3 questions for Duuce

Learn more about the Duuce marketplace

A few weeks ago, I had a chat with Nathan Baschez from Divinations and Everything. Nathan is one of the most popular authors on the Substack platform. He reached out with 3 questions which I answer below in the post.

1. How’d you think of the idea? 

My best ideas are often connections of non-related things I’m fascinated about. In the case of Duuce it was my fascination for newsletters, building a business and marketplaces. When the connection happened, it made sense right away. I wished there were a product like it. There wasn’t so I decided to build it. 

I’ve got experience in all the three fields. I’ve created and grew a few newsletters; I’ve been building and buying small digital businesses and I’ve been on the marketplace growth and monetization side at eBay classifieds.

Starting a marketplace is hard but it’s a great challenge to solve. It is the best example of starting with things that don’t scale to find scale. You can’t order a flywheel or liquidity. You must build it. With Duuce, I try to connect with every single person who runs a newsletter and potentially looks for a buyer. I’ll add them to the site and grow supply from here.  

2. Have you seen any newsletter transactions so far? (On or off Duuce?) I don’t know of any yet but am curious if there are examples! 

Yes a few. Recent Wheretoppost was sold through Duuce. You can read more about this newsletter acquisition here. Another newsletter that was sold on Duuce is Workshapes. And also off Duuce there is Morning Brew which was sold for a whopping 75 million. It’s the perfect business to buy and sell. It’s low complexity tech (no legacy code bases, multiple software integration, subscriptions) and high margin business. Especially now with the growth of premium newsletters value is skyrocketing. If you run a newsletter with only 500 people paying $10 per month, you’re earning a very decent living. But also, free newsletters can make good money with advertising, examples are again Morning Brew and the Hustle is doing very well. 

3. Some might be concerned that when you buy the newsletter you can buy the brand name and email list but ultimately the value is stored in the writer’s head(s) and therefore is risky. What if they move on or start to phone it in or get burnt out?

I think most acquisitions will be about acquiring the whole business and deliver the content yourself after acquiring. If not, then agreements should be made to keep engagement and quality in order. 

It will depend on the type of newsletter you’re acquiring. If it’s a content curation and general subject related newsletter you could replace the editor/writer without too much disruption. With a more writer focused newsletter you should be looking for a good fit. Maybe you’re buying the newsletter because it complements your own newsletter and you’re acquiring for growth. Or you are a domain expert yourself and can add extra insights and continue delivering value to the readers.