State Of The Noonion Q1 2019: The Launch Of The Hacker Noon Community by@noonion

State Of The Noonion Q1 2019: The Launch Of The Hacker Noon Community

Hacker Noon built a great team, successfully completed its crowdfunding, made a lot of software, launched a community forum which will also serve as the commenting system for 2.0. The best way to help Hacker Noon grow, is to recommend that your network:publish with us (contribute.hackernoon.com) or sponsor us (sponsor.com), or the more personal touch, please contact us at: http://://://www.hacker.com/hacker-noon.org/.
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State of the Noonion

Where you can read redacted shareholder letters being sent to Hacker Noon 1.3k+ shareholders every quarter.

TL;DR

Hacker Noon built a great team, successfully completed its crowdfunding, made a lot of software, launched a community forum which will also serve as the commenting system for 2.0, tightened its relationship with contributing writers, started its events series, sold over $100k in sponsorships, and we are very optimistic about our future.

The best way to help Hacker Noon grow, is to recommend that your network:

Team

A startup’s success or failure is a function of its team. We have built a great remote team. Win, lose or draw, we're thrilled to spend my time with this talented and hard working group. We are up to 4 full-time and 10 part-time people. Full-time people are ourselves, CPO Dane Lyons and Fullstack Developer Austin Pocus.

On Jan 1, Dane Lyons joined fulltime as our Chief Product Officer. Previously he was part-time, and once upon a time, I (David) worked for his startup (Knowtify, which sold to Kissmetrics). He’s one of the best product minds we know, and is great at walking the line between the ideal solution and the solution that just gets the job done. Austin Pocus also joined as a fullstack developer after a part-time trial. Read more about his focus (or ask you own question) in his Hacker Noon AMA.

After 2 months, we did part ways with our first front end developer in January. He’s very talented and has a great work ethic, but he wasn’t the right fit for this role. On the part-time side of things, we have worked with people based in Cape Town, Kyiv, San Francisco, Durnham, New York City, Nottingham, Washington D.C., Gurgaon, Hangzhou City and Belgrade. Their skill sets are divided amongst Editorial, Frontend, Design, Admin, Social Media and Podcasting.

In our all hands on meeting in San Francisco, we determined our core metrics will be:

  1. Words published
  2. Time reading, and
  3. Profit rate.

We will discuss these numbers in Q1 in more detail below.

Sponsorships & Revenue

We have sold over $100k+ in sponsorships this quarter, despite still operating primarily on Medium’s infrastructure. This is primarily a mix of pre-selling top navigation for Hacker Noon 2.0, podcast sponsorships, as well as some social media promotion & event sponsorships. We are open to selling top navigation sponsorships by CPC or timeframe reserved ([email protected], [email protected]). We firmly believe it will get a lot easier to sell sponsorships when it’s not preselling. As you can see from the graph below, we are still burning more money than we are making, but our goal is for sponsorships to account for enough revenue to make us profitable by late 2019.

Redacted

Our approach is to serve the top of the market with our site wide top navigation billboard sponsorships and serve the lower end of the market with a small subscription brand as author fees. We have 200+ companies that have expressed interest in paying for brand as author posts. Linh built a micro-site to learn more about sponsoring Hacker Noon, available at https://sponsor.hackernoon.com/. You can get involved by referring your company or a company you think is making products worth using and employing people worth publishing. While we don’t have a formal referral program (yet), happy to offer some referral benefits! More details here.

Product

We did not hit our goal to launch 2.0 in its entirety in March, but we did launch a very important component of it (see below). Our timeline was a little ambitious, and we decided to build additional infrastructure to better mobilize the community and protect us against uncertain market conditions.

Redacted

We did launch the Hacker Noon Community in March. We made this strategic choice because:

  • Discourse, the open source software we built the forum with, will also power our commenting system for Hacker Noon 2.0. An intuitive & powerful commenting system is a challenge faced by any Content Management System, and we are happy to integrate this smoothly with our community forum. It’s a step toward hosting more of the discussion around the story.
  • In a time of transition, the value in mobilizing your community can not be underestimated. We’ve moved some of our most dedicated authors, editors, sponsors, and investors to have meaningful discussions on the forum.
  • Last but not least, we now have 1,500+ Hacker Noon 2.0 accounts before the product is complete. This is possible because we invested in building SSO (single-sign-on) to authenticate users on multiple subdomains. This took longer than anticipated.

On the product front, we’ve made great progress on our core infrastructure and design. Here are some pieces of our upcoming publishing platform built in Q1:

  • Homepage - Our homepage has and will go through many iterations. This is a version that explores quite a few new elements to consider. Here is another version we tested.
  • Tag Page - A few options we’re working on for the tag page.
  • Story Editor - Here is the initial prototype of our story editor built using SlateJS.
  • Infrastructure - Austin Pocus gave a dev talk about how we’ll use Firebase to power 2.0. This will leverage our $100k grant from Google.
  • Custom Emojis - We’ve started designing our own retro emoji set. We even had a little fun and created an emoji builder which we might eventually open up to the community to crowdsource future emojis.
  • Sticky Bio Prototype - We’re exploring ways to promote our contributors and their stories. In this version, we attach a bio to the bottom of the screen. It is expandable to reveal more stories by the author. Another version of a sticky bio that would live in the left margin of a story.
  • Emoji Giving Prototype - We believe claps and likes are too binary of a story reaction. This will enable readers to emotionally react, in context with very little effort. Here’s a Dev talk of how Dane has been iterating on this.
  • Brand-as-Author Bio - We plan to distinguish brands from authors in 2.0. Here is a design that explores using blue for brands and green for authors.
  • Side Bio Design - We don’t plan on launching 2.0 with a side bio, but here are a few designs we’ve considered.Rate of Publishing and Traffic

In Q1 2019, Hacker Noon published 2,327 stories totaling 3,348,937 words published. This quarter, we revamped our submit a story workflow (January) and expanded our part-time editorial staff (February). The editors have raised the quality of our story submissions and tightened the relationships with our contributors. The learning from how the editors improve stories will be applied to our community editors later in the year. In Q1 2019, our time reading created was 40,174,853 minutes, aka 76 years, 5 months, 7 days, 32 minutes and 33 seconds.  Worldwide, the average human lives 71.5 years, so we created more than a lifetime worth of reading this quarter.

In Q2, we will be opening up voting for the inaugural Hacker Noon awards, and through the rest of the year, we will be accelerating our content republishing partnerships and story recruitment marketing campaigns.

Investment

We formally completed our crowdfunding campaign on 3/4/2019. We are still in the process of disbursing funds from the campaign (89% of goal disbursed to date), and we were oversubscribed by $100k+. If you made an investment after we became fully subscribed, now is the time to check your email for that confirmation email as Start Engine has started to tap into the oversubscription pool of funds. We are not interested in more investment at this time, but may be in the future.

About Removing Medium from Hackernoon.com

We are yet another publisher that Medium has not treated well. Here’s the long version of our relationship developments this quarter. Oh, internet drama. The short of it is: our transition proposal was to move the old environment to a subdomain on HackerNoon.com, and open up HackerNoon.com for the new environment. This is a compromise for both parties that would, IMHO, serve the writers best. Medium tentatively agreed on this, then went radio silence on us.

Luckily, we have operated under the assumption that Medium’s words are not to be trusted. The team put significant work into gathering the rights of the stories that we already have the rights to. 15,000+ stories previously published on HackerNoon.com have opted into this Medium free agreement, and only 52 contributors total have explicitly opted out of this agreement.

While we will lose a lot of links from Medium.com in the transition, I think we are capable of taking the hit on the chin and weathering the storm. Also, the broken deal with Medium may be a blessing in disguise because under that subdomain agreement past stories would earn $0 per million+ pageview (no sponsors on those stories) and now with the majority of our library moving over to our new environment with sponsors on every page, our past library will generate significant revenue.

Events

We had one event this quarter, #DevStories @ GitHub’s SF HQ, sponsored by PubNub. 120+ SF tech professionals attended to hear Hacker Noon contributing writers tell 5 minute dev stories. As part of our presentations, our team also demo-ed our software in production. Our short term goal is one very high quality event per quarter, but events could be a much larger marketing and revenue channel for the company in the more distant future. Our next event will be this May in London. We’ve already secured a venue sponsor, speakers, and a headline sponsor. We will be announcing this event in the upcoming weeks.

Redacted

We did launch the Hacker Noon Community in March. We made this strategic choice because:

  • Discourse, the open source software we built the forum with, will also power our commenting system for Hacker Noon 2.0. An intuitive & powerful commenting system is a challenge faced by any Content Management System, and we are happy to integrate this smoothly with our community forum. It’s a step toward hosting more of the discussion around the story.
  • In a time of transition, the value in mobilizing your community can not be underestimated. We’ve moved some of our most dedicated authors, editors, sponsors, and investors to have meaningful discussions on the forum.
  • Last but not least, we now have 1,500+ Hacker Noon 2.0 accounts before the product is complete. This is possible because we invested in building SSO (single-sign-on) to authenticate users on multiple subdomains. This took longer than anticipated.

On the product front, we’ve made great progress on our core infrastructure and design. Here are some pieces of our upcoming publishing platform built in Q1:

  • Homepage - Our homepage has and will go through many iterations. This is a version that explores quite a few new elements to consider. Here is another version we tested.
  • Tag Page - A few options we’re working on for the tag page.
  • Story Editor - Here is the initial prototype of our story editor built using SlateJS.
  • Infrastructure - Austin Pocus gave a dev talk about how we’ll use Firebase to power 2.0. This will leverage our $100k grant from Google.
  • Custom Emojis - We’ve started designing our own retro emoji set. We even had a little fun and created an emoji builder which we might eventually open up to the community to crowdsource future emojis.
  • Sticky Bio Prototype - We’re exploring ways to promote our contributors and their stories. In this version, we attach a bio to the bottom of the screen. It is expandable to reveal more stories by the author. Another version of a sticky bio that would live in the left margin of a story.
  • Emoji Giving Prototype - We believe claps and likes are too binary of a story reaction. This will enable readers to emotionally react, in context with very little effort. Here’s a Dev talk of how Dane has been iterating on this.
  • Brand-as-Author Bio - We plan to distinguish brands from authors in 2.0. Here is a design that explores using blue for brands and green for authors.
  • Side Bio Design - We don’t plan on launching 2.0 with a side bio, but here are a few designs we’ve considered.Rate of Publishing and Traffic

Rate of Publishing and Traffic

In Q1 2019, Hacker Noon published 2,327 stories totaling 3,348,937 words published. This quarter, we revamped our submit a story workflow (January) and expanded our part-time editorial staff (February). The editors have raised the quality of our story submissions and tightened the relationships with our contributors. The learning from how the editors improve stories will be applied to our community editors later in the year. In Q1 2019, our time reading created was 40,174,853 minutes, aka 76 years, 5 months, 7 days, 32 minutes and 33 seconds.  Worldwide, the average human lives 71.5 years, so we created more than a lifetime worth of reading this quarter.

In Q2, we will be opening up voting for the inaugural Hacker Noon awards, and through the rest of the year, we will be accelerating our content republishing partnerships and story recruitment marketing campaigns.

Investment

We formally completed our crowdfunding campaign on 3/4/2019. We are still in the process of disbursing funds from the campaign (89% of goal disbursed to date), and we were oversubscribed by $100k+. If you made an investment after we became fully subscribed, now is the time to check your email for that confirmation email as Start Engine has started to tap into the oversubscription pool of funds. We are not interested in more investment at this time, but may be in the future.

About Removing Medium from Hackernoon.com

We are yet another publisher that Medium has not treated well. Here’s the long version of our relationship developments this quarter. Oh, internet drama. The short of it is: our transition proposal was to move the old environment to a subdomain on HackerNoon.com, and open up HackerNoon.com for the new environment. This is a compromise for both parties that would, IMHO, serve the writers best. Medium tentatively agreed on this, then went radio silence on us.

Luckily, we have operated under the assumption that Medium’s words are not to be trusted. The team put significant work into gathering the rights of the stories that we already have the rights to. 15,000+ stories previously published on HackerNoon.com have opted into this Medium free agreement, and only 52 contributors total have explicitly opted out of this agreement.

While we will lose a lot of links from Medium.com in the transition, I think we are capable of taking the hit on the chin and weathering the storm. Also, the broken deal with Medium may be a blessing in disguise because under that subdomain agreement past stories would earn $0 per million+ pageview (no sponsors on those stories) and now with the majority of our library moving over to our new environment with sponsors on every page, our past library will generate significant revenue.

Events

We had one event this quarter, #DevStories @ GitHub’s SF HQ, sponsored by PubNub. 120+ SF tech professionals attended to hear Hacker Noon contributing writers tell 5 minute dev stories. As part of our presentations, our team also demo-ed our software in production. Our short term goal is one very high quality event per quarter, but events could be a much larger marketing and revenue channel for the company in the more distant future. Our next event will be this May in London. We’ve already secured a venue sponsor, speakers, and a headline sponsor. We will be announcing this event in the upcoming weeks.

A Look Ahead to Q2 and Beyond

These next 6 months will be the true testament to Hacker Noon as a company: we will launch & operate in our own environment, serve our users without any middleman changing terms, and get back to selling sponsorships while they’re live. And while it is true that there’s a tremendous amount of work in front of us, we're optimistic about what we can and will do as a company. We ask you to be patient alongside us, and look forward to talking to you soon in our Q2 quarterly report.

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