Redacted version of the shareholder letters Linh and David Smooke send to Hacker Noon 1.3k+ shareholders every quarter. Official HackerNoon Account: HackerNoon.com/u/noonion
July 4th, 2023 (Q1 to Q2, 2023) HackerNoon Shareholders Letter
“Building, Selling and Storytelling @ HackerNoon”
- Our product development team is humming along, building and integrating the HackerNoon CMS with the internet’s best publishing technologies.
- Valuation’s up: Forward Research purchased $250,000 worth of HackerNoon common stock shares at $42.55/share, a $50M pre-money valuation.
- Startups of the Year (video) has its first 200k+ votes and has trending startups all over the internet talking about their HackerNoon nomination. Our business database now includes information on 60k+ companies.
- Revenue’s risen 6 years in a row, but we fell short of our 2022 revenue goals, totaling
- Expenses are down
redactedYoY YtD. We cut costs at the top and the bottom, reducing management (Linh’s + David’s) compensation, reducing part-time staff, and eliminating all nonessential business costs.
- We published 8,311 stories YTD, a 52% YoY increase. Read HackerNoon Top Stories for editorial picks and The TechBeat for trending stories chosen by the people.
The HackerNoon product team’s been busy building and strengthening the platform, facilitating our mission to publishing quality tech content vetted by a 2nd human editor in this unpredictable macroeconomic landscape (AI replacing web3 as the next big thing, tech layoffs, and dry startups funding notwithstanding).
Content alone does not drive readership. We build publishing functionality to curate and distribute quality stories. The following features widen and deepen our relationship with new and existing writers and readers:
- Subscribe for Writers (video) - all published HackerNoon writers can now collect email subscribers via both profile and story pages and have their new stories sent directly to subscribers’ inboxes.
- 22 Parent Categories - all HackerNoon stories are now categorized into 1 of 22 niches that spin off into:
- 22 Category-Specific Newsletters - with 250k+ subscribers and counting, these newsletters target readers interested in specific niches, rather than general top content from our daily Noonification or weekly company tech brief.
- 22 Category-Specific Podcasts - audio content consumers can now find our top performing stories, read by AI for now, in their podcast feeds.
- The Learn Repo (post explainer) - our 2nd ever open source Github repo of top HackerNoon stories ranked by reading time
- First open repo was our HackerNoon font, which was downloaded ~2000 times on Github and Dafont this year.
- On this Day in Tech History - this feature combines historical tech events with a call back to interesting HackerNoon stories of years past, published on the same day. For example, did you know that on this day (July 4, 1996), Hotmail Launched as a Free Email Service?
AI & Machine Learning Integrations
- AI Headline Generator - This reads the content of the story and suggests the catchiest headlines possible based on existing content.
- AI Image Generator - fully accessible to our community of 45k+ writers, the HackerNoon AI Image Generator comes with 5 different models from Stable Diffusion, MidJourney Diffusion to Kandinsky; with both a prompt and a negative prompt.
- Community-driven AI image library - To date, 4148 images have been prompted and 903 used as feature images by our writers.
ReplacingAssisting Human Editors - In beta, it helps editors with 1st pass at checking for grammatical and formatting mistakes while detecting plagiarism and AI content itself. ChatGPT-4 is also used to rewrite the highlighted text within the HackerNoon text editor. While not as astute as our editors, this tool can do basic preliminary checks on common glaring mistakes.
- Machine learning translations for all top stories - These ensure accessibility and international accessibility for our top stories. With annotations revamp the community will also be able to improve these machine generated translations.
2,500 businesses already trusted HackerNoon with their content distribution, so we improve their reach further by creating various company rankings and indexes incorporating them, and other industry leaders.
- Redesign of Discover Companies page to include better search, a more comprehensive ranking system, and 3 ways to filter. Check out Microsoft's company page here. Learn more about Evergreen, our updated Tech Company Ranking System here.
- Startups of the Year 2023 (announcement post & SuperbCrew Interview with David) - launched in early May, this annual campaign features a sleek new design, and a more streamlined database (of this year’s 31k startups as well as winners of years past). This year’s nominees can also claim their accounts and customize their descriptions. 217k votes cast YTD, this campaign will announce the winners in January 2024.
- Arweave Web3 Backups - HackerNoon has published over 1 billion words, and now all those words and stories are backed up on the Arweave blockchain.
- Sunset our Coil Integration - Coil, unfortunately, decided to sunset their Web Monetization product. The business entity Coil continues as a HackerNoon shareholder.
- NFT as Profile Picture - building on Web3 login and writing contest payments, we’ve set up the option for a person’s visual identity to be an NFT.
Writers of HackerNoon can now easily move their content in and out of the CMS with a couple of simple clicks.
- Our Content Management System can now power contributor sites on any domain (beta). Some example sites: CoinWikis.com, WritingContests.xyz, HackerNoon.LinhDaoSmooke.com, Blog.Slogging.com, and HackerNoon.tech.
- Improved content Import and Export. Contributors can now export their content in PDF, HTML, and audio file, and access it on Arweave, and in addition to importing by individual URL, contributors can now mass import content from other blogging platforms (beta).
- Managed Accounts - for our customers, we are building features and processes to manage larger volumes of content. Some of our best MA accounts include Crypto Hayes, BugSnag, AmazonIVS, Protocol Labs, Courier, & Indrive.
Feature: HackerNoon's new valuation coverage via techstartups.com
Forward Research purchased $250,000 worth of HackerNoon common stock shares at $42.55/ share, a $50M pre-money valuation. This is great news for shareholders, who’ve previously purchased shares at StartEngine price of $8.20 in 2019 and strategic investment price of $11.35/share in 2020.
As part of this strategic partnership, HackerNoon now backs up its entire text library on the Arweave blockchain. Some news coverage links for reference: TechStartups, MarketWired, Invezz, Newswire, PermaNews, Arweave CEO Sam Williams, and AllyWatch.
We are not in a rush to raise more money, but will continue to opportunistically speak with other tech companies about owning HackerNoon shares. We want to align our interests with the most cutting edge publishing and technology companies.
Our 2022 revenue plateaued, totaling
redacted just above our 2021 revenue (
redacted YoY). While QoQ revenue increased in 2022 Q1, 2022 Q2 and 2022 Q3, 2022 Q4 was our worst revenue quarter since Q1 2021. While some of this is seasonal and some of this under our control, the massive tech layoffs and budget cuts greatly impacted our existing and prospective customers. For example, one of our previously trusted sales email lists had a 35% bounce rate due to layoffs. We have seen a slight
redacted QoQ rebound in Q1 2023 and a more promising early rebound in Q2 2023. We expect to hover around profitably in 2023, moving our expenses with the growth of revenue.
Some notable business realignments we did this year to combat macroeconomic challenges:
- Startups of the Year launched (video) and added 31k+ startups to the top of the HackerNoon business account freemium funnel. This campaign has its first 217k+ votes and has trending startups all over the internet talking about their HackerNoon nomination.
- Niche targeting simplification from 30k+ tags to 22 niche technology categories. This better aligned our ad inventory to our content relevancy ad placement philosophy into sellable units. All 100,000+ stories are now categorized into 22 buckets that pertain to distinct advertisement requirements, enabling advertisers to buy only those impressions and clicks that are relevant to their line of business. As a result, targeted ads turned out to be the biggest rising star of ad inventory, overtaking even writing contests.
- Writing Contests 2.0 (what winners say): Given the diverse needs and expectations of advertisers with this inventory item, we divided it up into 3 different categories that attract customers from different price points.
redacted/contest that runs for 1 month, no premium tags allowed.
- Standard Writing Contests: minimum
redacted/contest that runs for 3 months, top 50 highest traffic tags are purchasable.
- Mega-Contests: min
redacted/contest for customers who want to ‘throw in the kitchen sink,’ aggressively marketing it on HackerNoon and around the web.
Ahrefs Ranks HackerNoon.com as the 2,848th site on the entire internet, in the same realm as other sites pictured above like Bain.com, BHG.com, ICQ.com, WTO.org, WesternUnion.com, and McDonalds.com.
YTD, we’ve published 8,311 stories, generating years of reading time. Our stories come with translations in 7 languages, emoji credibility indicators, a lite version, quotable images, commenting, and more. All published writers now can also gain newsletters subscribers a-la substack directly on HackerNoon. With a leaner editorial staff, our focus has been on building stronger and longer-lasting relationships with our top users. See writers' testimonials here, but people continue to trust HackerNoon as a place to learn and publish, citing distribution benefit, reputation, “bragging rights”, monetary compensations, and growing job opportunities. As always, visit HackerNoon top stories for editorial picks, or the TechBeat for trending stories chosen by the people.
The entire Internet (if not the entire world) is talking about, and for good reason, ChatGPT and more broadly LLMs changing how we write, how we edit, and how we code. We’ve known this was coming, we’ve been publishing about GPT before it was cool. We have integrated AI tools to generate images, suggest better headlines, translate stories into 7 languages, and even improve grammar, punctuation, and wording. For a deeper dive on our AI publishing strategy and progress, tune in to our VP Editorial Limarc on the WhatsAI podcast.
We are not using AI to take away jobs, but rather using it to help our editors edit faster, help our writers write better, and maybe even create art that takes your breath away.
- We published 4,196 stories in Q1 compared to just 2,822 stories in Q1 of 2022. We published 8,311 stories YTD, a 52% YoY increase.
- This story received 68,868 reads this year in Spanish alone and is close to cracking 1 Million total reads.
- This brand story went viral and cracked 100,000 reads.
- AI and ChatGPT have been the subject of many viral headlines this year:
- AI Sex Is Almost Here - And the World Isn't Ready for It
- Top 10 AI Tools to Check Out If You're Bored With ChatGPT
- How to Talk to ChatGPT: An Intro to Prompt Engineering
- The Best ChatGPT Prompts For Content Strategy and Creation
- Take ChatGPT With You: Introducing Ariana, the ChatGPT Assistant That Lives in WhatsApp
- Our blogging fellowship stories alone have accumulated over 650,000 reads so far this year, and in April we just welcomed our biggest cohort yet of 13 new fellows.
We cut costs at the top and the bottom, reducing management (Linh’s + David’s) compensation, reducing part-time staff, and eliminated all nonessential business costs. We did retain all our entire full-time staff of 17 people going forward. These are the people who make HackerNoon happen. As we walk the profitability line, we are very confident in this team’s ability.
As we are management and we missed our revenue 2022 revenue goal, Linh and I reduced our compensation. We’ll re-evaluate this in January 2024 based on our 2023 revenue numbers. Across all teams, we also audited and greatly reduced all nonessential software and business expenses to get leaner. We also moved up infrastructure reducing costs projects, like increasing the use of smarter Caching, Svetle and Cloudflare.
How to Support HackerNoon:
- We are launching a HackerNoon documentary called Web 2.5 with screenings at tech events, a couple small movie theaters, and on Amazon Prime. Pls support by watching the trailer here and let us know if you want to host a watch party once the film is released.
- Buy a HackerNoon hat, it’s the best physical product we’ve ever sold.
October 17th, 2022 (Q2 to Q3, 2022) HackerNoon Shareholders Letter
“Green Clock Strikes Noon”
We’ve been building! HackerNoon shipped hundreds of product features meant to add more context and data to our publishing platform, notably with AI and Web3 technologies.
As always, we serve three primary user groups: millions of readers (averaging 4M pageviews monthly YTD), 35k+ writers, and 2.5k+ customers. 2022 YTD Revenue is at $
redacted, and $
redacted over the last 365 days. That’s a 34.5% growth rate YoY and 97% of total 2021’s revenue, with ≈3 months left in the year. While we remain profitable YTD and optimistic for our publishing, software and revenue growth, we did lose some customers to market conditions.
Writing Contests for three quarters in a row surpassed Billboard Top Nav as the biggest and fastest growing inventories. Here are some recent HackerNoon product updates we are excited about stable diffusion image generation within our text editor, crypto coin price pages, NFT profile images, the tech beat rankings, tech company brief rankings, and newsletter, slogging in the slack app store, Star Trek themed Noonies, the tech marketing store, blockchain game rankings, emoji credibility indicators, & technology polls. LFG.
The most fulfilling part of our past 4 months has been features and iterations to improve the experience for our readers, writers, and brands.
The HackerNoon publishing platform is making a dedicated effort to add more relevant context to content, integrate more insightful data via APIs, steer into Web3 adoption, and simply double down on the existing moments of product delight.
We’ll dig into the product development below, but some of the recent highlights are stable diffusion image generation within our text editor, crypto coin price pages, NFT profile images, the tech beat rankings, tech company brief rankings and newsletter, slogging in the slack app store, star trek themed Noonies, the tech marketing store, emoji credibility indicators, technology polls, and more :-)
Quote from an old story, generated via our new Quote Sharing Image Feature. Launched 2 weeks ago, this feature turns any highlighted text into downloadable and shareable quote images. See them used in the wild here.
Readers and writers alike trust HackerNoon as a destination for editorial quality and transparency. Gaining that trust takes time, and, in many cases, admission of biases inherent to built-in perspectives. We’ve learned that early on with our clear distinction between an individual story and a brand-as-author story. The following features are meant to provide more context to the stories and writers’ perspectives:
- Emoji Credibility Indicators: Visit any HackerNoon story and hover over the emojis underneath the writer’s bio, you will be able to see if the content is original or republished, timely (such as if the writer was present on the ground), is associated with a coin or a company, or uses referral links. This feature relies on both writers’ self-reporting and editors’ verification, as every HackerNoon story is subject to the Second Human Rule.
- Mentioned in Stories: You can also scroll down to the bottom of the story to see the people, coins, and companies mentioned (if any) in the story you just read. Within the HackerNoon editor, writers can now easily link to any human, company, coin, or other story by typing a few keywords, a handy feature that users of Google Docs and Notion certainly appreciate.
- Rich Media URL Embeds: links are hyper-important in context building, but they are easy to miss. This feature allows writers to embed any URL within HackerNoon’s markdown editor and provides readers with titles, images, and basic meta descriptions. This is an expansion of our existing Youtube, Twitter, and Git copy-and-paste embed functionality.
Data API Journalism
We learned a long time ago that a typical HackerNoon reader is more educated and wealthier than industry’s average, and we know they would appreciate more data-driven insights, such as with the following features:
- Iterations to Tech Company News Pages: On top of mentions around the web and on HackerNoon, public companies’ pages now also come with stock price charts, (for example, Apple), and full-width videos (for example, Microsoft). Readers can visit our curated list (hackernoon.com/companies) via the HackerNoon Homepage or Top Nav Menu to learn which companies are rising and falling in public consciousness week over week.
- Coin Price Pages: users can now visit our curated database of top cryptocurrencies that have achieved $1 Billion Market Cap to sort and view these coins by price, trading volume, and most recent stories on HackerNoon. This builds on our reputation as a destination for Bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrency stories. For a more in-depth analysis, users can visit each individual coin page (such as $BTC, $ETH, $USDT), read through the coin’s wiki (text powered by these HackerNoon posts), and hover over the clock along each coin’s pricing chart to read a timely HackerNoon story next to the ever-fluctuating pricing data points.
- HackerNoon Polls: last but not least, we’ve begun to conduct our own weekly polls as of late July! Users can vote by visiting the homepage (and soon, unique poll pages) for a limited time. So far, results from the polls have directed some upcoming product decisions, and generated top-of-mind insights on possible crypto regulation, the video game console wars, and what technical practitioners actually think of the Elon Musk media machine. The next iterations of these polls include headline generations from poll results, unique social sharing per individual poll pages, and integration within HackerNoon stories so any writer can conduct their own polls.
HackerNoon built its own content management system, meaning we have near absolute flexibility when it comes to choosing which technologies to maximize readership. We are making a dedicated push for Web3 technologies in HackerNoon, and are in talks with more Web3 staples to work with HackerNoon. Here is our YTD progress:
- Signup / Login with Wallet - This launched in March, it allows an account to be connected to just a wallet. Since then we have been building out security and UX for web3 use cases beyond identity, like NFT embeds and writing contest winnings.
- #Web3, #CyberSecurity, #EnterTheMetaverse and more writing contests with paying customers such as SandBox, Sentry, and Twingate. Read more about the progress of writing contests (and what winners say) in the Revenue section below :-)
- NFTs Story Embeds, Noonies Awards as NFT Badges, and now NFTs for Profile Photos (example). As NFTs are a way to verify digital ownership, we are exploring NFTs to accredit and advertise creators’ stories.
- Web Monetization via Coil - We have been streaming micropayments in browser from Coil subscribers to HackerNoon writers. To date, 4,500+ stories have been published and emoji credibility indicators also indicate which stories are web monetized.
- Blockchain Gaming Pages: The play to earn (or more recently, play and earn) market has seen great growth this past year. To help users and companies see the rise and fall of public interest in certain projects, we launched a blockchain games ranking platform. The platform tracks WoW search interest for each blockchain game on HackerNoon, aggregates recent story mentions of the game, and includes video mentions of it. We hope to expand growth measurement data inputs - here and on the coin price pages - to include more on and off chain activity sources.
- Stable Diffusion image generation within our text editor. This is (for now) is in use by editors only. We implemented a GPU model at a cost of $
redactedper original image created (for ref, DallE is about $
redactedper image), and we are exploring approaches to reduce that marginal cost. IMHO this is a game changer for the internet history of blogging featured images. More to come.
We’ve continued to enhance user experience across all three groups with these following platform-exclusive features:
- Redesigned Profile Pages: the brand new profile pages center the users, highlighting the ability to optimize one’s CTA button (now available in animated rainbow - a much loved design treatment similar to Total Reading Time), and segment Stories, Favorites, Bookmarks, Comments, & Quotes into their own, easy-to-navigate tabs for writers and readers alike.
- Redesigned Writer Dashboard: the revamped writer dashboard allows writers to sort drafts, track submissions, communicate via editors’ notes, inspires them with ongoing story templates, highlights total reading time generated front and center, and features a reward tab with all the writers perks (web monetization + writing contests), all in one place.
- Revamped Stats Pages: we’ve added full-width comments, every story around the web mentions, Cloudflare reader data, rankings within related HackerNoon stories, and emoji reactions below total reading time generated in the beloved pixelated graph. Users can also export their stories as audio files or PDFs or JSON files!
- Choose Your Color: now comes with PakistanFloodRelief, atop noonies2022 and standwithukraine for all visitors.
Protip: Subscribe to #HackerNoon-Product for more regular HackerNoon publishing platform updates :-)
2022 YTD Revenue is at $
redacted. That’s a 34.5% growth rate YoY and 97% of total 2021’s revenue, with ≈3 months left in the year. While we remain profitable YTD and optimistic for our diversified revenue growth, we did lose some customers to market conditions. Revenue over the last 365 days is $
redacted with the Writing Contests making $
Billboard ADs, Newsletters, and Niche ADs constitute our core limited inventory items and continue to be our top revenue sources.
- Billboard ADs made $
redactedYTD indicating the continued trust our advertisers have placed in our longest-running limited inventory.
- Newsletter ADs made $
redactedYTD and now boast of companies such as Stanford, Linode, and 80,000 hours amongst its clientele. The increased subscriber numbers MoM and the increased open rate (from 16% last quarter to 21% this quarter) point towards a higher value provided to clients at the same price point.
- Ad by Tags made $
redactedYTD and has been the most affected by the welcome emergence of writing contests. With major tags being taken over by the writing competitions, AD by Tags is being reimagined as buttoned links on the tagged pages.
- Story Audio ADs (synthetically produced by AI) made $
redactedYTD and have served as a new cheaper alternative to Billboard ADs to help companies leverage advertising on HackerNoon at a lower cost. Lisk, Algorand, Couchbase, and more have been the biggest buyers of this inventory.
Writing Contests — Now Our Largest Inventory
Writing Contests for 3 quarters in a row now surpassed Billboard Top Nav as the largest HackerNoon inventory. Writing Contests accumulated 2K+ stories participated and 5M+ reads across all stories. Linode even sponsored a #Linux writing competition while being acquired by Akama. Since its launch late last year, writing contests sponsors, such as SandBox, Sentry, and Twingate, have committed to a total of ~$200k in payout money to winners.
Writing Contests create the right flywheel incentives (pictured below): more new quality content on the internet creates a win for readers, a win for sponsors, and a win for contributing writers!
Looking at performance across the sponsors, we can see that the contest landing pages created bring thousands of new visitors to HackerNoon and to the sponsors (some with millions of impressions) while enabling great content creators to earn from their pen and encouraging content creation on niche technical topics. Sponsors and writers are pumped about these contests (see more).
Brand Publishing Growth via Brand as Author Program
Publishing as a brand by consuming our free credit is most brands' first contact with the HackerNoon ecosystem. Over 3000 brands have leveraged this offer to broaden their content marketing efforts.
HackerNoon's managed account services help build upon those efforts. For example, Arthur Hayes, BNBchain, and Amazon IVS, to name a few, increased the reach of their existing corporate blogs by simply choosing to republish on HackerNoon. We’ve also seen increased demand from stalwarts in the Blockchain space like Coinbase, Avalanche and Lisk to buy from HackerNoon in order to target Web3 developers.
This quarter, buoyed by strong sales to Brands and the demand for more exposure, we increased prices per article from $
redacted to $
redacted. This price increase enabled us to bring over to Brands the biggest differentiator from our Managed Accounts Program - a guaranteed $100 per story ad spend on social media. Our team accumulated enough social media ad insights to have these niche ads perform well. Basically, we are paid to drive more relevant traffic to our own site while helping drive traffic to our paying customers.
With literally thousands of brands now publishing with us, we've streamlined mandatory disclosures, editorial transparency, and communicated content guidelines to Brands which helped speed up the time to publish.
NEW: The All-You-Can-Buy Brand Storefront
This quarter, we also launched the Brand Dashboard Storefront to enable customers and clients to self-checkout This new experience has generated a little over $
redacted in revenue YTD (mostly on Brand-as-author credits). On top of the ability for brands to preview each and every ad, the storefront also offers massive discounts across all packages:
- *Startup Marketing package **with a 20% early-bird discount for startups looking to get started publishing on HackerNoon.
- *Content Marketing package **with a 32% discount: 52 Brand as author credits, 1 week of HackerNoon Story Audio ads, and 1 Tech Company News Page.
- Writing Contest package with a 33% discount: 3-month writing contest, with $18K prize pool for winners.
- *Brand-as-author credits **offer up to 50% discount for startups.
- First-time brands can get **a free BAA credit **upon filling out a simple Ice-breaker.
For V2 of the Brand Dashboard, we will include a “wins” tab, where staff members upload campaign wins such as trending mentions/milestones/data from their stories and ad placements, and in-app direct messaging, where staff can help clients answer any questions or report on campaigns’ progress.
Impact of the Recession and Ongoing Conflicts
It is undeniable that our target customers - companies in the emerging tech space - have been feeling the brunt of the recession. We did have a number of large and well-funded technology customers renege or drastically alter agreements and upcoming plans, citing layoffs and budget cuts.
BUT, we remain profitable and have more time on hand to clean house, tightening our process to be the go-to publishing platform for every single tech company out there. Revenue-wise, we are profitable YTD and still project to sizably increase our 2022 total revenue for the 7th year in a row.
Our editorial team is hard at work improving our output and juggling multiple initiatives to recruit new writers and stories into the HackerNoon community. HackerNoon is ramping up our human editorial team of subject matter experts, building automation and productivity tools into our editorial process and workflow..
The Second Human Rule
- Increased Human Editorial Capabilities Welcoming 4 new editors this past quarter, the editorial team is larger than it’s ever been and that has improved our output drastically. In 2021, HackerNoon published 10,355 stories. With ≈3 months left in the year, we’ve already published 10,498 stories in 2022.
- Tech Company Brief [Newsletter]. This is a human + machine-made weekly newsletter, i.e. a mix of tech editor commentary and original social data from HackerNoon. HackerNoon technology editor writes commentary based on unique social data generated from reader interest in tech companies on HackerNoon.
- Blogging Fellowship Revamp - The blogging fellowship has been revamped with video tutorials, more mentors, and a structured 3-month curriculum to welcome a shorter, more focused cohort. The initial program has created over 2 million minutes of reading time so far this year.
- Launched our 4th annual Noonies with a jingle jingle.This year is Star Trek themed to much excitement of our top writers; also see, here, here, and here. We passed 130k votes this week! Also, Noonies awards are serving as one of example badge in our upcoming badge reward system.
Story Publishing Experiments
- Public Domain Books - Just 6 months into the series, we’ve already published 1,200+ stories in our HackerNoon Books series. Our use of the public domain to create a readership for time-tested educational classics like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, astounding sci-fi stories, and even The Wealth of Nations, positions HackerNoon as more of a learning destination.
- Story Templates Growth - To help tech professionals create content, we have launched and are keen on ramping up story templates. We have 50+ staff-made live templates so far - like meet the writer, Noonies nominees, new startup funding, how to get a job in tech, which coin do you hodl? and tech company news in context - has led to 900+ published posts.
- Slogging is now live in Slack App Store!, has passed 400+ stories published and now appears at the bottom of page 1 for a google search for Slogging. As we onboard more communities and tech companies, we’ll continue the uphill climb of ranking for a real word atop Google. Notably, the tool has proven invaluable for hosting async AMA sessions with a global community in different time zones.
Reader Relationship Growth
- Comments, Comments, Comments. After messing around with commenting systems built and governed by others (Medium Corp, Disqus, Discourse), we’ve built our own native commenting system to the HackerNoon content management system. By default, each comment is reviewed by either the individual writer or staff editor before publication on the story page. We hope this moderation approach will encourage high-quality human discussions about technology. However, on an individual story level, writers can also choose “Town Hall Mode” where every comment auto-publishes.
- Newsletter Growth and More Email Touchpoints. We launched Tech Company Brief Newsletter, and soon the Crypto Brief Newsletter and the Blockchain Games Newsletter will launch, following this unique platform data + tech editor commentary model. We also launched the automated Tech Beat Newsletter, scaled up our transactional emails, and quietly, with a small group of top contributors, we’ve been beta testing sending entire blog posts as newsletters, ala LinkedIn Newsletters.
- Increased Curation via The Tech Beat: top 20 Trending Technology Stories over the last 24 hours are now live on the homepage, dynamically in the top navigation on all pages, on its own page, and as a newsletter! Users can sort the list by reads, engagement, latest, and comments. Writers are pretty excited about this new feature too.
- Editorial Picks. At the end of the day, the simplest thing we can do for readers is publish quality technology stories. Below are just a few of our favorite recent HackerNoon articles (by topic):
- A CIA Agent's Guide to Steganography, Fooling the KGB, and Protecting Your Crypto by @officercia
- Container Orchestration Trends for 2023: Kubernetes, AWS Fargate, Docker and Beyond by @hiren-dhaduk
- Get Ready for New Natural Disasters by @ikuchma
- Hack Solidity: Reentrancy Attack by @Kamilpolak
- How a Warm Beer Defined the Notion for Non-Fungible Tokens in 2015 by @alyzesam
- __How Do I Build High-Volume dApps With Ultra-Low Gas Fees? Like a #BAS __by @bnbchainecosystem
- How to Build a QR Code Generator in React by @Terieyenike
- How to Use DeepAR For AR Effects on Amazon IVS Live Streams by @amazonivs
- I Don't Like Big Butt NFTs and I Cannot Lie by @growthpunk
- Implementing a Singly or Doubly Linked List in Java by @rakhmedovrs
- Random: Meaning in Everyday Life and in Science by @nikolao
- Teach Me Daddy by @cryptohayes
- The Metaverse is Not Real, Yet by @barthillerich
- The Objective Need for Decentralization: Reality Consensus by @kameir
- 2022’s Top 5 React Native UI Libraries by @sarrahpitaliya
- Upwork in Real Danger of Losing MILLIONS over ONE DOLLAR "Conversion Fee" by @nebojsa.todorovic
- What Happened to Terra Luna? by @juxtathinka
- Why Would an NFT Marketplace Freeze an Account? by @nextdecentrum
June 5th, 2022 (Q1 to Q2, 2022) HackerNoon Shareholders Letter
“A New Era For Brands and Writers”
We’ve reached historical milestones of serving 1k+ customers, publishing 30k+ contributing writers and welcoming 200M+ visitors to date. 2022 YTD Revenue is up 77% YoY. For the first time in 3 years, a “new” inventory, Writing Contests, surpassed “traditional” inventories (Top Nav Billboard, Ad-by-tag, Brand Publishing) as our #1 revenue source! Since Writing Contests launched in 2021, they have generated over $XXXk in revenue and resulted in publishing 2k+ stories. It’s a win for readers, a win for sponsors, and a win for contributing writers! We’ve also shipped a ton of software: notably, web3 login, NFTs for Noonies winners, a new store for brands, a native commenting system, a notification center for readers and writers alike, and lots of market-insight pages like the Trending Tech Company Brief. Our next big pushes are: Slogging in the Slack App, Coin Price Pages, a lot more traffic via emails (automated emails, editor-written emails, and newsletter distribution for the verified contributing writers), and even more web3 integrations.
Roles and Revenue
HackerNoon’s YTD revenue stands at
redacted. It marks a 77% growth YoY. Revenue over the last 12 months is
redacted. As we were in 2021, HackerNoon remains profitable in 2022.
The average deal size (excluding BAA) was
redacteddepicting the trust HackerNoon developed with the companies. This year, with our great push towards Web3 adoption, writing competitions have overtaken billboard revenue and signaled the decreasing reliance on search engines and the increasing resilience of HackerNoon revenue to AD Blockers.
Accountability and Automation
With the May launch of our Brand Dashboard, we’ll be enabling companies to self-check out nearly any brand offering. While we’ve worked with over 1,000 brands, previously only brand-as-author publishing credits were available for self-purchase. Now brands can purchase billboard slots, newsletters, specialty packages, and even writing contests without the explicit need of speaking to a human. A milestone for the sales team 🎉
Going beyond simply selling inventory, the brand dashboard is a ‘true’ dashboard where sponsors can track the performance of their campaigns (clicks, impressions, and geo-targeting) for granular oversight. This will save our team many hours spent each week generating and sending reports, so we can use that time to land even more clients.
Future iterations also include messaging functionalities that allow the sales team to communicate quick “wins” or causes for concern with sponsors during the course of the campaign.
Closing the Loop and Constant Communications
We’re now sending monthly newsletters to sponsors and leads to educate them on inventory and offer discounted packages. We’re calling these ‘Love Letter to Brands’. These newsletters are averaging 25+ meetings booked with every send.
This exercise keeps the sponsors updated and engaged. Future iterations: we can segment our lists to send more niche-relevant newsletters!
Advertising 2.0: Native, Contextual, and Crowd-Sourced
HackerNoon’s Writing Competitions have been a smashing success. This June, we’ll have onboarded 9 sponsors in 2022 and successfully concluded 3 in 2021. Compared to banner ads (that can be blocked by AD blockers), writing competitions get native placements, a ton of social marketing activities, and an incentivized model to crowdsource high-quality content. We’re now committed to rewarding $174k to contest winners.
With these simultaneous writing contests__, we’re practically rewarding more money to more winners that simply beat the subscription model pursued by generic publications.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Growing Company Revenue
A couple more notable things about HackerNoon business development in 2022 YTD:
- More Meetings == More Sales. We are consciously making it easier to meet with us. Here’s our meeting link btw: https://calendly.com/hackernoon.
- More tools in our toolbox: We’ve updated our toolset to now include Sortd (GMail-based CRM), YAMM (GMail-based Mass Mailer), Calendly (scheduler), Zapier (automating tasks), and of course, more decks.
- Shop Experimentations. Keeping what’s worked - original designs with dropshipping via Printful and we will be cutting what’s not, StackCommerce bundles.
- We filed Trademark Applications for Noonies and Slogging with the help of Cognition IP. These trademarks will not only prevent unauthorized use of our emerging brands but will also help Noonies and Slogging scale as digital entities.
Words of the year (thus far): web3 and iteration. Our talented dev team has been hard at work making the experience of writers, readers, editors, and sponsors better(in some cases, radically improved).
For Our Beloved Readers
This year to date, we really doubled down on making it easier and more useful than ever to own a reader account on HackerNoon.
- Signup or Login to HackerNoon With Your Crypto Wallet: Now when creating a HackerNoon account, all users can choose whether they want to use a Web 1.0 identity (email), a Web 2.0 identity (social media), or Web 3.0 identity (Ethereum wallet)
- A New and Improved Search Feature (Algolia integration): Type any term in the search box and get a relevant list of People, Stories & Tag instantly 🔎
- SITEWIDE COMMENTS!: Comments are finally back on HackerNoon! (lack of it was a bug, not a feature 😆 ) Second human rule where the second human is either the writer or the editor. Also - you can thread the comments!
- Expanding the Profile Page for Readers: History of any story you've ever reacted to, or bookmarked, is now available on your profile, together with About Page CTAs, and all your Comments 💚
- #StandwithUkraine added to Choose Your Color feature: A simple gesture from a tech pub to show support for our fellow humans
- Signup or Login with Magic Link: No shame in the forgetting game! Hit that magic button to log in without a password ✨
- Action-Based Notifications on Site (for both Readers & Writers): You've got mail…NOT. It's the little red dot on the bell icon that will deliver all that you need to navigate HackerNoon 🔔
- Tech Company Brief: When visiting this dynamic page of 100 trending companies (that get updated weekly via our API, a la Bloomberg), readers can also subscribe to the Tech Company Brief which has a weekly insight written by a human editor. Check out the first 3 insights here.
- Email Comprehensive: now, all your email subscriptions are on one front-facing page at hackernoon.com/emails. Readers can also unsubscribe with 1 click, and set email preferences all in 1 hub via our new secure tokenized method.
- Top Nav just got a facelift: Visited hackernoon.com lately? Our dropdown menu just got a lot smoother with a little color change and animation. Kudos UX!
- Training Algolia: besides instant search, we’ve been training Algolia’s AI to improve the accuracy of related stories’ algorithms. Learn more here.
- Live Reactions on Homepage: scroll down a little on the homepage, below the top 5 stories, and you can see who just reacted to a recent story.
For Our Brainy Writers
This quarter, we’ve spent a lot of time iterating on the writers’ experience on HackerNoon. These are the features that have been launched in the past, made better 💪
- Noonies Badges delivered to Winners of Noonies 2021 as NFTs! Speaking of Noonies winners, now all Noonies winners’ profiles should reflect the award title they win, as well as when they win them!
- Rewards for Writers just got bigger: On top of web monetization, writers can now see and enter any running Writing Contests for cash prizes by visiting the Rewards Section under their profile page.
- New Design of the Dashboard for When You Create a New Draft: Choosing Editor 3.0 (with Markdown support, Notion-like UX, and, finally, the ability to embed Youtube videos!) is now easier than ever 📝
- Import Stories: Copy, paste, enter, (lightly) reformat or edit, & submit. It's that simple 📥
- Tags can now be reordered: this feature helps editors a lot in sorting/categorizing stories but also helps writers with determining what curation pages to prioritize in their stories first.
- Cloudflare now powers your stories’ stats: in many cases, this means 3x traffic for you, the writers! This is because GA (which we used in the past) discounted a lot of traffic from people who block Google!
- See Your Notes History: Write "note to self" a lot. Or want to find useful tips from 1 of our editors about your writing? Now you can get access to them via your writer dashboard 💌
- Full Page Feature on Story Settings: annoyed easily by how small and cluttered those fields in story settings can feel? Now you can extend Story Settings to a Full Page and type in notes, meta descriptions, TL;DR, or search tags with ease. This feature is subtle so be sure to look for the little expansion icon in the top left corner of the Story Settings.
- View Those Who Reacted to Your Stories: Your secret admirers are secret no longer 😎
- Improved Site Map: an SEO best practice, our site map is now auto-generated to ensure all stories and pages are updated automatically and get noticed by web crawlers instantaneously.
- Updated Writer Stats: visit <https://app.hackernoon.com/stats](https://app.hackernoon.com/stats) and you can now see the total impressions generated by your profile and about page. While there, you can also download the AI-powered audio of each of your stories
For Our Iconic Brands
These are the features deployed to make the life of our 1000+ sponsors (that make HackerNoon possible for users) easier.
- A BRAND NEW Brand Dashboard (Partner Store) is now available at app.hackernoon.com/brand. All offerings are managed by admin, integrated with Stripe, and could be purchased directly on-site.
- Audio Sponsorships: Still the same robot voice reading the article... now also reading and demoing your ad! Book a meeting with our sponsor team to learn more 🔈
- Slogging submitted to the Slack App Store (under review): to date, Slogging brought in 350+ stories on HackerNoon. With this foray into the Slack app store, we can bring this awesome feature to more communities, not just HackerNoon!
Tech Company News Pages for Startups of the Year Winners: over 1000 tech pages were created for the winners of Startups. We also open-sourced the data so that others can use this information to better learn where startups trend 🔥
Upcoming Features we’re excited about:
- Coin Price Pages that track prices with stories and histories of all cryptocurrencies with a $1B+ market cap: More data via API. Bloomberg-esque push. Bring the data into the story. The first sponsors are already committed!
- Improved Backup System to empower writers and editors with better control, visibility, and historical versioning of all HackerNoon stories.
- Revamp of Writer Dashboard. This provides writers with better manage their content and more easily gain access to our growing writer programs, initiatives, and opportunities.
- Contributor Newsletters by Mailgun. Very much inspired by LinkedIn Publishers Newsletter functionality, this sends full blog posts as emails for verified writers and empowers writers to grow their own email lists.
- Editor Themed Newsletters by SendGrid.
- Story Audio Distribution Feeds. We’re exploring app creation and podcast player integrations to better distribute our audio stories.
- New “Subscribe” Experience 🙂
- Stock price and business wikis to be added to Tech Company News Pages.
- Startup Location Hubs. Evolving last year’s Startup of the Year location vote to be more like BuiltIn, including native and curated content about the local startup scene, startup job listings, and of course, this year’s Startup of the Year votes.
- HackerNoon Lite. A super slimmed-down version of the app so that our technology content is more accessible on slower internet regions of the world.
More writers = more stories = the need for a bigger editorial team
Great stories are the lifeblood of HackerNoon, and thus the writers on our platform are our heroes. Historically, we have published over 30k+ writers. In addition to our core offering of timely professional editing and story distribution, we run a number of initiatives to attract talented writers and the best stories, which include Writing Contests, The HackerNoon Blogging Fellowship, story/interview templates, HackerNoon Books, and more!
This year, we already have 5 active writing contests running, and 4 more in the pipeline. Writing contests encourage organic, user-generated stories about what’s happening in the tech world today, be it the Future of Gaming, Cybersecurity, or what’s happening in Web3. At the same time, these contests reward our writers with $174k cash prizes for their valuable content. In total, our contests have created 2k+ stories and over 2M+ reads to date!
New Keywords Won
HackerNoon ranks for hundreds of thousands of important tech keywords on Google, Bing, and other search engines. Some of the popular top three wins for tech terms with thousands of monthly searches are: proxy servers, what is a full-stack engineer, one hot encoding, manacher’s algorithm, and curl request.
To help our community choose the best-trending topics to write about and format their story structure in an engaging way, we’ve published a couple dozen story templates/writing prompts. Stories published via these templates have gone on to garner tens of thousands of reads. We’ll be expanding our default template library, and adding incentives to create more templates and answer more templates to make original stories.
We’ve created an online blogging fellowship program to teach the basics of writing for an online audience, SEO, keyword research, and modern internet writing. The blogging fellows have contributed over 600 stories to the platform which has garnered over 2.2 million readers in the first year of this program. Most of our graduates have gone on to get part-time or even full-time writing jobs during or directly after the fellowship. A few have even joined the HackerNoon staff.
Growing the Team
More writers equals more story submissions and in order to keep publishing times at a minimum, we’ve had to grow our tools and our team. We’ve hired 3 more editors with expertise in business/finance, software development, and the video game industry to help bolster our editorial team. We will continue to expand the part-time HackerNoon editorial staff to cover more technological expertise.
How can you help
- To celebrate the opening of our brand dashboard, we have three large discounted packages when purchased in-app: Brand Booster, Brand Elite, and Writing Contest. To access them, please sign up/ log in to HackerNoon as a brand (option: Brand as author, when prompted) and visit app.hackernoon.com/brand
- Open Jobs of note (any referral is appreciated!): Product Designer, Technical Community Manager, Customer Success Rep, QA Engineer, and Editors (always).
- (Check note- We also wrote “words of wisdom” here as a line item)….so perhaps you can check out our best attempt at being wisdom at the Parents in Tech Podcast here. Work-life balance right?
January 17th, 2022 (Q3 to Q4 2021) HackerNoon Shareholders Letter
“The Year of Profitability and Product Renaissance”
For the 5th year in a row, we doubled HackerNoon Revenue of the previous year with 2021 revenue clocking in at
redacted USD! And, for the first time since we started sending these shareholders newsletters, HackerNoon is profitable again, by
redacted! Our primary ad inventories, Top Navigation, Ad By Tag, Brand as Author, and Email Newsletters, all improved in YoY revenue, and new ad inventory from Startups of the Year and Writing Contests also drove revenue up. With regards to traffic, we saw a 11% increase in readers QoQ, a 2% decrease YoY to readers on hackernoon.com, and as of today rank as the #3,990 site on the worldwide internet by Alexa. In-app traffic (app.hackernoon.com) saw a significant bump, with users increasing 62% YoY, and 7.9% QoQ. Software-wise, we strengthened the product team, and in the last 4 months we’ve shipped AI-powered Audio Stories (≈3x avg time on site), About Pages (here are some examples), Terminal Reader, Writing Prompts, Noonies 3.0, Choose Your Color, (revamped) Noonification, Emails, Internal KPI Dashboard Improvements, Open Sourced Font, Internal Changelog History for Every Story Draft, Editorial Notes, (improved) Core Web Vitals, among many other features/fixes/improvements/iterations.
In 2021, VP of BD Utsav Jaiswal continued to chuck the Sponsors team along with steady growth on proven offerings, such as Top Navigation, Ad By Tag, Brand as Author, Email Newsletters, and Noonies, while also opening up new revenue generating streams including Writing Contests, Startups of the Year, Startup Specials, and Managed Account Services! Startups of the Year nominated 44k startups and generated unique social data on trending startups via 190k votes. We’ll also be opening up new ad inventory via the upcoming coin price pages and audio story ad placements. With the growth of these inventories, we see a path to double again in 2022.
The MVP of all ad inventories this year goes to Writing Contests (details). Writing contests are awesome for flywheeling our business because they generate revenue, they generate quality stories, and they reward contributing writers. Our early group of customers, including Sandbox, Wix, and Everscale (formerly Freeton), accounted for redacted in revenue, and thousands of new quality stories around trending tech movements like #gaming-metaverse and #decentralized-internet.
In 2021, we published 10,355 stories and 13,637,478 words. That’s a 4% increase in stories published and a 5% increase in total words published YoY. While the rate of publishing seems to have stabilized instead of increasing significantly, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work done programmatically and with our human editors to improve the overall quality of all of our stories. To improve the average story quality in 2021, we brushed up the editorial experience in our Content Management System by shipping a Markdown text editor, AI-powered TL;DR generator, Writer/Editor messaging notes, an internal measuring system for story submission quality, and a built-in plagiarism detection tool. By growing the roles of part-time Junior Editors to our editorial team, we also ensure that every article submitted is checked for formatting, plagiarism, grammar, writing quality, before being reviewed by a second Senior Editor for a final quality control check, internet distribution optimization, and headline rewrite options. Our writers seem to really appreciate the overall bump in editorial quality.
Notably, this year Limarc Ambalina rose up as the VP of Editorial and played a critical role in various initiatives such as the Blogging Fellowship, Slogging, Writing Contests, Writing Prompts, and the expansion of the editorial team. In company history, we are now past 25k writers published. We have also fostered numerous partnerships to both help with content distribution, and to attract new writers and better stories. Some of these recent partnerships include Digg, Den, Flipboard, Headtopics, Tealfeed, Blockster, Blockchain Game Alliance, Data Driven Investor, Microverse, Daily.dev, Quora, and NewsBreak.
Here’s a (non-exhaustive list) of Notable Product Progress since our previous shareholders letter sent on August 19, 2021:
- Audio for (most) stories: AI-empowered audio for all new stories going forward and the ten thousand most-read stories in our library. Initial Results are encouraging: users stay ≈3x times as long if they click on the Listen to this Story button. This is built with Google Cloud’s Text-to-Speech API. We launched it with four voice characters so that readers have some diverse options for their accent preferences: Dr. One, Ms. Hacker, Madam Beckham, and Ali Mohat.
- A total revamp of the Noonies Voting Software backend: we migrated our database for the Noonies from legacy Prisma DB to Firebase, both for current and previous years to ensure our award links remain evergreen. The front end got a new lick of paint, a dark mode, and several speed improvements over past iterations. We also resolved several SEO shortfalls from 1.0/2.0 versions to boost organic traffic.
- In-app Editor/Writer Notes: Our first iteration of a messaging feature! Editors and Writers can now communicate in the app via our writers’ note feature. Editors use this feature to make improvements/suggestions to a story, and writers use it to be proactive about a story they want to improve. A game-changer for our editorial process!
- Individual User About Pages (here are some examples): The About page is the second most visited page on the average site (after the homepage). With these About Pages, we are validating writers’ expertise, professional story, and perspective. So far 6,635 About Pages have been created. The page also allows for up to ten Linktree style call to action so our contributors can better drive traffic to their corners of the internet. Some people are very psyched.
- Cleaner URL Structure: story URLs now no longer have a randomized string of letters at the end, which makes them more user-friendly and good for SEO. Less wasted space in the URL FTW.
- Writing Prompts Templates: with a few simple clicks, users can now select a topic/prompt of choice such as a writers-exclusive interview, opinion on the news, or knowledge on a niche such as data science. They then will be directed to a draft page on app.hackernoon.com and simply start answering the questions. Since launch, this initiative has resulted in 483 quality stories. You can read some of the interviews via #meet-the-writer, #startups-of-the-year, #good-company-interview, #noonies2021, and #writing-prompts.
- We agreed to a one-year contract with Vercel for hosting. We have been having fun building with them and the whole develop/preview/ship mindset. I think it’s wise to not rely on one host, overall we currently split most of our hosting between Vercel and Google Cloud Platform.
- Plagiarism Checker. With one button within the app, editors can check any story for plagiarism and plagiarism likelihood percentages. Blocks a lot of bad actors and saves our editors and junior editors a ton of time.
- Abandoned Drafts get the love they deserve! Users who leave a draft open for too long now get an email from Natasha reminding them to take care of their mental health AND finish the draft.
- Slogging along (#slogging)! We made back-end improvements, SlackBot development, editorial flow iterations, and the ability to edit drag-and-drop convos around within our text editor. The primary beta group of 855 writers in Slogging.Slack.com wrote and published 258 Slogging stories together so far. ProductSchool and a few others have also been using the beta app as well. We’ll be listing it in the Slack App Store later in the year. That conversation should be a blog post.
- Choose Your Color: a more colorful HackerNoon FTW! Users can choose from 4 default color palettes, or even customize the primary site and even the ad colors to whatever their heart desires. This new paint icon button (designed by Kien Dao) has proved a viable path for account creation, accounting for 3,275 new accounts in December alone.
- Verified Writers (invite-only, for now): a couple of trusted, highly qualified contributing writers are now able to bypass the editorial process and publish their own stories. This includes a visual checkmark and rainbow hologram thumbnail border. Yet, some users still choose to submit to the editors anyway because we have better headline-practice ha. We’re still experimenting with what exactly verified means.
- Around the Web on the Story Page (live) and Writer Stats pages (soon): Using the AHrefs API, we automatically cite where every story is mentioned, discussed, and/or linked around the internet. Scroll down to the bottom of any story to see. 36905 stories have been featured around the web 180379 times, each story gets an average of 4.9 backlinks from quality sites around the web!
- Core Web Vitals: much improved across both mobile and desktop, especially in the first and largest contentful paint, making the site much more accessible to those with limited internet bandwidth.
- Editorial Dashboard 2.1! A revamped Editor Dashboard and in-app workflow to match our evolving and expanding editorial team, with WoW stats on stories published, scheduled, rejected, and more editorial insights! Also, whichever editor publishes the most stories wins “The Stephen King Award” and whichever rejects the most stories wins “This is Sparta Award.”
- Shop.hackernoon.com launch! We partnered with Stackcommerce to build an online shop to sell HackerNoon branded merchandise, and provide users with discounts on valuable tech tools and online courses.
- Revamped Twitter Bot. We now have much more control and autonomy over what and how frequently stories get posted to Twitter!
- The Terminal Reader is live! Users can read HackerNoon’s entire library of stories in a terminal-like interface. This application comes with a variety of commands so you can find and read your next story like a software developer. Please type ‘help’ to see the functions.
- More Image Optimization Work to speed up different types of images and reduce hosting bills.
- Story Footer. Admin can set up default text to book-end a story - saves editors a lot of time to add default content to a group of stories, like text about the writing contest the story is entered into.
- NFT story embeds. We used a framework that we found via Mirror.xyz, but it only works for ERC-721 NFTs. While ETH leads the NFT market, for now, minting an NFT is a function just about any reliable blockchain can do. We’ll continue to explore different methods to embed digital assets into HackerNoon stories.
- Homepage Live Reactions: to make the site look more dynamic, we added our live reader component to the homepage just below #hackernoon-top-stories.
WIP building, i.e. what’s next: Commenting System, Coin Price Pages, Coin Price Page Ad Placements, Dynamic Sitemap, Notification System, Reader Mobile App, Audio Story Distribution, Audio Story Ad Placements, Web 3.0 Signup/Login, In-app Writing Contest Payments, Slogging Wordpress Plugin, Slogging Slack App Directory Listing, Writer Dashboard Revamp, Search Discovery Experience Revamp, and more :-)
Internet voting momentum, the HackerShip takes off, and a few more miscellaneous milestones:
- Noonies 3.0 & Startups of the Year: We launched our 3rd ever-Noonies Awards in August! In 2021, our voting software powering Noonies.Tech (FAQ) and Startups.HackerNoon.com (FAQ) generated sponsorship revenue, received 140k votes (so far), and voting will conclude on January 26. Winners for both are announced on Valentine’s Day. Each Startup of the Year winner receives a tech company news page, each Noonies winner receives an original Noonie NFT, and there’s a total of $100k in-kind prizes from the sponsors Brex, Get. Tech, ByBit, and more sponsors. These campaigns have generated quality organic mentions.
- Hacker Noon Font 2.0: we’ve open-sourced our second-ever in-house designed font! We’ve heard feedback from the community about our first font and made something more practical and easy on the eyes. This font is all about readability and usability! Rounded pixelation. You can get access to the Font via Brand Manual or our GitHub.
- Podcast: this year, we’ve restructured the podcast and re-introduced this line item in our inventory! Through a couple of trials and errors (such as with This Week on Planet Internet series), we’ve narrowed down a structure that works for the team, our guests, and our sponsors. Check out the latest series: Amy Learns Crypto, sponsored by Bybit
- HackerShip: towards the end of the year, we launched our first-ever internship and apprenticeship program that attracts almost 400 applicants within 48 hours. 15 interns are now going through various onboarding processes to help with the day-to-day tasks of the Editorial, Marketing, Sponsor, Product, and Operation teams.
- Easter egg (congrats on making it to this point of the newsletter - Tweet/Share this blog post with @HackerNoon & #Verse for free Merch): we launched a Facebook Meta competitor, VERSE, for good measure.
Until next time Slogging along,
P.S. Some notable recent press citations of HackerNoon stories: Forbes, Fast Company, Google Cloud Official Blog, Google Books, Amazon AWS Official Blog, Cloudflare Official Blog, The Oxford Journal of International Economic Law, Coindesk, Tech Times, The Llama Sanctuary, NippleVerse, Postman, PacktPub, SkillShare, TechCrunch, Glints, The Hack Posts, Figma, Public.uk, Gamezebo, Lippincott, Peninsula Daily, FreeCodeCamp, Springer Link, ACM Digital Library, MarketSquare, BusinessInsider, StarterStory, The Art Law Review, VentureBeat, and Berkeley Alumni.
P.P.S. We are moving the cadence for these State of the Noonion Addresses from every 3 months to every 4 months. This works better for us as a business so we can really focus on the actual work, but also ensures these newsletters remain robust and detailed reports. For all previous State of the Noonion newsletters simply visit Noonion for shortened/redacted/public versions.
August 19th, 2022 (Q2 into Q3) HackerNoon Shareholders Letter
💰First thing first, how we've made money this year:
We're very excited that Ad by Tag, Writing Contest and Startups of the Year emerged as new and competitive offerings beside the usual revenue leader, Top Nav Billboard. HackerNoon 2021 Year to Date Revenue is over $1M !!!! (real amount redacted). This is more than we expect total expenses for all of 2021 to be, as well as, a 168% increase over 2020 revenue, a 343% increase over 2019 revenue, and we still have three and half months left in 2021.
So far this year, we've published 6,844 stories in addition to 1,213 tech company news pages and 4,553 startups city award pages. These business pages are showing great early signs for their value to reflect the technology industry and have startups initiative dialogue with us, but it required increased editorial work to publish more startup voting, tech news pages, and HackerNoon newsletters. We'll be ramping up part-time editorial staff through the next 6 months to focus on increasing our rate of publishing quality tech stories.
We launched Startup of the Year Vote with our custom voting software that ran the Noonies, featuring 40k+ startups, redacted in sponsorship revenue, and $100k+ rewards for startups. You can check out Discussions on LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as, the initial 100+ Interviews with Startup Founders. The headline sponsors are Brex, Blockster, and ByBit. It launched on July 26, and already has more site visitors than our first Noonies instance. Voting runs through January 2022, prolonging the duration for startups nominees and winners to market their own success. This is the 3rd profitable instance of our voting software, paving the way for more software expansion down the road.
🔥 Notable Progress Since May 15 2021:
● New Text Editor with Markdown support. Built with Outline's open source text editor, this new editor supports Markdown and rich Notion-like block embeds. We'll be supporting both text editors for the foreseeable future, and possibly adding more.
● Blogging Fellowship Expansion. This program brought in 325k+ readers in 6 months from pilot program of 8 fellows. In the vein of a free BeOnDeck, we've expanded this program to 20 fellows for the second batch.
● Startup Special Packages. We have our first purchases of $1k without first talking to a human! While creating a lot of value for customers, this package also requires no limited inventory and very little labor to serve. It's really a great way for technical companies to distribute their post posts and validate that they are a company worth covering.
● Premium Tech Company News Pages. Feature launched in January, updated in June, and has first dozen customers committed.
● Slogging has published 150+ posts from the HackerNoon community, and has been installed in its first communities: Product School (100k+ members), Greater Colorado Venture Fund (yay our shareholders!), The State of Digital Publishing, and Civic Hackers.
● Email Centralization. We're scaling up Noonification, Tech Brief and Transactional Emails with SendGrid. New user email settings with much better control of which types of emails they'd like to receive, and even what time zone certain emails will be delivered.
● Text Interview Signup Flow. Now, users can be directed to an existing structured draft. The first 100+ interviews published via this format are live here. If you are a startup founder, signup here to get interviewed by HackerNoon.
● Signup with Facebook, GitHub, Twitter - in addition to the existing Google and email. Smoother signup experience.
● Page performance projects (have you noticed the speed at which things load has much improved? 😉).
● Reader Dashboard. Personalized homepage for recommended stories, subscription management, bookmarks, and other useful resources. The framework also toggles to the writer dashboard, and upcoming brand dashboard.
● #Gaming-Metaverse Writing contest. Sandbox, the sponsor, pays out $5,800 to writers per month, and totals redacted revenue to HackerNoon. This model follows the success of the #Decentralized-Internet and #Velo writing contests.
● 10 Default rejection emails so editors communicate precisely to writers why their story got rejected, from grammar, bad formatting, plagiarism, length, audience fit, to general low quality.
● More original default thumbnails (12 new original robots designs!) to liven up the profiles that don't want to upload or connect a profile photo.
● Niche Marketing Ad Art Creator. Admins can now create original ad imagery within the HackerNoon content management system. Soon brands will be able to too.
😻 More Upcoming:
● Around the Web on the Story Page and Writer Stats pages. Using the AHrefs API, we will automatically cite where every story is mentioned, discussed, and/or linked around the internet.
● Brand Dashboard. We're in the prototype phase for customers to manage their ad spend and pay for compartmentalized offerings. This will also re-use our Bing News API work to track company mentions around the web to grease the flywheel signup flow.
● Writer Dashboard 3.0. Now that we have writing contests, web monetization, multiple text editors, story templates, around the web analytics, and more ways to work with writers, it's time to update how we organize the writer dashboard.
● Publishing and distributing audio files for all text stories in our library ;-)
● The Noonies! Our annual tech awards will be back in the summer. So far, sponsorship commitment is redacted.
● Verified writers program ✅ Working to up our rate of publishing by empowering the top contributors to earn and leverage the publish button.
● Individual User About Pages The about page is the second most visited page on the average site (after the homepage). With this user about page, we are validating writers’ expertise and perspective, and giving readers a page they can be proud of on HackerNoon.
● More Slack communities to install Slogging, and entry into the Slack App Directory to follow.
● Emoji Credibility Indicators for every story. These indicators provide important context for readers, such as clarifying where things like original reporting, referral links, and vested interests.
● Mobile Reading App. Currently this is in internal beta testing, our first mobile app is focused on the growing aggregate mobile time reading.
● A revamped Editor Dashboard and in-app workflow to match our evolving and expanding editorial team.
● Expansion into product reviews as technology stories via partnership with Advon Commerce and listing physical tech goods via ecommerce content partnership with StackCommerce.
● More Writing Contests. These drive words published, time reading, and money made - more to come!
● Noonies Voting Software backend improvements. To better leverage existing functions we built for our content management system (like social signup/in, ad by content relevancy placements, and database curation capabilities), we'll be moving our voting software's backend into Firebase.
● More default profile call to actions. Building on the most popular use cases for user generated call to actions, we'll be baking more default call to actions into the HackerNoon profile.
🥺 How can you help:
● Purchase or refer the Startup Specials publishing packages (free, growing $1k, and scaling $10k). After publishing thousands of brands, we think this package may be a sweet spot to scaling our customers' internet stories with inventory that is inexpensive for us to serve.
● Use Hacker Noon! It’s a simple ask - but will help you test the core competencies of the platform, aka, to read, write, learn and publish.
"The human mind is not built for contentment," said Contrapoint (2021). We've come a long way, and yet, we still work to publish better stories, build better software and just be a better company. Right now, HackerNoon has record-breaking revenue, ships more software than ever, but what keeps us up at night is still that one customer who didn't renew, or the ways Google algo affects our traffic, or that person on Twitter who didn't appreciate our jokes... 🙂 C'est la vie? Onwards, we ship! Onwards, we publish! Onwards, we learn!
Thank you for your support. Until next time, stay safe, healthy, and take care. 🤞
P.S. Some notable recent press citations of HackerNoon stories: Los Angeles Times, Business Insider, Wired, Benzinga, AOL, Yahoo, CleverProgrammer, Product School, Mozilla, Boulder Startup Week, MIT Sloan Review, Facebook Engineering, Nasdaq, Vercel, Tribune, Dice, Colorado Startups, Google Developers, StackOverflow, Investor Place, Apache, Square, TechTimes, Intel, RBC, Asana, Crypto.com, Entrepreneur.com, Twilio, and CIO.
For previous shareholder newsletters (last one sent May 15, 2021) search your inbox for 'hackernoon shareholders letter' and/or visit State of Noonion, where we've published shortened versions of these shareholder newsletters.
2021 May 14 (Q1 into Q2) Hacker Noon Shareholders Letter
💰First thing first: Hacker Noon Revenue in 2021 officially surpassed that of the entire 2020 (which was redacted). As of May 14, 2020, revenue is at ~redacted. Top navigation ad remains our most in-demand offering. Meanwhile, writing contests (live examples: Velo by Wix and FREE Ton) have been the fastest riser while newsletters, ad by tag, and branding publishing have been growing steadily too. And yes, for the first time since removing Medium.com’s software in July 2019, we make more money than we burn. Yes, we are profitable 🙌 and on track to be profitable by year end, too. Yalla.
🧑🏿🤝🧑🏿Team size doubles at the beginning of Q2. We did lots and lots of hiring in the second half of Q1 - with a focus on part-time elite talent. Overall, we grew from 11 people in Q1 2021 to 22 in Q2 2021. Everyone, us included, starts out as part time contractors at Hacker Noon and will be evaluated at the end of their trial on the possibility of a long term contract. The primary people expansion is for software development and editorial talent.
👀 Traffic-wise, we have been stable, 2021 Q1 had a 19% increase QoQ for users on site, and we published 2,396 stories. Our 12 month average or users on site is at 2.8M monthly visitors. Next up, we will focus more on improving the log in experience for readers, writers and brands, with the hope to not only drive traffic, but also increase time on site.
🔥 Notable progress:
- Live emoji reaction feed. This real-time feed is a part of our push to make our product more collaborative.
- Over 100+ Slogging posts published. We continue to iterate on the Slogging app, and will be rolling it out to the best companies and communities from our waitlist in Q2. AOL interview with more information.
- Iterations on the Writers story settings, most notably Meta Description box for better distribution/curation, and a preview story function so writers can see what any WIP story would look like live.
- Stabilized the App with loooooots of bug fixes.
- End of Story Page Revamp. Cleaned up recommended stories design and engine, the contributor call to action and niche marketing ad with a lighter weight component.
- Readers can now subscribe to specific tags by visiting any tag page and hit “subscribe” 💪 on any of the tagged pages.
- Continued development of Tech Company News Pages with about 1000 company pages (discover). These pages curate not only HackerNoon stories, but also the rest of the web to position us as an authoritative source for technology companies.
- Released the Free Internet Plugin (⛔ paywall). We built and open sourced a chrome extension to remove paywalled content from Google search results.
- New Footer! Tons more relevant information and an email collection form (visit any page).
- Devs FAQ on Stackoverflow to streamline new hires onboarding 💚
- NextJS Image Optimization implemented for faster image load time.
- Creation of the Tech Fellowship Program. The gaming fellowship went well and we are expanding the program to more verticals.
- New Help section! This near ending library addresses our communities most important issues, obstacles and opportunities.
😻 More Upcoming in 2021:
- New Reader, Writer and Brand Dashboards (in that order 😉). This will deepen our relationship with each user type, instead of bucketing everyone into one experience.
- A Massive Text Editor revamp (wysiwyg + grammarly + markdown) is coming along. A few kinks to iron out before releasing.
- Embeddable NFTs: ability to install NFTs in our stories by entering the contract number.
- More page performance projects.
- New podcast microsite and new weekly Planet Internet podcast. (please check out wherever you get your podcast. We are super proud of recent ones, such as this).
- Verified writers program ✅ Working to up our rate of publishing.
- Startups of the Year Vote with Noonies software. We will launch with 25k startup nominees across 3k+ cities .
- The Noonies! Our annual tech awards will be back in the summer.
- Homepage Iterations: will make the main page look and feel more alive and dynamic.
- Improved search/discovery experience, allowing for people, companies, tags and stories.
- Better Backups: Secret Publish API storing a second version of stories.
- Mobile App for Readers: working to get more mobile traffic!
- Account Management for Premium Brand Publishing Customers.
- Slogging into the Slack App Store - and beyond!
- A new Editor Dashboard and in-app workflow to match our evolving and expanding editorial team.
🥺 How can you help:
- Refer potential customers. Although we are booked up until July for limited inventories such as Billboard Top Nav, we’ve opened up new inventories such as Writing Competitions (see Velo), Tech Company News Page (see Heroku), Managed Account Brand Republishing Program (see this and this ), Podcast (See Couchbase), and our upcoming Startup of the Year Vote. Contact us or Utsav Jaiswal directly for referral.
- Use Hacker Noon! It’s a simple ask - but will help you test the core competencies of the platform, aka, to read, write and publish.
- If you have any referral on the following, let us know:
- Corporate therapy discount for our people
- General team-building toolkits
- Executive Management Training Coach for our VPs (and ourselves, honestly)
Be kind to yourself. Sometimes I think we still live in March 2020, groundhog day style. We told all of our interns and employees in India to take care of themselves (even if that means logging off) during this trying time - and want to extend the same to you.
All the best,
Four company history lessons, and a forward-looking statement:
- 2018 was the year of possibilities.
- 2019 was the year of issues.
- 2020 was the year of opportunities.
- 2021 will be the year of iterations.
All in an effort to become the best place for technologists to read, write and publish. We’ve summarized Hacker Noon’s progress by revenue, growth, product, software expansion, and some final note.
Hacker Noon doubled revenue for the 3rd year in a row, concluding 2020 at ≈ redacted. This is a YoY increase of +102%. Revenue for Q4 was redacted. This represents QoQ growth of + 21% and YoY growth of + 68%. Here is a breakdown of our 2020 income with the top sources being Top Navigation, Grants, Brand-as-Author, Noonies, Newsletters, and Ad By Tag.
Ad by tag niche marketing launched in Q4 2020 and is now booked through Q2 21. It allows sponsors to place their content next to content with relevant tags.
We started 2021 with a company record, generating ≈ redacted revenue in January. That’s almost as much as the company made in 2017 and 2018 - combined (redacted). Much thanks to some of our new and bigger customers: Wix, LaunchDarkly, CouchbaseDB, ByBit, DeFi For You, Udacity, Particle, CryptoAdventure, Flatfile, and more. These things can ebb and flow, i.e. when deals close and how buyer optimism flows, but it’s good to see quality companies committing to working with Hacker Noon early in the year.
As top navigation and niche marketing inventory fills up, we’ll be putting more effort in publishing and republishing the corporate blog posts, press releases, and software updates of as many technology companies as possible. Later in the year, we’ll go to market with a subscription offering for brand publishing, dubbed Evergreen.
We averaged redacted visitors per month in 2020. Our top source of traffic, Google, finally started to rise again, after a steady half year decline that also hurt the company’s Alexa site ranking. This recent rise in Google traffic could be due to their algorithm changes, our infrastructure work, our edtiorial rules, our content quality, just dumb luck, or an executive at Google changing their mind about our site. We did see an 18% growth in unique pageviews from December to November and a 19% growth from Dec 2020 to January 2021.
Editorial team highlights:
- Part-time editors hired: We added three new editors to our team in 2020, and they bring extensive knowledge and experience in the AI, machine learning, cyber security, gaming, and non-profit sectors. Going to expand into more junior editors to improve our rate of publishing.
- Writing competition: Starting with Wix, brands will be able to reward the best performing stories on a Hacker Noon tag. This is exciting because it drives all our key metrics: words written, time reading and money made.
- Managed Accounts: We’ve experimented with commissioned content to increase yearly revenue from affiliate marketing sources and the early results are promising. We will be working with experts in the space to scale up these efforts this year.
Additionally, while we aspire to offer visitors a sh*t ton of value without logging in, deeper relationships with our visitors is something we want to aspire toward. We are seeing a trend of more logged in users on app.hackernoon.com. From July 2019 to October 2020, we averaged redacted logged in users per month. We introduced a new signup flow, and from November 2020 through January 2021, we are averaging ≈ redacted logged in users per month.
In Q4, we conducted two separate audits to review the process of software development projects. Vercel, the creators of NextJS, audited our codebase to help prioritize which projects and approaches will improve page performance. Additionally, I audited the quality of every function marked as shipped in 2020. The overall learning was that we should ship less new things and spend a higher percentage of our time improving what we do offer. Nevertheless, we did still ship some new things, and have some cool things coming up this year.
Content Management System projects shipped in 2020 Q4:
- New Signup Flow - This new flow has been performing much better. It includes login/signup in addition to email, and educates the visitor on our value to readers, writers, and brands.
- Tech Company News Pages - The first 913 pages are live and dynamically updating the curated story lists via Hacker Noon mentions and the Bing News API.
- Paid Expert Video Calls Beta - This is in partnership with Superpeer. We are exploring more ways to revenue share with the contributing writer.
- Tech Brief Beta - Readers can subscribe to tag-specific content via newsletters. Rolling out in waves.
- Internal Stats Beta - the first version of our internals stat page is live. Lots to add.
- Image Hosting Optimizations - Reduced the image hosting file size of most images, and are in the process of implementing Next/Image by NextJs for better client side loading.
- Killed Mailchimp, Moved to SendGrid and Amazon SES - Mailchimp simply isn’t good at scaling. Now we’re much better set up to scale up not only our newsletters, but also our activity based emails.
Upcoming in 2021:
- Grammarly Integration - Free Grammarly for all contributing writers out of the box. The Hacker Noon CMS will be one of the first CMS to officially partner with Grammarly.
- Markdown Editor - One of our more requested features by our coding contributors.
- End of Story Page Revamp - The story page is our most trafficked page, and at the end of a story read, we need to do a better job of capitalizing on a person served.
- User Specific Signup Flows and Dashboards - We are working to better cater the Hacker Noon experience to readers, writers and brands specifically.
- Subscribe by Tag and Author - We’re continuing down the relevant content delivery path, and creating a new path for creating new users.
- Reading Recommendations - As we look to deepen our relationship with the reader, smart and well timed recommendations are key.
- First NPM module - Better State for React state management. We built it for ourselves, but plan to open source it once ready.
We'll be using our Noonies software to launch Startups of the year, this will be the 3rd instance of our custom build voting software. Riding on the success of Noonies 2019 (50 awards, 50k pageviews) and 2020 (224 awards, 500k pageviews), Startups of the Year will launch with top 5-10 startups in 3,800 top cities in the world (those with more than 100k people) We’ll be launching startups.hackernoon.com in March/April 2021 with 25k+ nominees and have voting run until the end of 2021. We will also continue our Noonies tech awards tradition, as we do each year.
Hacker Noon also made Slogging.com: the Slack Blogging app. We concluded our single channel guest beta and have started our first semi-public instance at slogging.slack.com. The first 40 posts are published on Hacker Noon, and the first couple hundred people are slogging. We'll be making a second instance live at Quoticle.com, our upcoming HARO (help a reporter out) competitor to further work out the kinks and get more posts published. After that, we’ll go to market with Slogging in the Slack App Store. Both of these instances drive words published on Hacker Noon.
In solving problems for Hacker Noon, we also create software that other publishers can benefit from. We think of our company as not only a publishing company, but also a software company.
Final note & How can you help
As 2020 (finally) ended and 2021 started, we are optimistic now more than ever that the future of the company is bright and profitability is close. We have some change in personnel, but finished the year strong with 13 personal evaluations in which all our people, full time and part time, expressed positive feedback to the company for not only keeping all jobs but also getting raises amidst the pandemic. (One employee reportedly mentioned casually in a meeting: “This is the first time I love my job!”) We also implemented a new revenue-based bonus structure for the whole company in 2021 to align incentives across the teams.
Here are the best ways you can help us achieve our goals:
- Refer potential customers. Hacker Noon is opening up sponsor slots for our Startup of the Year polling. Lots of startup eyeballs expected. And as always, we’re looking to publish every tech company in the world. Discounts for shareholders’ companies.
- Refer potential hires . We are looking for some full and mostly part time roles: VP Engineering, Frontend Developer, Backend Developer, Creator Economy Lead, Slogging Community Manager, and Junior Editors.
- Do a nice thing for a nice person at an unexpected time.
Onwards and upwards,
Hacker Noon 2020 Q3: The Good, the Bad, and the Opportunities Ahead
We project to exceed our internal 2020 Sales OKR of redacted or 2x last year. As of today October 28th, 2020, we’ve clocked in over redacted in total revenue. With 2 months left to go in 2020, we are confident to meet our yearly redacted goal.
We’ve built a lot of quality software designed to move our three main metrics, aka Time Reading, Words Published, and Money Made.
30.3 stories published per day.
An individual or entity conducted a spam attack that stress-tested our onboarding flow, and forced the creation of spam prevention new functionality. There are now more steps in terms of new users earning functionality, and bad actors are much easier to catch now. Redacted
We had a large customer renege on a deal (3rd largest in company history), and compromised on a smaller total amount.
2020 is a year like no other. Turnover has been very low, but there certainly has been external factors facing the team, and we’ve made efforts for Hacker Noon to be a good company to work for - even during a global pandemic.
The Slack blogging app. One command to curate your most marketable Slack discussions into Hacker Noon story drafts. Have been using it internally. Can read a couple posts here, and see a preview of Slogging.com in our slide deck.
Public facing pages for top 1000 tech companies. We are using the Bing News API to pull in stories around the web to put next business information and mentions in Hacker Noon stories.
Readers can sign up/in and subscribe to tag-specific newsletters, amongst other reader-friendly functions.
this in partnership with Superpeer. A preview of this marketplace is Experts.Hackernoon.com with the password redacted. It’s exciting to create new business opportunities to rev share with contributors.
In talks with a number of experts and technology solutions to improve the performance of our site.
We have an admin internal stats system, in addition to data being stored in Firebase, Vercel, Algolia and Google Analytics. Going into 2021, we are prioritizing some robust improvements to better understand our data.
We’ve passed total revenue of last year (redacted) within the first half of this year! In Q2 2020, Hacker Noon had it’s highest revenue quarter in company history (redacted), we built a lot of quality software (including Noonies 2.0), published a lot of great technology stories (some top ones), made it onto Wikipedia, increased the share price by 38% in our second round of financing (2020 Strategic Coil investment vs. 2019 StartEngine Equity crowdfunding round); but have seen a decline in Google traffic, and are actively working with Google and experts to rectify. We’ll dig into how our business is making adaptations for internet reading trends, but our overall strategy remains unchanged. Hacker Noon publishes insightful tech stories, makes useful software, and just is how hackers start their afternoons.
The Hacker Noon product team had a strong quarter. With our cleaner infrastructure detailed in our previous shareholder letter, we were able to accelerate our rate of deployment significantly, largely via automatically (as opposed to manually) deploying features, as well as adding one more part-time back-end developer to the team. We are so happy with the work of Richard Kubina, who’s a referral from our Full-Stack Developer Austin Pocus, that we made him a full time offer in Q3, which he accepted :-)
In 2020 Q2, here is list of what we released, and one sentence about each:
- The Noonies v2: our custom voting product at Noonies.Tech (voting opens on August 13th).
- Story Archives: all stories published on a date accessible by clicking any date under each story title (example)
- Tech Stories Tab Chrome Extension: Chrome is Hacker Noon readers’ most popular browser and by installing this extension (open sourced here), users can get the latest stories from Hacker Noon when opening a new tab.
- Sticky Story Headline: removing barrier to reading even further, this feature emphasizes the story title, author accreditation, and a less annoying, more reader friendly sticky ad (example, scroll down to see how design functions).
- Single Story Stats Page: easily accessible under each story title for writers & editors, this new stat page also includes a pixelated graph that showcases how well the story does over time compared to average peak performance (example).
- Backup System: It is a lot easier to move fast and break things if you can go back in time to restore how things work - now we can!
- Time Reading Created on Profile Page: this feature emphasizes the value created by each writer via hackernoon.com (time reading, one of our 3 core metrics) front & center on their profile (example)
- Coil Web Monetization Integration: any writer can now add meta tag to their profile to be streamed micropayments from Coil subscribers (2.6k users have done so)
- About Page: all you need to know about Hacker Noon in one page.
- Open Sourced Emojis: Hacker Noon’s pixelated designs are now open sourced on Github (here & here).
- Admin/Editor Improvement: we continue to improve our app, which manages hundreds of submissions per day (reject, improve, schedule or publish), on top of 22k+ tags, 12k+ writer profiles, sponsor payments for BAA, and content curation & distribution.
- Commenting Leaderboard: ranking all comments on Hacker Noon; however, as we are transitioning off Disqus commenting system, this is currently turned off.
- Increased Testing: Reliability, reliability, reliability - we’ve built more testing systems with Sentry, Hotjar, and more importantly, we’ve been writing end-to-end tests that simulate user behavior with Cypress.
Overall, each of these product developments help move at least one of our main core metrics: time reading, words published, or money made.
For better or for worse, we are getting closer to profitability despite a growing pandemic. Last quarter, while the US GDP shrank by 32.9%, Hacker Noon revenue grew by 121.96% QoQ. Redacted
This quarter, we published 3,593,068 words from Hacker Noon stories; which marks a + 7.3% YoY and + 5.6% QoQ increase. We averaged 30.9 stories published per day; representing a + 19.6 % YoY and +5.5% QoQ increase. Redacted.
Our long term strategy, however, is to diversify our traffic to come from different sources other than search, such as emails and social media, and overall, to significantly strengthen our relationship with our readers (think subscription emails, bookmarks, emoji reactions, smoother login, etc.). Redacted
Redacted, we offered Richard a full time position which he accepted. He’s the best developer Austin had worked with besides Dane, and has proven to be extremely agile, adaptable and thoughtful. His skillset compliments our current dev team perfectly.
Q3 started off with a redacted grant from Mozilla. Our mentor for the Fix the Internet program is Rotten Tomatoes founding CEO Patrick Lee. For the 8 week sprint we are working on inline emoji reactions. The data schema is set up to be able to iterate at the character level, word level and paragraph level. We will be working hard to facilitate the exchange of value between reader and writer.
With millions of Covid19 cases worldwide, stock market volatility, and billions of people under stay at home orders, this pandemic creates threats and opportunities for humanity. With great gratitude, Hacker Noon keeps humming along. We’ve always been an entirely remote team, and we like our position as a digital source of knowledge in time when people are spending as much time as ever reading online. This quarter was strong and steady at 3.4M+ words published (+5% 2019 average), 4.5M+ monthly readers (+12% 2019 average) and redacted in revenue (+42% above 2019 quarterly average). We’ll dig into how our business is making adaptations for the pandemic, but our overall strategy remains unchanged. Hacker Noon publishes insightful stories, makes useful software, and just is how hackers start their afternoons.
We’re focused on making a better place for technologists to read, write and publish.
Our big release of the quarter was dubbed NextGreen: a redesign and re-architecture built with the NextJS framework on the story page, homepage, search page and tagged page. The story page is where the vast majority of our traffic lives, and while we’ve been testing the new design work live for the last three weeks on production, average time on page is up 14% on the story page. Almost as importantly, this new architecture streamlines deployment across our CDN, cloud functions and application, so future iterations can deploy significantly faster.
Ad placement relevancy to content
First couple Beta payings customers are live. Bugs worked out.
Optimizing the rate of publishing
Average stories published per day is 29. This helps kept the editors sane.
Scroll down to end of a story
Integrated Disqus and added our own custom emojis
More learnings about what social proof matters
Search anything on site
Rich media data for stories on all curation pages and filters on the search page
More value for curation decisions
Curated reading lists from Hacker Noon & around web
Iterate on last year’s custom voting app
site source code
Real time streaming payments from readers to writers to charities
Unlisted draft links & in talks to white label markup.io
Logic to subscribe to tags and authors
We did run a beta experiment hosting annotations and inline comments on a blockchain, partnering with GUN decentralized peer to peer database. It is not ready to deploy to all users, so we are exploring multiple approaches to micro-content hosting and curation within our user facing experience. GUN is still providing page load performance insights. Curious about how text hosting evolves over time.
We also did experience some spammy visitors - so that was a fun cat and mouse game that resulted in more spam prevention implementations. Lots of free roblox codes. New users now earn writer functionality, like profile advertisements, after they spend time reading and writing. Spam management never ends, it’s part of running a large community, and now our system now has a bit more protection baked in.
In the long term, we have a lot of options to be a better place for technologists to read, write, and publish. Once Hacker Noon the site is a profitable growth machine, we could explore questions like, how is it possible to use our software to serve more of the internet? Additionally, we remain excited about the creation of token generated by time reading created. But we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. In the short term, our product team is iterating on how curation works (collections and reactions), improving the writer experience (text editor interactions and human editor interactions), and building out the reader account experience (subscriptions and recommendations). As our site is historically about 75% desktop and 25% mobile readership - and other many text content destinations (especially in tech) are closer to 50% desktop and 50% mobile - we are likely to move our attention to a mobile application later in the year. But we do operate with the product funnel approach.
We published 2,200 stories for the quarter. You can view the list of our best stories (3.37% of all stories) curated by editors here. We also have put gasoline on stories of the time, publishing 175 Coronavirus /Covid-19 stories (and rejecting about 350 more), besides our regular powerful topics, namely programming, python, and cryptocurrency stories.
Google News started picking up Hacker Noon stories in late February, mostly our cryptocurrency news. We’ll be monitoring this source, but it is a solid win for amplifying the publish button, as Google News has ≈630M+ users. Some of top recent mentions around the web are Mercedes Benz commercial, Wired, Forbes, book citations, Investor Place, Media Post, Cornell, Yale, International Business Times, Yahoo Finance, Bitcoin Exchange Guide, ZDNet, BizCommunity, NewsMax, Crypto Slate, Crypto Daily, Security Boulevard, Hacker Earth, Decrypt, UPenn Law School, Seeking Alpha, Value Walk, Dice, IFL Science, ProductHunt, Cointelegraph, Coindesk, Bitcoinist, Thrive Global, Bitcoin.com, GeekWire, and other places around the web.
We have further steered into the “ugly-highlighter-pixelated-terminal green” for our pixelated presence on incumbent social media platforms. We are creating and distributing more micro-content. In Q1 2020, not only did we continue to expand on current strong platforms such as on Facebook (where we gained a “verified” checkmark), Twitter (where we have not gained a verified checkmark), Youtube (where we post podcast episodes and software updates) or LinkedIn (where they say we have 200+ ‘employees’), Pinterest (with almost 400k monthly views exclusively from RSS repost), or Instagram (it’s very green); but also on younger platforms, such as Giphy (with 5.3M views across 80 GIFs), Minds (42k subscribers), and Unsplash (817k views and 2k downloads).
Our redacted in revenue was 42% higher than the average quarter in 2019, but a 6% decline from 2019 Q4, which was the highest in company history. Advertising is highly seasonal and even in growing businesses, Q1 is often less than Q4 of prior year. Top navigation continued to lead the way, brand as author overperformed, and we made a big move into ad placement by content relevancy with the beta launch of our ad by tag program.
At Hacker Noon, we’ve also been building better tech for the sponsorship experience. For the prospective & current customer, we’ve automated our internal brand as author publishing flow. For any lead that visits our sponsor page, we also introduced our own sales chatbot.
While the entire economy is subject to this global downturn, the effect of the bottom-line was not massive to ours: there was one delayed customer payment and a dozen or so leads dropping, citing budget constraints. However, we continue to benefit from increased marketing budgets from online education and knowledge based companies, such as our new customers Udacity and Udemy. Also, a lot of event marketing budgets have opened up, and how tech companies driving tech people to online events could grow. I think tech companies marketing budgets will not shrink like other industries’ budgets, but who knows? What we control is how we make a better sales machine.
In growing our team, we plan to continue what has worked, hire for part time project/s, with the plan to consider each person for full-time. Our next three roles this year are Head of Story Recruitment, Sales Representative, and T-shaped Backend Developer. Email us if you have a candidate in mind.
Don’t forget to wash your hands :-)
We ended the year with our highest quarterly revenue in company history while building some important product integrations (with Google Analytics, Algolia, Unsplash & GUN), and dark mode. Our Alexa ranking is at 3.5k worldwide, up from a 5.2k ranking before removing Medium, proving the overall success of the move into our own infrastructure. We also had a company wide year end review where 100% of the team answered “yes” to the question “are you happy?”
In 2019, Hacker Noon had 38M total site visitors, an increase of 35% from 2018 year over year. From Nov 2016 through early Dec 2019, Hacker Noon totaled ≈77M visitors.
We closed the year as a top 3.5k site in the world, which is up from worldwide Alexa ranking of 5.2k at the time of removing the Medium infrastructure from our site. From mid July (launch of our software) through December 2019, we published 4,523 stories, which is an average of 27 stories per day, and our library created 48+ years of time reading.
Internally, we have promoted Natasha Nel from Technology Editor to Managing Editor, and expanded the editorial team with the part-time hiring of top community commenter Arthur Tkachenko as Software Editor. Natasha’s voice and data driven approach will be important to scaling our brand voice and rate of publishing.
Our 2019 revenue (over redacted) increased by 73% year from 2018 year over year. The Top Navigation Billboard sponsorship accounted for the majority of our revenue at 55%, even though we could only start serving sponsors mid July after Hacker Noon 2.0 launched. The rest of our yearly revenue was made up of podcast sponsorships at 14% (which ends up breaking-even after expenses), brand as author program at 12%, newsletter sponsorships at 6%, The Noonies at 5%, and events/shirts/interest/other accounting for 8%.
In the less than five months of running the brand as author program and newsletter sponsorships, we totaled over 100 paying customers. For 2019 Q4 (pictured below), the ordered revenue by program breakdown was top navigation (64%), brand as author (18%), newsletters (14%), followed by interest and schwag sales for the rest (4%).
Our largest two customers for the year are Seen by Indeed and Heroku by Salesforce. We have a number of six digit sponsorship deals in our pipeline, and will be investing in scaling our sales programs in 2020. In 2019, some of our more notable customers also include Google Cloud, Codacy, Passbase, Stream, Kloudless, Nodle, Polyient Labs, Vettery, PubNub, Mabl, Radix, LogDNA, ByBit, SurrveySparrow, Snyk, Digital Ocean, and Kin.
We’ve done a lot of optimization work with our top navigation ad and expect to increase the revenue per day from this. Additionally, we plan to explore sponsorship packages by tags (i.e. placement by content relevancy) in 2020.
Q4 2019, we integrated with Unsplash, Algolia, Google Analytics, and the GUN blockchain. We also launched dark mode. The GUN integration is our first use of blockchain technology in the Hacker Noon publishing platform. Starting in Q1 2020, this open source decentralized database will power our annotations and inline commenting. For the first time, we will be putting some content on the blockchain. With this integration, users browsers can contribute storage and anyone can also run their own “miner” on their computer or a cloud, distributing some of our hosting costs to our readership.
For the full view of your year in product development, please read our CPO Dane Lyons’ Product Update 2019-2020. In summary, we now have the initial experience live for our core users: writers, readers, editors, sponsors and admins; and integrated with many great technologies like: Google Cloud, SlateJS, Algolia, Filestack, Unsplash, Google Analytics, Discourse, GUN, Twitter, and more.
Building a digital product is always a trade-off between inventing the wheel, re-inventing the wheel and figuring out a way to plug in an existing solution — all while making the thing feel like just one quality thing. We're getting there. Very excited to build more this year.
We will continue investing heavily in improving and iterating on the core product experience, reading and writing, while also launching more curation tools, such as annotations and collections, to drive account creation and micro contributions.
Our software and new infrastructure is live at HackerNoon.com :-) In the first month in our own system, we published 1.33M words, served 8.167M pageviews and honestly it feels awesome to control how the software actually works. Migrations are tough, don’t get me wrong, we took some bruises in the move. 2019 Q2 will most likely be our worst financial quarter of the year, but it’s a great milestone for putting our future in our own hands. As of July 15th, we are making sponsorship money every moment the site is live. Previously, we were building on our own land but using someone else's infrastructure. Now we have our own infrastructure on our own land. So much more to build. So much more work to be done. But the early returns show a strong foundation.
This move consumed our resources, so in this Hacker Noon quarterly shareholder letter,we wanted to provide more detail than a typical quarterly update, as well as take a longer term year to date view on the important company issues.
The move was more challenging than anticipated, but most importantly we retained our site authority and SEO traffic in the move... and didn’t kill the company :-) For us, it had high stakes.
The team worked overtime (specifically Linh, Dane and Austin), lots of things broke, lots of things were fixed - it was an exciting sprint! It’s good to feel pressure, makes the work fun. We don’t have all the bells and whistles of our old content management, but it’s built from the feet up, it’s functioning, and it’s already served over 2M+ site visitors over the last month. Here’s our traffic 3 weeks before launch and 3 weeks after launch:
Also, check out this writeup in ReadWrite about the move: Hacker Noon Rips Out Medium’s Software, Replaces it With Their Own:
“In the world of tech blogging, there’s always a balance between distribution and control. If you publish on someone else’s platform, they can always change how the platform works. If you build your own site, it’s a lot of upfront work and the distribution starts at zero. Hacker Noon may be approaching a sweet spot, where contributing writers can gain more control of what their stories promote; while supplying editorial support and better distribution for every story. We’ll see.”
From July 15 - Aug 15 (first month in our own environment), we published 1,330,083 new words. In Q1 2019, we averaged 1,116,312 words published per month. Post launch, contributors are submitting more content to Hacker Noon editors than they were prelaunch.
Additionally we achieved 8,167,077 pageviews through the period on HackerNoon.com. So we successfully have people submitting more content to our new environment and traffic remains stable.
More encouraging are the early returns on why traffic is up. Page load times have been cut in half and page views per session have increased by 24%. We’re headed in the right direction, but there are gaps in our software we have to keep improving on. SEO traffic, referral traffic and social traffic are continuing to flow onto past stories previously published on HackerNoon.com.
Overall the site has been hovering between 4.7-5.4k Alexa range through Q2. We have lost a lot of links from Medium.com, which is a top 175 site in the world; we lived to tell the tale and make more money :-) We can now focus more on how to better our own distribution systems.
The story uploading, writing and editing process is now happening in our own software. Story submission volume has successfully moved over to the new story submission workflow, which starts and ends at hackernoon.com. In the first month in our own content management system, we’ve published 985 stories totalling 1,330,083 words.
In 2019 Q2, we moved two of our best performing part-time employees to full-time roles. Utsav Jaiswal, based in India, was promoted to Business Development Executive in addition to his role as Blockchain editor. Natasha Nel, based in Amsterdam, was also promoted to full-time Technology Staff Editor & Social Media Manager. I enjoy working with these talented people, and it’s an important step forward for increasing our rate of publishing. We are hiring more part-time editors.
We expanded our newsletter from just the Hacker Noon newsletter to the Blockchain Newsletter, the Software Development Newsletter, the Technology Startup Newsletter, and the Hacker Noon Newsletter. So far, the early returns have been encouraging with engagement (open & click through rates) up 50%+ when compared to the averages of our newsletter sent via Medium. We will still continue to republish these newsletters via the Medium newsletter functionality to inform and extract more of our subscribers.
We’ll be investing in the writer/editor experiences and interactions. Transparency in the editorial flow is a point of emphasis. Storm Farrell, who has served as the Software Development Editor for the last 4 months (while being the main engineer behind the Noonies), will be shifting his focus from editorial to software development work to improve the insights, communication and dashboard for all editors. We’ll continue to get smarter about prioritizing the relevant story to the right editor, and measuring what editorial work better yields story traction results. This will improve our content quality and keep more doors open for the future of our software (such as software licensing and/or expanding from Staff Editors to Community Editors).
“Startups occasionally make the mistake of treating a launch as a finish line moment even though the name literally and appropriately implies the opposite,” said Hacker Noon CPO Dane Lyons. We're proud of what we've accomplished in our MVP but our best work is ahead of us, stay tuned.”
Here’s a breakdown of what the product offers now (read more): press release
- For Writers: Story Editor, Writer Profile Page, Writer Dashboard and, Story Stats
- For Readers: Homepage, Tagged Pages, Story Page, Commenting, Newsletters,and Reading History.
- For Sponsors: Sitewide Billboard and Brand as Author.
We are a functioning and independent tech publishing platform :-)
My message to the team was “Take a deep breath. Improvement is greater than expansion.” We are moving from a product roadmap to a product funnel. For the rest of the year, we will be putting more emphasis on building for the reader (and then turning those readers into contributors). Smooth emoji reactions and slick annotations are two functionalities that we’ve started building and have not yet released. We also started building a much more robust stats page for writers, including past stories statistics, click counts on their calls to action, RSS traction, headline impression stats, and “around the web” mentions traffic. As we’ve retained and even improved on traffic to site, it is now time to show writers how all of their stories still get all the eyeballs they deserve, and then some 👀 👀 👀
In July, we launched The Noonies: the tech’s greenest awards, built to recognize the best and worst people and products of the internet. With an exclusive redacted sponsorship from Stream, there were over 55k votes cast for 457 nominees across 50 award categories. The campaign was a resounding success. See 2019’s Noonies winners. It was fun. Great to see the community make their cases for their favorite Noonie nominees. Overall, we're also excited that we got our feet wet in custom voting technology. We look forward to contributing more to how the internet curates, ranks and distributes content. Next year will be an even bigger and better Noonies next year.
The site has started making money again through sitewide billboard sponsorships and brand as author posts with Indeed being our largest customer to date (redacted contract).
About half of our sales so far came from Sitewide Top Nav Billboard (ad atop every single page of site). We presold redacted clicks at redacted CPC prior to launch. This low price was a sign of trust in our future with early pre-paid customers. Starting July 13, we started bringing back our bidding system, which works well for 1.0; as well as charging a premium for time-sensitive sponsorship campaigns. Our goal is to average redacted monthly revenue for Billboard Top Nav by January 2020.
Podcast Sponsorship: redacted
Brand-as-author comes in third so far this year but it’s only been live for a month. There are 30+ paying customers in the new environment, and that’s all from inbound leads. Brand as author is a very low entry point at $99 - $199 per post, depending on volume purchased (we now offer monthly and weekly subscription plans). However, the brands do the labor of producing the content and we have quality automated distribution systemsThe marginal cost to the company is only 10-30 minutes of editor time per post. This is strong unit economics. We’re learn how it scales - I’m bullish on it. Additional, unlike sponsorships on microsites, podcasts, events and even via sitewide billboard, brand as author is not limited or exclusive supply. Our ambitious goal is getting to 300+ brands publishing with credits on Hacker Noon, averaging redacted monthly revenue by March 2020. To achieve this, we will establish and accelerate our outbound sales campaigns to top corporate blogs, and better integrate the brand-as-author flow within our app, so brands can pay, track their stories, and consider other sponsorship options directly on our site. All brand as author customers are logged into our app to publish content and track content performance; all brand as author customers have land and expand potential for additional sponsorships down the line.
Other revenue channels include the Noonies Sponsorship (more below), event sponsorships, job ads, and newsletter sponsorships. All of these channels could grow. We haven’t even started down the potential roads of referral sales and on site merchase. From the success of the Noonies sponsorship, we can start thinking more about digital campaigns around the Hacker Noon brand, and even licensing the microsite’s software. Events could happen more often. Our one event in Q2 was in London and generated redacted. And, newsletter sponsorship should start growing weekly now we’ve moved from 1 weekly newsletter to 4 weekly newsletters. Overall we need to drive, systemize and grow (1) Billboard Top Nav sponsorships and (2) Brand-as-author revenue streams, and then if we want, (3) there’s the freedom to experiment resources on additional revenue streams.
Change is never easy, and we’ve spent the time and learned better processes to help our community through change. This quarter, we’ve built a help section and a [email protected] line. 97% of the library is in our new publishing system, we’ve worked with hundreds of contributing writers 1:1 to improve migration errors, and we’ve worked with a few dozen to redirect their story elsewhere. We only want to publish anyone who wants to be here. There are many aspects that we can improve when serving our community, but the team has quickly iterated on tech solutions (like the ability to edit 1.0 stories) and education materials through the transition. Support tickets have declined every week since the move. We are investing in on site solutions for contributing writers to control their content (such as changing handle & merging accounts), so that less customer support on the margin is needed.
- We did not test migrated content in enough ways pre launch. We have and will invest more in strong test and staging environments for any upcoming changes. But the truth is, dev environment is not the same as live. The team is stronger for having worked through these issues together.
- A former contractor sent empty green envelopes instead of green envelopes with stickers and a note to some shareholders and writers this quarter. It was supposed to be a moment of joy & celebration. We have to become better managers and are now putting more value on “attention to details” as traits of a good hire. Sometimes, mistakes happen. Apologies if you received an empty envelope from us.
- One incident of 9 hours of downtime due to a Firebase sync issue. Luckily, it was onour lowest traffic day of the week Saturday, and we used this as an opportunity to reset the timeframe of our grant with Google Cloud Platform. We will not be paying for hosting until July 2020 at the earliest.
… and Wins:
- The first usage of our own infrastructure :-)
- The overall clean look and feel of Hacker Noon 2.0. It’s like after a good shave.
- So far, we’ve had 9,488 Hacker Noon 2.0 contributor accounts created.
- Stronger social media presence on all fronts, particularly AMA series on community.hackernoon.com, Facebook memes engagement, Instagram posts frequency and stories, and Twitter impressions.
- The shareholders & writers that did receive the stickers (see IG stickers story)
- The Noonies served as social media mention aircover from the bumps of the move
Our goal is to be profitable (monthly) by Jan 2020. We think the path to redacted / month can be achieved primarily through sitewide bill boards and brand as author posts. Profitability gives optionality on how and when the company can scale what’s working, take on risk and invest resources.
The path to raising our floor as a company is clear, but how high can the ceiling be? I strongly think and believe we can become a profitable and sustainable company without a bold expansion to an uncharted territory. As our sponsorships are better integrated into the app and optimized, our revenue will rise. But if we’re talking moonshot directions measured in years and decades, my outlook is still (1) very bullish on an underlying cryptocurrency tied to contributor site value created, and (2) the licensing or in house usage of our new software to build more sites.
Thanks for thinking of us. Here are some ways you can help:
- Try out the app, and give us honest feedback ([email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or by posting in community).
- Share HackerNoon.com IRL and online. You are an important shareholder with a vested interest in our success. Community grows one interaction at a time.
- Introduce us to potential leads for:
- (1) Top Nav Billboard; lead qualification question: “does [your company] want to takeover every page of a great technology for a product launch, company announcement, or any other business initiative?
- and (2) Brand-as-author; lead qualification question: “does [your company] want to get more technologists reading their technology blog posts?” Let’s work together.
- Fill out your profile, your writer call to action, and submit a great tech story for publication. Quality tech stories can be as simple as a memory of your rare expertise.
Hacker Noon built a great team, successfully completed its crowdfunding, made a lot of software, launched a community forum which will also serve as the commenting system for 2.0, tightened its relationship with contributing writers, started its events series, sold over $100k in sponsorships, and we are very optimistic about our future.
The best way to help Hacker Noon grow, is to recommend that your network:
A startup’s success or failure is a function of its team. We have built a great remote team. Win, lose or draw, we're thrilled to spend my time with this talented and hard working group. We are up to 4 full-time and 10 part-time people. Full-time people are ourselves, CPO Dane Lyons and Fullstack Developer Austin Pocus.
On Jan 1, Dane Lyons joined fulltime as our Chief Product Officer. Previously he was part-time, and once upon a time, I (David) worked for his startup (Knowtify, which sold to Kissmetrics). He’s one of the best product minds we know, and is great at walking the line between the ideal solution and the solution that just gets the job done. Austin Pocus also joined as a fullstack developer after a part-time trial. Read more about his focus (or ask you own question) in his Hacker Noon AMA.
After 2 months, we did part ways with our first front end developer in January. He’s very talented and has a great work ethic, but he wasn’t the right fit for this role. On the part-time side of things, we have worked with people based in Cape Town, Kyiv, San Francisco, Durnham, New York City, Nottingham, Washington D.C., Gurgaon, Hangzhou City and Belgrade. Their skill sets are divided amongst Editorial, Frontend, Design, Admin, Social Media and Podcasting.
In our all hands on meeting in San Francisco, we determined our core metrics will be:
- Words published
- Time reading, and
- Profit rate.
We will discuss these numbers in Q1 in more detail below.
We have sold over $100k+ in sponsorships this quarter, despite still operating primarily on Medium’s infrastructure. This is primarily a mix of
for Hacker Noon 2.0,
, as well as some social media promotion & event sponsorships. We are open to selling top navigation sponsorships by CPC or timeframe reserved ([email protected], [email protected]). We firmly believe it will get a lot easier to sell sponsorships when it’s not preselling. As you can see from the graph below, we are still burning more money than we are making, but our goal is for sponsorships to account for enough revenue to make us profitable by late 2019.
Our approach is to serve the top of the market with our site wide top navigation billboard sponsorships and serve the lower end of the market with a small subscription brand as author fees. We have 200+ companies that have expressed interest in paying for brand as author posts. Linh built a micro-site to learn more about sponsoring Hacker Noon, available at https://sponsor.hackernoon.com/. You can get involved by referring your company or a company you think is making products worth using and employing people worth publishing. While we don’t have a formal referral program (yet), happy to offer some referral benefits! More details here.
We did not hit our goal to launch 2.0 in its entirety in March, but we did launch a very important component of it (see below). Our timeline was a little ambitious, and we decided to build additional infrastructure to better mobilize the community and protect us against uncertain market conditions.
- Discourse, the open source software we built the forum with, will also power our commenting system for Hacker Noon 2.0. An intuitive & powerful commenting system is a challenge faced by any Content Management System, and we are happy to integrate this smoothly with our community forum. It’s a step toward hosting more of the discussion around the story.
- In a time of transition, the value in mobilizing your community can not be underestimated. We’ve moved some of our most dedicated authors, editors, sponsors, and investors to have meaningful discussions on the forum.
- Last but not least, we now have 1,500+ Hacker Noon 2.0 accounts before the product is complete. This is possible because we invested in building SSO (single-sign-on) to authenticate users on multiple subdomains. This took longer than anticipated.
On the product front, we’ve made great progress on our core infrastructure and design. Here are some pieces of our upcoming publishing platform built in Q1:
- Homepage - Our homepage has and will go through many iterations. This is a version that explores quite a few new elements to consider. Here is another version we tested.
- Tag Page - A few options we’re working on for the tag page.
- Story Editor - Here is the initial prototype of our story editor built using SlateJS.
- Infrastructure - Austin Pocus gave a dev talk about how we’ll use Firebase to power 2.0. This will leverage our $100k grant from Google.
- Custom Emojis - We’ve started designing our own retro emoji set. We even had a little fun and created an emoji builder which we might eventually open up to the community to crowdsource future emojis.
- Sticky Bio Prototype - We’re exploring ways to promote our contributors and their stories. In this version, we attach a bio to the bottom of the screen. It is expandable to reveal more stories by the author. Another version of a sticky bio that would live in the left margin of a story.
- Emoji Giving Prototype - We believe claps and likes are too binary of a story reaction. This will enable readers to emotionally react, in context with very little effort. Here’s a Dev talk of how Dane has been iterating on this.
- Brand-as-Author Bio - We plan to distinguish brands from authors in 2.0. Here is a design that explores using blue for brands and green for authors.
- Side Bio Design - We don’t plan on launching 2.0 with a side bio, but here are a few designs we’ve considered.
In Q1 2019, Hacker Noon published 2,327 stories totaling 3,348,937 words published. This quarter, we revamped our submit a story workflow (January) and expanded our part-time editorial staff (February). The editors have raised the quality of our story submissions and tightened the relationships with our contributors. The learning from how the editors improve stories will be applied to our community editors later in the year. In Q1 2019, our time reading created was 40,174,853 minutes, aka 76 years, 5 months, 7 days, 32 minutes and 33 seconds. Worldwide, the average human lives 71.5 years, so we created more than a lifetime worth of reading this quarter.
In Q2, we will be opening up voting for the inaugural Hacker Noon awards, and through the rest of the year, we will be accelerating our content republishing partnerships and story recruitment marketing campaigns.
We formally completed our crowdfunding campaign on 3/4/2019. We are still in the process of disbursing funds from the campaign (89% of goal disbursed to date), and we were oversubscribed by $100k+. If you made an investment after we became fully subscribed, now is the time to check your email for that confirmation email as Start Engine has started to tap into the oversubscription pool of funds. We are not interested in more investment at this time, but may be in the future.
We are yet another publisher that Medium has not treated well. Here’s the long version of our relationship developments this quarter. Oh, internet drama. The short of it is: our transition proposal was to move the old environment to a subdomain on HackerNoon.com, and open up HackerNoon.com for the new environment. This is a compromise for both parties that would, IMHO, serve the writers best. Medium tentatively agreed on this, then went radio silence on us.
Luckily, we have operated under the assumption that Medium’s words are not to be trusted. The team put significant work into gathering the rights of the stories that we already have the rights to. 15,000+ stories previously published on HackerNoon.com have opted into this Medium free agreement, and only 52 contributors total have explicitly opted out of this agreement.
While we will lose a lot of links from Medium.com in the transition, I think we are capable of taking the hit on the chin and weathering the storm. Also, the broken deal with Medium may be a blessing in disguise because under that subdomain agreement past stories would earn $0 per million+ pageview (no sponsors on those stories) and now with the majority of our library moving over to our new environment with sponsors on every page, our past library will generate significant revenue.
We had one event this quarter, #DevStories @ GitHub’s SF HQ, sponsored by PubNub. 120+ SF tech professionals attended to hear Hacker Noon contributing writers tell 5 minute dev stories. As part of our presentations, our team also demo-ed our software in production. Our short term goal is one very high quality event per quarter, but events could be a much larger marketing and revenue channel for the company in the more distant future. Our next event will be this May in London. We’ve already secured a venue sponsor, speakers, and a headline sponsor. We will be announcing this event in the upcoming weeks.
These next 6 months will be the true testament to Hacker Noon as a company: we will launch & operate in our own environment, serve our users without any middleman changing terms, and get back to selling sponsorships while they’re live. And while it is true that there’s a tremendous amount of work in front of us, we're optimistic about what we can and will do as a company. We ask you to be patient alongside us, and look forward to talking to you soon in our Q2 quarterly report.
Everything is here.
Something we didn't cover? Search the site by clicking 🔍 at the top right of any page. Or email us at [email protected] ✌️