BrandArena: Twitter Acquires Newsletter Startup Revue

Thursday 28 January 2021

Twitter Acquires Newsletter Startup Revue

Twitter has officially announced its acquisition of Revue, an email newsletter platform for writers and publishers. The deal marks Twitter’s first step into building out long-form content experiences on the social network and its first foray into subscription revenue. While the deal terms weren’t disclosed, Twitter presumably didn’t break the bank to acquire Revue. The five-year-old Dutch company has 6 employees and has raised only around $318,000, according to Crunchbase.

The purchase, for an undisclosed sum, is part of Twitter’s effort to compete with other social media companies that allow users to earn money from their followings, as the newsletter industry enjoys a spike in popularity. Twitter has moved aggressively over the past two months to acquire start-ups as it expands its offerings beyond its core timeline product. In December, it bought Squad, a social video company, and this month it acquired the social broadcasting service Breaker to create audio conversations on Twitter.

Newsletters aren’t the most obvious fit for Twitter’s platform, but in a blog post, Product Lead Kayvon Beykpour and VP of Publisher Products Mike Park suggested that that this is a new way for Twitter to serve writers and publishers who have built a following with their tweets.

“Our goal is to make it easy for them to connect with their subscribers, while also helping readers better discover writers and their content,” Beykpour and Park wrote. “We’re imagining a lot of ways to do this, from allowing people to sign up for newsletters from their favorite follows on Twitter, to new settings for writers to host conversations with their subscribers. It will all work seamlessly within Twitter.”

After advertiser spending plummeted during the early weeks of the pandemic, investors put pressure on Twitter to develop revenue sources beyond ads. Its chief executive, Jack Dorsey, told analysts in July that Twitter was in “very, very early phases of exploring” alternative revenue streams, including subscription products.

By November, Twitter executives were discussing the purchase of Substack, a newsletter company that competes with Revue, The New York Times reported. A deal never emerged, and Hamish McKenzie, a Substack founder, said a sale to Twitter was “not going to happen.”

Revue was founded in the Netherlands in 2015 and has six employees. For now, it will continue to operate as an independent service, but Twitter said it planned to integrate Revue to “work seamlessly within Twitter.” Newsletter writers typically offer a mix of paid and free options and earn money primarily through subscriptions. Platforms like Revue and Substack take a cut of those subscription dollars. But while Substack’s cut is 10 percent, Revue’s is 6 percent. Twitter said it would lower Revue’s cut even further, to 5 percent in an attempt to attract new writers.

“Twitter is uniquely positioned to help organizations and writers grow their readership faster and at a much larger scale than anywhere else,” Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter’s head of product, said in a blog post announcing the deal. “Our goal is to make it easy for them to connect with their subscribers, while also helping readers better discover writers and their content.”

Social media platforms like TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat allow their highest-profile users to earn income for creating popular content. But while these incentives can be highly lucrative and attract a dedicated base of content creators, platforms like Twitter and Facebook have traditionally not offered users cash for content. By giving users a way to earn money, Twitter aims to keep its users active on the platform and add to its revenue.

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