Discover more from Exponential View by Azeem Azhar
👋 Announcement: Exponential View x Substack
Your favourite wondermissive (this one) has some small changes that are taking place so that we can deliver you a better writing and a much-improved reading experience.
We are migrating from our current publishing platform, Ghost, to Substack. We wanted to let you know about this move, but the tl;dr is that you don’t need to do anything except enjoy an improved Exponential View.
You are free to close this email and go on with your day… unless you are interested in our rationale behind the move back to Substack.
We were hosted on Substack from 2017 to 2021 and became one of the biggest newsletters on the platform. As we grew, the question of build vs. buy raised its head. Should we continue to “buy” our key technology (from Substack) and rely on their product choices? Or should we “build” our own and take control?
You might choose to build your own (rather than buy) because you feel that having control of your product stack is important enough to put up with the pain of rolling your own. I have been involved in build-vs-buy decisions for multi-billion dollar organisations and small startups alike for the past 20 years.
I thought Exponential View might be reaching that crunch point. There were product capabilities (mostly around analytics, segmentation, and audience development) that weren’t available on Substack at the time. We were concerned that Substack might—like any startup in its growth phase—be distracted by pursuing mindshare rather than building the product we needed.
So when we reviewed our choices about 18 months ago, I explained to Hamish and Chris (two of Substack’s founders) that we loved many things about Substack save two. The roadmap wasn’t delivering for us. And the team was focusing on acquiring new writers at the cost of delivering a delightful platform for existing customers like us.
Though cumbersome, I concluded that directing our own product development would help us bring to bear features we felt important for give you the newsletter you want. The opportunity cost of not having control was too great.
And yet here we are, 12 months later.
Ultimately, the calculus changed and it did so for two reasons.
First, Exponential View is doing really well.
There is too much exciting stuff going on around the newsletter. My book has done really well and it’s kicked off loads of opportunities to meet smart people and strengthen the arguments I put in the newsletter. We have expanded our team to increase bandwidth for research, partnership-building and publishing. Our managing director Marija Gavrilov has started to help firms tap into the collective intelligence of our network as they try to figure out the impact of things like quantum computing, AI, blockchain and climate change. And we have started to invest in brilliant tech founders tackling the exponential transition.
The opportunity cost of our time to manage product development is just too high even with excellent development resources. Time and effort that could be spent on sharing our insight through essays and analysis, was spent worrying about email deliverability, spam, HTML templates or user authentication.
Second, Substack has executed product really well. I mean really well. There are beautiful writers tools (like footnotes and poetry blocks), support for new media types (like audio and video), exceptional analytics and segmentation tools, and a powerful recommendation engine to help readers find newsletters. There is also a fantastic app that makes Substack work for readers even better. From my product lens, the “sub” in Substack is short for “sublime.” The renewed focus on product - the things that help people who trade in ideas communicate them - is just A+.
What do you do sir?
In short, the facts changed. Ultimately, EV was doing well but we were wasting time tweaking an open-source publishing platform to our needs. So we knew we needed to move. When that time came, we evaluated several alternatives. Substack came out on top, first and foremost, because the product rocks. And rocking products always have committed teams behind them.
We’re happy to be back, and we hope it allows us to deliver the Exponential View newsletter with increased focus. And that should mean more good stuff for you.
💗 Hit heart if you’re with us!
Azeem & Marija
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