Twitter may be interested in acquiring Substack, the subscription newsletter platform that’s become the go-to spot for several prominent reporters this year, but Substack doesn’t seem as intrigued by the possibility — Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie, in response to a New York Times report Twitter has had “conversations” about making a deal, tweeted on Sunday “this is not going to happen.”
McKenzie’s response comes only a few days after another high-profile journalist said he was leaving his position in favor of directly reaching out to his followers via Substack. Last week, Glenn Greenwald announced he was leaving The Intercept, the outlet he co-founded in 2014. Greenwald said he was being censored by The Intercept’s editors and would now be publishing his work on Substack, where he said he can “practice journalism free of the increasingly repressive climate that is engulfing national mainstream media outlets across the country.”
Greenwald added: “This was not an easy choice: I am voluntarily sacrificing the support of a large institution and guaranteed salary in exchange for nothing other than a belief that there are enough people who believe in the virtues of independent journalism and the need for free discourse who will be willing to support my work by subscribing.”
He joins a number of other writers and reporters who have made the jump to Substack. Perhaps most notably, Matt Taibbi, a longtime political reporter for Rolling Stone, has moved his writing over to Substack. Former BuzzFeed tech reporter Alex Kantrowitz also publishes his Big Technology newsletter on Substack, and Andrew Sullivan joined Substack earlier this year after leaving New York Magazine.
Substack’s business model is easy enough to understand. As the company’s website puts it: “Start a newsletter. Build your community. Make money from subscriptions.” Journalists who join Substack are betting they can get enough newsletter subscribers to make a decent living off of their work. So far, Substack has raised $17.4 million, according to Crunchbase, with a $15.3 million Series A being led by Andreesen Horowitz at an undisclosed valuation.
Twitter is coming off a rough quarter where it only added 1 million new users, after the company added a record 20 million new accounts in Q2.