Dear reader,

Greetings from Arizona! We made some big changes to Readup this week. First of all, starting today, I’ll be in touch on Sunday instead of Wednesday, unless you’d rather not hear from me at all. (Which is perfectly cool, by the way. I often wonder if I would even want to hear from me.) Either way, it’s easy to unsubscribe and resubscribe.

Many readers have said that they want more information about what’s going on behind the scenes at Readup, so that’s what this new Sunday email is all about.

Without further ado, let’s jump right in…

Product Updates

We completely overhauled the entire notification system! And we did it right this time. It took over a month to design and build and you’ll experience the difference on both Chrome and iOS. It’s now much easier to stay up to date with the readers you follow as well as others who have read the same things that you’ve read. It’s also possible to read and reply to other readers directly from email. All you have to do is hit reply.

Check out the new Settings. Get there by hitting the three dots in the top right corner of the app on mobile or web. Remember that you’re in complete control over how and when you hear from others on the platform. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or comments.

The Numbers

In this section, we’ll review the analytics. Simply put, my goal is to overshare. Recklessly. And honestly. Data is tricky. (For more information on that, Jeff and I highly recommend this article. It inspired us to start using the term “capta” instead of “data.”) Some of this stuff isn’t always pretty, but any startup that shows you a bunch of rosy charts isn’t telling the full truth.

We’re still fighting tooth and nail for every new user. This chart should make that fact pretty obvious:

There are at least two takeaways here. First, Friday was bangin’. The AOTD about Mister Rogers was, indeed, wonderful, but our guess is that the bump had more to do with the big update to the Notifications system which rolled out Wednesday night into Thursday morning. (Yes, it was a long, late night.) Overall, platform engagement on Readup always plummets on weekends, so we’ll need to continue to keep an eye on this to know for sure what’s going on.

The second takeaway involves the overall scale - those double-digit numbers on the y-axis. I wish I could say that those values were “in thousands” or something like that, but the truth is that we’re still just super tiny. Over fourteen hundred people have created accounts on Readup, but we’re still on treacherously thin ice. If you’re reading this email, please know how thankful we are that you exist!

There is some upside to our small size. Things feel intimate because they are intimate. And, it’s easy to influence the Trending algorithm by reading and commenting on your favorite articles. It only takes a few reads and a few comments to turn something into the Article of the Day. And don’t forget that Jeff and I don’t have any special influence over the system as a whole. So, just like you, we read and comment on the stuff we love because we want to see it jump up in the rankings.

The Big Picture

I spend so much time thinking about Readup’s Core Values it’s borderline absurd. I’m a huge fan of the Frederick Laloux approach: Don’t get hung up on coming up with Core Values. Instead, just listen. They’re there. Humans are naturally purposeful, so the best thing we can do is recognize our values as they emerge, and work to incorporate them more deeply into our work and lives.

When we started, Jeff and I focused on two Core Values: (1) We respect our users. (2) We don’t take ourselves too seriously.

Number one is very natural for us. In fact, when I recently told someone, “We treat all of our users like humans,” I realized that that was actually an understatement. We treat our users like family because many of them actually are family. (Hi mom! Hi Jeff’s mom!) We have zero desire to violate your privacy (and we’re eager to get that in writing soon!) or rob you of your precious time and attention, because we’d never do that to the people we love.

Number two is a bit trickier, and we’re not sure if perhaps it’s time to evolve it, or scratch it altogether. On the upside, it’s helpful to have a reminder to keep our egos in check. However, this isn’t just a "project" any more. Especially as we march into 2020, we’re starting to feel a sense of responsibility. And with that responsibility comes a certain level of healthy seriousness.

Recently, a few other values are screaming to be named: One is truth. Another is intentionality. Another is focus. There’s also listening (I struggle with this) and empathy and critical thinking. What do you think? Hit reply and let me know! I need some fodder for another blog post.

Until next week,
Bill Loundy