David Smooke

Founder & CEO of Hacker Noon

State of Hacker Noon 2019-2020

Photo Credit, Giphy.com/HackerNoon, where we have 1.7M impressions since creating our account in October. 

Dear Hackers and Those Who Identify as Hacker-Adjacent,

I'm thrilled to be alive, and I hope you are too. What a year! Hacker Noon has never been stronger. It's time for the 2019-2020 Hacker Noon recap.
Let’s start with a big picture graph for those in the cheap seats:
≈ 76M+ people visited HackerNoon.com  from Nov 8 2016 - Dec 7 2019
This was my first full year running a team, and as CEO, I now speak in Quarters.

Q1 2019: Getting Our Ducks in a Row

Pictured left to right, CPO Dane Lyons, Fullstack Developer Austin Pocus, me, and COO Linh Dao Smooke working together in San Francisco.
We started the year by wrapping up our equity crowdfunding campaign, which raised the maximum amount of 1.07M (per regulation CF, from 1200+ shareholders) and putting together a top team (6 ppl full-time and 5 ppl part-time right now) to build the best place for technologists to publish. 
After reviewing and learning from a number plug-and-play options, we decided to build our own content management system from scratch, using Firebase as our backend and React as our frontend. Google was very helpful with a $100k grant. We told our story of pivoting from not just publishing to also a software company at our #devstories event @Github HQ, San Francisco, in front of 100+ developers.

Q2 2019: Surviving Chaos

Pictured, my daughter after a temper tantrum at the tube stop.
We closed our largest deal of the year with Seen by Indeed, and built even more software this quarter, including prototypes of the Hacker Noon 2.0 editor powered by SlateJS, and the commenting system powered by Discourse
We also had a little spat with our former content management. If you missed the Hacker Noon vs. Medium bullshit, you can learn more here. It dragged on for months and amidst this distraction, we kept a community of over 10k writers and 4 million monthly readers chugging along even with funny but detrimental 2.0 bugs like #CodeFaceBug; and launched the Noonies -- Hacker Noon’s inaugural annual tech awards campaign. There were over 55k+ votes cast for 457 nominees across 50 award categories. Overall, we're also excited that we got our feet wet in custom voting technology.  We also open sourced our own font
Personally, my dad went into a coma for ten days and spent 3 weeks in ICU, but thankfully and against the odds and expectations of many neurologists made a full recovery. This unexpected event hurt my work productivity, but I’m proud of how our team stepped up, and I feel even more thankful to exist.

Q3 2019: Setting Up Shop

The groomsmen (left to right: me, Austin and Dane) at Dane’s Wedding.
We launched our own software on HackerNoon.com in mid July, allowing anyone to read and write without any paywall or Medium popup ad. This also opened up our primary forms of revenue, the top navigation billboard placement, our brand-as-author program and the newsletter sponsorships
We made a number of mistakes in the launch, but it forced us to create a help section and a more robust customer support experience. I'm happy with the way in which the team learned and evolved. The next months after the launch was about helping past writers onboard to the new system and recruiting new writers via constant product iteration and many editorial campaigns. 
You can read more about our product developments in Dane’s year end product update, but the big thing is that we moved into our own infrastructure and there was A LOT of hard work involved to maintain a robust system that serves thousands of writers and millions of readers.

Q4 2019: Integrating, Iterating, and Publishing More Words Per Day Than Ever Before

5 months after launch, we ended the year as the top 3.5k sites in the world - up from 5.2k according to Alexa in July - demonstrating the overall success of our move into our own software. 
Since the move, we published 4,523 stories, which is an average of 27 stories per day, and our library created 48+ years of time reading. We’ve had a top-nav, sitewide billboard sponsor for every single week atop the hackernoon.com 2.0 since launch and in the less than five months of running the brand as author program and newsletter sponsorships, we totaled 100+ paying customers. Our top customers for the year are Seen by Indeed and Heroku by Salesforce
We ended the year with our highest quarterly revenue in company history while building some important product integrations (with Google Analytics, Algolia, Unsplash & GUN), and dark mode.

2020 Outlook 

We’re kicking off the year with the deployment of our first feature built on the blockchain: decentralized annotations and in-line comments. Overall, we will continue investing heavily in improving and iterating on the core product experience, reading and writing, while also launching more curation tools.

A Note to Our Partners, Sponsors, Superfans, And Undecideds In Scoping Phase

We have three words and one slug for you. Swipe right on sponsor.hackernoon.com - before we update the rate card. 
Back to the Internet!
David Smooke

P.S. some social proof: 

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Comments

January 21st, 2020

Also you forget the strangest mention of Hacker Noon. https://libertysentinel.org/twitter-boss-posts-crazy-lucifer-themed-image

January 22nd, 2020

Had to read it twice, lol. Nice catch.

January 22nd, 2020

It’s like being mentioned by the Onion, but. It’s real, or at least thinks it’s real.

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