The Generalist x Substack
We’re heading back to Substack, unlocking a fresh experience and new possibilities.
We’ve got some exciting news to share with you: The Generalist is returning to Substack!
Why the move? A good question. It is not one we made lightly, and only after much assessing, poking, thinking, wondering, and dreaming.
We’ve made this decision because we think it can deliver a substantially improved experience and unlock new features for you, the reader. We also think it best positions The Generalist for the future, giving us the time, focus, and tooling to build an ever-stronger, more thoughtful publication.
Since many of you have been on this journey since the early days (thank you to each and every one of you), I wanted to share why we made this choice and the improvements it offers.
Before sharing those thoughts, a quick operational note: you don’t need to do anything to keep enjoying The Generalist. Seriously. Our pieces will keep arriving in your inbox, just like always. And if you’re a member (thank you!), your subscription has been safely transitioned over to Substack and is now easier than ever to manage. If you have any questions at all, just respond to this email or get in touch with support here.
Now, onto the four reasons we decided this was the moment to return to Substack.
Reason 1: Time and focus
In our post reflecting on The Generalist’s second full year of operations, I mentioned that I’d been running at “pretty close to maximum utilization for the past two years.” Building The Generalist is an extraordinary privilege and a ton of fun, but there’s no doubt it's a lot of work.
As we think about how to best use our time and what we are uniquely positioned to do, website maintenance and customer support don’t rank as high on our list. Moving to Substack will allow us to focus on what we do best: writing thoughtful analysis about the future and bringing interesting people into conversation. By narrowing our focus, we can unlock higher quality in the places it matters most.
In a famous speech, Jeff Bezos described how Luxembourg’s brewers once made their own electricity. They did so out of necessity, not because it provided any differentiation. “The fact that they generated their own power did not make their beer taste better,” he remarked.
Though we’ll keep our current website up to date (doing so has benefits for both readers and the business), we think Substack is increasingly well-equipped to take a lot of maintenance and support off of our plate. We want to focus on making our beer taste better, not generating electricity.
Reason 2: An ever-improving product
One of the reasons we departed Substack to begin with was because I felt their product lacked a little polish and personality. It was important for me to be able to create a look and feel for The Generalist that fit our brand, and I didn’t feel that I could do that on Substack.
While 2021 might have been the year Substack dominated the public conversation, 2022 was the year they shipped. For much of last year, I enviously watched as Substack improved the design of publication pages, upgraded the reading experience, introduced mobile apps, added Recommendations, and started offering greater customization.
More than ever, publications are able to take control of their brand and reader experience on the platform – aspects we’re excited to test out in the coming months.
While Substack is not perfect (no platform is), the past year has given me confidence in their ability to ship impactful, valuable features that will make The Generalist’s product even better in the years to come.
Reason 3: More community features
Community has always been at the heart of The Generalist. We love finding ways to connect and learn alongside readers and supporters – especially through our private community.
We’re excited to bolster our core offering by experimenting with compelling Substack-specific features like discussion threads, comments, and chat. Each of these open up new possibilities that I think could be really exciting.
One feature we’re excited to introduce straight away is enabling comments for paying members at the bottom of all Generalist pieces. This makes it easy to turn briefings into conversations, and leverage the intelligence and experience of the broader readership. If you want to join these conversations and unlock all the other benefits of being a member, click the button below:
Reason 4: The home of multiplayer media
“Multiplayer Media” is one of The Generalist’s most popular pieces. In that briefing, I outlined how creativity was increasingly becoming a team sport with the help of technology. That was a thesis we put into action ourselves with features like our “What to Watch” series, The S-1 Club, and other collaborations.
Substack is the ideal home to continue innovating in this vein. Because it's a true network, it's easy to interact with other writers and create, together. If our friends atwrite a great breakdown, we can cross-post it. If publishes a new fascinating update, we can link it seamlessly. If and I want to have a conversation about a shift in the venture landscape, we could try out a Letters series. These are the kinds of fun experiments that become much easier when everyone’s connected via the same underlying network. I think there are so many new behaviors Substack can enable that feel like an especially good fit with our underlying ethos.
As always, our goal is to build the most thoughtful tech publication in the world. I believe that Substack gives us the best infrastructure to make that happen, freeing up time, delivering an elegant, improving experience, adding community interactions, and enabling multiplayer media. (We’ve got a lot more to say about all of this…stay tuned for Sunday’s piece 👀).
I’m so grateful to all of you for being a part of what we’re building at The Generalist and can’t wait to make it even better in 2023. If you’re excited by this new step and want to give us a boost, hit the heart button below ❤️!
See you on Sunday,
PS: If you enjoy the existing experience we have on generalist.com – no worries, we will keep cross-posting pieces there, too!
Bravo! Well done for being able to pivot and provide your readers with an even more enhanced experience.