Suddenly the prospect of making real money from individual effort appears in reach. Or at least that is what we are told. Newsletter writers have joined podcasters and Youtube video jocks in promoting that they are making far more than they have ever made before, and with no boss, other than their subscribers, to please.
This week’s That Was The Week features several contributions to the discussion of the “Creator Economy”. And the real question is, is it real or is it fake?
Sahil Lavingia, former Pinterest executive, left and founded Gumroad.
Gumroad is a company that rejects the typical venture-backed metrics of success and instead chooses to operate on loose schedules and flexible hours. The pitch Gumroad makes to its creators is that they can quit their job, work at their leisure, and get paid for their craft — so why shouldn’t Gumroad hold itself to the same standard?
And Packy McCormack celebrates the one year anniversary of his “Not Boring” newsletter by looking back over the year. The newsletter is excellent. And Packy makes clear he rejected both advertising and subscription in favor of sponsorships as his model. He shows it is working for him quite well. And now he is moving into investing in the startups he talks about, via a syndicate he helps manage.
Not Boring is for the optimists, and for the people trying to make crazy things happen. I’m definitely going to be biased. I’m going to have the backs of the companies in which we invest, and the companies that support Not Boring.
So what’s next for Not Boring? The answer is, just like a year ago, I have no idea. Unlike a year ago, though, I have 365 days of not knowing, growing, and figuring it out under my belt, and I’m ecstatic to see where serendipity leads us over the next 365.
What I do know is that I unapologetically want Not Boring to be a big business. I want to blur the lines between analyzing, experimenting with, investing in, and promoting the companies and products that I can’t stop thinking about. I want to help companies tell their stories.
Patronage, whether from subscribers, or sponsors, or people who will gift you cash seems to be a dominant theme. Our front cover hero, Leonardo DaVinci knew quite a bit about patronage.
In the early 1480s, many years before he painted the world-famous pieces for which he is now best known—the Mona Lisa
being just one—Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci
sought a job at the court of Ludovico Sforza, the then de facto ruler of Milan. A decade later, it was Sforza who commissioned him to paint The Last Supper
Fully aware that Sforza was looking to employ military engineers, Leonardo drafted an application letter that put his seemingly endless engineering talents front and centre, by way of a 10-point list of his abilities; interestingly, his artistic genius is merely hinted at towards the very end. It is believed that the final document … translated below, was penned not in Leonardo’s hand, but by a professional writer. The effort paid off, and he was eventually employed.
Patreon raised $150m and is now valued at over $4 billion. It is the modern-day “patron meets artist” platform. This is the same 2 weeks that Substack achieved its lofty valuation, as did Clubhouse, announcing payments and a new $4 billion valued round, alongside rumors that Twitter and Facebook wish to buy it.
So, something is happening. The lines between work and fun are being broken down, and that is a wonderful thing. Of course, most creators will not be able to make a living this way until we move to a universal basic income world, which will come. But until then we have a small number of highly motivated people showing us what the post-work world may look like.
We also look at Government and innovation this week, as it pertains to artificial intelligence and also encryption. Clearly autonomous software, and encrypted communications are both liberating and, from the point of view of governments, scary. Discuss :-). As we will in this week’s video.