Is this thing on?

Introducing Smoothletter + some big learnings

Hi everyone! You’re probably on this email list because you love someone who works here or you’re a professional nemesis praying on our shared downfall.

Whatever brought you here, we hope you’ll stick around for what’s to come. Today, we’re launching Smoothletter—a weekly newsletter delivering our thoughts on media, culture, and business.

We hope you love it, but we hope even more that you’ll respond and tell us what you think. Each week will be a little different, but today we’re launching Smoothletter by doing what we love most—talking about how our learnings and observations (henceforth Ls & Os) are informing our plans for the future.

—Kinsey, Smooth cofounder and head of editorial (and your cool camp counselor for all things Smoothletter)

Eight Squirrels Walk Into a Chicago Bar…

I know there are more than eight people in this photo

Last week, we held our third full-team SQIRL or Smooth Quarterly IRL (why call it a quarterly offsite when we can call it a SQIRL?) in Chicago. And not to brag, but the vibes were off the charts.

I think that’s for a few reasons:

  1. Summer in Chicago is elite (and matched the energy of this SQIRL’s unofficial title, Hot SQIRL Summer)

  2. We’ve pulled together some of the coolest, smartest people to join our team

  3. Smooth is hitting its stride in a way that really feels tangible

Let’s talk about that last one. When we launched Smooth on August 9, 2021 (a Leo just like our Josh), our mission was to build and scale creator businesses. Good, but broad. These days, our mission is to serve as the platform for creators building next-generation media businesses.

Anyone who almost pivoted to Web3 in early 2021 knows how important the couple-word shift in a startup’s mission can be. This SQIRL, we all started to feel the impact of the word “platform.”

A platform is something strong to build on. Something that can bear weight with ease, even in this economy. Something that pulls together the disparate to create a sum much more integral than any individual part.

And that’s what we’ve become over the last quarter—a real platform built by bringing together the best talent to provide services across advertising, editorial, and operations.

Now, I remember from my stock market reporter days something about past performance not indicating future results (idk, I was always a “command + F + community-adjusted EBITDA” girlie)...but here are some of the highlights from our Q2 that we think set us up for success heading into the back half of the year.

Our team is thriving. We’re now at eight Smoothies, up from four this time last year and roughly 2.5 the year before.

  • We started working more in-depth with the lovely Alice Lemée, who is now writing three newsletters with Smooth—Miss Excel, Salary Transparent Street, and the Entreprenista newsletter. We’ve found that finding and retaining incredible writing talent like Alice’s and then scaling up the scope of the work does wonders for the editorial department (hello).

  • We welcomed Ben Teller to lead our burgeoning fractional COO service and Sydney Frigerio to pull off incredible feats on our revenue team. Both are incredibly talented, intelligent, and warm people.

  • We celebrated the two-year work birthday of the one, the only Ali Ben-Levi, our ops associate/Chief Lunch Dessert Officer who willingly joined Smooth before there was even a Smooth to join and has truly been the North Star for what makes this company special for the last 24 months.

We’re doing awesome work with partners both old and new. We’ve added several creator businesses to our growing revenue, editorial, and fractional COO services. Some standout moments from Q2:

  • The Publish Press, which we’re building with Colin & Samir, had a barn burner of a quarter—we hit 100k subscribers on the 3x weekly newsletter covering the business of creators, launched a total rebrand, and created a physical newspaper full of in-depth original reporting projects to celebrate our two-year anniversary.

  • We launched a Market Research Guide with the Salary Transparent Street team (hi Hannah and Holly!) to help people get paid what they’re worth, and we’ve got even more special standalone projects in the works for STS in Q3.

  • We kicked off really fun quizzes for WorkDaze (our brand with the internet’s coworker, @Rod) driving thousands of signups. Sleep with one eye open, Jonah Peretti.

  • We turned a rogue Twitter DM with tech creator/AI expert Matt Wolfe into an incredibly successful revenue partnership in just a few months.

  • Across the board, our revenue team had a massive Q2—securing and executing campaigns for brands like Microsoft, Shopify, HubSpot, Fiverr and more.

So what does all of this mean heading into Q3/H2? While I am not the numbers person, I can confirm on good authority (Josh) all this great work was backed up by Good Numbers™️. With that, the theme is focus to accelerate. Now that we have the platform, we’re doubling down—with plans to scale the team (hiring an editor to join me!), executing ambitious product launches, and deepening our footing in the B2B marketing universe.

We’re super excited about all the progress we’ve made this year, and writing it down to share with you makes me want to run through a brick wall.

This is a term we coined back in our Morning Brew days (hi Neal)—a portmanteau of Digiday, BuzzFeed, Recode, Vox, and Axios. Obviously, the year was 2018 and the interest rates were zero. But still, the sentiment of “interesting media trends and news” remains. So the name stays.
  • Beehiiv is crushing it—our email platform of choice just raised money and launched AI tools. And we can confirm CEO Tyler Denk is still a cool guy.

  • Night Media shared its POV on the creator economy. Most interesting parts were about AI and creator-led brands IMO.

  • NPR shared AI guidelines for editorial. I was intrigued by the idea of “we own your work so don’t let an AI train using it.”

  • This take on Threads from Links I Would Gchat You if We Were Friends was really good.

  • Thots on repositioning media brands to focus on specific technologies?

Rogue screenshots from inside Smooth’s digital universe.

Thanks for reading our first Smoothletter—they’ll be shorter in the future TBH. We’ll see you next week!