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Means of Creation Profile

Means of Creation

English, Finance, 1 season, 54 episodes, 2 days, 13 minutes
Work is changing. The old structures that dominated the 20th century are gradually being replaced by platforms and cultures that have grown up on the internet that aim to help people do what they love for a living. Li and Nathan unpack this new passion economy in a weekly conversation with guests at the forefront of this change.
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Documenting the Creator Economy with Avi Gandhi

Over the past year, several platforms have revised their agreements with creators. Twitch slashed its streamers’ revenue share from 70% to 50%. Substack canceled creator health-insurance stipends while lowering guaranteed payment amounts. Meta got rid of its creator bonus program for Reels altogether.Chronicling it all is Avi Gandhi. A longtime digital media talent agent and former head of creator partnerships at Patreon, Avi now consults for companies that want to form lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with creators. He also writes his own newsletter, “Creator Logic,” about how the top names in the industry choose platforms, organize their operations, and maximize monetization.In this episode, we talk about what platforms need to understand about how creators make decisions, what Silicon Valley gets wrong when investing in creator platforms and tools, and how creators should protect themselves in a shifting platform landscape.(00:00) Episode Preview(02:09) Avi's background in the creator economy: WME, Wheelhouse, and Patreon(06:42) The knowledge vacuum around creators and their stacks(09:58) The path forward for the creator economy(18:32) Building for creators: opportunities and innovations(23:47) Building a creator partnerships function(35:23) Can a creator middle class ever exist?(44:54) Tensions between creators and existing platforms(47:14) Creator economics and audiences(57:49) AI creators vs. human creators(61:45) Avi's recommended resources
6/30/20231 hour, 5 minutes
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AI music with Holly Herndon, Mat Dryhurst, and Jesse Walden

Last month, in April 2023, a song that used the AI-generated voices of Drake and The Weeknd went wildly viral across social media before being taken down from streaming services for breaching copyright. Shortly after, Grimes took a more permissive approach, launching a platform to help fans create derivative music using her AI voice model, called Elf.Tech. In the midst of these developments in AI music, Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst stand out as veterans who have have been on the forefront of the intersection of music, community, technology, and AI for many years. In 2021, they released a DAO-governed AI voice twin of Holly’s, called Holly+, and their more recent project, Spawning, offers tools for creators to manage their AI identities. In this conversation, we’re also joined by Jesse Walden, who originally got his start in crypto through music, by being a music manager before co-founding Mediachain, a startup which sought to attribute every piece of media on the internet using blockchains. We weave through the economics of AI music and derivative creation, the impact AI will have on the distribution of creator success, how hyper-personalization maps to listener behavior, industry regulation, impacts for record labels, and more.Jesse and Li are cofounders and General Partners at Variant, an early-stage web3 venture firm. Learn more at • (00:00) Episode preview • (02:27) Spawning a baby and a startup • (04:07) Holly+ & AI-driven content creation • (07:02) Community participation & creation using Holly+ • (11:16) Grimes & the economics of derivative works • (17:32) Crypto in the evolution of AI music • (21:03) Jesse Walden’s journey from music to crypto • (25:41) How AI impacts the power law of music success • (36:53) Music consumption modes: passive vs. active • (39:47) Hyper-personalization of music  • (47:45) Updates on Spawning: AI tools for artists • (50:19) AI, data, and creator consent • (53:14) Regulation & adaptation for record labels • (58:59) Worldcoin, voice models, and digital identity • (01:03:31) Prediction for the future of music: what will stay the same?
5/31/20231 hour, 12 minutes, 50 seconds
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Social tokens, NFTs, and lessons from Uber ft. Matt Alston

Two years ago, it was predicted that every creator would have a social token, which would enable fans to bet on that creator and invest in their success. That clearly hasn’t panned out, and in their place, NFTs have become much more popular as a mechanism for creator monetization. We discuss why that is (psychological ownership!) with Matt Alston, the co-founder and CEO of Bonfire, a no-code website builder for web3 creators, brands, and communities. Bonfire enables creators to build web3-enabled spaces to host their community for drops, exclusive content, and token-gated events and experiences. Before Bonfire, Matt was a product manager at Uber focused on Rider Loyalty & Rewards, where he helped launch Uber’s loyalty program Uber Rewards, which has since been merged with their subscription offering to create Uber One. We discuss the lessons learned from Uber’s rewards program as it pertains to airdrops and using tokens as an incentive in web3.
5/7/202359 minutes, 29 seconds
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TikTok’s Creator Strategy ft. Paul Marvucic, Head of Product Marketing

TikTok has been in the news for a lot of reasons recently, but one thing that they’ve done well is pioneering various initiatives that moved the creator economy forward, like the TikTok Creator Fund, creation tools that dramatically lowered the barrier to making short videos, and a discovery feed that made it possible for anyone to be discovered.Paul Marvucic is the Head of Product Marketing at TikTok focused on features that enable creativity and allow creators to monetize on the platform. Prior to TikTok, Paul led creator marketing initiatives at YouTube, including redesigning their Creator Awards program and launching features that allow any advertiser to be a creator. Paul started his career editing the West Wing Week for the Obama White House YouTube channel. You can find Paul on TikTok @pistolpaul where he shares humorous insights on working culture and life with his 90K followers. We discuss how to enhance one’s reputation as a creator-friendly platform, tactics to branch into new segments of creators, the origins of the TikTok Creator Fund, lessons for web3 builders, and more.This is the podcast with Reagan Fry that was mentioned during the show:
4/3/202350 minutes, 23 seconds
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DAOs Explained ft. Tracheopteryx

Historically, humans have organized themselves in a variety of ways: from tribes and councils, to LLCs, and C-Corps. But these forms of organization tend to be centralized in nature, and feel slightly out of place today. With so much of our personal and professional lives taking place online now, the real question is: what does an internet-native way of organizing ourselves and our resources look like? DAOs, or Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, are one compelling answer. In this episode, we unpack that. We explore the fundamentals: what DAOs are, how they function, and what they entail for the future of work. To take on this task, we’re welcoming Tracheopteryx to the show! Trach is a cofounder at Coordinape—a scalable & permissionless platform for decentralized compensation built for the needs of DAOs. Trach has been operating in this space for a while now. He is also a core contributor at Yearn Finance—making him the perfect guest to help us unpack DAOs. We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did!
3/22/202254 minutes, 29 seconds
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The Rise of Fashion NFTs ft. Dani Loftus

How we portray ourselves online has become almost as relevant as how we portray ourselves IRL: Bored Apes and CryptoPunks are the new tailored suits and designer handbags. In years past, digital status-signaling was largely restricted to gaming communities but the post-COVID world has created a vibrant digital fashion scene with major fashion houses like Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana getting involved. More recently, this digital fashion world has also collided with web3 and NFTs—taking traditional fashion values of ownership and authenticity and making them verifiable on-chain. In this episode, we explore the rise of fashion NFTs and how they might disrupt the trillion dollar global fashion industry. We are joined by Dani Loftus, the founder of This Outfit Does Not Exist, a platform bringing digital fashion to life. Dani is also a founding member of RedDAO, a digital fashion DAO that is investing in NFTs and startups in the digital fashion ecosystem. Dani has seen this space evolve since its early days, making her the ideal guest to unpack the rapidly changing digital fashion scene. We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did! 
3/15/202251 minutes, 6 seconds
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Ethereum Explained ft. Preethi Kasireddy

In this episode of our web3 explainer series, we take on an ambitious task: explaining Ethereum from the ground up. We unpack what Ethereum is, how it works, and why it matters.We spoke to Preethi Kasireddy, founder of DappCamp, which introduce students to the Ethereum ecosystem and helps them build their first web3 product in just three weeks.Preethi is an entrepreneur, writer, engineer, and educator who started her crypto career as a software engineer at Coinbase. Her essay,“How Does Ethereum Work Anyway”, is widely considered one of the best primers on Ethereum.  Her deep theoretical knowledge and practical experience makes her the perfect guest for this episode.
3/2/202248 minutes, 47 seconds
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Is Crypto *Actually* Destroying the Planet?

In this second episode of our new web3 explainer series we ask an important, and hard to answer question: is crypto *actually* destroying the planet?Over the last year, crypto has witnessed mainstream adoption, with billions of dollars of value exchanged across different blockchains. But this shift has created a pressing problem: the current process of mining blocks and validating decentralized networks is extremely energy intensive. This means that running popular networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum has a massive carbon footprint. For instance, a single transaction on the Ethereum blockchain is equivalent to the power consumption of an average US household over 7.86 days. Researchers at Cambridge University have estimated that the global mining of Bitcoin uses more electricity than entire countries—countries the size of Argentina, Sweden, or Pakistan. An increasing number of artists, creators, collectors, and environmentalists have voiced their concerns around crypto’s impact on our climate and the need to spur change. But is their concern well-founded? In this episode, we take a step back to fundamentally understand the problem. Is crypto actuallydestroying the planet? How is it doing so? And more importantly, what can we do about it? We're joined by Joseph Pallant, the founder of the Blockchain for Climate Foundation, which is aiming to “put the Paris Agreement on the blockchain.” Joseph has been operating in this space for multiple years—his work, insight, and advocacy makes him the perfect guest to unpack this divisive topic with refreshing nuance.
2/15/202239 minutes, 25 seconds
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DeFi Explained ft. Nat Eliason

For the next few episodes of Means of Creation, we are piloting a series of web3 explainers—unpacking some of the fundamental concepts of web3, from first principles. The goal is to explore various topics, trends, and projects that people want to learn more about but find confusing! Essentially, to ask the questions we’ve been too afraid to ask in public. If you want your questions answered, or have topics and/or guests you want to recommend,  feel free to do so by tagging  @Means of Creation on Twitter. We hope you find these conversations valuable! In this first episode, we explain DeFi, or Decentralized Finance. Cryptocurrencies have taken a major hit over the last few days—Bitcoin and Ethereum have fallen by almost fifty percent from their all-time highs. However, the proponents of DeFi still believe in its long-term potential to be the future of finance. If we zoom out a little, this belief seems to be well-founded: as of this writing, the value locked in various DeFi projects is $196B. As recently as 2019, that number was merely $600M. DeFi proponents also go on to claim that we’re just getting started—the advantages of an open and decentralized financial system have the potential to capture trillions of dollars of value. In this episode, we're joined by Nat Eliason, who helps us unpack this claim. Nat is a writer, crypto engineer, and educator who’s been at the forefront of DeFi long before it became became a trend. He brings with him a wealth of experience in this space—he teaches a very popular course called DeFi Orientation which enables people to get started in DeFi and earn money from their crypto assets. He helps crypto companies with their tokenomics and smart contract development. He also writes Almanack, a newsletter about DeFi, tokenomics, yield farming, and other related topics. Nat's experience as an educator and operator lets him simplify complex theories but also demonstrate how to apply them in practice. He was the perfect guest to bring on to explain the rapidly changing world of DeFi. 
1/25/202252 minutes, 40 seconds
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A Look Inside Pinterest’s Creator Strategy

Pinterest is often written off as a digital mood board used to inspire purchases and future plans—a place for its 444 million monthly users to share recipes, DIY craft projects, home décor ideas, beauty tutorials, fashion, or just about anything else.But in reality, Pinterest is a dark horse in the creator economy. Many of those users have become influential visual curators, going on to build powerful personal brands as creators themselves. Pinterest wants to further accelerate this trend by giving them better tools to create, distribute, and monetise their content. Recently, it acquired the video editing company Vochi to provide its creators with better video tools. It also launched a $20 million creator fund last year to financially support creators. Video-first features like Idea Pins, and a TikTok-like “Watch” tab underscore this shift in strategy. In this episode, we spoke to Silvia Oviedo Lopez, Pinterest’s Global Head of Content & Creators, who has been at the helm as all these changes have taken place. Our conversation with Silvia provides an inside look into why and how Pinterest is doubling down on its creators, and cementing its place in the creator economy.We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did!
1/11/202247 minutes, 4 seconds
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Braintrust’s Founders on How to Run a Decentralised Marketplace

A recurring theme on this show has been creator and user empowerment—more specifically, how founders can build scalable businesses that don’t just extract value from their users, but instead, allow them to directly benefit from the value they help create. In the past, web2 gig economy marketplaces have had to be extractive—imposing higher take-rates and lower payouts seemed to be the only way to stay in business. Many of them still struggle to be profitable. However, our guests for this episode are using web3 to build a radically different alternative. Gabe Luna Ostaseski and Adam Jackson are the founders of Braintrust—a decentralized talent network like Upwork or Fiverr that is user-owned and redistributes its value back to its participants. It’s still early, but the talent on Braintrust has already been hired by the likes of Nike, Porsche, NASA, and Goldman Sachs. In this conversation, we talk to them about:  Why they think our current way of building marketplaces is broken  What led them to founding Braintrust  The practical challenges of running a decentralized talent network; and   Braintrust’s vision for the future of work  We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did! 
12/14/202156 minutes, 24 seconds
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Should Creators Own Their Means of Creation?

In this episode, we were joined by Erik Forman, the co-founder of The Drivers Cooperative, a driver-owned alternative to Uber and Lyft. Erik spoke about how he got interested in the labor movement, his experience organising workers, what it means to be a socialist entrepreneur, and what a modern labor movement could look like in today’s platform-dominated economy. Erik has a deep understanding of labor theory. Besides being an entrepreneur, he has organised labor movements on the ground as a union organiser. He also teaches labor studies at SUNY Empire’s Harry Van Arsdale Jr. School of Labor Studies. Erik was a great guest because he truly bridges the gap between theory and practice. Hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did! 
12/7/202159 minutes, 33 seconds
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Li Jin on the journey behind Variant’s new $110M fund to back the ownership economy

Nathan interviewed Li in this special episode of Means of Creation, where she talks about the $110M fund she recently raised with Jesse Walden and Spencer Noon of Variant. If you’re an avid fan of the show, you may have noticed how the podcast’s focus has shifted from platforms in the passion economy to user-owned networks within web3. In this episode, Li talks about how her passion economy thesis converges with Variant’s ownership economy thesis—a crypto enabled future where consumer technology products are owned by their users, who contribute so much to their value. Li also talks about her personal journey into web3: what prompted her to go down the crypto rabbit hole, and the mental models she uses when investing in the creator economy’s web3 future. This is an episode that promises to intrigue crypto maxis and skeptics alike! Hope you all enjoy it.
11/30/20211 hour, 25 minutes, 26 seconds
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Packy McCormick on Web3 (how he got sucked in)

Packy McCormick, author of Not Boring, one of the most widely-read analysts in tech. His newsletter now has more than 75k subscribers and he's raised a fund to back startups he finds interesting. In this conversation, we focus on how Packy went from crypto-skeptic to writing a post almost every week about crypto. We also talk about where power will accrue in the web3 value chain, the tribal nature of many crypto projects, and the possible deep connections between the idea of a 3d "metaverse" and blockchains. Enjoy!
9/28/202151 minutes, 54 seconds
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How Crypto Projects Like Loot are Rewriting the Playbook for Building Communities

The hype around crypto-native communities such as Loot and Nouns DAO have taken over all our Twitter feeds. But how do these communities arise and gather momentum? Our guest this week, Patrick Rivera, gives us an inside look into the social and financial motivations driving some of crypto’s most prominent communities. Being a part of these communities is so compelling, because according to Patrick, they are “a combination of a social hangout spot, an intellectual challenge, and a way to make money.” Patrick’s position has helped him get in early on these trends, and understand the importance of being a part of these communities from day one. He is a Product Engineer at Mirror—a crypto native creative suite, with crowdfunding & publishing tools for creators. Mirror is backed by some prominent investors such as a16z, USV, Variant Fund, and Li herself!  At Mirror, Patrick’s role involves working very closely with creators to design and ship new features & launch new crowdfunding campaigns. We spoke about how Mirror is powering the convergence of  crypto and the creator economy, and how crypto-native projects are rewriting the playbook around raising capital and launching products. Patrick believes that more projects will take this decentralized, bottom-up approach in the future—giving everyone the opportunity to invest in projects they care about, right from the get go.  We hope you enjoy this conversation with Patrick as much as we did! 
9/14/202155 minutes, 39 seconds
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Understanding The Culture and Commerce Driving NFTs, with Kyle Chayka

The creator economy is in constant flux, with DAOs and NFTs currently having taken centre stage. Our guest this week, Kyle Chayka, is uniquely positioned to understand these shifts. As a writer covering technology and culture, he is simultaneously involved in three very different worlds: He is a contributing writer at The New Yorker, a legacy media organization, he writes his own newsletter Kyle Chayka Industries on Substack, and he also publishes a newsletter about entertainment called Dirt, which he crowdfunded by selling NFTs via crypto publishing platform Mirror. Kyle's first-hand experience publishing his work through legacy media, centralised platforms, and decentralised networks made for a really insightful conversation! We spoke to him about:  How platforms exercise control over their creators and users today  His own experience launching an NFT powered newsletter;  The commercial incentives and cultural dynamics powering DAOs How algorithmic platforms mediate culture   We hope you enjoy this conversation with Kyle as much as we did! 
8/31/202156 minutes, 3 seconds
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Building a Driver-Owned Alternative to Uber and Lyft

In an increasingly platform-mediated world, platforms have outsized control over their participants—whether that’s app developers in the creator economy, or rideshare drivers in the gig economy. We’ve been trying to understand how this can be changed for the better—how platform participants can be made rightful stakeholders; bridging the gap between labor and capital. Our guest today, Jason Prado, is at the forefront of that effort.Jason is the Head of Product for The Drivers Cooperative, a driver-owned ride sharing platform based in New York. The Cooperative is a worker-owned alternative to traditional ridhsarding platforms like Uber and Lyft. Jason joined the Cooperative after working for big tech companies like Facebook and realizing that his interests as a worker were not aligned with his employers. The Drivers Cooperative now has over 3,500 drivers and 30,000 users on its platform, and has garnered vocal support from prominent political figures like AOC. Our conversation with Jason dives into the history of the labor movement, the ideological shift that made him leave big tech and join the Cooperative, and what collective action looks like in today’s platform dominated creator and gig economies. We also discuss:  How The Drivers Cooperative came into being  The challenges of running a participant-owned business  How Web3 could potentially solve these challenges We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did! 
8/17/202149 minutes, 57 seconds
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Playing Games to Earn a Living in the Metaverse

Within traditional games like RuneScape and World of Warcraft, there have always been vibrant economies where players buy, sell, and exchange in-game assets. But these traditional games are also closed ecosystems—none of them let players transfer assets across different games or exchange their in-game assets for money. Blockchain-based games totally disrupt this model. Not only do they make in-game assets transferable across games, they enable players to sell these assets for cryptocurrencies like Ethereum or fiat currencies like the US dollar. This has caused a radical shift—unlike traditional games, players can actually earn a sizable income by playing blockchain-based games. And this is not something that is restricted to early adopters in the developed world—many players in the developing world are earning more than the minimum wage in their own countries. Gabby Dizon, the co-founder of Yield Guild Games, is at the forefront of this play-to-earn movement. Yield Guild Games helps players by financing their entry into blockchain-based games where they can start earning an income by playing video games. In this conversation, Gabby helped us understand just how significant of a shift this is and how a play-to-earn model will help foster an emerging creator middle class. We also spoke about: - The metaverse, and enabling upward social mobility through blockchain based games - The details of the play-to-earn model of gaming and why it is important for developers and players - Gabby’s own NFT collection, and the psychology powering in-game economies We hope you enjoy this conversation with Gabby as much as we did! Music by Keizo Fish
7/26/202151 minutes, 9 seconds
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Inside the Longform Content Game at Twitter

here’s a shift afoot at Twitter. The long-time microblogging platform has recently made a series of moves to position itself beyond just tweets, including acquiring the newsletter company Revue and introducing tools to help creators make money on the platform. When Twitter acquired Revue, the company declared that it was making a “better home for writers,” apparently doubling down on its mission to help people create and share content with a plugged-in audience. But are we ready for longform Twitter? Nick Sallon, Twitter’s Head of Longform Content, thinks so. We recently talked to him about all these changes at the company. We also discussed: Revue’s editorial philosophy Twitter’s value proposition to writers The archetype of a Twitter-native creator Twitter’s longform content strategy going forward We hope you enjoy this conversation with Nick as much as we did! Music composed by Keizo Fish
7/20/202149 minutes, 18 seconds
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Jarrod Dicker Is Thinking A Lot About ‘Web 2.5’

You can watch this episode on YouTube or listen to Means of Creation on your podcast app of choice.
7/8/202156 minutes, 24 seconds
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Inside Spotify's Vision for Audio Creators

Spotify is doubling down on investing in creators. Within the past week alone, the music giant both launched its own live audio app, Greenroom, to directly compete with Clubhouse and acquired an audio news feed app, Podz, to improve creator discovery. But while these moves might seem sudden, Spotify’s Chief R&D Officer Gustav Söderström has been thinking about Spotify’s unique role in the creator economy for a while. Gustav has been with the company since it was a 30-person team in Stockholm, and has a valuable bird’s eye view of the company’s product vision and strategy as a leader of teams across Product, Design, Data, Technology and Engineering. He also reports directly to Daniel Ek, Spotify’s CEO and co-founder.In this conversation, we talk to Gustav about what he’s keeping a pulse on these days; NFTS? Interactive audio? Bundles? We also talk about: - How he sees Spotify fitting into the creator economy through their Open Access Platform- Why the Spotify doesn’t believe in taking an “App Store cut” from creators - The company’s ethos around building “voluntary” features - Why he’s excited about the business model of NFTs - The demand for live audio and why it’s bigger than people thought We hope you enjoy this conversation with Gustav as much as we did! Brought to you by Means of Creation, an Every newsletterTheme composed by Keizo Fish
6/29/202157 minutes, 23 seconds
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#33 - Alex Kantrowitz on going solo as the creator economy goes mainstream

Alex Kantrowitz is a journalist who has spent years studying the inner workings of tech companies—how and why they make strategic decisions. He’s also a solo creator with a newsletter and podcast (Big Technology), and has written a book, Always Day One, in which he studies the internal decision-making frameworks within big tech companies. In this conversation, we talk to Alex about: - Why the creator economy went mainstream, and how Big Tech’s attitude toward it shifted - Why he is bullish on Twitter Spaces and why he thinks live audio will not really replace podcasting - His work as a solo creator, and how having direct control of his audience compares to his time working for larger media companies - The pros and cons of monetizing through advertising versus subscriptions, and - His personal strategies to avoid burning out Brought to you by Means of Creation, an Every newsletter Music by Keizo Fish
6/7/20211 hour, 4 minutes, 57 seconds
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#32 - Kat Tenbarge on Why Influencers Need Watchdog Journalism

Li and Nathan are joined by Kat Tenbarge, senior reporter at Insider. Digging into Kat's work as an influencer watchdog—including her recent expose on sexual assault allegations against David Dobrik's Vlog Squad—they discuss the importance of holding influencers accountable, what people don't always understand about the elaborate fact-checking and editing processes, and how the internet might move to a healthier content ecosystem. If you liked this, you'll like our newsletter! We publish an original essay on the creator economy every week at Theme music by Keizo Fish
5/2/202148 minutes, 37 seconds
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#31 - Alex Zaccaria, Co-founder & CEO of Linktree

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4/17/202147 minutes, 17 seconds
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#30 - Turner Novak on Substack Pro, Twitter Spaces, and what makes Clubhouse engaging

Li and Nathan spoke to Turner Novak, a former GP at Gelt VC and an omnipresent memelord on Twitter and TikTok. He is currently just vibing while he works on launching something new. He’s deeply insightful about the creator economy, and this conversation revolved around the recent backlash over Substack Pro and it’s status as a platform or a publisher, Twitter adding monetisation features for Spaces, what makes Clubhouse engaging, and more!  Brought to you by Means of Creation, an Every newsletter.
3/23/202146 minutes, 49 seconds
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#29 - James Young, founder of Collab.Land, on buying Li's first NFT for 13.37 ETH and investing as a form of activism

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3/22/20211 hour, 29 minutes, 51 seconds
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#28 - Sam Lessin

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2/24/202138 minutes, 45 seconds
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#27 - Allen Lau

This week we welcome Allen Lau, the co-founder and CEO of Wattpad—a self-publishing platform and entertainment company with 90 million users and 5 million writers. It was recently acquired by South Korean tech conglomerate Naver for $600 million. Allen is also the co-founder of Two Small Fish Ventures, a fund that invests in Toronto and Waterloo-based early-stage internet companies with strong network effects. Prior to Wattpad, Allen co-founded FeedM8, a mobile advertising company that was later acquired. He also co-founded Tira Wireless, where he helped leading brands optimize content for mobile delivery.
2/11/202142 minutes, 26 seconds
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#26 - Katia Ameri & Elijah Daniel

Katie Ameri and Elijah Daniel are co-founders of Rocketship House, a villa in the Hollywood Hills that serves as their platform for content and venture creation. You might know Katia from her starring role in Zoom Bachelorette, or from her work as the founder of Mirra, a skincare newsletter with over 100k subscribers. Elijah is known for his viral satirical stunts, such as becoming the mayor of Hell, Michigan, and outlawing straight people, only to be impeached later that day. In a feature profile last a few months ago, Taylor Lorenz of the New York Times wrote, “his career could be seen as a blueprint for how to succeed in today’s digital media landscape, if you’re willing to make a few people mad in the process.”We spoke to Katia and Elijah about:- What they're trying to build with Rocketship House- The process behind creating a creator house, and why the business model changes each time- Why their partnership works, and their differing views of tech- Using underleveraged distribution channels such as OnlyFans and Twitch in order to empower and protect creators- Widespread disconnects between creators and platforms- Their project pipeline, and how it engenders collaboration and allows creators to push the envelopedBrought to you by Every's Means of Creation newsletter
2/3/202133 minutes, 29 seconds
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#25 —Joshua Cohen on the Professionalization of the Creator Economy

Joshua Cohen is the cofounder of Tubefilter, the go-to source for creator economy news and insight. He also co-founded the Streamy Awards — an annual event considered to be the Grammys for online video creators.Founded in 2009, Tubefilter and the Streamy Awards have been pivotal for the legitimization of the creator economy. The Streamy Awards have been recognizing creators and online business trends long before it was considered a serious industry and it had nearly 7 million views in 2019. Currently, Tubefilter also runs two popular series profiling YouTube and TikTok millionaires, and releases Tubefilter Charts. Joshua also co-hosts Planet Upload, a podcast dissecting the creator economy. In this interview, we are going to talk to Joshua about:How content creation became a legitimate businessCreator wellness and the commonalities shared by successful content creatorsHow content creators and their business models have changed over the yearsHow YouTube has remained dominant as a social media platformThe changes in platforms’ creator strategies over the years And more!
1/26/202133 minutes, 56 seconds
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#24 — Evan Britton on creating a Wikipedia for a new generation and bootstrapping an ad-based business

Evan Britton is the founder of Famous Birthdays, the de facto celebrity wikipedia offering 200,000 biographies with a focus on Gen Z social media stars and creators. Evan founded Famous Birthdays in 2012 and has profitably bootstrapped operations through ad revenue. Currently, the site registers 30 million unique monthly visitors, with versions in Spanish and Portuguese. Famous Birthdays also creates original content with celebrity creators by hosting Q&As, games, and challenges. The site’s content on all four of its social channels (YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram) has been receiving more than a 100 million views every month. In this interview, we talked to Evan about:- The origin of Famous Birthdays- Identifying the phenomenon of digital creator fame- Why he chose not to compete with Cameo- Which platforms and content drive Famous Birthdays searches- Why user curiosity has migrated from traditional celebrities to digital creators- What creators can learn from what’s popular on Famous Birthdays- The risks posed by deplatforming - Why he’s not interested in outside funding, and how he managed to bring an ad-based business model to a bootstrapped business- His advice to founders who want to bootstrap a businessBrought to you by the Means of Creation newsletter:
1/19/202154 minutes, 31 seconds
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#23 — Community Hangout with Li, Nathan, and Adam Keesling

In another special hangout episode, Li, Nathan and MOC producer Adam Keesling talk through the week's passion economy news and take live questions from the MOC community.In this episode, we talk about:- The intersection between Nathan and Li's recent writing on why content is king and building a creator middle class- Why Li built Side Hustle Stack, and its surprise appeal to Gen Z - How to mitigate risk in the Passion Economy- Sahil Lavingia's new essay "No Meetings, No Deadlines, No Full-Time Employees," and whether we've been brainwashed by capitalismBrought to you by the Means of Creation newsletter: 
1/12/202147 minutes, 15 seconds
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#22 — Chris Messina on why the passion economy needs a more stable foundation to keep expanding

Chris is best known for inventing the now ubiquitous hashtag, but his work over the last 15 years spans social technology, product design, synthetic media, founder culture and mental fitness. Currently, Chris helps founders and creators with their Product Hunt launches. His insight into social technology stems from his experience at big tech companies like Google and Uber, combined with his role in popularizing social innovations like coworking and unconferencing. Chris has shared his unique perspective in popular Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma, and in books like No Filter by Sarah Frier and Billion Dollar Loser by Reeves Wiedeman.In this interview, we talked to Chris about:-How his “aversion to money” has evolved over time-Why he’s spending his time helping makers build and problem-solve now-Why he left the Bay and “became a nomad”-Where he sees the general ethos of the Internet shifting next-How he thinks about monetization like his relationship to fitness-The “transitional period” we are in between economics of scarcity and abundance-How much responsibility gig companies should have for their employees, and the issue with collective bargaining-What the passion economy needs to keep growing healthily-His hope for new platforms that enable creators with smaller followingsBrought to you by the Means of Creation newsletter:
12/21/202054 minutes, 29 seconds
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#21 — Nadia Eghbal on the parallels between open-source software development and online creators

This week on Means of Creation, we talked to Nadia Eghbal!Nadia’s work has focused on the reputation-based economies that drive creator and open-source developer communities. She currently is the Head of Writer Experience at Substack and previously helped build open-source developer experiences (independently and at GitHub). Nadia also published a book earlier this year, Working in Public, which explores open source developer communities and their implications on the creator economy. In this interview we discussed:- Similarities and differences between open-source software maintainers & other types of online creators- The implications of the parasocial relationship between online creators and fans- Creator burnout in software & other content verticals, and what platforms can do to help- What her job as Head of Writer Experience at Substack entails- How creators and writers balance the tension between monetization and audience growthBrought to you by the Means of Creation newsletter:
12/15/202052 minutes, 16 seconds
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#20 — Eugene Wei on all things technology, film and media

Since 2001, Eugene Wei has been publishing a blog and newsletter called Remains of the Day, where he writes about technology and media. The blog distills complicated consumer tech trends not just from a product design standpoint, but also from a user psychology perspective. His essays on Status as a Service (StaaS) and Seeing Like an Algorithm serve as guiding mental models for the tech community.  Eugene’s past experience gives him a unique historical perspective on the development of consumer technology platforms. Most recently, Eugene was Head of Video at Oculus and before that, he led product teams at Flipboard, Erly, Hulu and Amazon. In this interview, talked to Eugene about: How he first got interested in TikTok What other domains could become TikTok-ified How his experience in film school impacts his work as a product leader How our chances in media have impacted how we relate to famous people (such as with The Queen in popular TV series The Crown), and how that extends to our relationships on social media The impact of technology on modern film & television, such as with real-time VFX Why he started writing and what he learned from the responses If he thinks the SF exodus is overrated or underrated And more! Brought to you by the Means of Creation newsletter:
12/8/202052 minutes, 11 seconds
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#19 — Indie Hackers founder Courtland Allen on how to build a profitable online business

Indie Hackers is an online community that focuses on entrepreneurs who build profitable internet businesses. They describe themselves as individuals seeking financial independence, creative freedom, and the ability to work on their own schedule. Entrepreneurs in the community have built B2B SaaS applications, paid newsletters, and everything in between. Courtland started Indie Hackers in 2016 and it was acquired by Stripe 10 months later. He now works for Stripe operating Indie Hackers and hosting their podcast. As of February 2020, the site was seeing about 1.5 million page views per month and the community had grown to 80,000 members. Before creating Indie Hackers, Courtland spent several years working on software startups and graduated with a degree in computer science from MIT. In this interview, we talked to Courtland about:-The origin story of Indie Hackers-The best products and services that niche online communities can use to monetize -The types of businesses that have become more (or less!) popular to start during Covid-19-The traits of successful Indie Hackers-What the mainstream technology community misunderstands about Indie Hackers-The biggest issues Indie Hackers face-The most popular tools for Indie HackersBrought to you by the Means of Creation newsletter:
11/23/202053 minutes, 49 seconds
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#18 — Li and Nathan on the future of online education and "Universal Creator Income"

In this special Q&A episode, Li and Nathan talk through the week's passion economy news, and take live questions from the MOC community.In this episode, we talk about:- Wes Kao and Gagan Biyani's new Cohort-Based Education startup- How platforms can enable larger swaths of their user bases to be more successful, as opposed to its most visible few - How affiliate models can help growth and monetization- Why there isn't a "best" algorithm for every platformBrought to you by the Means of Creation newsletter:
11/17/202051 minutes, 38 seconds
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#17 — Aella on being a top 0.08% OnlyFans creator and opportunities for tech in the adult content world

Aella is an OnlyFans creator who is in the top 0.08% of all creators on the platform. Founded in 2016, OnlyFans is a platform that is revolutionizing sex work, allowing creators to sell subscriptions for premium content, as well as earn tips from their fans and charge for pay-per-view messages.The website is mainly used for adult content, but also has a market with chefs, fitness creators, and musicians. In past months some well-known celebrities/influencers have joined the platform, including Cardi B and Bella Thorne. Per recent media reports, OnlyFans now has around 30 million registered users and around 450,000 content creators. Its growth is only accelerating during the pandemic; earlier this summer, the company said it was seeing a 75% month-on-month increase in signups since March. Aella started creating content on OnlyFans earlier this year but has been involved with various forms of sex work for over 8 years. She also runs a private telegram group for OnlyFans girls, and was previously a data analyst for a crypto startup.In this interview, we talk about:- Aella’s backstory and what led her to becoming a creator on OnlyFans- What creators in other fields can learn from OnlyFans- What people misunderstand about OnlyFans creators and subscribers- Shifts in societal attitudes towards sex work- How the rise of OnlyFans affects the broader social platform landscape- What new software products are needed for this segment of creators- And more!Brought to you by the Means of Creation newsletter:
11/9/202048 minutes, 20 seconds
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#16 — Joseph Albanese, CEO and co-founder of Stir, on building business tools for creators and collab culture

Joe Albanese is the cofounder and CEO of Stir, a startup that’s building tools to help creators run their businesses. In the new era in which power and influence are shifting from institutions to individuals, Stir is addressing the needs creators have in running their businesses and optimizing their finances. Last week, Stir launched a public beta of its core product and also announced its $4 million seed round led by Homebrew, XYZ Capital, and Ludlow Ventures, with participation from some heavy-hitting angels in the creator economy, including Casey Neistat, Jack Conte from Patreon, and our own Li Jin.Stir's core features include a dashboard of various revenue sources ("Mint for creators"), a calendar view of different income streams, and collaboration tools. Stir has also launched various Drops over the past few months, which include products like Presubscribe FYP.RIP, OnlyTweets, and more.Before starting Stir, Joe was Head of Product and Design at Bitwise, a Product Designer at Facebook, and an early employee at Yik Yak.In this episode, we talk to Joe about: - the backstory on how he ended up building for creators in the first place and major learnings so far- why collaborations between creators (“collectives”) are important in the passion economy- why they’ve been creating DropsRelated links: to you by Means of Creation:
11/2/202050 minutes, 1 second
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#15 — Taylor Lorenz on the creator economy, online entrepreneurship, the changing media landscape, & more

Li Jin and Nathan Baschez interview Taylor Lorenz, a technology reporter for the New York Times covering internet culture. Her reporting is consumed avidly by venture capitalists, founders, and anyone curious about how the internet is shaping culture and how humans express themselves. She has written about topics like TikTok cults, a Discord community called the Gen Z Mafia, Triller poaching talent from other platforms, TikTok mansions, and other very online topics. Before joining The New York Times in 2019, she was a technology and culture writer at The Atlantic and The Daily Beast.Here on Means of Creation, we’ve been following her work for a very long time. She understands more about the creator ecosystem than basically anyone else. In this conversation, we talk to Taylor about:- What we can learn from influencers/creators about the future of entrepreneurship in America- Why creators are finally getting the recognition they deserve among VCs and technologists- The term “passion economy” and whether it’s an apt phrase to describe the growing contingent of people who are making a living online- The tensions between tech VCs and journalists- Citizen journalism and the evolving media landscape- How privilege plays out in the passion economy - And more!Related links:everything.substack.commeansofcreation.substack.comShow theme music: Compassion by Stefan Kartenberg
10/26/202052 minutes, 35 seconds
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#14 — Casey Newton, founder of Platformer, on launching Platformer, on the future of journalism and diversity in paid newsletters

Li Jin and Nathan Baschez interview Casey Newton, founder and writer of Platformer News. Casey has been a leading journalistic voices in Silicon Valley for over a decade, most recently writing a daily newsletter for The Verge. Casey covers topics around government intervention in Big Tech, content moderation, and the impacts of social media on society. As discussed in our news roundup, Casey recently left The Verge to start his own publication called Platformer. We're big fans of his work and it’s clear that other people are as well — in just five days Platformer had amassed over 6,000 subscribers. Casey’s story is a perfect example of the passion economy playing out in real time. In this interview, we are going to talk to Casey about: If he sees more journalists considering moving out of legacy media organizations If Substack should offer additional benefits like healthcare and legal support How he thinks about publishing daily vs working on longer pieces The biggest issues for both traditional media and social media What changed most about going independent And more! Related links:platformer.newseverything.substack.commeansofcreation.substack.comShow theme music: Compassion by Stefan Kartenberg
10/19/202049 minutes, 52 seconds
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#13 — Dan Teran, founder & former CEO of Managed by Q, on how to use Good Jobs to create great companies

Li Jin and Nathan Baschez interview Dan Teran, founder and former CEO of Managed by Q. Managed by Q is an office management platform founded in 2014 that provides all sorts of services to corporations, including IT support, supply inventory management, cleaning and equipment repair. They were purchased by WeWork for $220 million in April 2019.What does an office management platform have to do with the passion economy, you may ask? It’s a great question, and the answer gets at one of the subtle but important aspects of the passion economy that most people overlook. The passion economy isn’t just about creators making content on the internet — it’s about a broader shift to de-commodified labor. And that’s exactly what Dan did with Managed by Q.Dan’s original inspiration for Managed by Q was, in part, the “Good Jobs” framework, which argues that any job — including those typically thought of as low-paying, bad jobs — can be designed for individual autonomy and creativity. The strategy was popularized by Zeynep Ton and the thesis is simple: treat and pay your employees well, and it will end up costing less than if you paid them less. This leads to higher profits, and all stakeholders (managers, employees, investors, customers) will be better off because of it.In this interview, we are going to talk to Dan about:  What the Good Jobs strategy is and if it’s viable for companies today How Dan used the Good Jobs strategy at Managed by Q and what he learned from it Dan’s take on worker Prop 22 and AB-5, following up from his recent piece on the topic How he thinks how worker classification will change in the future And more! Related links:everything.substack.commeansofcreation.substack.comShow theme music: Compassion by Stefan Kartenberg
10/12/202052 minutes, 29 seconds
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#12 — Ankur Nagpal, founder & CEO of Teachable, on empowering everyone to build the internet

Li Jin and Nathan Baschez interview Ankur Nagpal. Ankur is the founder and CEO of Teachable - an online platform that enables anyone to sell courses online. Ankur started building Teachable in 2013 shortly after graduating US Berkeley. He had been instructing a course that he was publishing on another platform when he realized he could build something better. Something that enabled instructors to monetize their audience directly instead of relying on another platform for distribution.The subjects on Teachable range from computer programming to drone flying, and over 100,000 instructors have used the platform to date. The courses on Teachable have generated over $800 million in sales for instructors and have transferred knowledge to over 30 million students. In 2019, Ankur was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Education, and in March of 2020 Teachable was acquired by Hotmart Technology (a Brazil-based education platform) for around $250 million.In this interview, Li and Nathan talk to Ankur about: How Teachable attracted their first creators and what makes them stand out How creators have responded to Discover by Teachable If Teachable is looking at other formats beyond video courses, and what those might be Why students are willing to pay hundreds or thousands for a Teachable course The role of community in online education And more! Related links:everything.substack.commeansofcreation.substack.comteachable.comShow theme music: Compassion by Stefan Kartenberg
10/5/202054 minutes
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#11 — Joseph Cohen, founder & CEO of Universe on empowering everyone to build the internet

Li Jin and Nathan Baschez interview Joseph Cohen. Joseph is the founder and CEO of Universe -- a new kind of website creation tool. It’s a mobile-only, no-code website builder that allows anyone to create a website through a grid-like drag-and-drop interface and it powers over 500,000 websites around the globe. Universe was a graduate of Y Combinator’s Winter 2018 class and has raised $17.3M from investors like BoxGroup, General Catalyst and GV. This is Joe’s second startup. He started his first company Lore (which was an online classroom platform) while he was in college at Penn and later sold it to Noodle. He’s a self-taught designer and proponent of the open web. In this interview, we are going to talk to Joseph about:  How the function of personal websites has changed in the age of social media If Universe is an example of disruption or if they are creating an entirely new market How Universe started as an extended Instagram bio The decision to add commerce functionality The most surprising use case for Universe And more! Related theme music: Compassion by Stefan Kartenberg
9/28/202057 minutes, 15 seconds
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#10 — Blake Robbins on the future of media, Twitch, OnlyFans, and creator monetization

Li Jin and Nathan Baschez chat with Blake Robbins, Partner at Ludlow Ventures. Blake is one of the most trusted voices in eSports, the creator economy, and anything that touches new media. He knows more about the rise of YouTube stars and how content creation is changing on these new platforms than almost everyone else in venture capital.A Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient, Blake became a Partner at Ludlow Ventures a few years out of college after stints at Google, Nest and SpaceX. In this interview, we talk to Blake about: - The advantages of living and investing from Detroit, Michigan - The biggest issues for creators and what companies are solving those problems- Whether OnlyFans can go mainstream- What dynamics about fandom Twitch uniquely captures- Request for startups in the creator economyAnd more!Related theme music: Compassion by Stefan Kartenberg
9/28/202045 minutes, 54 seconds
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#9 — Polina Marinova on The Profile, being an independent writer, and changes in the media industry

Polina Marinova offers the perfect upgrade to your reading diet. She writes The Profile: a newsletter of the world’s greatest people and companies in business, entertainment, tech, sports, and more. Previously, she was an editor at Fortune Magazine, writing Term Sheet, their daily newsletter covering deals and dealmakers.She reads literally millions of words every year to find the best profiles to share with her audience. In each piece she writes, Polina always asks, “Will the reader learn something from this?” If the answer is no, she doesn’t include it. In this interview, we talk to Polina about: - The decision to walk away from a prestigious journalism job to work full-time on The Profile- The dream scenario for The Profile- The other creators that she looks up to- Balancing publishing a lot vs. publishing the best- Something surprising that she’s changed her mind about recentlyAnd much more!Related links:readtheprofile.commeansofcreation.substack.comShow theme music: Compassion by Stefan Kartenberg
9/28/202053 minutes, 48 seconds
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#8 — Visakan Veerasamy on how to make friends on the internet

Li Jin and Nathan Baschez interview Visakan Veerasamy -- writer, thinker, creator who is using the internet to inspire "friendly ambitious nerds." He uses Twitter as a sort of second brain, organizing his ideas in an ever-expanding corpus of interlinked threads. He’s written several books that he sells directly to his fans on Gumroad, and, this year, he’s focusing on growing his YouTube channel.In this interview, we talk to Visakan about: His journey to being a creator How he conceptualized his target audience — the “friendly ambitious nerd” What software tools he uses How he monetizes, and why His take on Substack, Pateron, Gumroad, Youtube and eBooks vs Courses Show theme music: Compassion by Stefan Kartenberg
9/28/20201 hour, 1 minute, 33 seconds
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#7 — Adam Davidson (Part 2), co-founder Planet Money, journalist

Adam Davidson and Li Jin are two thought leaders in the Passion Economy: a new economy where people are able to leverage their passions and creativity in order to make a living. In this session, they answer Q&A about the Passion Economy.Adam Davidson is the creator of NPR's Planet Money podcast and New Yorker staff writer who wrote "The Passion Economy," a book that explores stories of people who followed their dreams to craft a livelihood. He also writes a newsletter here: Jin is a VC investor who wrote the seminal blog post "The Passion Economy and the Future of Work," who is actively investing in new platforms in the space. She previously worked on the consumer investing team at Andreessen Horowitz for 4 years before recently launching her own firm. She also regularly publishes a newsletter about consumer tech and the passion economy: by Nathan Baschez of the Everything newsletter bundle.Related links: theme music: Compassion by Stefan Kartenberg
9/28/202054 minutes, 38 seconds
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#6 — Adam Davidson, co-founder Planet Money, journalist

Adam Davidson and Li Jin are two thought leaders in the Passion Economy: a new economy where people are able to leverage their passions and creativity in order to make a living.Adam Davidson is the creator of NPR's Planet Money podcast and New Yorker staff writer who wrote "The Passion Economy," a book that explores stories of people who followed their dreams to craft a livelihood. He also writes a newsletter here: Jin is a VC investor who wrote the seminal blog post "The Passion Economy and the Future of Work," who is actively investing in new platforms in the space. She previously worked on the consumer investing team at Andreessen Horowitz for 4 years before recently launching her own firm. She also regularly publishes a newsletter about consumer tech and the passion economy: by Nathan Baschez of the Everything newsletter bundle, they will answer live audience Q&A regarding all things passion economy.Related links: theme music: Compassion by Stefan Kartenberg
9/28/202054 minutes, 46 seconds
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#5 — Nathan Barry, founder of ConvertKit

Li Jin and Nathan Baschez interview Nathan Barry--creator, author, speaker, designer, and the founder of ConvertKit. He founded ConvertKit in 2013 as an email marketing company for creators, with the goal of helping more people make money online. The company has been bootstrapped to $23.5M in ARR and has over 31K customers.Nathan got his start in the passion economy almost 10 years ago, when he launched a series of books for web and mobile designers. Then, he set his sights on creating a SaaS product. The natural place to begin was scratching his own itch, so he decided to build an email marketing platform for creators.We’re excited to talk to Nathan about his experience growing ConvertKit, his analysis of where passion economy is headed, and his advice for creators trying to build an audience and a business. We interview Nathan on:- Why he started ConvertKit, and how the vision has changed since launch- In a recent tweet, Nathan argued that paid newsletters were a much more difficult path to get to $100k in revenue than courses and books- Deciding to go horizontal or vertical when building for creators- Comparing and contrasting ConvertKit and Substack- Renaming ConvertKit to Seva, and back again- His 3 business philosophies: Teach everything you know, create every day, and work in public⁠Brought to you by Li Jin and Nathan Baschez of the Everything bundle.Related links:everything.substack.commeansofcreation.substack.comnathanbarry.comShow theme music: Compassion by Stefan Kartenberg
9/28/202055 minutes, 55 seconds
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#4 — Erik Berlin and Leah Culver, co-founders of Breaker

Li Jin and Nathan Baschez interview Erik Berlin and Leah Culver, the co-founders of Breaker, a social podcasting app. Breaker was founded in 2017 and is the only podcast app on the market built around social discovery. They’ve also expanded to enable podcasters to host and monetize their content.We cover topics including:- What is needed to make podcasting mainstream in the US?- What was the original thesis behind Breaker, and how has it evolved over time?- Spotify's podcasting strategy- Paid/subscription podcasts- What are the learnings from Luminary Media?- What innovations in the open podcasting ecosystem are needed? Means of Creation is brought to you by the Everything bundle!Related links: www.breaker.audioeverything.substack.comShow theme music: Compassion by Stefan Kartenberg
9/28/202053 minutes, 8 seconds
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#3 — Lenny Rachitsky, founder & writer of Lenny's Newsletter

Lenny Rachitsky is a writer, creator, angel investor, and who recently spent 7 years at Airbnb, where he led supply growth. He now writes a popular business/tech newsletter, covering product, growth, people management, and other business/tech topics. In this video, he discusses when creators should monetize.Means of Creation is a weekly conversation hosted by Li Jin and Nathan Baschez to unpack the passion economy. Li is the founder of Atelier, a new venture fund investing in the passion economy; Nathan is a writer, strategy researcher and a founder Everything, a business-writing bundle that includes his newsletter Divinations.Means of Creation is hosted live on Zoom every Friday at 11 PST. The first 30 minutes of the show is a fireside chat, and the latter half is Q&A with the audience. You can listen to the full conversation on Apple Podcasts and Spotify or at theme music: Compassion by Stefan Kartenberg
9/28/202055 minutes, 26 seconds
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#2 — Greg Isenberg, founder of Islands and Late Checkout

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8/28/202055 minutes, 28 seconds
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#1 — Sahil Lavingia, founder of Gumroad

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8/12/202055 minutes, 28 seconds