State of The Noonion Q2 2021: We Made over $1M in Revenue!

6 Sept 2021

Every quarter, our CEO David and COO Linh sent a shareholder newsletter to Hacker Noon’s 1.3k shareholders. You can read all redacted versions here.

πŸ’°First thing first, how we've made money this year

We're very excited that Ad by Tag, Writing Contest and Startups of the Year emerged as new and competitive offerings beside the usual revenue leader, Top Nav Billboard. HackerNoon 2021 Year to Date Revenue is over $1M !!!! This is more than we expect total expenses for all of 2021 to be, as well as, a 168% increase over 2020 revenue, a 343% increase over 2019 revenue, and we still have three and half months left in 2021.

So far this year, we've published 6,844 stories in addition to 1,213 tech company news pages and 4,553 startups city award pages. These business pages are showing great early signs for their value to reflect the technology industry and have startups initiative dialogue with us, but it required increased editorial work to publish more startup voting, tech news pages, and HackerNoon newsletters. We'll be ramping up part-time editorial staff through the next 6 months to focus on increasing our rate of publishing quality tech stories.

We launched Startup of the Year Vote with our custom voting software that ran the Noonies, featuring 40k+ startups, redacted in sponsorship revenue, and $100k+ rewards for startups. You can check out Discussions on LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as, the initial 100+ Interviews with Startup Founders. The headline sponsors are Brex, Blockster, and ByBit. It launched on July 26, and already has more site visitors than our first Noonies instance. Voting runs through January 2022, prolonging the duration for startups nominees and winners to market their own success. This is the 3rd profitable instance of our voting software, paving the way for more software expansion down the road.

πŸ”₯ Notable Progress Since May 15 2021

● New Text Editor with Markdown support. Built with Outline's open source text editor, this new editor supports Markdown and rich Notion-like block embeds. We'll be supporting both text editors for the foreseeable future, and possibly adding more.

● Blogging Fellowship Expansion. This program brought in 325k+ readers in 6 months from pilot program of 8 fellows. In the vein of a free BeOnDeck, we've expanded this program to 20 fellows for the second batch.

● Startup Special Packages. We have our first purchases of $1k without first talking to a human! While creating a lot of value for customers, this package also requires no limited inventory and very little labor to serve. It's really a great way for technical companies to distribute their post posts and validate that they are a company worth covering.

● Premium Tech Company News Pages. Feature launched in January, updated in June, and has first dozen customers committed.

● Slogging has published 150+ posts from the HackerNoon community, and has been installed in its first communities: Product School (100k+ members), Greater Colorado Venture Fund (yay our shareholders!), The State of Digital Publishing, and Civic Hackers.

● Email Centralization. We're scaling up Noonification, Tech Brief and Transactional Emails with SendGrid. New user email settings with much better control of which types of emails they'd like to receive, and even what time zone certain emails will be delivered.

● Text Interview Signup Flow. Now, users can be directed to an existing structured draft. The first 100+ interviews published via this format are live here. If you are a startup founder, signup here to get interviewed by HackerNoon.

● Signup with Facebook, GitHub, Twitter - in addition to the existing Google and email. Smoother signup experience.

● Top Stories (so far) in 2021 :-)

● Page performance projects (have you noticed the speed at which things load has much improved? πŸ˜‰).

● Account Management for Premium Brand Publishing Customers, such as Lisk, Bybit, and Checkpoint.

● Reader Dashboard. Personalized homepage for recommended stories, subscription management, bookmarks, and other useful resources. The framework also toggles to the writer dashboard, and upcoming brand dashboard.

● New Podcast Microsite. This Podpage is a repo of all our existing podcast. By the way, the Hacker Noon podcast passed 200k downloads last quarter!

● #Gaming-Metaverse Writing contest. Sandbox, the sponsor, pays out $5,800 to writers per month, and totals redacted revenue to HackerNoon. This model follows the success of the #Decentralized-Internet and #Velo writing contests.

● 10 Default rejection emails so editors communicate precisely to writers why their story got rejected, from grammar, bad formatting, plagiarism, length, audience fit, to general low quality.

● More original default thumbnails (12 new original robots designs!) to liven up the profiles that don't want to upload or connect a profile photo.

● Niche Marketing Ad Art Creator. Admins can now create original ad imagery within the HackerNoon content management system. Soon brands will be able to too.

● New reading discovery experiences, such as SuperTag, a word cloud design of overlapping tags, and Live, a real-time feed of readers giving emoji reactions to writers.

😻 More Upcoming

● Around the Web on the Story Page and Writer Stats pages. Using the AHrefs API, we will automatically cite where every story is mentioned, discussed, and/or linked around the internet.

● Brand Dashboard. We're in the prototype phase for customers to manage their ad spend and pay for compartmentalized offerings. This will also re-use our Bing News API work to track company mentions around the web to grease the flywheel signup flow.

● Writer Dashboard 3.0. Now that we have writing contests, web monetization, multiple text editors, story templates, around the web analytics, and more ways to work with writers, it's time to update how we organize the writer dashboard.

● Publishing and distributing audio files for all text stories in our library ;-)

● The Noonies! Our annual tech awards will be back in the summer. So far, sponsorship commitment is redacted.

● Verified writers program βœ… Working to up our rate of publishing by empowering the top contributors to earn and leverage the publish button.

● Individual User About Pages The about page is the second most visited page on the average site (after the homepage). With this user about page, we are validating writers’ expertise and perspective, and giving readers a page they can be proud of on HackerNoon.

● More Slack communities to install Slogging, and entry into the Slack App Directory to follow.

● Emoji Credibility Indicators for every story. These indicators provide important context for readers, such as clarifying where things like original reporting, referral links, and vested interests.

● Mobile Reading App. Currently this is in internal beta testing, our first mobile app is focused on the growing aggregate mobile time reading.

● A revamped Editor Dashboard and in-app workflow to match our evolving and expanding editorial team.

● Expansion into product reviews as technology stories via partnership with Advon Commerce and listing physical tech goods via ecommerce content partnership with StackCommerce.

● More Writing Contests. These drive words published, time reading, and money made - more to come!

● Noonies Voting Software backend improvements. To better leverage existing functions we built for our content management system (like social signup/in, ad by content relevancy placements, and database curation capabilities), we'll be moving our voting software's backend into Firebase.

● More default profile call to actions. Building on the most popular use cases for user generated call to actions, we'll be baking more default call to actions into the HackerNoon profile.

πŸ₯Ί How you can help

● Purchase or refer the Startup Specials publishing packages (free, growing $1k, and scaling $10k). After publishing thousands of brands, we think this package may be a sweet spot to scaling our customers' internet stories with inventory that is inexpensive for us to serve.

● Now (still) Hiring: Slogging Engineer, Fullstack Engineer, Editors, Junior Editors, and Sales Development.

● Use Hacker Noon! It’s a simple ask - but will help you test the core competencies of the platform, aka, to read, write, learn and publish.

"The human mind is not built for contentment," said Contrapoint (2021). We've come a long way, and yet, we still work to publish better stories, build better software and just be a better company. Right now, HackerNoon has record-breaking revenue, ships more software than ever, but what keeps us up at night is still that one customer who didn't renew, or the ways Google algo affects our traffic, or that person on Twitter who didn't appreciate our jokes... πŸ™‚ C'est la vie? Onwards, we ship! Onwards, we publish! Onwards, we learn!

Thank you for your support. Until next time, stay safe, healthy, and take care. 🀞

HackerNoon COO Linh Dao Smooke & CEO David Smooke

P.S. Some notable recent press citations of HackerNoon stories: Los Angeles Times, Business Insider, Wired, Benzinga, AOL, Yahoo, CleverProgrammer, Product School, Mozilla, Boulder Startup Week, MIT Sloan Review, Facebook Engineering, Nasdaq, Vercel, Tribune, Dice, Colorado Startups, Google Developers, StackOverflow, Investor Place, Apache, Square, TechTimes, Intel, RBC, Asana,,, Twilio, and CIO.

P.P.S. For previous shareholder newsletters, visit State of the Noonion.