A conversation with Mike Donoghue, co-founder of Subtext - an SMS-based community and communication platform.
- Gregarious Narain (@gregarious)
- Ken Yeung (@thekenyeung)
- Mike Donoghue (@joinsubtext)
Gregarious Narain 0:20
Whoa, what are we doing there? We're supposed to be in the little box.
Gregarious Narain 0:27
Welcome back, everybody. I hope you missed us significantly while we were gone on our one-week vacation. But Welcome to the Created Economy. It's our weekly news show on everything happening in the creative economy. We bring you a roundup of the latest news commentary, interviews, deep dives on key topics, and everything else happening inside of the creator economy, which is clearly burgeoning and growing too fast for us to keep up with it.
Gregarious Narain 0:53
Just in case you don't know, we do go live on Wednesdays at 3 pm. Mountain Time, you can find out more about us over http://created.show as the official Show page where you can find where future episodes are going to be. You can RSVP you can use questions and suggest topics. We also stream live on Facebook, YouTube, Twitch clubhouse, LinkedIn. I think that's all of them. So pick your poison. What's whatever the best way for you to consume this content is we are trying to be supportive of that process. The way we run our show, though, is the first 10 minutes or so we will have Ken and I will go through a bunch of news articles, then we'll have provided about 10 minutes or so for everyone to interact, raise your hand to ask questions get involved. And then after that, feel free to check out or tune in later for created after dark which is our after show, which will be hosted on Zealous today. We also do post a long-form of content and notes after each episode over on our website at createdeconomy.com. So we encourage you to go over there you can also sign up to receive notifications and emails and all the other fun stuff about what we're talking about. So Ken, how are you doing man?
Ken Yeung 2:04
Oh man, a week off. And look, I mean, there's so much that keeps going and nothing stops in this space. It keeps going. But glad you're back and glad we are talking to more creative folks. And to kind of really dissect and understand what the hell is going on in the space. So, I mean, I don't know about you, but it's, it's good to be able to you know, in the in under these lights. It's kind of like nice to step away from the humdrum of regular work and really talk about what's going on and really get the creative juices flowing. So excited to hear from our guest Mike Donoghue from subtext later on on the show.
Gregarious Narain 2:44
Absolutely. So I have a question. Uh, I believe you You told me you were you went to see a movie in this thing called a movie theater how what was this experience like
Ken Yeung 2:53
So so it is the apparently there's this thing in the post-apocalyptic world that we're in and where people can actually gather like actually move from their living rooms and go into this common building and sit in this in this tiered row of seats and actually, collaboratively watch this, this two-hour film. And if you went to YouTube for like two hours together, you very well, it's good. I mean, it's like a Disney Plus, it's like Disney plus, but it's all instead of Disney plus or Netflix or Hulu, it's all our cart. So you pay like basically a one-month subscription for just one movie. And so went and watched Fast and Furious nine, F9. Every time you hear like a new title for a sequel to fast and furious. I always think of the function keys on a keyboard. So Mike, like okay, so f1 was like what the Help menu? Fa is what to copy or print screen or something like that. So um, like, what's F9 supposed to do? I guess it's like pause or plays or something? I don't know. It's like, go figure these days. But yeah, the movie was good.
Ken Yeung 4:09
It was I mean, at this point, it's kind of ridiculous when you see like the cars and action scenes, but hey, it was great, worthwhile to kind of get out and kind of get back to normal after getting vaccinated. Washington State has reopened today. So you know, things are slowly getting back to what they were in pre-pandemic times, which is good, you know, people can you know, get you know, after being stuck at their homes for a year plus, I mean, it's good to get back.
Gregarious Narain 4:40
So awesome. Well, we've got a lot of news to run through. So let's get after it. So welcome back. Today is June 30. And welcome to all our friends and Twitter Spaces I see clubhouse and also our live viewers on the video side. We got a lot of news, we're going to go fast and we will get my kids
Gregarious Narain 6:24
we read so many things today. But it's either zero or 3%. But either way, they basically have like a $50,000 milestone, lifetime revenue with the platform. And then beyond that, they'll switch back to their 20% fee. So I see this model emerging where they want to make sure that creators can get sort of that initial traction and start to build what they need to build. And so I've seen at least two platforms in Shopify just announced this in their new program for developers, and Twitter's announcing this on spaces. But basically, they're waiving or lowering significantly, their fees up to a certain amount so that creators can build and establish a business, and then beyond that business, then they can actually move forward and actually start to monetize it in new and interesting ways. Hold on, make it Joselin in here.
Gregarious Narain 7:14
I said yes. Okay, good. Joselin, you're in. Welcome, my friend.
Joselin Mane 7:20
I sent you a DM there's a little bit of a buzzing sound on your mic.
Gregarious Narain 7:23
Ah, thank you so much. I know what that's from. That's the power cord. Hopefully, it's gone now. Perfect. Excellent. Excellent. Okay, so, Ken, what's next?
Gregarious Narain 7:32
in our news here, some TikTok news. I think this is mine also, right.
Gregarious Narain 8:24
But yeah, the TikTok marketers, our music marketers, in particular, are actually now starting to look for smaller audiences. And I think, you know, this is important to just remember for context, I believe that you know, every creator should realize that there's tremendous value when you're small, right? Like you have strong relationships with your audience. It's an opportunity to really get to know your fans. And more importantly, I think from a brand point of view, it's a way to truly and directly connect with your audience. So tremendous opportunity and glad to see that happening on tik tok as well because, you know, these arms races which drive everyone to the top, and to try to be as large as possible I don't think is absolutely the most beneficial thing for creators at large.
Ken Yeung 9:59
So who knows what's going to happen? When there's another video coming out? Basically these Black creators saying, Look these, there's their, their coaches getting whitewashed. There's a bunch of these other creators, other creators that are getting credit for what they're doing. And this is not the first time that Tick Tock has been, has received criticism over this critic Tiktok has apologized for this in the past and said they would do better. But obviously, based on this, it doesn't seem like they have done any better. So who this is probably in about a few days into this protest. And basically, we'll see what happens with Tick Tock and the black creators coming forward. But I think as overtime, this is going to be a big issue about equality and inclusivity. In the creator space. And I know we're gonna have a lot more people joining us on the show later on in the weeks to come. And I look forward to talking to him about bringing on
Mike Donoghue 25:00
Honestly, I mean, the greenroom is amazing. Like, you've got the best accent. It's just like it was an honor to be able to spend the time back there. Do you ever trouble price? Oh, I had to. I mean, I'm trying to cut back and trying to cut back but like, you know, when in Rome, right? I mean, it's only the finest fries.
Mike Donoghue 25:18
Yeah, so I mean, you got such like a lot of really fascinating stuff, obviously, as we follow certainly watched some of like Facebook's like Instagram, Twitter is doing in the space. And I certainly have a lot of reactions, like probably blather on about it for a while, I think, you know, one of the most interesting things and one of the, you know, the newest releases here is like the Facebook bulletin thing. And I think like, it's,
Gregarious Narain 7:38
On the TikTok side, you know, I think there's a natural trend that we've seen over time, right? Like platforms start out very large. And then what brands want or what they drive us to oftentimes is like, you know, very, very large creators, big audiences. But what ends up happening and performing really well for them. What they find over time, is that actually smaller micro-influencers tend to be very influential. This wasn't always the case on the Tiktok side, but now we're actually seeing that same trend, start to recreate or pass through and now we're seeing
Ken Yeung 9:03
Let's see here, kid, this one was yours. Yes, it is. So on the TikTok side, some bad news for TikTok. They are facing their first kind of collective protest, if you will, a bunch of us a bunch a group of Black creators on TikTok are have boycotted the app they will no longer currently there, they've put a hiatus on producing dance tutorials that have gone viral. Because they're there. They claim that TikTok is allowing rampant cultural appropriation to happen on there. And these black creators are tired of not getting credit. And this kind of all stems from Megan thee Stallion latest video that was supposed to kind of really go big on TikTok and then this group of Black creators are like, no, we're not going to do it and therefore
Ken Yeung 10:54
people of color and women and to really show how that how what can we do to make the community more inclusive and equal, and make sure everyone gets treated respectfully and get their fair share?
Gregarious Narain 11:09
Awesome, awesome. I'm sorry, I apologize and try to manage you know, how you know how it goes with live streams, right? Like, everything?
Ken Yeung 11:20
Is just isn't there a rule about isn't there like some like, like a Murphy's law or something like that? I know everything, everything that's supposed to do go wrong will go wrong, or something like that.
Gregarious Narain 11:29
All right, well, we do have some twitch news as well. So I found this really thought-provoking, actually to see but it Twitch, there were some people who are streaming music on Twitch actually, and they're earning like, as much as 10 times as much as they were on by streaming on like normal, traditional music streaming platforms. I've always been amazed because we do a lot of work with YouTube creators, and the YouTube ecosystem as well. And we see a ton of stuff that happens in that universe, where, where the music actually is a strong driver as well inside of the music universe on YouTube, but it's really interesting to see that Twitch is also performing in such a powerful way. So this was a good read, I think, don't get don't sleep on music, you know, it's powerful, and it's prominent, and you can leverage it and monetize it, definitely in a lot of places. So it's good to see twitch continuing to be valuable in new and interesting ways to creators everywhere. We got some Facebook news up now. Right? You can
Ken Yeung 12:37
Yes. So we've been talking about this for some time, with Facebook announcing their substack rival it's called bullets and now it's actually been official. So here's the thing though, about that. Like, this is not really surprising to see Facebook roll out a newsletter competitor or newsletter product. I mean, they've been kind of been doing, you know, I think it's kind of like commonplace like, of all things. This is you have Twitter buying review and kind of doing their, their newsletter service, so why not? And obviously, substack is taken off, so why not? It's only a matter of time before you see all the other platforms starting to do that. I mean, hell, like could Spotify, could Spotify roll out a newsletter product? You never know. Right? But so here's what's interesting about the bulletin, it very much looks like bullets, it looks like substack when you look at the template wise, it looks like substack. But the but of course that the probably the potential for Bolton is is the reach that Facebook provides well over substack and well over what Twitter has. But the thing but so but it's not, it's going to be heavily curated, let's put it this way. Because Facebook's like we don't want to have all this controversy. So they're going to they're handpicking writers and creators to have access to bullets and it's going to be you know, non-controversial stuff such as, like food or or or travel or those type of things. They have Malcom Gladwell, they have a bunch of other people signed up to participate already into this. But of course, the there and Facebook says they're not going to take any Cut Pro of revenue for from creators at launch. How long does that last? I don't know. But at this point with this creator space the with developer fees and creator fees, it's basically kind of a race to the bottom race to zero in a way. So Facebook's coming out and they're hoping that 0% fee is going to be enticing for people to want to participate. Other there's that barrier saying like we're going like Facebook's having as a basically a gate up. And it's going to be very particular in terms of who they allow it. So it'd be very interesting to see who's going to sign up for this I mean, here's the thing about this, like, did they miss did Facebook necessarily need to build a new product. I mean, they had notes feature back in the day, that was part of people's pages, anyone could create notes. It's almost like a blog, you know, they could just, you know, ramp that up and add it in an email subscription offering or distribution version, a very feature, and then just allow people to sign up via like subscribing or liking directly on their page. So basically, you know, I could go onto Greg's page, and subscribe to his or follow him. And then when he puts out a note, boom, the his that basically would be emailed to me directly. So I mean, it couldn't have been a lot simpler that way. I don't know. But, you know, it'd be very interesting to see how Bolton progresses to see if that's actually going to be something worth that people want to subscribe to, versus going to substack or using Twitter review.
Gregarious Narain 15:56
Excellent. Yeah. This is a there's a lot, you know, there's a lot of controversy about this. I'm gonna be interested to chat with Mike about this as well and see what his take is. But let's continue. I do see Mike has just arrived. We do have some Instagram news. But sorry, Mike, I think we had the wrong URL in your urine. Who runs this show?
Ken Yeung 16:17
I don't know. They should be fired.
Gregarious Narain 16:20
Can this one's yours? I'm Instagram news.
Ken Yeung 16:22
Yes. I mean, Instagram. Okay, we talked about Facebook bullets. And so we got newsletters. So now we know people, how many people how many times have posted a story on Instagram? And only to realize that you want it when you want to share a link? You have to do Oh, Lincoln bio, right? I mean, you have to do that on Instagram on an Instagram post anyways, but for Instagram stories, what could happen in the future is that you're not going to be it's that type of limitation were Oh, you had to be either like a verified or you need to have like 10,000 followers or whatever. Like that could all go away. And you could easily include some variation where you can just swipe up to go directly to a link, right? I mean, Twitter's I'm sorry, tic tocs already doing that with their jump, which was just announced, which was announced this week, to open up a third-party website or an app. So yeah, it's actually called jump,
Gregarious Narain 17:14
you hold it out on me, my friend, you
Ken Yeung 17:16
know, there's, there's so many we have 10 minutes, how much do you throw in here? Right. But that's the thing, right? It's like so so instead of coming out with like, okay, let's, you know, we're gonna make it easier for people to do that. I think they understand that, that people's having a pain point for that. But the concern I have here is that link in bio aspect and a lot of companies have made money and done a lot of business around that Lincoln bio aspect, right? I mean, what's going to happen with where Instagram almost, in a way cuts the legs from under them and basically offers this, this, this workaround it in a manner of speaking. So in this kind of shakes things up in a creative space, I think this is all a good way for people for Instagram and say, hey, let's increase engagement and usage of stories because they see this clearly as a problem. Instagram fundamentally has a problem with link sharing anyways, for the past 10 years or so since it's been around, you've never been able to, put in a URL into any post or story. So now this is actually going to make it a lot easier for people, especially for creators. And actually great. Can you go to the next one? Yep. So this is as we have more Instagram news, where that, you know, as Greg was talking about earlier, with Twitter super follows. Instagram is like, Whoa, you know, hold my beer. We're rolling out we're looking at possibly doing our own variation. And we're gonna call it quote, exclusive stories, Dave actually confirms this to TechCrunch and other media outlets.
Gregarious Narain 18:45
Did you saw the tweet I shared where someone was, like, great, like, we're gonna have 30 What was the tweet? It was like, every platform
Ken Yeung 18:51
is basically going to be the same thing. Yes, right. Exactly. So I mean, this is basically like if you've, if you have a store, if you're doing stories, now you have your, you know, public stories, and you can have close friends. There are only two versions you could have, right? But now you're going to now theoretically, you might have this third version called exclusive stories, which is going to be like, oh, almost like a subscription type of thing. Right? You know, it's like, Hey, you pay me to do this. So could we have all these bells and whistles where it's like, okay, you can sign up for to do you know, subscribe to me, you can get my exclusive stories? And it's beneficial for creators or influencers and whatnot. Now, something that that I think that sure a VA, a reporter from Bloomberg, or I'm sorry, The New York Times now has had post put out on Twitter is she's wondering, like, what happens to the fees, right, who gets these fees? You know, who's paying these fees to Apple to Google and Facebook cut a cut of this right. So it'd be very curious. Hopefully, if we can get like someone from like, fame house which Greg you've you've you've brought on. You mentioned on the show. few times. It's like fan house fan house. My apologies fan house, right? Like, what happens to that? You know, like, what is their take on this? Right? I mean, like, if, if I'm giving a 10% cut, theoretically I don't. And they've and Facebook hasn't released their percentage what cut they might take? I mean, this is all very theoretical. In the works right now, right? What would what Facebook's cut? And do you devote? Do you? Do you give any percentage to the platforms that are distributing it? Right? So at which point is like, Hey, you creators might get 70% cut. But what does that cut actually gets? You know, after all the fees or hidden fees or take are accounted for? Do you wind up taking away with like, 40% or something? I don't know. Right. So I think it's a ultimate, I think it's a good thing to have exclusive stories, but there's a lot of stuff, fine details that need to be sorted out in the end. And Adam Mosseri, the CEO of Instagram, earlier today, he's like saying, look, we don't want to Instagram don't think of it as a photo-sharing app. They don't want to be considered a photo-sharing app or a square photo-sharing app anymore. I mean, so this is a nice little interesting spin on things. So Greg, why don't we go on to what's next?
Gregarious Narain 21:09
Yeah, let's I think we're almost to the end of our news segment. But on the greater economic side, last week, we'd mentioned this or last two episodes, or two weeks ago, the last episode, we mentioned that there was about $2 billion raised by the Creator Economy, the information is actually published, what they call a database, but I would call a piece of garbage because it only has 50 companies. I mean, like there are two companies, at least in this stream right now that aren't on that list. So yeah, no, I think it is, obviously, some of the companies have raised some of the larger amounts of money, but it's certainly not an all-inclusive thing. So like, I kind of hate the idea that they're calling it a database and making it so non-representative of the actual space. However, there is a lot of money flowing into our space, that $2 billion is just from these companies, it's probably another billion if you add in all of the other supporting companies in the ecosystem. But if you do want to check it out, it's about like eight columns of data that you can find almost anywhere. I know, Neil has put together his own list from influenza Co. There's been a lot of great versions of this, I'm hoping they will obviously expand this and allow people to either submit more companies. But if you did want to check out a little bit about some of that the information does do a great job covering the greater economy in general. And I think this database hopefully is, you know, a downpayment on something bigger and better for all of us. So, Ken, you want to talk about this. But before Ken wraps up, if Now is your time to get to react to any of these stories, provide your own feedback, provide us your thoughts. So raise your hand if you're listening on clubhouse Twitter spaces. I will also bring Mike in to see if he has any reaction to the news. But Ken, why don't you tell us a little bit about our Flipboard
Ken Yeung 22:55
sounds good. So what if you're interested in anything that's going on in the creative economy? And basically, you know, this kind of goes back to what Greg is talking about, like the fact that Greg was surprised by that. Tiktok has this new feature called jump? You know, Greg, you could have gone to Flipboard. Right? We have this magazine, around the creator economy, where I
Gregarious Narain 23:18
don't visit sites created in the 90s. Oh, my goodness, hey.
Ken Yeung 23:25
First of all, we were created in the 2000s. Okay, we're floating around 11 years here. Yes, we're voting. We're more than a decade old. But we're not that old. Okay. Oh, my goodness. And this is where the show gets canceled. But no, so so. So, look, there's, we're here, we only have like 10 minutes to talk about the news, right. And as much as we blather on, and we enjoy talking to our guests like there's, there's so much that we can't talk about, or that we're unable to talk about because we don't have time. So if you want to know what's going on in the world of the creative economy, check out our Flipboard magazine. It's Flipboard comm slash app created economy. We are updating it every day with the latest news that's about what's going on. And there's stuff that we mentioned on the show that we'll pull from that magazine. And then I mean, it's a great place to find the latest that's about what's going on and amongst influencers, creators, social media, tech business, whatever is so feel free to go check it out. Heavy if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me more than happy to answer any questions later on. But yeah, check out check it out. Flipboard that's where you're gonna find all the information you want about the creative economy. Hmm,
Gregarious Narain 24:41
awesome. Awesome. Now, so Mike. Yeah, I apologize. I think we probably messed up the URL, but
Ken Yeung 24:49
don't like the intern for that.
Gregarious Narain 24:51
on any of the news before we'll do a proper intro, but we always like to give her a chance to react to some of the news that we did share.
Mike Donoghue 24:58
Yeah, guys, no words on the link.
Mike Donoghue 25:43
you can certainly understand why they're doing it, right. From the business standpoint, I mean, you want to be able to cut into what substack is doing, you want to be able to offer, you know, these tools to creators and sort of entice them back onto the platform. But I think what it underscores is really kind of a trend that we've seen, and like frustration that we've identified a bunch of amongst a lot of creators, which is that like, you know, you're still being asked to build your business on Facebook's land here, right. And you're ultimately if you're using any of these tools, you know, it's great that they're not taking a cut for a certain period of time. But the truth is, like, when you know, rent your audience, from the social platforms, you ultimately don't have any way to be able to make those audiences portable, to be able to address them in a meaningful way. I mean, you're building value in somebody else's platform, and you really kind of tap dancing for tips on somebody else's stage, when in reality, you could be building an enduring relationship, which is what, you know, I think a lot of fans and a lot of creators want.
Ken Yeung 26:45
Know, that you raise an interesting point. And I think this as we I mean, we're six episodes into this into the show and comment, there's your we're seeing these common themes that are they're arising, right. I mean, in terms of like, one can, you know, how are creators? You know, making a living out of this? How can they How can he, you know, earn enough to make to sustain themselves? Right. I mean, this is a, there's like, creator, poverty, sustainability, that's an issue here. Then also, there's like this whole, the ownership, right? I mean, it's like, I think we've, we've been around the space so long that we kind of know, like, hey, Bill, what, what, what are the perils? What are the risks of building on other people's land, right on other people's property, right? And that right there, those are a two of just many main themes that we have, that that that I'm seeing in the creative space, and it's just absolutely fascinating to, you know, to see, to hear different takes and what, what people are doing, it's like, oh, Facebook, saying, Hey, we're doing, we're no longer just a social network, we're now allowing you to connect. So we're going to be able to do like, you know, chat, we're going to be able to do VR, we're going to be you know, do email, we're doing podcasts, you know, video. But it's like, you know, what was that? What's that phrase is like, Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame, you know, shame or whatever, right? I mean, it's like, that's basically what you what people run the risk of doing is like, hey, yeah, you know, Facebook's not gonna screw us over this time. You know, they've done it like 15. Other times, what's this time is gonna be different, right? Or the Same thing for YouTube. And the same thing for Twitter, and so on, and so forth. Right? A lot of these people are placing a lot of these big bets on these platforms, because of the reach. But they might get screwed.
Mike Donoghue 28:32
Yeah, I mean, can this is brought to you by the same organization that decided to clip news on it on an entire continent when they didn't like the nature of their deal, right? I mean, you know, so look, it always comes with strings attached, there's always you know, somebody who's going to have their hand in the pocket of creators, I think, you really have to look at the organizations that, you know, if you're a creator that you want to be able to work with, and figure out, you know, whose core mission is empowering us and providing us that level of ownership and, you know, financial sustainability around what we want to do, while also not asking us to compromise artistic vision to support that work. And, you know, I mean, look no further than a lot of the motivations of the platform, right? It's like, you know, they've known that this was a trend for a long time. Now, it's a very financially viable thing and to get into the business and to clone other people's work is, you know, interesting, but if I were creative, anybody cared really what I had to say. I think I'd be pretty weird.
Gregarious Narain 29:33
Yeah. Well, for everyone listening, by the way, hopefully, and just going to give you one chance in case there's anything you wanted to say or add to the combo before I introduce Mike, and we jump into the interview. To see me Oh, he's crying. He's crying. He's crying at us. All right. So for everyone listening, by the way, so we are joined by Mike Donahue. He's the co-founder and CEO of Subtext. Mike, do you want to give us a quick overview of like, what is subtext? You know, why did you create it? What drove you to this? And then dive into some questions after that?
Mike Donoghue 30:11
Yeah, no, 100%, I'll give you a really high-level overview and like, stop me from going into too much detail, I do this. Right. So at an SMS work. Does anybody want to talk about the new 10 DLC regular Telephone Consumer Protection Act, I know it's a topic for another day, another pockets, but no. So subtext really kind of, in its essence, is a text communication platform, it's built to be able to connect creators, so this could be media companies, journalists, artists, you know, creators of any stripe podcasters, with their audiences in a much more intimate setting, sort of through the medium that you use to communicate with your friends and family SMS. Right. And one of the reasons, you know, when we were, we were building the product, I mean, you know, one of the reasons that we wanted to build it on SMS was one, the sort of availability of the platform, right, the idea that 98% of the United States uses SMS, so you're not, if you're a creator, asking your audience to join a very specific platform to be able to follow you. So we liked that aspect of it. But at the same time, like, we looked at, you know, what was going on in the email newsletter ecosystem, you know, the sub stacks review, tiny letter, any of those platforms, and we said, you know, the barrier to entry there in terms of content creation is so high, right? Like, there's such a small percentage of people that can research draft and share a really compelling email newsletter every day, as compared to the ROI on a platform like that in terms of like an open rate, which even for the best newsletters is like 35 40%. So we wanted to use SMS because it's compelling bilateral communication feels more personal, and ultimately is, you know, more intimate for everybody involved. That's kind of what we do at a high level.
Gregarious Narain 32:08
So when we dumb subjects, when you form the company, and sort of, you know, relatively speaking, you're going to start going, huh?
Mike Donoghue 32:20
Yeah, man, I mean, I, you know, I could share the origin story. It's like a really funny one, be happy to share it. But yeah, I mean, so. So we're basically two and a half year old company at this point. You know, we're growing it. I think we grew 20 500% in the last 12 months. So really excited about the growth trajectory. And at this point, I mean, you know, we work with most major media companies in the US, we work with major MC ns folks like Studio 71, major music outlets, like Sony Music. So like, you know, this morning, we just launched an amazing campaign with Luke Hemmings, who's the lead singer of Five Seconds of Summer. So, so really enthused about that. But yeah, I mean, you know, we've just got like, we've got a ton of momentum, we love where the platform's going. And the use cases, I think, for us to sort of continually, organically expanding, as you know, new folks come on board and sort of test the limits of what they can do in the medium.
Gregarious Narain 33:20
Interesting, interesting now, just, um, for some context, I guess, right, just from an ecosystem point of view, are you hike low level, like Twilio, or higher-level kind of like community? You know, like I, the value prop that you put forward, which I think is like one of the most critical parts of the emerging creator economy is really like, Own your audience. have better conversations have meaningful conversations? Right? And so like, there's, there's not a lot of competition, actually, like, relatively speaking in your specific domain. So I'm just curious, like, how do you see yourself relative to some of the other players?
Mike Donoghue 33:59
Yeah, yeah. So really good question. I mean, in terms of the level, I'd say that we're higher level, much more like community, right? We're, we're sort of we're both consumer-facing and client-facing, right. I mean, you know, we have a dashboard, it's a sass platform. That's sort of how we operate it. That's the business model. I'd say the real differentiator for us versus say, someone like a community is one, we have a built-in subscription monetization feature, right? So if you want to be able to charge $5 a month, $10 a month for sort of private communications and access to this community that's hosted by, you know, a creator or a journalist, you know, whose work you really admire or something like that. That's built-in. And then I think the other real differentiator for us besides attack, and you know, some of the functionality and that type of thing is the idea that like we're genuinely focused on like creating enduring connections here. I think like if you subscribe to anybody on a community platform, a lot of it is really just sort of select Pretty driven market cap. Yeah, and candidly, I mean, it's a bit disingenuous in the sense that like, it's a big data,
Gregarious Narain 35:09
opt in spam, right?
Mike Donoghue 35:11
It's often scams. But I mean, it's a big, it's a big data collection play, right? I mean, you know, why does Dennis Rodman need to know my birthday in order to try and sell me t-shirts?
Ken Yeung 35:23
Mike Donoghue 35:26
yeah, I mean, I'm not being glib about it, like, Oh, sure, for sure. Obviously, I'm biased. But I mean, I think, you know, if you were to really boil down, like, what differentiates us like, we live out that philosophy of like, direct engagement? Well, Greg,
Ken Yeung 35:39
I think, you know, and here's, I think, admittedly, I am, I am really excited about this, about having Mike on the show. Because I think I've been watching what subs subtext has been doing for some time. And I actually know, one of somebody that works at subtext, David David cone, we worked together way back in the day for on other stuff. And as a reporter him and I, you know, I know, I'm very interested in what you, you know, subtext has been doing, you know, poignantly, I mean, it's like, I think, for me, the media side is the media usage is pretty powerful. Obviously, you that all that media companies are doing with subtext can instantly be used by individuals, creators influencers? Anybody any personality, and it might allow me, I think one thing that I wanted to highlight is, what was it was the horrible weather in Texas, as one example, I think was it was a cold spell the blizzard or like this horrible, horrible freeze that struck Texas. And basically, like, media outlets weren't like shut down websites and media companies, I think it was like the Texas Tribune wasn't able to, to get into the office and or file stories and notify and notify the public about what the hell is going on. So they turn to SMS, and I believe in subtext was powering that. Right. And so this is, I mean, it's kind of like, it's fascinating. How we're talking about, like, you know, it, it doesn't necessarily seem like, oh, SMS is creator, I mean, it's not it's, it's almost To me, it's almost like it's like the Salesforce of the Creator space, because it's not the sexy part, right? It's like, like, oh, we're this chat platform, we're, you know, we have this new newsletter, and everyone's it's like, it's, you know, trendy, and whatever. It's like, No, no, for what's actually going to get the most bang for your buck. Right? And, and people are on there. And it's platform agnostic, right, because fundamentally, if you have a phone, you're going to get an SMS, you can get an SMS, it's not that hard for you to grasp how to get an SMS. But if you're going to have like, older generations, or people that may not be technologically savvy, like, or they may hate the platforms themselves, right? It's like, Oh, you know, it's like, I don't have an app, you know, I might have an Apple device. So why am I gonna, you know, there's that barrier, or I don't like Facebook, so I'm not going to, you know, you can't, you're not going to communicate me through Facebook, or WhatsApp, or messenger, or whatever, or Instagram, you're not going to get me there. I don't have a Twitter account, you're not going to get me there. Right? Or, you know, my email, I've never checked email, right. So you're not going to get me a newsletter. But you're, you're always gonna have your phone on you. Right. So there's a that's pretty powerful. And as we're talking about one of the things that theme that we mentioned earlier, it's like, people don't want to rent space from existing platforms, they want to own their the, you know, their platform and data is kind of interesting to see how what subtext is doing in this regard. So, Mike, could you share a little bit more in terms of how you're seeing creators? You know, you talked about you have musicians and artists and media that are using it? Like, what time Tell me about some creative ways that are that they're doing, that they're using subtext? And how does in what are some strategies for creators who are like, hey, I want to think about this SMS now? Right? Like, why do they want to do that?
Gregarious Narain 39:27
Just to add a curious add, if you get into that, though, was created the original sort of audience, or was it just it became apparent? That was the audience, you know, as part of that combo?
Mike Donoghue 39:38
Yeah. Great. So so let me take the last question for so we actually started out working primarily with media companies. But because of the amount of inbound interest that we got from creators and the momentum in this face, we really kind of looked at and said, like, you know what, Ken, to your point, like, the technology is really ubiquitous, right? Like it doesn't require you to get locked into an individual platform and doesn't require you to, you know, make a huge investment in terms of time creating profiles on something like clubhouse, as it operates across all of the platforms. And candidly, I mean, it sort of subsumes all of them as marketing channels to drive subscriptions for your overarching subtext presence, right, which is kind of, you know, it's, it's what we love, and it sort of separates out your biggest fans, from your followers that exist on these platforms that are maybe just sort of passively involved in what it is that you're doing. And I think, you know, it does, it gives creators candidly, I like the ability to create a much more intimate connection here with their biggest fans, right? The people that want to be able to respond to that, because, I mean, one of the things that we see universally on the platform, right, so like, this is totally anecdotal, but like, you know, on social platforms, and there's a great piece that came out on this, I think the information wrote it, I think Kira, Yuri f wrote it, but sort of the fatigue that a lot of creators are experiencing on the social platforms, number one having to just churn out tremendous amounts of content, by the creating content, especially like newsletters, like really high, you know, high fidelity, like video content and that type of thing. It's not a great business model, right, when in reality, what people ultimately want is the ability to engage with that personality. Right. So whereas drafting a text message might take two minutes, and 92% of your audience is going to read it, and 30% of them are going to respond, and many of them are going to get that feeling of having that direct connection, which is really kind of serendipitous payoff. You know, you could spend an entire day drafting an email newsletter, creating a video, only to have the platform that you're posting it to make decisions algorithmically around who's going to see it. Right. So like, I think, like, there's a lot of things at play there. But can to your question, right? So like, what are some of the more compelling use cases that we're seeing on the platform? Yep. So you bring up the work that the teams in Texas did, and you know, around the storm, and it was the Texas Tribune, in the States or in Estonia, many, many, you know, big media, most of the media companies that I've covered the area. And one of the things that they quickly realized, I was like, because of the power outages, people weren't going to be able to keep computers on, they likely weren't going to be on the social platforms, they weren't going to be able to read stories, their internet connectivity was spotty. So turning to SMS, which can operate off of the cellular network, and is really reliable, gave them the ability to not only communicate with those audiences, but also to field questions, right, and to be able to respond to those questions. So like, should I be boiling my water right now? What do we know about when the power is going to come out in this region? So like, there's a lot of things that can be done. And candidly, a lot of those questions would have gone on asked on social platforms, because not everybody wants to participate, right? Like it's toxic. There's a lot of sort of performative trolling that happens there. So like, the intimacy of that connection, and like the health of that communication, I think is really refreshing for a lot of people on the platform. And then, you know, for some of the more like, you know, fun light-hearted use cases, as we work with
Mike Donoghue 43:22
a lot of folks in the audio space, that are using the platform and sort of shoulder communication to podcast, right. So if that's Vanity Fair, or CNET, or even like Guy Kawasaki, who uses it as like, you know, shoulder communication, his podcast was amazing. And you're using it to field questions from an audience to keep up that sort of communication cadence between episodes, and to create sort of a participatory feedback loop for the audience to pay something off. Right. So like, I'll give you an example. You know, if Roger at CNET is going to be interviewing, I don't know, St. Jeff basis, right? And he wants to put this out to the community. Hey, I'm going to be interviewing Jeff Bezos today, if you had the chance to sit down with him, what question would you ask him? He's going to get flooded with questions. He's going to be able to ask a couple of those and he's gonna really be able to sort of humanizing the media company, bring people into his process. And again, pay off the nature of that, like very intimate relationship. And then like, you know, I mean, there's always like, leave it to creators to do some of the most like, creative things maybe that you would see on a platform or like test the boundaries of it, but like, you know, we have an amazing band who's on one of the Sony labels who does like a weekly trivia night with all their fans on the platform. They do live q&a is they do ama's they share photos from you know, behind the scenes when the recording or the going on tour, audio clip, so like, you know, there's a ton that can be done with it. And honestly, we were really just starting to figure out that the power of And everything that I can do. By the
Gregarious Narain 45:02
way, I do see a hand up in clubhouse. So why don't we see if we can get Russell to ask his question. But it's very intriguing. I love hearing these use cases, though, because I think most people might flatten SMS down to something sort of like very non like non-dimensional, right? Like, and this idea that intimacy does scale, you know, like, SMS is that slipstream into you, right. And so, because it's very personal, it's in your phone, and it does intimate, like, inherently, but it also is a text-based medium. And so I think we're like, we've become so encouraged by video and audio and all these other life sorts of, quote, unquote, rich layers on top that it's interesting to hear all these other things that are happening to actually build intimacy as well. At the same time, sorry, Russell, I thought I tried to bring you up here. Let me just see, if you have a question, by the way, for Mike, by all means, just raise your hand in either Twitter space or clubhouse? or drop your question in the comments for all you watching. on LinkedIn or YouTube, wherever it may be. Russell, did you have a question? No, I just wanted to say hi. Oh, okay. Great. I have Oh, this is also in Can you hear me? Okay. He has one. Please. Go ahead.
Joselin Mane 46:20
Yeah, so I just signed up. What is the pricing model? I'm familiar with using something called Simple texting. Is it like a monthly Unlimited, I'm sure that's probably a cap because SMS is a protective, like, what's the, from a creator standpoint? What's that look like? And then also, how does the creator generate revenue was through your app or sending links to another source where they're collecting revenue?
Mike Donoghue 46:46
Cool. Yeah, really? Good question. So we really kind of have two models that we do. And, you know, it depends on your use case on the platform. So we have one, let's say you just want to be able to create a community that's free for the public to join. For us, that's just sort of a licensing fee associated with the total number of subscribers that you have on the platform, and how many messages you're sending in a given month. We don't put caps on it, we don't put artificial restrictions on your messaging, we don't limit you from sharing, you know, photos or video or other rich media. I mean, we're pretty wide-open platform, like we're very creator-friendly in that regard. And then to your second question, or sorry, the second part of the model is really subscription-based, right. So when you apply to start a campaign on our platform, if you want to have it be paid, meaning subscribers pay to be a part of this a monthly fee, you tell us what you want the price point to be, you know, we give you the ability to create promo codes, we give you the ability to integrate into any existing platform. So if that's a substack, if that's a Patreon, or you know, wherever else, you're beating your community, you know, we do that, and we really kind of coach you through it, and we put it out there in the market, and we optimize for it. But, you know, look, I mean, the economics of it are very simple. If if you're somebody that you know, wants to charge $5 a month, and you have 1000 subscribers that are willing to pay, you know, you're grossing $5,000, in a given month. And, you know, to give you a little bit of insight into the business, our churn rate for paid subscribers annually, is less than 2%. So as people sign up, they stick around because of the intimacy of the platform. I give this to you anecdotally. Right. That's crazy. But I give this to you anecdotally, like there's always going to be people that describe economic realities, you know, maybe a sports team isn't doing that well, that you're like, whatever it's going to be right. The people have done subscribe. We handle all the tech backend, all the customer service, and that type of thing. I can't tell you how many emails we get where someone is unsubscribing. And then they email us and ask like, hey, look, I have to unsubscribe. Here's why can you not tell Ken? That I'm unsubscribing to the campaign? Right. And like, it's anecdotal, but I think it does speak to that, like really personal connection that people are forging,
Gregarious Narain 49:08
which is amazing. I mean, that's, that's really unheard of, and pretty phenomenal. Mike, I am curious, actually, to connect the dots from wholesaling. Thank you so much. That was a great question. Um, but, you know, we've seen sort of like, Twitter and like, you know, Shopify, and somebody, I believe this is going to be an emergent model. Do you have any thoughts on that idea of like, sort of like a, you know, a lifetime revenue meter where sort of maybe differential rates or any of those kinds of things? You know, what are your thoughts on that, that evolution that direction?
Mike Donoghue 49:38
Yeah, I mean, I think it's gonna be interesting, right is like the the way. I mean, you're seeing a lot more sophistication right now in terms of like, how we're approaching the valley, you know, like what LTV looks like in terms of an individual subscriber, how we're sort of partitioning certain experiences on the platform like how do you create that like striation record? To like expectations which have access to and that type of thing. So I mean, you know, again, like I think it will always continue to evolve. I think it's going to continue to be super interesting. But it's hard. It can be hard to wager a guess. Am I? My daughter has joined us she's cool. Hey. It's like 100 degrees here in New York.
Ken Yeung 50:23
Oh my god.
Gregarious Narain 50:24
Nice. Nice. Nice. Are you in this unit in the city? I take it right outside this city, right. Yeah, I grew up in our in Rockland County.
Mike Donoghue 50:32
Are you kidding for Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, I got I make it through there all the time. I'm in New Jersey. I'm like, 10 miles outside the city. Nice. Excellent. Excellent. Can you go ask mom for a cookie and Daddy's gonna get it?
Ken Yeung 50:49
Can you get a cookie for us to come on one?
Gregarious Narain 50:54
No cookies for Ken, no cookies.
Mike Donoghue 52:23
Have I got a roadmap for you guys know? Yeah. Right.
Gregarious Narain 53:55
Very, very good to hear. And in case you haven't tried it or checked it out already it is join what joinsubtext.com Yeah, so sure link to that,
Ken Yeung 54:07
Mike. One thing is like, as we're talking about SMS is that those that are that may not be aware is like what, what is it about SMS like that, that what's the differentiator that that subtext offers in terms of SMS, right? I mean, you talk about like, Oh, I could use like a message bird or Twilio and basically set up my own version of obviously, if I'm a coder developer, I can do it myself. What but what kinds of bells and whistles does subtext offer? Or is it most of the stuff all behind the scenes like the infrastructure of SMS delivery, right? I mean, is it just oh, I can just send a message to to to people that are watching here, people that subscribe to create an economy show. What like, what other stuff can you do because I remember back in the day, you could have different Fred shortcodes like oh, message 404, whatever, two, and then you get news about blah, blah, blah, well, then this one for this and so and so is this, like, how ramped up is this now?
Mike Donoghue 55:12
Yeah, it's very ramped up, right? And I have to give you, I have to give you guys sort of a demo of the platform The next time you want to say, I'd love to walk you through it, or walk any of your listeners through it as well. But yeah, I mean, for us, there's really kind of two, there are two areas of differentiation. One is sort of the behind the scenes infrastructure that you ultimately build in sort of the elegance that sits on top of like, the intricacy that is communicating SMS at scale, like to give you a little bit of background, right, I think like in, you know, this year, I think we're projected to send like 3 billion messages, right. So like to send 3 billion messages over various carrier networks, even like we're starting to do some international work as well, is like a very involved thing. So you know, where it's like, there are tools out there that allow you to, like, you know, take some building blocks and sort of build this up. It takes a tremendous amount of work to get it to the point where like, it's elegant, and simple, intuitive, and easy to use, like our onboarding for new creators, is less than five minutes from a technical standpoint, because if you can log in and send an email, you can send a broadcast level text. And then there's a lot of tools that we make available to creators, right. So we use like NLP, for example, on the back end of the platform to allow creators to ask questions, and field responses from their fans. And then based on those responses, categorize those fans into new addressable audiences, right. So if you only want to talk to your audience, that's a prefers pizza over hamburgers, like that's something that you can do. The ability to send images, audio files, gifts, like to be able to field all that back. So there's, there's a ton underneath the hood in terms of like the feature set as well, that, you know, we continue to build out, but I would say, you know, overarching Lee, like our ability to white label this platform, and the API's that we use to integrate, especially on the media side, into existing, like digital subscription platforms, and that type of thing, is a real differentiator for us. Right, like, you know, we talked about, we talked about, like the brand forwardness at someone like clubhouse, and we really sort of creator brand forward, we're happy to stay behind the scenes and be white-labeled, if it means that it makes you know, our creators, our clients brand stand out more effectively. And what kind of cut Do you does subtext take from creators, your users? Yeah, so in the can in the instance that like we're doing a subscription campaign with someone, because in the other instance like we're not taking a cut, it's just a flat licensing fee. But it really depends on like, size, scope and price point, I'd say on average, it's usually an 8020 split with 80% attributable to the creator borrows flexible there according to you know, price point and size and scope and that type of thing.
Gregarious Narain 58:09
Awesome. Well, Mike, it's been a pleasure to have you here. Thank you for joining us for sharing so much about what you're working on. Thank you for introducing us to sort of, you know, I think a better mindset about like, how to build audiences that matter. And that can last the test of time and congrats on the success here. How well subtext is doing and how well the product performs. More importantly, for our Creator, fans and friends out there. So we welcome you to come back. Anytime you're always welcome to come back and join the conversation participate in any way that's possible. And certainly, when that new news comes out, we'll try to cover it here as well. To give us that Heads Up All right.
Mike Donoghue 58:47
Yeah, that's awesome. That and honestly guys, it was an honor. Thanks for having me. I'm gonna go get that cookie. Come on. Well, I'll have a variety.
Ken Yeung 58:57
Yeah. Okay. All right. Have a great one. Mike.
Gregarious Narain 59:03
So another good episode in the books Thank you can by the way, so here everyone who's listening. We would love for you to join us. So in case you don't know, I actually am the founder of a creative economy company called Zealous really and
Ken Yeung 59:19
The creator space?
Mike Donoghue 50:59
Okay, go down to ask mama for cookie. Okay. And now she has never. Okay. I'll be back. Honey. I'll be back. Oh, yeah. Thank you, I realize like so leave it.
Gregarious Narain 51:23
By the way. I see John and DJ over in Clubhouse as well as in case any of you have a question for Mike from subtext, feel free to raise your hand happy to have your questions. And anyone listening? Or if you are watching, by all means, drop a question. We're about five, six more minutes. So I guess I'm Let me ask maybe the last question unless Ken has one. But Mike, where's it going? Like, what happens next for Subtext? And more importantly, you know, I think for our audience is what are the things they should be thinking about? Right, relative to the trajectory of like, say, like, what companies like you are on? And what are you? What are the opportunities trying to open because I think creative businesses have been flourishing, largely to an extent because of us creating tools to facilitate those pathways. So I'm just curious, not like the actual roadmap unless you want to share that. But you know, just like, Where do you think things are going? And what would you encourage or your advice to creators today?
Ken Yeung 52:30
No, it's all good. Don't worry about it.
Mike Donoghue 52:33
My daughter's got it, she just took it downstairs. So no, I mean, in terms of the business, like really kind of what we're focused on right now is sort of like, continuing to sort of technically differentiate everything that we do, and like consistently rolling out like new tools for creators, I think you're gonna see some really interesting announcements come out from us in the next couple weeks, wanting that one of them having to deal with the new name, image likeness, monetization, that's been freed up for collegiate athletes. There's 176,000 Division One collegiate athletes that now have the opportunity to connect and monetize their relationship with fans. And I think that's going to be really exciting. And then I think, you know, you'll see us continue to explore organically explore sort of new use cases that are out there. So we get a lot of interest in like the event space, we just started working with the team at Iron Man to do all their events in the US and their communication with athletes. And as a lot of demand for live events, virtual events, fasts, that type of thing is a great tool to be able to use there as well. But really, we're just trying to continue to roll out new features and like differentiate scale the platform and grow the team, but I think a lot of exciting stuff.
Mike Donoghue 59:01
Thanks, guys. Be well.
Gregarious Narain 59:20
Yeah, I am. And we are about to beta test the brand new version of Zealous which is basically easiest way to think about it is like a hybrid between twitch stream yard and what's the tool clubhouse. Alright, so we're having our first episode of created after dark, it's our after show. So this is the official show is about to end in one minute. But what you can do is if you head over created dot show slash live and we're about to tweet out a link to it and share it as well. But what you could do or if you just go to create a dot show, it's linked from the homepage. You'll be able to come and join us on stage with video or audio and actually join into the conversation. We're just going to chat about what today's show was about in any of the other topics. So thank you so much for joining us. Like I mentioned, if you want to join us for the after-show, it's http//:created.show/live. It'll just wait up over there and we will get there in a second. Anything else we have in this deck here? Oh, yeah, who's coming up next week. Our good friend Matt is going to be here from fame pick. On July 14, we have Nicholena Moon
, she's a creator and Twitch. Twitch streamer. We have Fernando Parnas from Super Fans coming up on July 21, July 28. We got Steven Sunmonu and Antonio Gary Jr. from the Black Creator crew. We will be off on August 4 because I'm traveling. But we are always looking for guests. And so if you'd like to join us on the show has something interesting to share a unique point of view, by all means, head over create economy comm and sign up. There's a link right there for you to put your name and to be a guest on the show. So thank you so much, Ken, always good to see you. And I will see you over in Zealous for the After Dark show. Goodbye, everybody, thank you and we will see you soon.
Ken Yeung 1:01:10