Over the course of the last several years, Readup has turned into something truly incredible: a thriving, global community of readers, writers and free-thinkers, working together, day in and day out.
Every single day we get posts and comments from all around the globe, on every continent (except Antarctica) and every single day it boggles my mind with excitement.
Growth, by definition, happens incrementally. It’s a process, not an event. So it’s impossible for me to pinpoint the exact moment when things changed, but they did.
I feel like one of those proud parents who looks away briefly and then, when they look back, their child is suddenly, magically, all grown up - bigger, stronger, more mature, and, in some ways, borderline unrecognizable. And it feels like it happened overnight.
By Silicon Valley standards, our growth has been slow, but we learned long ago not to measure ourselves on Silicon Valley standards. We all know exactly where that kind of thinking leads, so I have no further comment on that.
May was Readup’s biggest month ever. By far. Pick a metric and it was up. Way up. We’re not a rag-tag little troupe anymore. We’re a force to be reckoned with. Overall traffic, monthly active users (as well as weekly average and daily average), signups, reads, comments, referrals, tweets, etc. Everything. I can slice and dice this data in a million different ways, show you a million different graphs, but it all says the same thing: up.
And June is on track to be bigger. Much bigger.
We believe in growth, but not just for the sake of it. For us, growth matters because it leads to deeper, more meaningful engagement, higher-quality article curation, and more thoughtful, enriching commenting experiences.
Very few startups will make this claim, and fewer still actually mean it, but we do. And our track record speaks for itself. If you’ve been following closely, you know that we’re perfectly willing to put the breaks on when necessary. In fact, it has happened many times. But now is not one of those times.
Overall, the discipline has paid off. And now we're in an excellent position to fundraise.
So there, I said it: We’re fundraising.
We’ve been laying the groundwork for a few weeks now, so today isn’t actually day one, but it feels that way to me, because today is the day that we’re making it official. Today is the day that we’re making the commitment to you, the community, the stakeholders we care most about.
We went back and forth on this for months. We’re proud bootstrappers, obsessed with doing everything on our own terms. It’s not that we’re stubborn — in fact, one of our three core values is “Be open to anything” — but we’re hellbent on breaking the status quo. When it comes to social media, the status quo needs breaking. Again: no further comment.
For that reason, we’re looking for angel investors who are willing to play the long game. We’re on a quest to change social media, so of course we need to get huge, and hugely profitable, to shift as much attention-share from Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc., as possible. That's what it's going to take for us to achieve our mission.
Five years from now, Readup will be synonymous with digital reading. We won’t just be an app. We’ll be the corner of the web where you can actually focus on articles and stories, from top to bottom, and connect with other deep readers. Actually, wait a second, we already are that! The difference is that in five years many people you know will be on there and you’ll be able to read anything you want, including all premium content from your favorite publishers. The word “paywall” will feel like ancient history.
Sidenote for journalists, writers, publishers: If you’re reading this, rest easy. It’s been a rough decade (to the detriment of all) but the era of clickbait is quickly coming to a close. We’re turning the entire incentive structure upside down. Soon, you’ll be able to get paid a meaningful amount per read. Think: nickels, dimes, even quarters, depending on length and quality, instead of the current nightmare where you get a fraction of a fraction of a penny per click.
Ten years from now, we’ll look back on these days and we’ll wonder how we survived such dark, confusing times. Bouncing, scrolling, clicking, always moving, moving, moving. The sum of the parts is a distraction machine, which is why we’re building an attention engine. As a bonus, we’ll never again have to wonder whether or not a particular commenter actually read an article they commented on. And not just on Readup, but everywhere.
But for now, Readup needs one thing and one thing only: a team.
So that’s why we’re fundraising - to quadruple the size of our two-person team so that we can adequately support and grow the business with intention, focus and calm.
Readup has outgrown us in the most wonderful way. My email is overflowing and Jeff has fifty features to build (and bugs to crush) for every one or two he has time to address.
To that end, I have an overflowing inbox to get back to. More from me soon. -Bill