Casey and Mark
6:41PM Apr 19, 2021
living out their dreams. And together we're building what we hope will be a more sustainable model for some kinds of journalism and during a really hard time, that is such a cool thing. And I hope you feel good about supporting us, we feel great that you were here. So let's talk about the main event today. One of the ideas we have for side channel is doing journalism with the community already, just over the last day in the chat, you've been sharing links and ideas, those good tweets and other stuff that makes us smarter. And that
is really guests and have live conversations with them together. And so last week, as we were getting everything set up for today, I got word from Facebook, that CEO Mark Zuckerberg might be available to stop by and see what we were up to here. And I thought, well, here I am using software that is basically brand new to me in front of hundreds of people who I will be making a first impression on. And that seemed like the exact right note of chaos to start a side channel with. But you're all here. My microphone is on the discord engineering team is standing by Thank you, Discord. And I believe we have mark mark, are you here?
Yeah, I am. Thanks for having me. Casey, I guess Welcome to Discord. I'm glad that this can be your first time using the product. I have to say I'm I am fans of both the work that you're doing at platformer and what the discord folks are doing. I think it's a great product. Yeah, well, I was just about to ask because discord is pretty new to me. And I know that you check out all of the big social products. Well, what are your impressions of discord?
Well, I think the team has done a very good job with it. I mean, I think it's, you know, I think it's impressive, technically, I think the product is well implemented. And I think it kind of plays into this broader theme of different kinds of community products that are getting built. And increasingly, you know, a lot of the the new social experiences are getting built off of messaging rather than on a broadcast channels. And I think that this kind of
community product does a good job of blending a lot of those things together. And, you know, where we build a bunch of things like this at Facebook, obviously, between WhatsApp and messenger, and all the groups work that we do that a lot of people use, but there's just so much awesome stuff happening around the internet. And it's and and I do think that the discord folks have done a great job. Yeah, I mean, there's no way it sells for 10 billion, right? It's got to be closer to 20.
I mean, that's, that's
all right. So you've been popping up in some unexpected places online. Lately, you've been on clubhouse, you're here on discord today. And I think you may have some news to share about what Facebook is planning with audio, and we'll get into that. But first, I wanted to ask you, what is your theory on why audio products are taking off in a big way right now? And is it weird that tech companies built social video stuff before they built audio?
So I think part of the reason why, you know, I love doing things like this
are because it feels so organic. And I think that that goes to audio is a medium. Right. And that's it, I think just allows for longer form discussions and exploring ideas and, you know, going back and forth with with different people and, and I think that that just allows you to get into different things that, frankly, it's a lot harder to and, and, you know, in some of the other mediums, audio, I think is also just a lot more accessible
and accessible for nerves, because you can multitask. Right? And I don't know how many of you who were kind of listening to this now, you know, we're doing something else, right? It's, uh, it doesn't require your visual attention. You know, I think increasingly, a lot of us have, you know, things like air pods in, you know, where, where we can just listen in the background while doing something else. But from a production experience, it's also a lot more accessible, right? And you don't have to kind of get a whole video set up. You know, it's like, I don't have to, you know, I don't, I don't have to pay attention to what I'm wearing when we're doing this, right. It's just it's like, it's, it's just, it's a lot easier and more and more accessible, I think so. So I think video is great. Audio sorry, is great video is great, too.
And the way that that I kind of think about all these different formats, is that for each of these kind of big first class types of formats, right, so text, photos, video, and audio as well. There, you can basically intersect each of those media with every single type of audience that someone would want to interact with. And there's an interesting product to build at that intersection. Right so if you take you know, private audio one on one that that gets you to calling or it's a voice calling or something that we've done for a long time with with with WhatsApp and messenger and it's it's
vary widely used, you know, groups, you can get to the kind of chat that we're having, now we're scaling for a smaller group to, to a larger group,
then you there's also an element of kind of short form versus long form, where, you know, with with text short form might look, you know, more like a post or a tweet long form might look more like, you know, blog, or journalism or even a book.
And so you basically have all these different ways that that, that each media intersects with different kinds of products that can get built on the spectrum from private to public and short form to long form and an ephemeral to permanent, and
there's just a ton of innovation and different things to do. So, you know, that's, that's the thing that I was hoping to talk about today is, you know, we're, we're sort of in this mode right now at Facebook, where
we've built a lot of text products, a lot of photos, products, a lot of videos, products, all across the spectrum. And, you know, I think that the the kind of high level picture here is that we think that audio is, is, of course, also going to be a first class medium, and that there are all these different products to be built across this whole spectrum. So I just kind of thought, a refund, to walk through the roadmap of what we're building over the next three to six months, across all of these different things. And it um, you know, of course, it includes some areas that, that have been, you know, popular recently like, like podcasting, and, and kind of live audio rooms like this. But I also think that there's some interesting things that are, that are under explored in the area overall, that I'd that I'd love to get into. Yeah, I mean, one of my favorite joke questions when I meet with founders is tell me your entire product roadmap. So you know, if you're willing to share some stuff, yeah, we're happy to hear it. But what about on the shortform? side, which I do think has been maybe less explored than some of the other players here? Yeah, so that's, so maybe let's start with that. Yeah, one of the projects that we're working on, we call sound bites. And I guess the best way to think about this is, if you intercepted what we're doing with reels, in Instagram, and in Facebook, with video kind of short form video,
that you can create a, an algorithmic feed basically, or just or just kind of an experience where people can keep on seeing different reels that they're interested in, I think that there should be an audio version of that. And that's basically what we're working on. So the idea here is it's short form audio clips, you know, whether it's, you know, people sharing things that they find funny, you know, jokes, different kind of insights or kind of pithy things that that people want to share a cover a bunch of different genres and topics. And then you can, you can both share that and have it on your, on your profile and put it in people's feeds to consume is kind of one off pieces of content. Now, like a real, or, you know, we're gonna create this experience where you can basically just chain a bunch of them together for a long time. So it's, it basically is creating this dynamic algorithmic feed based on your interests around what
around basically different audio content that you can consume in the background. But is the snackable thing so I'm not that's that that is a pretty interesting, and there are some some folks who are working on projects like this, but I think this is generally more unexplored as an area compared to some of the areas that are already a lot bigger, like podcasts. And my understanding is that the way you're thinking about this, it might not necessarily just be like raw audio, like we're sharing into our microphones, but you're going to sort of add creative tools and let people kind of, you know, add the equivalent of audio audio filters. Yeah. So I mean, I think for all of the things that we'll talk about today, a big part of it is basically building the product to have I guess, what we call an audio studio or recorder in your in your in your pocket. But that note includes everything from you know, basically being able to,
you know, do different effects like like speech to, to text, which we've already done in stories and reels and stuff to different voice morphing, and, you know, voice effects, different sound effects, but also just some basic things like removing background noise or upsampling, lower quality audio, that you might capture on a phone into much higher quality audio using machine learning tools. So all of that stuff, we want to give people a lot of power around that but make it really easy to use. And that goes for everything from sound bites to you know, eventually the just when you're on a an audio call with someone to of course if you're doing podcasts or a live audio room like this. Yeah, I mean
One of the things that I have found a little odd about particularly the the live audio rooms we've seen so far is that the audio just sounds the same in every single place, which was just to me seems like it would make it harder for a company to, to thrive over the long term, right? If it if it is essentially just commoditized. So it sounds like you want the audio that is on Facebook to sound like it was made on Facebook.
Yeah, I mean, I think that there is there is certainly a field between the,
the tools that you give for creation, and the feel of the experience, but we also just want to make it so that people can produce stuff that they're proud of easily with a phone. Right. And, and, you know, it's easier to do that with audio than video. But
But still, you know, there are a bunch of tools that can help people produce more creative things that they're proud of that that I just think will unlock, you know, what we find in building all these social media tools are there a lot of people who sort of, you know, have something that's really interesting that they want to share it, but then when they kind of get it down, whether it's in writing or you know, or a photo of it, it just doesn't kind of look as good as what they had in their mind. And then they don't feel proud enough of it or think it's interesting enough so that they don't put it out there in the world. And I think if you can make it so that that people can produce can take their their insights and in creativity and as easily as possible, translate that into something that they're proud of. That just unlocks a lot of value for people in social connections. That's something that we're that we're pretty excited about. Yeah, so when should we expect to see these sound bites in Facebook products?
Um, so all the stuff that we'll talk about, I think is coming over the next few months. Ish, you know, maybe some of my take might take a little bit longer. But this is all stuff that were, you know, over the next period planning on on rolling out at some, you know, most of the stuff is not stuff that we're going to roll out this week. But But I thought it would be useful to go through this overall picture of what we're doing, because I think the sort of the high level thing, again, is is is sort of what does it look like to treat audio as a first class medium in the way that we would photos or videos or something like that, rather than just kind of any specific product that we're that we're building, this is part of an overall approach that we're taking that that will just tone over over a long period of time. Right. But it makes sense to go to some of the other things. I mean, they're gonna say, Yeah, tell us what else? Yeah, so I mean, the the second one, I think, is, is maybe a bit more straightforward. It's basically about podcasts. And one of the things that we found is that there are 170 million people on Facebook, who are connected to a page.
That's for a podcast already. So. So they've expressed that they that they want to get updates from the podcast, they want to get that content, but we just literally don't have a format today for that page, or kind of people who want to share podcasts to kind of put that out to, to the people who want to follow that. So we're going to build that. And that is going to be you know, again, there the creator tools for for people doing podcast to share it. But then on the consumption side, you know, an experience where you can just discover that and feed, start playing it, put it in the background, you know, maybe go to a different app, have it keep playing, right and or just be able to multitask and do different kinds of stuff. So that's sort of,
you know, podcasts are obviously a big thing already. But But I think just unlocking the ability for people and creators to share long form content, there is going to be pretty valuable. Yeah.
And was there a third thing that was sort of like in this realm?
Yeah, I mean, the the the third area, I think, is more around, you know, live audio, like the type of stuff that we're doing. And I think that's been a really interesting trend that,
that, you know, I think every once in a while a new,
like a new medium comes along that can be adapted to a lot of different areas, right. So I think feeds were kind of like this initially, where we built newsfeed and in 2006, but then since then, almost every social product has some sort of feed, but it's like a feed isn't one thing. It's a format that basically takes the shape and feel of the context that it's in. So you know, your feed on Pinterest or LinkedIn is gonna feel a lot different from your feed on Facebook, for example. And, you know, we've seen that a bit with stories, too. And I think that that's certainly going to be true with these kind of live rooms. You know, I think
the area where the areas where I'm most excited about it on Facebook, are basically in the large number of communities and groups that exist. I think that you already have these communities that are organized around interests and allowing people to come together and
have rooms where they can talk is I think it'd be a very useful thing when we launched video rooms. earlier last year, groups and communities were one of the bigger areas where that took off. So I think around audio, you know, just given how much more accessible it is, that'll be a pretty exciting area as well. And then the other area, of course, is just with creators, right? I think a lot of the the one theme on all of this is, you know, there is this, this just kind of massive crater economy that's growing.
I think it's just really important to the future, because I think any good vision of the future involves a lot more people being able to make a living on a day to day basis, by just, you know, expressing their creativity, doing things that they want, and having the tools and economy around them to support that as a living in a job. And
so I think giving people the tools to be able to do that, and whether it's engaging with their community and in the kind of format that you're doing here, you know, or podcasting, and having the tools to make money off of that, I think, is a really important thing. And that's something that we're going to focus on a lot, too. Totally. And I have a bunch of questions I want to ask you about the the creator stuff, maybe just a couple more on audio. I mean, one, you know, as you've been talking about this, I'm picturing a world where a good, you know, percentage of people who are using Facebook at any given time, may not be looking at it like is that your hope here that at some point, people will be walking around town and Facebook is something that they're listening to, as opposed to something that they're scrolling through?
Yeah, I mean, it's an interesting question, I think it's possible that we'll get there, although in developing all of these things, we're actually really focused on the creator side, even more than the consumption side, you know, clearly, it needs to be a good consumption experience in order to, to, you know, enable creators to connect with folks, but I just think that there's a big opportunity to allow, you know, all these different groups to, to, to do new creative work, and to get paid for it. And then I think that this is one of the areas where I think our company has a lot to bring to the table, because we have built very advanced monetization tools and have a pretty robust economy, and be able to plug that into creators more broadly, not just an audio but you know, in all these different categories.
For video, I mean, that's, that's that's been a big thing is growing quickly for gamers and game creators. I mean, that's, that's growing journalists, influencers, like all kinds of different different creators, I think, this is a big part of what I think needs to happen over the next five years, I do think we've hit some sort of inflection where if you just look at the success that you're having with, with platformers, and example, it's, um, you know, it probably seemed like a pretty big risk when you started platformer, right? That it's like, maybe this thing isn't gonna work, but, but I think we've hit some kind of inflection where talented people like you can can easily, you know, make
a living and actually do quite well. And if you can do that, then, you know, obviously, if you could only kind of
barely make a living, that would be harder for for people who have maybe less experienced than you to also do that. But you know, at a point where you're making quite a big business off of what you're doing, then there's probably some hope for people who are kind of newer to the game to be able to make a living, and then you just support more creative people in this economy. So I guess I kind of think about that as a big part of this. And
some of the stuff that we're seeing in monetization, and we have this this product, called stars. For that we started off with game streaming and video streaming. And it's basically a way for, for fans to tip creators. And that's gone quite well, better than than then than I expected. And they're now expanding the ability for people to, you know, to give stars and to do tipping, in podcasts, and in, you know, live audio rooms like this, I think it's gonna be pretty powerful. So I'm excited about that. We've built out a pretty robust donation infrastructure, or I think overall, people have donated something like $5 billion to, to, to a bunch of different causes across the platform. And, you know, a lot of influencers and celebrities, especially when they create things, they're not necessarily just trying to make money for themselves, a lot of them are trying to raise money for other groups. So being able to plug that into a robust kind of donation infrastructure, I think is a pretty valuable set of tools. And then, you know, soon, we're also building out a bunch of tools for subscriptions. And, and the ability to give paid access on a kind of case by case basis, and we didn't pay a dime, online events and things like that, to help different folks with with COVID and in connection with some of the video rooms work that we did. So
There's just like a very big roadmap of different tools that people need for monetization. And all these things I think will end up applying across all these different areas, from video to audio to gaming, and all these different formats that we're building. I think so too. And and I do want to get to all the creative stuff, but but I want to ask one more big question about the audio stuff, which is, when big social networks launch new mediums like this, people like me worry a lot about how they will be moderated. Right, like, what are the policies? How are they enforced? Will the enforcement be equitable, globally? And then social audio is a fairly new thing? So like, Can something like this be rolled out globally in a responsible way?
Yeah, well, we have a little bit of practice at this, both from all the broader integrity, trust and safety work that we do, where I think at this point, we've probably built by far the most advanced AI tools to be able to identify,
you know, different harmful content, and across, you know, all these categories, whether it's your terrorist activity to child exploitation to people inciting violence, it's, you know, it's we've just gotten better and better at building
tools that can identify that stuff proactively and automatically, and I think our team working on all that stuff is, like 1000 people or something across the company. So it's just on the AI side, right? Or on the engineering side.
Right. We've also on video rooms, had to deal with some of the early abuse cases and have basically figured out, okay, what what did what do good rooms look like in in a community versus ones where there, there might be more abuse. So we have some early learning on that. But, um, you know, this from from covering the space, I mean, this is, it's an inherently adversarial space, you never solve it. It just you just improve, and you try to keep the level of,
of kind of, you know, crime or bad activity as low as possible, right. But it's not like if, you know, if you're trying to run a city, your goal isn't to eliminate all crime, right? It's to get it as low as possible. Because, you know, having no one do anything bad is just not a possible goal. Right? I mean, I also wonder like how, like the extent to which you can use the AI tools, you have to scan audio, the way that you're already doing it for like text and images? Like, is that a fairly one to one thing? Or do you have to sort of go out and like, build an entirely new infrastructure?
I mean, I think, well, there's a few different questions in the seminar. Some of it will be translatable. Unfortunately, every domain is a little bit different. Right? So that's part of the broader challenge on this stuff is there's about 20 categories of of harmful content that we track, right? It's, you know, ranging from the things that I just mentioned, you know, terrorism, child exploitation, incitement of violence, intellectual property violations, you know, different types of misinformation.
It just it, there's about 20 different categories, and you're doing that well across different mediums. And in, you know, well, more than 100 languages around the world. You know, you get you get some scale benefits. You know, it's not like you're starting from scratch every time you open up a new medium, or a new type of harm, but, but there's also specific work that needs to be done so that it'll certainly be a new area. But there's also this question of just kind of what should you enforce against and right. And I think that that's not, you know, that's going to be an open debate where, you know, I think, if we go back five years, I think a lot more people were more, you know, on the free expression side of things. Today, a lot of people still are, but there's also this, this kind of rising wave of more people who are basically calling, you know, for more stuff to be blocked or,
or limited in some way. And I think that that's that sort of
that set of debates, I think will be going on forever, in terms of where to find the right line, given what is going on in society and how to balance different social equity is around free expression. And,
and basically, people's safety and privacy. And the other equity is on the other side of that equation. So I don't take it for for granted that just because you have the ability to, to kind of do different kinds of enforcement that you you should always do every single thing. I think that a lot of the time, you want to be on the side of free expression and allowing people to have more conversations.
All right, well, let's talk about craters, since you brought him up. You know, so let's say this stuff rolls out. If a creator asked me like Casey, should I bet my audio business on Facebook? I think I'd probably say I don't know, because I don't know how much Facebook will care about audio in a year or two. Whereas if they just started a podcast and built a more direct relationship with our audience, that would be something that they could own forever.
So what what is your pitch going to be to folks to make Facebook their home?
Well, I think we're going to build these products, we hope that they will be valuable to a lot of people, we hope the monetization products will work. I'm fairly confident about that. And then I think over time, you know, different people will will just adopt them at different stages. But you know, like any new thing, you know, earlier on in the evolution, there's more risk and potentially more reward and adopting it. So it's not like early on, I'm not sure that, that we're going to be out saying that everyone should be doing this.
You know, just like, you know, you sort of had to make this big leap to, to substack, and platformer, and that felt like a big risk. But maybe for the next person who does it, maybe it'll feel a little bit less like a risk. But you know, maybe, because all these people now already have subscriptions to you in the first generation of substack. Folks, it'll actually be a little harder for the next generation to kind of get to the same scale.
I think that you have the kind of risk reward with all new with all new things. So.
But these things definitely go through an iterative development where, you know, it's, it's not like everything that we do is going to work the first time. But I do think we have a pretty good track record of over No, call it a three to five year period iterating on the things that we believe in, and getting them to a point where they're good. So and you mentioned video, right? Or,
you know, our video, video? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's, you know, I think that, that it's an interesting example, where,
you know, I think in that case, a number of folks jumped on that before the tools were mature. And it ended up working quite well for some creators, and not as well for other kinds of news publishers. But, you know, if you fast forward to where we are today, the video efforts overall, that we've done are massive, right? It's, it's, it's a, it's an increasingly central part of what we're doing across all of our products. And I think the, the scale of video that people are watching, it's, you know, not quite as big as YouTube, but it's, um, but it's, it's, you know, almost there on a lot of fronts, and, and in doing quite well, and, you know, the revenue shares, and a lot of people are doing quite well, from that. So, I think that the audio work that we'll do, will, will probably, you know, follow a similar trajectory, if we stay committed to it. And if some of these areas, like podcasts are a little bit more mature, so they're the, you know, there's probably a pretty good sense that people are gonna want podcasts and our monetization tools are,
you know, I think we'll probably perform quite well. Whereas other areas like sound bites, I wouldn't be surprised if it takes a little bit of iteration to get those to work really well. But what I can tell you is, is that this is something that we're that we're committed to, we do see this whole suite of audio products, as similar to kind of what we saw with video and what we saw with photos before and all the different kinds of, of text that that people want to share. So this is certainly something that we're going to invest a lot in building out and iterating on over the next, you know, several years. Yeah, I wonder if you know, maybe the lesson that will be drawn from the the pivot and video that will play out here is that like video and audio products on social networks will be really good for individual creators or small companies? And like, with big publishers, it just makes a little bit less sense. Is that a good? Good guess? Or no, we're too early to say?
I'm not sure. I think that that's, I mean, I think a big part of the creative economy is that it's enabling individuals and in sort of shifting power from some traditional institutions, to individuals to exercise their their own creativity. And I think that that's a positive trend in the world. It I think it's really empowering for a lot of people and allows a lot of new stuff to, to get created. But yeah, I think based on that, your, your prediction of this is likely to work better for for maybe individual creators or small groups. I mean, I could see that that playing out for sure. You know, I think over time, a lot of those individuals will end up building up quite sizable enterprises on their own. Right. So I mean, I don't know, what your what your plans are with platformer, but, you know, as it continues growing, I wouldn't be surprised if you, you know, hired and brought on more people and built it into a bigger team. You know, you're already doing side channel teaming up with other other folks. So you're kind of building new types of organizations on your own. So I do think that these tools will scale with the next generation of folks but I just think that enabling creators to to build good businesses and support
themselves while while kind of pursuing their creative interest is, is going to be a very powerful part of not just what we're doing, but I think a lot of other folks who are participating and building these greater tools to get well. And speaking of that, I know we have a lot of folks from Spotify here. What are you working on with Spotify when it comes to podcast?
I'm so we're actually working with Spotify on music, as as the heart of this music is obviously an important part of audio. And, you know, we have a long running partnership with Spotify, going back many, many years. But as part of the experience that we want to enable,
you know, in the apps across, basically making audio, a first class type of, of media. One of the things of course, is there's a lot of musicians on the products. You know, musicians are a really important part of the creative economy, we want them to be able to share content, and people to be able to consume it and play it in the background while they're using the app. We want people to be able to share content from their favorite artists and share playlists and different kinds of stuff. And then in your feed, just be able to click and have a little player in line and be able to use that. So I think that that's, that's going to be it's it's it's been a really fun integration and building it.
You know, we we've called that project boombox is is our is the name that we've used and working with Spotify on it. And yeah, I think that that's part of the overall picture of what we're trying to develop as well. So I mean, yeah, I mean, we've talked about four different product areas today between the sound bites, podcasts, live audio rooms, and the boombox and kind of music player work that we're doing with Spotify. So it's a lot of different stuff, in addition to the creator tools and monetization. But that's sort of a picture of the the roadmap and some of the stuff that we're we're planning on doing for the next few months. Yeah. Can we talk a little bit about newsletter stuff? Facebook has said that they're working on newsletter things? And it seems like there may be some intersection there between, you know, the written word and audio, is that something you see? Yeah, so this is, this is something I'm pretty excited about, right? Because a lot of the the journalists and folks who, who I think have been most innovative online,
you know, are not just doing newsletters, they do that. And they also do podcasts, right, because I think the mediums they complement each other, right, they're things that you can explore in a longer form conversation. But then when you're in writing, you're, you're kind of getting, you know, a definitive and kind of the clearest possible version of something down. And it's it's easier excerpt and all that.
But I think a lot of people want both. And I think a product where a journalist or a creator Can, can basically create a subscription for people who want to follow them, that spans both a newsletter and a podcast is going to be a really powerful thing. So that's a big part of what we're going to enable with, with some of the monetization tools around podcasts that dovetails with the with the work that we're that we're planning to do.
around our our work on on newsletters, and giving tools for independent journalists, I think enabling both of those things to come together on extremely favorable terms to journalists and creators, will be a pretty powerful thing. When you say extremely favorable terms that makes me remember that substack takes 10% of revenue for writers, it is this a case where their margin is your opportunity?
Well, I think we come at it from from different perspectives. I mean, I think substack has done a great work. So I'm I'm very complimentary of of what they're doing. And I think they're doing a good job with the product.
But I do at the same time think that, you know, the biggest part of our business is not going to be taking a small cut of things from creator tools. So that does give us the opportunity to basically,
you know, build tools at potentially more favorable terms. And have more of the economics go to creators. If you think about what our interests are in the space, we want this kind of creativity to thrive. We want that content to be out there into to be created. And we think that that basically, you know, helps foster social connections helps build community, you know, help give people things to talk about and share and that's that's ultimately into the bread and butter of what we do but
Being able to build creative tools
that I think will just unlock the ability for more people to pursue creative work as their job is just, I think we'll we'll kind of make that all better, and also just contributes to a future that I think is better. I mean, as you know, like I was saying before, I think almost any version of the future that's optimistic, includes people doing more creative work, you know, rather than just stuff that they feel like they have to be doing. Yeah. But at the same time, though, you're building these monetization tools, and they're gonna run right into App Store policies from Apple and Google that could force creators to give up 15 or 30% of their revenue. Do you feel like that limits what you can build here? And does it make it harder to create a kind of middle class for creators?
Yeah, I mean, I, I've been pretty vocal that I think some of the App Store policy is
hurt the creative economy.
You know, I think especially during COVID, you're taking a 30% tax of activities from a lot of small businesses that have moved from having physical shops to online, right. So if you have like a physical trainer, who used to go meet with people in person in the gym, but you know, now is doing lessons online over something like video rooms, and we offer a paid online event products, that way, they can charge people for that. And then you have Apple taking a 30% cut of that just because the person is forced to be online because they can't have their gym open. You know, that's tough. Right. And that's something that, that that I that I don't think has been has been good. But
But look on this, I think it will be okay, I think it will work. It would be, from my perspective, more ideal if the the tax on these things were lower, I think it would allow the economy to grow faster. But what you've seen with things like substack is, you know, you're not getting subscriptions through the app store. Right. So you're not paying 30% apple? And I think anything that that we do, I think we'll want to both give people options that are kind of outside of the apps and on the web. So that way they can they can kind of reach their own subscribers through the channels that you and others are doing today. But I think the question of is, is if incrementality, right, so what how many additional customers would be able to Would you be able to reach through the app store and, and or through apps, right? So through Facebook, through Instagram. And if that number is sufficiently high, on top of what you're doing already, that it may still be economically better for you. Now, there's another part of this, though, that's not just the economics, which I think is really important. And that's portability. Right? I think one of the powerful things that substack has done is, is making it so that if you are maybe you're a bad example, because I think you may have some specific contract with them for some period. But But you know, if someone signs up with them, or if you once or your contract of a year or two years, or whatever it is done, decides to pick up and go to another place, your subscriber list is yours. And I'm that that is a really powerful part of the Creator economy too. And it's one of the things that's interesting is if someone else is is intermediating, your payments, like an app store, it actually not only hurts your economics, but hurts your portability. So I think that that is is a part of this that we're pretty focused on too. Because when we talk about giving favorable terms, I think it's actually not just the economics, I think it's also the portability so that we creators know that if they start building up a business here, that, that they're not just gonna be locked in, and we'll be able to take it to different places. So that's an area that that we're pretty excited about innovating on it as well. Well, I mean, for what it's worth, I think that that's great. That was my first question when I heard that y'all were working on this was would creators be able to take their list with them? Like that is the sort of the whole ballgame here. So you know, if you can build a world where that is more possible, I think that's a good thing. Um, I want to ask you about where you think we're headed here. It was sort of related to that last question. I started writing a newsletter, honestly, because I was tired of fighting for attention in the newsfeed like the particular sorts of things I write about are not Facebook newsfeed bait for the most part. And so I started doing a newsletter and now this community because I wanted a more direct connection with an audience, you know, but at the same time, I see that newsletters are now proliferating, right? People are already complaining that they may be subscribed to too many get a big company like Facebook sees an opportunity to maybe aggregate some of those together and do something with it. So is all of this going back to my newsletters being or rather to newsletters in general being consumed via ranked feeds as opposed to the inbox and if you were me, what would you do about that?
I mean, I think you probably have a sense of where this is going, right, which is, in these social products go in waves, we're at the beginning of something, a space is less pressurized, which might mean that there are just fewer people doing newsletters in this case,
which means that if someone subscribes to you, maybe they don't have a lot of other folks that they're subscribing to. So, you know, right now, you know, you're not competing in a field you're competing in, you know, maybe their their Gmail inbox or something, you know, so I wake up in the morning, and I, I get your, your newsletter and a few others that I subscribe to. And you know, I don't, I don't always have time to read all of them. Well, I get yours in the evening, not not not in the morning, which I actually think is a good touch, by the way, because the other ones I do think,
are sort of competing for morning email time reading attention, but you're giving away my secrets. Mark, please, please, I beg you. Look, it's, you're gonna have to, it's it's a
fight. So where's it all going? Yeah. So I mean, I think as the space as more people produce good stuff, there will be more competition, whether it's in an email inbox or a feed for attention, I think that that's one of the big questions that that there will need to be innovation around is, what is the carrying capacity of a medium, right? How many newsletters Can someone subscribe to, before they just can't really get value out of it anymore. And, you know, part of the the point of an algorithmic feed, is to make it so that you can basically stay connected to a lot of people and make sure that you're seeing the most important stuff, right. And there's the in sociology, there's the old concept of Dunbar's number, right? It's the idea that, you know, people can maintain connections with about 150 other people. And, you know, and a lot of social contacts, when it when a tribe or group expands beyond 150, it starts to subdivide into other groups, because that's sort of what our human capacity is for social connections. So one of the ways that I thought about the work that we were doing earlier on with with newsfeed was, can we extend people's natural social capacity to be able to stay connected to more than 150 people at once. And part of the way that you do that is by more efficiently surfacing what's going on, right. So in the same way that, you know, maybe glasses as a tool, help you see better, you know, I would hope that Facebook newsfeed as a tool will help you stay connected to a larger number of people, and kind of maintain that connectivity in a way that you wouldn't otherwise. So I do think there will probably at some point need to be innovation on the side of how do we increase the number of creators that someone can, can have a relationship with in order to be able to grow the economy? So I don't know exactly what that looks like yet. But, but but I do think you're gonna Yeah, as this all gets built up more, there certainly will be more competition.
something to look forward to?
Well, this has been really fascinating. You're right. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I'm gonna start on my newsletter, and 2017, for sure. But you know, at the same time, I do want to make sure that there's opportunity for a lot more people to do something like this, you know, Charlie, who joined side channel, you know, just quit his job a couple weeks ago. And I think he has a huge opportunity ahead of him too. And, you know, frankly, I just think journalists need all the help they can get what from, you know, tech companies, civil society, you know, maybe even the government to ensure a healthy future for that. But of course, you know, the opportunity goes beyond journalism, and I think could help people do more creative work, which is great. But let me end on a serious question. So you've talked about a lot of really positive things that Facebook can do here to make life easier for people like me, and and many more, you know, this side channel is an experiment. And, you know, I think platformer, readers generally have a pretty nuanced sense of like, what Facebook is, and does in the world. They have a lot of questions about it. But you know, for the most part, I think they have a pretty nuanced approach. We have other people in the server, who have a lot of concerns about what Facebook is, I don't know, you know what all of those are, but I'm sure we got a very active state a reaction chat going here. And so I sort of want to ask you the question that I asked Nick Clegg when I talked to him like a week or so ago, which is, you know, that you run a very polarizing company. And some folks, I think, have maybe given up on the idea that Facebook can be net positive in the world. So what is the case that you make to yourself every day that it is?
Well, I think that this is about enabling people. Right. So the question for me is, do you believe at some basic level, that if you empower individuals, that that leads to more good? And, you know, I think that, you know, we're in a very tumultuous time and a lot of institutions and, you know, things that have been around
you know, people are losing faith. And I think some for good reasons and some are not. But but that, that that dynamic is really shifting. And I think that a lot of the people in those, those institutions
who are who are primarily sympathetic to it, look at a shift in the world, as if a vision of the future where there's more individuals who have more power, and can can kind of do what they want, rather than going through those channels. That that's not a good future. And, you know, and, you know, we tell stories about things like, you know, how without traditional gatekeepers on information, you have things like misinformation Run, run rampant. And, and look, I'm not trying to downplay that, right, I think misinformation is a real issue. And I think that that there should be things that that are focused on,
on basically stopping that from spreading, we invest a lot in that. But I think if you look at the Grand arc here, what's really happening is individuals are getting more power, and and more opportunity to create the lives and the jobs that they want to connect with people, they want to connect with the ideas that they want to share the ideas that they want. And I just think that that will lead to a better world, it will be different from the world that we had before. I think it will be more diverse, I think more different ideas and models will be able to exist. And I think it inevitably means that some of the people who kind of had control over that world in the past will lose it. And that that's that that I can see why those folks will lament the direction that it's going in. But But my concern is that we're too frequently telling the negative sides of it from the perspective of,
of the institutions that may be not on on the winning side of these changes, were I think the people who are on the winning side of these changes are individuals, you know, whether that's the people who are going to use these tools and share, connect to the people, they want to have all kinds of new experiences. Or this whole new set of people in the creative economy, who are now going to be able to participate in a whole new set of jobs that didn't exist in the past, but alive, fundamentally more creativity in the world. So, I mean, I've learned over the last several years not to be you know, to pollyannish about this, there are real issues that need to be dealt with. But my own sense is that the narrative
is a little too biased, or maybe a lot too biased towards telling the negative side of the issues, rather than all the value and opportunity that is that is being created. And, you know, that's what I care about. And we're committed to building that out. I think technology is a big enabler of expanding people's capacity to do more things, whether that's subscribing to more creators and, you know, having a larger carrying capacity for the amount of newsletters that and journalism that they can subscribe to, or allowing people to stay socially connected to more people they want. And I just think we have to keep at it and keep working with these things. And I think it can be very positive over time.
Very good. Well, that gives us a lot to think about. And I think we should probably leave it there. As always, I am both fascinated by and nervous about what you're building. But I do think there's a lot of opportunity here for individuals. And that's going to be cool to see I think. So. Thank you for coming here on our first day. And if you ever want to take some more questions, we would love to have you back here at Slack channel. All right, well, thanks for having me. It's been fun. All right, thank you, Mark. You can see by um, I want to thank you all for listening. And I also want to thank my co hosts here inside channel, Annie, Eric, Kim, Nick, Delia, Charlie and Ryan. All of them have been awesome partners in creating the vision for a side channel and I am so grateful they said yes to giving this thing a try. And I also want to thank the discord team who gave us a lot of help as we were trying to figure out their software over the past few weeks. So Michael, Rick, Steven, thank you all so much.
And that's that I'm going to go right today's platformer, which we're going to have some some highlights from today's chat. And then I think I'm gonna try to be back here at about 5pm Pacific to have a little happy hour we can talk about the interview. You can tell me what I missed, yell at me a little bit. So that should be good too. So I hope to see you then. In the meantime, go forth chat meme and be kind to each other. We're doing this thing. Thanks, y'all.