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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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The End of My Paid Subscription Content Experiment

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At the beginning of October, I wrote a post titled New Email Newsletter on Work-Life Balance where I decided to try a new email newsletter tool called Letter.ly to produce a paid email newsletter on work-life balance ($1.99 / month).  I’ve decided to end this experiment and sent out the following letter to the email list tonight.  Of course, because I didn’t tune the settings on Letter.ly it tweeted out the post, which recursively forced you to subscribe to read it.  Oops.  Here it is.


I’ve decided to end my experiment with Letter.ly (and – more importantly – “paid subscription content.”)  I want to thank each of you for being part of this experiment.

I realize there was a cost to it (I think some of you have paid $1.99, others have paid $3.98 to date.)  I tried to refund the money, but there wasn’t an easy way to do this.  As a result, if I encounter any of you in the next year, I’m perfectly happy to reimburse you directly (just ask for the cash).  If we don’t cross paths physically, please feel free to ask me for a favor via email (brad@feld.com) or, if you really want your money back, email me your Paypal account info and I’ll Paypal you $1.99 or $3.98 (depending on how much you paid.)

Now, on to why I decided to stop this experiment.  Basically, I found it incredibly unsatisfying.  As an almost-daily blogger since 2005 (and often more than once a day), I thought it would be interesting to explore paid content via an email newsletter approach.  It was interesting – in that I feel a combination of “strange pressure to produce” combined with “discomfort with charging for the content.”

1. Strange Pressure to Produce: After five years of blogging, writing a post has no emotional content at this point.  I just write.  Sometimes my posts are insightful; often they are just words.  I don’t feel the need to “produce valuable stuff” – I figure people will read the posts if they want.  In contrast, every few days I thought about the idea of writing something for this newsletter.  Ideas would cross my mind, but they were rarely compelling to me.  Yet I felt pressure to write.  Periodically, the following thought would cross my mind: “If I don’t write at least $1.99 worth of stuff a month, I’m going to be letting down my readers.” And then I’d contemplate this. $1.99?  Seriously?  Is this how I’m valuing things all of sudden?  The mere fact that I was thinking about this, especially since there was no practical way that the amount of money I’d make from this would have any impact on my life, seemed like a waste of mental and emotional cycles.

2. Discomfort With Charging for the Content: This is related to the idea that the money isn’t material to me.  Over the past 60 days, I’ve seen several tweets that said some version of “Seriously Feld, you are charging for your content?” of “Feld puts up a paywall.”  While I don’t object to getting paid for content, this seemed like a really strange / retro way to do it.  Whenever I pondered it, I was uncomfortable; whenever someone called me out on it I felt strange.

I learned what I wanted from this experiment – I don’t want to write a paid newsletter, nor do I want to charge subscribers directly for blog-like content that I produce.  With that, the experiment is over. Going forward, I’ll be posting all of my Work-Life Balance writing to my blog at www.feld.com, regardless of whether or not this impacts my book publisher’s view on the content.

As there appears to be no way to delete this newsletter, please unsubscribe.  In the mean time, I’ve lowered the monthly price to $0.10 (the lowest the system will let me charge.)

Get Out There And Tell The World What You Are Doing

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A few weeks ago I had my weekly mentor meeting with Ian and Adam from Gearbox.  We messed around with the latest version of “the ball” on an Android phone and then talked about a bunch of things that were going on.  I am totally amazed at the technical progress they are making this summer – these guys are magicians.  But they’ve been shy about getting out there and showing off what they’ve been up to.  My sense after talking to them is that their hesitancy was a combination of prioritization, focus, and “the need to get everything right.”

I can’t remember exactly what I said, but it was something like “this stuff is so fucking cool – just start blogging about what you are doing, get the API out there, and get out in front of the world with this.”  Two days later they sent me a note that their first blog post Gear What? was up and they’ve been blogging and talking up a storm ever since, including emerging on the bunker to play on the Pearl Street Mall and flying to Aspen in Paul Berberian‘s plane to spend the day at Mini Maker Faire Aspen.

Now they are having a Hackathon on the weekend of July 24th/25th.  An early version of their API is out and I’ve seen some cool shit running on an Android phone so I know it’s hackable.  If you are an Android developer, this is going to be fun, plus there’s the staple of every hackathon (free food, beer, and red bull.)  If you want to play, send an email to ian [at] gearbox [dot] me.

Oh – and if you are into robots, go check out the 2010 Denver Robot Expo & Mini Maker Faire.  Yup – the Gearbox guys will be there.

New Blog Design

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As you may have noticed, I’ve got a new blog design, as do my partners Jason Mendelson, Ryan McIntyre, and Seth Levine.  Every year or so I get bored of my blog design and we go through a nice little upgrade.  Our good friends at Slice of Lime do all the design work and Ross (our IT guy) wrangles everything. 

We’re still changing some stuff, but if you have any suggestions or notice any bugs, please leave comments so I can tune things up.

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