The threat of hidden incentivization and a desire for better methods to monetize have writers looking for new newsletter platforms, beehiiv co-founder and CEO Tyler Denk said.
“Some platforms may promote certain writers that earn them more revenue.”
Denk speaks from a place of genuine concern and knowing. In 2017, he was Morning Brew’s second employee hire responsible for helping create the brand’s web page and email template, as well as an in-house content management system, referral program, and advertising platform.
“I want creators to scale faster and I don’t want to see publishers promoting certain content over others,” he said in an interview commemorating his firm’s first-year anniversary, adding that beehiiv is a “Shopify for newsletters.”
“Amazon has third-party sellers they recommend. However, Shopify Inc SHOP is the infrastructure for you to create an online presence and sell goods. That is very much what beehiiv is. We provide you the tools to grow, but we aren’t recommending you.”
More On Beehiiv
Denk was crucial in building the systems and processes, including a referral program that helped Morning Brew reach millions of subscribers and revenue.
“Austin Rief, who is one of the co-founders and, now, CEO at Morning Brew knew me. We grew up together and he reached out. I needed a project to work on, and got to building.”
Ultimately, Denk left the firm in 2020 for Google. During the transition, he kept thinking about the inbound, business-to-business requests Morning Brew never addressed. “Creators and publications wanted to optimize their newsletters, scale, and monetize,” he said, and “that is how beehiiv was born.”
Denk spent many long nights working on the idea with his other co-founders – Benjamin Hargett and Jake Hurd – who were both engineers at Morning Brew, as well.
Graphic: Screenshot of the first Google Meet to discuss beehiiv. Retrieved from beehiiv. Top left, co-founder Benjamin Hargett. Top right, co-founder Jake Hurd. Bottom, Tyler Denk.
Eventually, the group managed to procure a $2.6 million investment.
“We went full-time right around then,” Denk added. “We publicly made the announcement on Twitter and social in mid-November 2021 to launch. Since launch, revenues have risen 50% month-over-month, with our $1 million annual recurring revenue goal now coming into view.”
Biggest Growth Hurdles
Newsletters are a competitive space and beehiiv was missing a lot of features at the outset.
“We didn’t have pretty basic functions such as the ability to segment readers based on different parameters until February, for instance,” Denk said. “We were constantly trying to sell ourselves, and sell users on the vision of what’s coming, because we do have a talented team that’s quick.”
In short order, beehiiv scaled, surpassing, in functionality, competitors years older than itself.
“In less than one year, we achieved feature parity with most of our competitors while providing a better user experience. It’s our velocity – launching nearly five features per week – and iteration based on user feedback that is our competitive advantage.”
Features separating beehiiv from others include fast content and subscriber migration, audience polling, and tools for writers to identify such things as who their engaged readers are, as well as a referral program and advertising network.
Graphic: Retrieved from beehiiv. Send emails for free up to 2,500 subscribers at a lower cost than the competitors. beehiiv does not take creators’ subscription revenues.
The Holy Grail Of Monetization
“Newsletters may have impressions, but they don’t have the means to put ads in front of it,” Denk said on the problem many looked to Morning Brew to fix. “That’s where beehiiv helps.”
Beehiiv’s advertising network removes the friction and sales from newsletter monetization.
“There is not one platform for companies like Fundrise to go to and target 18-to-34-year-olds with disposable income interested in investing. We have all of the data on who the readers are and what they’re interested in. We can tell that to Fundrise and serve their high-quality ads.”
In exchange for connecting creators and advertisers, beehiiv takes a small cut. As a creator, all you have to do is accept the money, should you choose to include an advertisement.
“They started with zero subscribers and content,” Denk said on The Milk Road’s success being a validation. “They came to us in February and, now, they have 200,000 subscribers and are plugging into our referral program, polls, and advertising network.”
Graphic: Retrieved from beehiiv. The top newsletters trusting beehiiv.
More In Store For Beehiiv
In becoming the go-to place beyond newsletters, beehiiv has raised more funds and hired leaders, including a new CTO following the tragic passing of CTO Andrew Platkin this year.
“We’re going to continue to build and finish what Andrew had helped start,” Denk said on Twitter. He added in a recent letter that the event is, in part, what is driving his passion for the company.
“We want to become the go-to place for newsletters, and, then, audio, video, and podcasts.”
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