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Plus Article - By Thomas Baekdal - April 2023

Is Substack failing?

This is an archived version of a Baekdal/Plus newsletter. It is sent out about once per week and features insights for journalists, editors, and audience engagement managers. If you want to get the next one, subscribe to Baekdal/Plus.

Welcome back to the new Baekdal/Plus newsletter. As mentioned in my previous newsletter, I have changed a few things. Baekdal now has three tiers. The starting tier is Baekdal/Basic, which focuses on news, and a quick summary of trends and analysis about the media.

The second tier is this newsletter, Baekdal/Plus, which is focusing more on media analysis, for journalists and editors, but also relevant media analysis for people working on the business side. The analysis is more in-depth than with Baekdal/Basic, but designed to be read quickly in a newsletter format.

Finally, the highest tier is Baekdal/Executive, which is where my big media reports will be. These are 30-40 page reports about strategies, monetization, future trends, and more that can help you define your growth and focus as a publisher.

Is Substack failing, and what does that mean?

As you may have heard, Substack did a weird thing. After failing to convince normal investors to give them more money, they tried to do a form of crowdfunding, where they asked their own writers to invest in Substack.

And this effort has been somewhat successful. At the time I wrote this, 7,137 Substack writers have decided to invest $7,992,137(so about $1,120 invested per person on average). Is that impressive? Well, if Substack was just a normal publisher, yeah, that's quite good. But remember, two years ago, Andreessen Horowitzh invested $65 million into Substack, at a valuation of $650 million. And now, the traditional VC investors don't want to invest anymore.

So, from an investor perspective, this doesn't look good.

The bigger problem, however, is that Substack has been very untransparent about its real financial performance, and has shown a clear unwillingness to actually provide their financial data to their writers so that they could make an informed decision. They were unwilling to provide the financial data before they started raising money, but afterwards they released their 2021 financial report (but nothing from 2022) ... and it doesn't look good.

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What is Baekdal?

Baekdal is a magazine for media professionals, focusing on media analysis, trends, patterns, strategy, journalistic focus, and newsroom optimization. Since 2010, it has helped publishers in more than 40 countries, including big and small publishers like Condé Nast, Bonnier, Schibsted, NRC, and others, as well as companies like Google and Microsoft.

Baekdal comes in three tiers:


Free weekly newsletters for media professionals, focusing on news, trends, and quick insights.


Weekly media insights and analysis for journalists, editors, and business managers, helping you focus and optimize your newsroom and audience engagement.


In-depth media reports for editors-in-chief, executives, and other decision makers, helping you understand the future of media, trends, patterns, monetization, data, and strategies.

This is an archived version of a Baekdal/Plus newsletter. It is sent out about once per week and features insights for journalists, editors, and audience engagement managers. If you want to get the next one, subscribe to Baekdal/Plus.


The Baekdal/Basic Newsletter is the best way to be notified about the latest media reports, but it also comes with extra insights.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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