As we live in a post-pivot-to-video world, it seems like every few weeks brings with it a fresh round of layoffs for writers, bloggers, and content producers. Many of them have turned away from the traditional media models that have let them down and instead focused on creating their own content with the help of platforms like Substack. This situation has worked out for writers and journalists such as Kelly Dwyer, Matt Brown, Matt Miller, and many others.
There’s been a lot of buzz around Substack as the newsletter-based platform has grown in popularity and revenue. And that’s led to a lot of growth, which also seems to be leading to a brand new round of funding. Axios is reporting that Substack has raised $65 million in new venture capital funding, which would put the company’s value at around $650 million.
Axios says that current investor Andreessen Horowitz is leading the round of funding, though he declined to comment on the matter. Substack also hasn’t commented to Axios.
Proponents of Substack’s platform praise the space it creates for independent writers to set up shop and create newsletters and content around whatever they want. It not only allows content creators the ability to do what they want but also doesn’t tie them up in contracts the way a blog network or media company would. However, that also means writers are free to come and go as they please, which can include competing platforms and social media networks.
Critics of the platform have called out their content moderation policies, which have left a lot of grey area regarding who they’ll let host a newsletter and whether or not the content created is problematic. The company has also come under fire for the way it chooses to pay some writers directly while others have to scrape together their own user bases to try to make anything.
Like any trendy online content platform that has come before it, it remains to be seen if Substack is going to be a flash in the pan or if it actually has staying power. Likely, that will come down to its ability to build a roster of worthwhile content creators whose work people are willing to pay for. Working in their favor is the dwindling number of opportunities for writers and journalists, especially those working in sports, at traditional media companies. The window to establish themselves as the long-term home for these writers and journalists is getting shorter, so any additional funding is sure to be critical. Whether it helps Substack stay put is another story.