they just hope to earn enough money to cover the bills so they can do the work they believe is important. To many, that’s starting to look impossible. 

One of the most painful aspects of this situation is that journalism itself isn’t broken. People want and need trusted storytelling more than ever, and there are many capable journalists ready to do the work. But the business model that supports journalism is broken, with devastating repercussions. In recent weeks, we’ve seen mass layoffs at The Economist, Condé Nast, Quartz, BuzzFeed, Vice, and Protocol, to name a few. There will be thousands more. These losses come on top of years of retrenchment and consolidation, including the sales of once-vaunted and now-distressed publications to legacy-burnishing billionaires, and the bankruptcies and mergers of giant newspaper groups such as McClatchy, Gannett, and GateHouse — a crushing blow to local news in particular.

Some in the news business hope that Facebook and Google, under the right pressure from regulators, will send them rescue money. But no matter how much money can be squeezed out of the tech giants, it will never be enough to fix the broken parts of the support system that once sustained the free press. Instead, to find a way forward, those who care about the future of news need to play a different game – one that puts writers in control of their own destiny.

This is one of the key reasons we started Substack. We’re attempting to build an alternative media economy that gives journalists autonomy. If you don’t rely on ads for your revenue, you don’t have to be a pawn in the attention economy – which means you don’t have to compete with Facebook and Google. If you’re not playing the ads game, you can stop chasing clicks and instead focus on quality. If you control the relationship with your audience, you don’t have to rely on outside parties to favor you with traffic. And if you own a mailing list, no-one can cut you off from your readers. 

In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about what might come along to “save” the news business from the ravages of the internet. But I think that’s the wrong framing. It’s better to ask: How can we use the internet to reinvent the entire business? We’ve defaulted to ads as the dominant business model for so long that we’ve failed to fully explore other options. I don’t accept that an ad-supported model is the best possible way to unleash humanity’s ability to produce and disseminate trustworthy storytelling. I don’t believe that we’ve seen the full potential of how good the news business can be. And yes, now we are in a crisis. But that crisis is an opportunity for reinvention. It’s a chance to build a new system where writers are well compensated and communities are well served. The internet might have helped get us into this mess, but it can also get us out.

The internet makes distribution frictionless and free – what used to take hours in trucks now takes milliseconds on the web. It makes a writer’s potential audience global instead of local. And it makes it easy to get paid. With a tool like Substack, you don’t need a complicated setup to manage the flow of information and money. When you don’t have to worry about a tech stack, design, back-office admin, or advertisers, you can spend all your time and energy on the most important thing: the journalism itself. 

With the subscription model, the numbers don’t have to be huge to produce meaningful revenue. If you can persuade a couple thousand people to pay you $5 a month, you’ll make $100,000 a year. It’s not easy – it takes time, dedication, and care – but it’s more doable than ever. In 2007, when I was hired as a reporter for a new trade magazine in Hong Kong, the assumption was that magazines like that took three years to become profitable. With the Substack model, the time to profitability can be reduced to months or even days, since you don’t need to staff up, build a sales operation, or stand up the technological infrastructure. 

Look at what Polina Marinova, formerly of Fortune, is doing with The Profile, where she focuses on deep-dives on fascinating people; or what Tony Mecia, formerly of the Weekly Standard, is doing with business news publication the Charlotte Ledger; or how Richard Rushfield, a former editor of HitFix, is covering the business of Hollywood with The Ankler. Matt Taibbi left Rolling Stone and is using Substack to put a spotlight on corruption in politics. Matt Elliott is covering Toronto’s City Hall. Judd Legum is exposing miscreant corporate giants with Popular Information

These journalists are doing the work they find most meaningful, having an impact, and making good money along the way. Emily Atkin, formerly of the New Republic, launched her climate change publication Heated in late 2019. A few months later, she is doing better by all measures than in any of her previous journalism jobs. “I was so scared when I left the New Republic that I would have to fight so hard to make my work have an impact because I lacked this institutional support,” Emily told an audience of writers in New York earlier this year, adding later: “I can’t believe how wrong I was.”

“I’ve never seen the type of impact that I’ve had in a 10-year reporting career than what I’ve had with such a smaller news audience, and that’s because these are passionate people. These are people who are there because of you, and they’re invested in you, and they take what you do and they yell about it.” 

Even though Emily is just getting started with Heated, it’s already working out financially, she said. Her income is comfortably in six figures. “I make more money now than I had at any salaried journalism job.”

Today, Substack publications are like islands on their own, with little communication between each. But over time, we aim to build Substack into a network, where writers can support each other and readers can find millions of deeply satisfying media experiences. As the network grows, there’ll be opportunity for cooperation, community, and innovation. We’re already starting to see people work together to take advantage of new opportunities with Substack. The writers who used to staff Gizmodo Media Group’s Splinter have started a new project called Discourse Blog. The Weekly Standard’s former editor-in-chief, Steve Hayes, teamed up with Jonah Goldberg and David French from the National Review to create The Dispatch, which crossed $1 million in revenue in a matter of weeks. A team of basketball writers who love the Golden State Warriors left SB Nation and created Let’s Go Warriors. Dan Shipper and Nathan Baschez have jury-rigged a bundle for their business-strategy publications, Divinations and Superorganizers

I’m wary of selling false hope to journalists who have been burned many times over by grand promises from technology companies. It is true that this new model won’t immediately work for everyone. But there are early signs that we are witnessing the emergence of a new media economy. The top writers on Substack are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and there’s a rapidly growing middle class, with writers and podcasters netting incomes that range from pocket money to high five figures. There are now well over 100,000 paying subscribers to Substack publications. We are learning from the activity in these early days and building resources and programs — such as fellowshipsworkshops, and grants — to help as many people as possible succeed.  

As I reflect on my career as a journalist, I feel compelled to do everything in my power to help. I can’t guarantee success to just anyone who starts on Substack, but I can guarantee our support. If you’ve been affected by this crisis and are interested in exploring what’s possible on Substack, please get in touch (hello@substack.com). Our team is focused on taking one-on-one coaching and development calls to talk about editorial strategies, how to think about launching paid subscriptions, and offering best practices for getting started. But we also know that the best guides are other writers on Substack who are succeeding with the model. Below is a list of Susbtack writers who have volunteered to offer advice. Fill in this form and we’ll set you up on a call. 

I believe that we’ll get through this together, and one day we will look back at this time not as the end of days, but as the start of a transition that transformed journalism for the better. 

Thank you to everyone who has supported Substack, and Substack writers, so far. There’s so much more to come.


Substack writers who have volunteered to offer advice calls 

To schedule a call, please complete this form.

(Want to add your name to this list? Email hello@substack.com with “Volunteer” in the subject line.)


Hamish is co-founder and COO of Substack.

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Cool Leaders

This is a global crisis and for millions of children the impact will be life long

By Greta Thunberg

Very honoured to receive Human Act Award. The prize money – 100 000 USD – will be donated to @unicef . Human Act will match this donation with an additional USD 100,000 for the total sum of USD 200,000.

So today we are launching a joint global funding campaign – Let’s Move Humanity for Children in the Fight Against Coronavirus – to support UNICEF´s efforts to protect and save children’s lives during the corona crisis.

The poorest and the most vulnerable people are always the hardest hit by a crisis.
Just like the climate crisis, the consequences of the corona pandemic will be most damaging for children in poor countries, in the poorest neighborhoods and for those already in disadvantaged and vulnerable situations.

More than 1,5 billion children are today affected by school closures.
This has a direct effect on millions of children and young people’s possibilities to learn, to a lunch meal and get access to water and sanitation.

More than 300 million school children rrely on schools as a source of daily nutrition.

Millions of children do not have access to distance learning. The digital divide is an example of global inequalities that affects the most vulnerable children.

Even if children so far generally have been spared the most severe symptoms of the Covid-19 virus, children’s lives and heath are already at risk. This is mainly due to lack of access to healthcare services – both for children and pregnant women – because of vaccination campaigns being suspended as well as lack of nutrition.

With the global health care services becoming overwhelmed there will be many additional child deaths in 2020.

This is a global crisis and for millions of children the impact will be life long. We need to act now – for the sake of every child.

The time is now, and we need your help to protect children. Donate today here . Thank you!