This is a shorter post than my customary Thursday articles, but hopefully no less interesting. My last four posts articulated a “Global by Nature” framework, looking at the forces that will shape a technology-driven (instead of a trade-driven) Globalization 2.0, and where investment and other emerging opportunities will lie in that future. If you haven’t had the time or chance, I hope you take a look at this four-part series:
- Part I: Developers
- Part II: APIs
- Part III: Open Source
- Part IV: Public Companies to Watch (Agora, JFrog, MongoDB)
In a smaller way, Interconnected is also a “Global by Nature” newsletter. It is bilingual -- in English and Chinese -- with plans to expand other languages and mediums. It is built on open source tech, which I discussed in-depth in “Building a Bilingual Newsletter: 2020 Edition”, and has published many posts on the commercialization, competitiveness, and geopolitical ramifications of open source. It will evolve into a product for more cross-language, cross-border learning and investment in the future.
But how “global” is Interconnected now?
Even though it’s only been 10 months since the first post was published on February 23 (on the coronavirus’s impact on remote work and remote consumption), the newsletter has grown well, so there’s enough stats accumulated to try to answer this question.
In the spirit of openness, let’s peel back the curtain.
Where and Who: Two Visuals
I built two visuals based on the site’s Google Analytics and subscribers list to understand from where and who are the people reading Interconnected.
Here’s a geographical breakdown of the readership and top-10 locations:
The United States is the largest source of traffic at ~45%, while China is second at ~10%. Personally, I would like to see the proportion of readers from China be higher in the future. Of course, the US is a multilingual, immigrant country, so people could be reading either the English or Chinese version, or both. I’m pleasantly surprised by the traffic coming from small, multilingual locations, like Singapore and Hong Kong. I would also like to personally meet my seven readers from Algeria one day!
Here’s a pie chart of the subscribers breakdown by four broad industries:
“Academia” includes universities, think tanks, and other educational non-profits. “Investors” includes both private market investors (VCs, PEs) and public market investors (stock, bond). “Founders and operators” are people who work in all sizes of companies, from tiny startups to Fortune 100 behemoths. This category being the largest seems appropriate, because I was an entrepreneur and operator, thus tend to write from that lens -- more plain-language practical insights, less super high-level theorizing. The sizable “Journalists” category probably explains why Interconnected has received some great press mentions, like in the New York Times and Al Jazeera.
So far, the average open rate of posts delivered to subscribers’ inboxes is about 45%.
Being only alive for 10 months, Interconnected is literally a toddler. And its birth just so happens to have occurred in one of the most consequential years in human history, with many implications still unknown. (Writing this newsletter was not a COVID-induced project.) Thus, it’s too early to draw any big conclusion or formulate a strategic direction from this data.
However, I’m a big believer in developing openly. Being open every step of the way, not just when it’s convenient, is how I can keep myself accountable, build the newsletter product in the right way (using open source tech wherever possible), and establish trust and accountability with my readers. (You!)
Back in May, I wrote a post called “Why Write A Bilingual English-Chinese Newsletter”, where I shared my underlying motivation:
We live in an unfortunate reality where the US and China, the two most powerful nations in the world, trust each other less and less. That erosion of trust is already causing damage to technological innovation, business operations, and the most consequential bilateral relationship of this century. This damage is also spilling over to other parts of the world.
In my mind, the root cause of this problem lies in the lack of information accountability. It’s generally true that most people will arrive at similar conclusions if given similar information. However, this adage overlooks a crucial element: the accountability of the source of information. During a time when trust in institutions overall is low, information accountability is further obfuscated when most information is attached to a faceless organization -- media, think tanks, universities, government agencies.
Even though we have a new American president now, I don't think this “erosion of trust” will be replenished anytime soon. I hope Interconnected can serve as a small example of “information accountability”. In this space, there’s no one to trust but me, and there’s no one to blame but me.
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这篇文章要比我平常每周四出版的文章要短，但希望同样有价值，有意思。我的前四篇文章阐述了一个 "生来全球化" 的框架，探讨了以科技驱动（而非贸易驱动）的“全球化2.0”的各种力量，以及这个未来里的投资和其他新兴机会将在何处。如果您还没有时间或机会的话，希望能读读这个系列：
"学术界" （Academia）包括大学、智囊团和其他非营利教育机构。"投资者" （Investor是）包括私有市场投资者（VC、PE）和公开市场投资者（股票，债卷）。"创始人和运营者" （Founders/Operators）是指在各种规模的公司工作的人，从微小的创业公司到财富100强的巨头们。这一类人最多似乎很合理，因为我自己也创过业做过运营，因此写文章时倾向于从这个角度分析事情 -- 更多白话的实际见解，而不是纯理论的高谈阔论。还蛮可观的 "记者" （Journalists）读者群也许能解释为什么《互联》已经在一些大媒体的报道中被引用，比如《纽约时报》和 Al Jazeera。
尽管一位新的美国总统即将上台，但我认为这种 "信任的缺乏" 不会很快得到补充。我希望《互联》能成为建立 "信息问责" 的一个小案例。在这个空间里，除了我，没有其他人可以信任，也没有其他人可以责怪。