On Saturday, I spoke on stage at the New York Product Conference about how we design products and what we’ve learned the last few years working on the studio, as well as learnings from the last ~15 years of working at various startups. It was organized by Brent Tworetsky, EVP Product at XO Group. I try to hit only about two events a year, and it was refreshing to go to a conference filled with all sort of product people that just love to build things. It was at the new Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island: always fun to take the tram over!
In one part of the conversation we got to talking about email newsletters (not necessarily ones you send your users off your platform, but ones by good writers we like for ideas and analyses). They were pretty great about ten years ago, then maybe fell out of favor with the rise of platforms like Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter and other apps on our phones: the destinations and, therefore, discovery changed.
But I think they’re making a big comeback now because all those other channels are too noisy. If you have a decent-enough personal brand, why wouldn’t you just use a tool like TinyLetter or Revue to get stuff out under your own name? There’s far less noise and no chance of getting mixed up with other people’s voices. You get to be at top of everyone’s inbox first thing each morning: no need to compete with a platform’s news feed algorithms, no need to compete to be one of the few apps on a home screen, no need to compete with ads. (And, in some cases like with Stratechery, you can charge your readers directly.)
Here are my current favorites, some of which I mentioned on stage, and what I like about each one:
- Om Malik’s Om Says – a great writer who always has great perspective on technology and empathy and products. I also like that he’s got three decades of experience in tech: there’s a certain lens he can bring that no one else can. (As an example, have a look at his post on the iPhone X – whereas everyone else is concerned with the notch and other noise, he takes a deep look at the hardware, the supply chains and how Apple might be setting up for the future.)
- Stratechery – One meaty, timely post every morning about some tech topic. The analysis is always interesting and gets you thinking about something in a new light. I also love how he threads certain companies and topics together into themes, e.g., aggregation theory, to show that across industries, it’s very often the same things that companies get right or get wrong.
- Ben Evans – good summary of links missed each week.
- Axios Login – coverage of tech and the intersection with DC.
- Strictly VC
- The Information – great dives into certain topics and just a great overview of the week in the Valley.
- Bloomberg Fully Charged
- Reilly Brennan’s Future of Transportation – love the focus and catch-up on all things great about software, hardware and transport.
- Hiten Shah’s Product Habits – always love his insights on product and growth.
- Social Capital’s Snippets – settle in for a “long read” on these; a favorite because I love how they tie different learnings together, and it feels as though by writing, they are “learning in public” along with the reader.