20VC: Substack Founder Chris Best on The Future of Public Journalism, Why The Economics Of Attention Have Been Flipped & Why Micropayments For Content Will Not Work
Chris Best is the Founder & CEO @ Substack, the company that makes it simple for a writer to start a paid newsletter. To date, Chris has raised over $17M in funding from the likes of a16z, Y Combinator, Twitch CEO Emmett Shear and Zynga Co-Founder Justin Waldron to name a few. Prior to founding Substack, Chris was the Co-Founder & CTO @ Kik, letting users connect with friends, groups and the world around them. The company raised over $220M in funding from Spark, Tencent and USV to name a few.
1.) How Chris made his way into the world of startups and came to found Kik? How his journey with Kik led to his founding Substack?
2.) During COVID, traditional media publications have been hit hard and Substack has taken off, how does Chris see the correlation there? Given the public journal of record has always been free, how does Substack interact with public news? What does Chris
3.) Why does Chris believe that micropayments are a fundamentally bad idea? Structurally why would they not work? Does Chris agree the biggest problem consumers face today in content is one of discovery? Why not?
4.) When designing the Substack product today, how does Chris think about incentive design? Why does Chris believe with incentives, Substack is the opposite of Twitter from a product perspective? Why have the “economics of attention now been flipped?”
5.) How has Chris seen himself evolve and change as a leader over the last 3 years? What advice would Chris give to CTOs making the move into the role of CEO? What does Chris believe his greatest strengths and weaknesses are as a leader? How does Chris find the war for talent today?