State of the Noonion 2024: HackerNoon Keeps on Blogging

2 Apr 2024

This is a redacted version of the HackerNoon shareholders' newsletter by CEO David Smooke and COO Linh Smooke sent to 1.3k shareholders. Picture: HackerNoon Team in an All-Hands Meeting.


  • Revenue is slightly down, traffic is slightly up, rate of product development is up, expenses are down, and AI is assisting us but is not replacing us anytime soon 🙂
  • How can you help? Referral, referral, referral: we recently experimented with a Business Blogging Sales Referral Program for a 12 or 52-credit pack. If you think you can help refer customers to publish their announcements, blog posts, or technical documentation with HackerNoon, we are more than happy to share the details of the Referral Program with you!
  • Here are some high-level updates since our last shareholder letter, which was sent on June 19, 2023. We keep this update succinct, with lots of links sprinkled throughout, as we’ve actually written a lot of mini-updates throughout the year.

Read the full Blog Post below for full context.

📈 Traffic & Editorial in the Age of AI

HackerNoon Readership & Traffic 📈

HackerNoon readership and traffic remain stronger than ever: 2023 (especially the latter half) was a great year for traffic. With simpler sign-up flows for different types of users and actions, simpler micro-engagement mechanisms for users (open commenting for all published writers, polls voting & commenting history for readers, easy-peezy templates for aspiring writers), we published 18,659 stories (compared to 13k in 2022), and on-boarded 29k new writers (compared to 22k in 2022). I think this is a huge testament to our human-first editorial protocol (we are documenting our protocol at, which is powered by the HackerNoon CMS). In a world where content is inundated by AI, HackerNoon remains one of the few places on the internet with a Second Human Rule, an AI & Plagiarism Detector, and 2-way communications between editors & writers.

Even more encouragingly, we continue to ride this tailwind into 2024 as well:

Here’s a list of the top-performing HackerNoon stories/pages in 2023:

And here’s a list of top performing HackerNoon stories/pages YTD in 2024:

We’ve continued to scale up audiences via niche newsletter growth. Notably, The Tech Company Brief, which is an editor-written weekly commentary on our proprietary tech company ranking data, has now passed 100 editions and 45k+ subscribers. Additionally, the 22 niche technology newsletters (one for each new category) have been growing steadily and now total 280k+ subscribers. In total, we send well over half a million emails a day (!)

AHREFs, the top SEO software, ranks as the 2,750th most valuable domain worldwide. This is a testament to building up our internet presence over the years, publishing more quality stories day after day and year after year, and the rest of the internet’s willingness to cite and talk about HackerNoon stories. For reference, here are some similarly ranked domains that historically carry much higher valuations, many of which are also community-driven technology education destinations: Kaggle at 2,802, Heroku at 2,824, Google Earth at 2,861, Delaware at 2,870, NextJS at 2,880, GQ at 2,881, Brown at 2,834, Seeking Alpha at 2,844, Hotels at 2,907, Snap at 2,993, Cal Tech at 2,999, and 1Password at 3,011. Here’s a screenshot from 2/29/24:

Since we started HackerNoon, we’ve outlived many tech sites and products that we’ve (mostly) admired: Vice, Artifact, Protocol, Future, Apple EV, InVision, The Messenger, IRL (lol), Meta Portal, Buzzfeed News, Anki, Google+, Microsoft’s Mixer, Recur, HouseParty, Essential, The Outline, Bodega, Loon, LG Phones, Nuzzel, Mandolin, Fast, Argo AI, Kite, Kitty Hawk, Udayy, Blackberry (again), Telltale Games, Revue, and of course, Quibi. We don’t take joy in these (mostly) impactful businesses dying, but it is a reminder that HackerNoon keeps on blogging.

💰Revenue & Business Development

Net Income 📉amist bear markets & mass layoffs in tech & media

Both revenue and expenses are down in 2023 YoY. We made redacted in revenue in 2023, and spent about redacted - a slight dip compared to 2022. Our net income remains level; however, we have some catching up to do in 2024. Our 2024 revenue projection is redacted , and expenses project to be redacted in 2024. We are determined to be profitable again in 2024, 2025, and beyond.

Business Blogging

We’ve fine-tuned our Business Blogging to include better returns for customers and better margins for HackerNoon. We built a self-service flow to request a business blogging trial, raised the prices per post and improved the performance per premium post by adding 12 language translations, multi-voice audio file creation, managed paid social promotion, and better customer service. In 2023, we onboarded 609 new businesses and published 1,624 good company stories, averaging a net income of redacted /story (compared to 2022 net income of redacted /story).

Encouragingly, so far in 2024, we’ve made about half of our revenue in Business Blogging, surpassing both Niche Ads and Writing Contests. Not only is this good because content is at the heart of our business value prop, but also because this is a true unlimited inventory, independent of past or future traffic, we can always publish another blog post.

Additionally, we’ve seen an increased demand to publish press releases from wire services, with customers such as ChainWire, FinanceWire, GamingWire, and BTCWire. We’re building a custom technology press release solution that includes distribution across traditional press release sites in addition to business blogging’s default, social, audio, multi-lingual, email, and on-site distribution.

Business Database Scale Up with Startups of the Year and Evergreen Tech Company News Pages

Startups of the Year 2023 concluded with over 623k votes, 30k startups, and 1k+ winners! The winners and nominees were excited, you can see a taste of their enthusiasm on Twitter/X,  LinkedInJ), and around the web. Our evergreen news pages are up to 12k+ total companies covered (ranking S&P 500, public companies, and startups alike). Companies with a regular Evergreen Page can claim, edit and also upgrade their page to an Evergreen Premium with more control over their internet presence. Our unique dataset curating the news about these companies is also hosted on Hugging Face (their CEO & CTO commented) and reused by MongoDB!

Vertical Category Curation Diversifies Streams of Income

We curated our entire library of 100k+ stories and 50k tags into 22 categories. This divides the library into 22 starting points, like /ai, /cloud, /business, to name a few. Advertisers now buy entire categories to ensure content-relevant ad placements across our site. We made redacted combined in Niche Ads & Billboard ads in 2023, compared to the total redacted in Billboard alone in 2022. That means each pageview on the page is worth 11% more!

HR, Payroll Reduction, “trimming the fats”

Both David & Linh have taken a payroll reduction in 2023 by 50%, and we will continue to cut our salaries significantly in 2024 until the company gets back on track. We’ve also reduced our staff by half. HackerNoon started 2023 with 40 staff members and started 2024 with only 20.

Experiments with new inventories in 2023 and beyond

We introduced HackerNoon’s Job Board with our European partner, Jobbio. We learned in 2022 & 2023 that targeted, niched and relevant ads convert more advertisers & long-term business partners than our regular top-nav billboard ads.

We also launched the HackerNoon Documentary! This is proof of concept for a docu-series on the future of the internet. It costs $2.99 and is a great way to spend 30 minutes of your time while supporting HackerNoon.

In 2024, we are thoughtfully looking into programmatic ads to capitalize on our stable, quality traffic more efficiently.

🚀Infrastructure Overhaul & Product Development

HackerNoon 3.0

The great refactoring. As a platform that makes software completely in-house, we get to choose which technology companies to partner with. Starting mid-2023, we’ve decided to migrate our backend database from Firestore/Google to Mongodb, our frontend tech from Vercel premium to a combination of Vercel/Svelkit, and our email host from Sendgrid to Elastic. Removing Firestore greatly reduces the number of reads we pay for, and removing SendGrid greatly reduces the cost per email sent.  Not only will these refactorings make HackerNoon lighter, simpler, and more efficient, but they will also help reduce our cost of production by an estimated 25-35%.

Our Google Cloud Billing has slowly but surely trended down since June, when we started the refactoring

HackerNoon Mobile App (Apple, Google)

Our mobile app officially launched and has gone through 9 iterations already since September 2023! We were briefly the top 100 apps in the US, Vietnam, Brazil, and Ukraine during launch month. With the latest version (version 1.9), users can read, write, listen, and submit any story to HackerNoon. And we added 12 additional languages to read our prime library of technology stories. This update is a commitment to helping technologists to not only more easily create content but also to reach and serve worldwide readers from their mobile devices. More mobile app release notes.

Niche Technology Publication Network powered by the HackerNoon CMS (beta)

In just a few clicks, a HackerNoon account can turn into a standalone site. This year, we are building a 500+ owned network of sites via the HackerNoon CMS with a focus on curating and distributing the world’s highest-quality open-source content. HackerNoon sites are now going live every week. Some WIP examples include:,,,,,, Blog.DavidSmooke.Net,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and more coming soon!

Beautiful Landing Pages powered by the HackerNoon CMS

We also started to host many pages in-house using our own page-builder as opposed to using 3rd party CMS like Squarespace, Wix, or Strikingly. Examples of some of these in-house landing pages using our own page builder Include: HackerNoon Mobile App, Web 2.5, Why Publish Pages (Content,  #Startups, #AI, #Programming), About Page,, Testimonial Pages (Writers, Customers, Readers), & Writing Contests.

Technological Integration

In order to make the content management system that powers HackerNoon best in class, we can’t build everything ourselves. We integrate a lot of best-in-class solutions and technologies. Some of the recent notable CMS integrations include:

New search discovery experience and renewed partnership with Algolia

Yet another year of our mutually beneficial partnership (we pay them via in-kind ads!) Algolia helps beautifully index and discover our content, while we surface their Ad on our search page & search bar.

Steering into the internet’s pixelated ethos and using open source design as an adoption channel

The Pixel Icon Library are the 1,440 original icons used on HackerNoon, and now they are open sourced and available on GitHub, Figma (1.6k users), and as an NPMjs package. This builds on our open source release of the 2.0 version of the HackerNoon font, which is up to 3k downloads on DaFont. Use of our icons and fonts in other sites and apps are subtle endorsements of HackerNoon’s way of publishing, and our network of owned CMS sites will scale up this usage.

Helping Technologists to Market Themselves

HackerNoon validates contributions and expertise in the technology industry. In addition to entering Call to Actions (links to your portfolio, newsletter, jobs, or wherever), updating your social media profiles, and filling out your short and long-form bios, we now also empower users to flaunt their work and job history and rank top writers by technology categories (shipped this week, it has writers very excited).

💁How can you help?

Referral, referral, referral: we recently experimented with a Business Blogging Sales Referral Program for a 12 or 52-credit pack (base value of $4,788 and $15,548 respectively). If you think you can help refer customers to publish their announcements, blog posts, or technical documentation with HackerNoon, we are more than happy to share the details of the Referral Program with you!

Kind Regards,

CEO David Smooke and COO Linh Dao Smooke, HackerNoon

P.S. If seeking more regular updates from HackerNoon, I recommend subscribing to the #hackernoon-product tag,, and/or the #hackernoon tag.

P.P.S. Here are some recent news coverage about HackerNoon around the web: