State of the Noonion Q4: Ad By Tag, Tech Company News Pages, and More by@noonion

State of the Noonion Q4: Ad By Tag, Tech Company News Pages, and More

State of the Noonion HackerNoon profile picture

State of the Noonion

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

Four company history lessons, and a forward looking statement:

  • 2018 was the year of possibilities.
  • 2019 was the year of issues.
  • 2020 was the year of opportunities.
  • 2021 will be the year of iterations.

All in an effort to become the best place for technologists to read, write and publish. We’ve summarized Hacker Noon’s progress by revenue, growth, product, software expansion, and some final note.


Hacker Noon doubled revenue for the 3rd year in a row in 2020. This is a YoY increase of +102%. This represents QoQ growth of + 21% and YoY growth of + 68%.  Our top sources of income were Top Navigation, Grants, Brand-as-Author, Noonies, Newsletters, and Ad By Tag.

Ad by tag niche marketing launched in Q4 2020 and is now booked through Q2 21. It allows sponsors to place their content next to content with relevant tags.

We started 2021 with revenue in January being at an all-time high for revenue generated in a single month for HackerNoon. To put it into perspective, the revenue we made in January was almost as much as the revenue we made in 2017 and 2018 - combined.

Much thanks to some of our new and bigger customers: Wix, LaunchDarkly, CouchbaseDB, ByBit, DeFi For You, Udacity, Particle, CryptoAdventure, Flatfile, and more. These things can ebb and flow, i.e. when deals close and how buyer optimism flows, but it’s good to see quality companies committing to working with Hacker Noon early in the year.

As top navigation and niche marketing inventory fills up, we’ll be putting more effort in publishing and republishing the corporate blog posts, press releases, and software updates of as many technology companies as possible. Later in the year, we’ll go to market with a subscription offering for brand publishing, dubbed Evergreen.


Our top source of traffic, Google, finally started to rise again, after a steady half-year decline that also hurt the company’s Alexa site ranking.

This recent rise in Google traffic could be due to their algorithm changes, our infrastructure work, our edtiorial rules, our content quality, just dumb luck, or an executive at Google changing their mind about our site. 

We did see an 18% growth in unique pageviews from December to November and a 19% growth from Dec 2020 to January 2021.

Editorial team highlights:

  • Part-time editors hired: We added three new editors to our team in 2020, and they bring extensive knowledge and experience in the AI, machine learning, cyber security, gaming, and non-profit sectors. Going to expand into more junior editors to improve our rate of publishing.
  • Writing competition: Starting with Wix, brands will be able to reward the best performing stories on a Hacker Noon tag. This is exciting because it drives all our key metrics: words written, time reading and money made
  • Managed Accounts: We’ve experimented with commissioned content to increase yearly revenue from affiliate marketing sources and the early results are promising. We will be working with experts in the space to scale up these efforts this year.

Additionally, while we aspire to offer visitors a sh*t ton of value without logging in, deeper relationships with our visitors is something we want to aspire toward. We are seeing a trend of more logged in users on, after introducing a new signup flow.


In Q4, we conducted two separate audits to review the process of software development projects. Vercel, the creators of NextJS, audited our codebase to help prioritize which projects and approaches will improve page performance.

Additionally, we audited the quality of every function marked as shipped in 2020. The overall learning was that we should ship less new things and spend a higher percentage of our time improving what we do offer.  Nevertheless, we did still ship some new things, and have some cool things coming up this year.

Content Management System projects shipped in 2020 Q4:

  • New Signup Flow - This new flow has been performing much better. It includes login/signup in addition to email, and educates the visitor on our value to readers, writers, and brands.
  • Tech Company News Pages - The first 913 pages are live and dynamically updating the curated story lists via Hacker Noon mentions and the Bing News API.
  • Paid Expert Video Calls Beta - This is in partnership with Superpeer. We are exploring more ways to revenue share with the contributing writer.


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