Home Venture Capital Newcomer in 2024! – by Eric Newcomer

Newcomer in 2024! – by Eric Newcomer

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In the midst of the pandemic in 2020, quarantined away in rural Connecticut, I decided to quit my job at Bloomberg and start this Substack.

I saw an opportunity to write directly for Silicon Valley, just at the moment the startups and venture capital industry was scattered all over the globe. We were relegated to connecting over Zoom. I believed that I could play some part in channeling the pulse of the startup industry — wherever it was — by delivering my reporting directly to your inboxes.

I wanted to write for people who didn’t need me to explain who someone like Bill Gurley is, or why he mattered. (Gurley sat down with me for an interview soon after this newsletter launched.) I was tired of working for a big, stodgy media company. I wanted to be able to call it like I saw it, mixing deep reporting with straight-talk and perspective.

Today, 75,000 people receive Newcomer’s free emails and more than 2,000 loyal subscribers pay for the good stuff. Some of you have been here since the beginning. I’m so grateful for your dedicated support from the start. To the many of you who joined along the way, welcome aboard!

It was a busy 2023. I took Chamath Palihapitya to task. I went against the grain and stuck my neck out for OpenAI’s board. I chronicled the unraveling of Silicon Valley Bank. I wrote about the venture slowdown, revealing the venture capital firms that were investing the least. And, of course, I wrote obsessively about the world of artificial intelligence, teaming up with a data scientist to chart the frenzy, scooping fundraising rounds, and profiling promising early stage startups. On top of that, I published a podcast featuring interviews with former Democratic operative and tech policy wonk Chris Lehane, Stripe’s former chief operating officer Claire Hughes Johnson, TechStars CEO Maëlle Gavet, and many more.

I co-hosted two Cerebral Valley AI Summits and between them I got married.

All three went great. I’ve already told you about the wedding. And we’ve published our conversations with speakers at the Cerebral Valley events here in the newsletter and on YouTube.

The wonderful reality is that Newcomer, the startup and venture capital-obsessed media and events business, has done well for a two-person company. Newcomer generated over $1 million in revenue last year. And we are profitable. That’s without ever raising capital and by funding our growth entirely off of the business’s cash flows.

With some help, I convinced Madeline to leave her perch at Business Insider, where she wrote about early stage startups and profiled up-and-coming venture capitalists. She started Tuesday. Reach out to her with story ideas. Give her some scoops and make the first few weeks on the job easier on her.

I’m so excited for the writing and the reporting she’s going to bring to this newsletter.

Jonathan Weber, a journalism startup veteran and former global technology editor at Reuters, is serving as an advisor to Newcomer.

I’m ecstatic to have a digital newsroom where we can swap tips and brainstorm story ideas together.

None of this would have been possible without Riley Konsella, my chief of staff, who has been instrumental in helping to grow Newcomer. He’s being promoted to Newcomer’s business lead.

Now we’re looking to hire a full-time events and operations manager. You can check out our job application here.

We’re in the process of planning an event oriented around the future of banking tied to the anniversary of the Silicon Valley Bank crisis in March. Reach out to us if you’d like to be a part of that. And, of course, with our friends at Volley, we’ll host another Cerebral Valley in the second half of the year.

Media’s failings are well understood in Silicon Valley: whether you’re disrupting the media, complaining about media bias, or funding cash-burning media businesses, you know the media’s shortcomings intimately.

So why are things working for us three years in?

  1. We are incredibly fortunate to write about startups and venture capital. It’s a beat of national significance whose readers can afford to pay for quality news and information. That’s a winning combination. I’m going to cling tightly to the startup business.

  2. We’re publishing quality, exclusive stories about money, people, and technology, delivered in a direct and authentic style. We follow the money and humanize key players in the venture capital industry. We know there’s a lot of private information that can only be surfaced with anonymous sources.

  3. We’re helping to be a neutral convener to a community that’s simultaneously tightly networked and too sprawling to stay connected.

  4. The business media very reasonably tends to focus on stories of more general importance to society instead of writing for the players themselves. Major media outlets are looking for broader significance when for me it’s a story if Sequoia or Andreessen or Y Combinator does something. We also celebrate success and people who strike it rich.

  5. Finally, I don’t want to undervalue the hard-won relationships I’ve built over time. I know many of my readers personally. And most of the people I interview in this newsletter, I’ve talked to for a long time. Source relationships take years to build. I’m perfectly happy to write critically when it’s called for but I want my writing to be smart and fair. When I’m writing a negative story, I’m direct with people. I don’t trick people into speaking on the record. I’ve proven that I’ll protect anonymous sources. Those relationships are core to everything that I do.

We’re going to pick up the pace of publishing in the newsletter while keeping the price the same.

I know that for our readers quality is your top concern.

With more hands, we’ll be able to deliver better, more consistent information, more scoops, and more insightful writing.

Don’t think I’m stepping back from the newsletter. I’ll be writing, reporting, podcasting, and causing trouble. I’m still addicted to the endorphins I get from publishing a great scoop and risking it all with a controversial essay.

Some people have said along the way Eric, the beauty of your business is that you don’t need to grow it any more if you just stay small and write on your own. I could make amazing money as a journalist if I just kept running 2023 back. But I love working with other people. I believe there’s a valuable and worthwhile business to be built here. And I think building a financially-sound media business is the best way to support good journalism.

I often get asked if going independent has given me any more empathy for the people I write about. Probably. It seems that I’m developing some sympathy for their addiction to growth — but hopefully not their predilection to light money on fire.

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