BIG announcement incoming
I'm going full time on Napkin Math
TL;DR I’m doubling down and joining the Every team, writing Napkin Math full-time. To celebrate I’m offering 20% off an annual subscription to Napkin Math and the rest of the Every bundle until Friday at 5pm PT.
What this means
I never really planned for this to happen—the whole writing thing I mean. It wasn’t outlined in my career strategy document or scribbled on my to-do list. For you to be reading these words, to have this email in your inbox, is such a strange series of circumstances and unlikely occurrences that it kinda makes me believe the whole “life is a simulation” thing.
Now, I’ve decided to lean into it. After 11 long months of writing on nights and weekends, I have quit my cushy tech job and am going full-time into writing with Every. And that, my friends, is my favorite sentence I have ever written. :)
I cannot not tell you how excited I am. Till now, every month I have had to toss aside dozens of ideas for pieces because I didn’t have the time to write them. Others were rushed or half-baked because I only had 5 hours to write that week. However, Napkin Math is now both large enough and consistent enough for me to go all in.
What does that mean for you? You may receive more than one email a week from me, and my writing will hopefully be of even higher quality. The price won’t change, so you will get even more bang for your buck. The pieces will be some variation of the following:
- Tech Business Breakdowns (twice a month, behind a paywall): Understanding technology companies serves a dual purpose: one, you have the chance to make tons of money by playing the stock market and two, technology companies are forward leading indicators on society. Where they go, the world follows. Past pieces include stuff on Netflix, Lambda School, and Toast.
- Explainers (1-2 times a month, 50% paywalled): The business universe is held together by fundamental truths. I’ll go in depth on simple concepts so you can see how the pieces fit together. I’ll explain the stuff you think you should know but haven’t taken the time to truly learn. These are some of my most viral posts ranging from COGS to EBITDA. I’ll be doing a series on the balance sheet next.
- Opinion Pieces (1-2 times a month, free): If you can’t tell yet, I’m an opinionated guy. My editor and I call my writing process the “George Costanza Method.” Sometimes I get so pissed off that I can’t take it anymore and I need to tell the world what I’m thinking. From NFT takedowns to Why You Shouldn’t Work at a Startup, you can expect more spicy takes from this writing desk.
If this sounds exciting to you, I’m offering 20% off an annual plan until 5pm PT on Friday. Your support gives you access to my writing, the archives from Every, and all of the other writers in the bundle.
How I got here
Two years ago, the longest thing I had ever written was an email. For many years, my day started and ended in Excel. Shoot, I only took one class on writing in college and got a C- Note: Ironically, it was a class on business writing.
When I was working at Substack, I wanted to try out the product and wrote a post analyzing dating app design ethics. When I hit send to a grand total of like 50 people, something in me stirred. I wanted to do it again and again and again. It wasn’t like the post was very good or that I was some great writer, but it just felt…right. So slowly, hesitantly, I started to write posts on technology companies.
I had been writing my own newsletter on Substack for about 6 months and was looking to take the next step. My list was growing, and I felt like I had product-market fit. Readers tracked down my Venmo account and were paying me—even though there wasn’t a paid option. I was onto something! However, it was really hard to do on my own, and I was increasingly burnt out. As an intellectual break, I did a freelance piece for Napkin Math about revenue that went well. Because the previous writer Adam was moving on, Every needed someone to take it over. They asked me to hop on a call and Dan opened it with a question,
“Evan, what do we need to do to make your writing dreams come true?”
It was a pretty good first line. Frankly, they mostly got me with just that. Writing is so hard and competitive that finding people who treat you with respect is a little stunning. I joined up and have written about a post a week ever since.
Honestly, this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Trying to build a business and have a full-time job at the same time was incredibly taxing. Multiple nights a week I would be up until 1am or 2am researching and writing. Weekends were devoted to draft revisions. But through all the suffering, I fell ever more in love with writing.
Now, after a year of blood and sweat and agony and way, way too much caffeine, Napkin Math is read by ~20K of the world’s smartest investors and technologists. I’ve had ad sponsorships by MasterWorks, Axios, and a host of other incredible startups. My posts have over 500K views and best of all, my research has pushed my intellect to its limit. It has been so much fun!
Two weeks ago I wrote,
“The internet is beautiful because it is rooted in an ideological egalitarianism, an environment that allows for a free exchange of ideas. Whether President or pole dancer, everyone types in the same URL and hits enter. This means that ideas can go both further, in terms of reaching more people, and deeper, in that they can penetrate powerful elite institutions. If you write something well enough, and it somehow reaches the right person, an idea can suddenly take on a life of its own. Essentially, you can be loaned power on margin by means of the size and power of an audience you publish to. You provide the initial intellectual capital, and the idea takes a life of its own from there.”
This decision is me putting my money where my mouth is. I truly believe that my ideas are useful, and I want to see how much leverage the internet can give them.
However, there are a lot of reasons I can fail. The biggest fear that I have is around growth. I am just not particularly talented at playing the growth game. This is where I’m hoping the Every model will really shine this year. The bet is that by devoting all my mental cycles to writing and having Every focus on growth for me, we will both win. So far it has been *kinda* true. Growth has been good, but I was hoping to clear the 40K subscriber mark by now. I’m only at half that. I think it will improve with the stuff we have planned for this year, but still to be determined. For now, I am in Field of Dreams mode (if you write it, they will come).
There is also the chance that I run out of opinions (my wife would tell you there is a very small chance of this happening). Knowing myself, the more likely mental threat is that I burn myself out. I like to work very hard, and that isn’t a long term healthy habit. Depression is always close at hand for me, especially with the stress and grief of the last few years. I think I have a routine worked out that will allow me to do this for years, but it may require experimentation around publishing cadence.
Once this turns into a truly sustainable media business, I imagine I’ll leverage on additional products such as startup investing or courses. Courses may be coming this year (spoiler!) but raising a venture fund is a long way off. Right now, I’m obsessed with learning and indulging my creativity. I want to do this for a very long time.
Finally, I need to thank 3 groups of people:
- You. Each of you, through your comments and tweets (and frankly, the support of my paying subscribers, the realest of homies) have made this possible. That so many of you believe in me and read my words is humbling and exhilarating. Thank you.
- My Wife. When I met her and told her I was an unemployed writer with exactly 0 dollars in income, she didn’t even blink. All she cared about was what I was passionate about. If I’m honest, even on that first date I started to love her just for that. Her unflappable kindness and love over the last year made all my late nights possible. Love you M.
- Nathan and Dan and the Every team. My ability to do this is a validation of the Every thesis. The company can take creators, give them backend support, and help them go further faster. Nathan and Dan have been nothing short of incredible. Their support and belief in me when I showed up with only a couple of hundred subscribers to my name was unjustified, but today I can officially say their bet paid off with our 20K reader community. Thanks guys.
We can make this possible for you too. If you have a strong love of writing and something interesting to say, we are always looking for talented new people to bring to our audiences. Reach out!