I enjoyed Brian Morrissey’s Digiday podcasts which featured interviews with various media executives. His experience in publishing and advertising brings out a level of detail in his conversations that goes deeper than most but still accessible even for a trade publication.

His The Rebooting newsletter is his attempt to branch out on his own and share his findings each week via text. In this week’s issue he writes about the recent optimism in digital publishing startups due to several high-profile individuals setting up shop to try something new. In the last round, the large platforms (Facebook, Google) sucked up all the investment and called the shots, this time, he says, it’s different.

The long term opportunity lies in smarter bundles. New publishers like Defector Media, Every and Puck are building these models. Newsletters have always been a reaction to an industrialized content industry that uses distribution hacks to vacuum up attention data in the service of advertising. These new models allow for the content creators to share in the value they create. That’s only right, and the publications that try to hoard the upside will mostly lose out. More egalitarian ownership is a key part of Web3 but also the future of publishing businesses.

The Roaring 20s of digital publishing

I am a fan of smart aggregation and bundles. With all the newsletters and small media start-ups, the pendulum will swing back towards discovery. Modern machine learning technology and new subscription/rev-share models should provide an opportunity for innovators in this area.

Maybe this time, Lucy will let Charlie Brown kick the football.