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Making $60k a month from a podcast on software engineering (indiehackers.com)
252 points by skadamat 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 145 comments

Slightly off topic, but he mentioned that he got his start from the software engineering radio podcast that's been around since 2006. I've been binge listening to that podcast for about two months and it re-enforced two things that I always suspected.

1. I made the biggest career mistake of my life by staying at one company from 1999-2008. I missed out on so much of state of the art technology that I spent the next 8 years trying to get caught up.

A lot of the things I was just learning in 2009 were already common place for years before then.

2. As much as people say "technologies change fast", a lot of the higher level fundamental concepts they discussed 10 years ago are still relevant today.

Now back on topic...

A daily podcast that lasts an hour? It's remarkable that he can keep up that pace. Could he make just as much money from having fewer podcasts? would the scarcity make the podcast more valuable to advertisers?

I think John Grubers talk show podcast charges about $7500 per spot with 3 spots during an average 2 hour show per week. There have to be more software developers who would want a high quality podcast than people willing to hear Gruber's ramblings (no offense - I listen to his podcast every week).

There are two different podcast listening strategies (which informally seem about equally utilized).

1. Download and listen to every episode of a podcast. For many this would be something like Grubers. Listeners typically keep a much smaller number of podcast subscriptions.

2. Read the title and possibly the show notes for each episode and if it sounds interesting download that specific episode.

My listening habits are very much in mode one here, but for something like software engineering I think it's likely to be much more the second. By producing so much content and on so many topics they optimize their chance of getting at least a download a week.

Most podcasts I listen too (Linux Unplugged, Linux Action News, No Agenda) are no longer relevant after a week to a couple of weeks. The value is very much in the now. That would be a third mode then.

Same with many news/political podcasts. Hearing speculation about things that now have actually happened are 90% pretty boring a few weeks later.

> A daily podcast that lasts an hour? It's remarkable that he can keep up that pace. Could he make just as much money from having fewer podcasts? would the scarcity make the podcast more valuable to advertisers?

As a listener, you're in a good position to judge - do you think that the content suffers from being so frequently produced? So they're making $2k per episode on ads - would they make $15k if they made one podcast a week? On that time scale, is there a better monetisation model?

Scarcity really valuable to me as a listener - I don't have time to listen to an hour a day of a single show. I have an audible subscription (ca 10-30 hours per book, unabridged), shelves of real books, Netflix, Spotify, a list of TV shows and movies, a girlfriend, all vying for ear-time. Some people solve this by speeding up podcasts, but I like listening to real voices. Remvoving silences can work well though.

Consider podcasts like http://moviesbyminutes.com/ - they look fun, but who has time to listen to potentially 100 hours of content about one film? That's more than all of LOST. Would you rather watch every movie on the IMDB Top 250 or listen to people going through every Star Wars movie minute by minute? I once listened to the complete Wheel of Time - it's over 2 weeks unabridged. Took about 4 months listening to nothing else - commuting, exercise, walking to the shops, flights, trains etc.

SED at least offers listeners the chance to skip episodes they don't care about, but podcasts really have to be impressive for me to listen to them.

As a listener, you're in a good position to judge - do you think that the content suffers from being so frequently produced? So they're making $2k per episode on ads - would they make $15k if they made one podcast a week? On that time scale, is there a better monetisation model?

I've never listened to SED and I made no judgements about the quality. I subscribe to a lot of podcasts, but only listen to a few religiously. The others I skim through or just delete.

$2000 a Day is of course not bad - I'm assuming that sales, recording, editing, etc. is a full time job.

I'm going through the Software Engineering Radio podcast now and skipping a lot of them. But I found a few gems from some influential people in software that were relevant then as well as now.

Others, I saved for when I have more time to actually listen to, take notes and maybe blog about.

> A daily podcast that lasts an hour? It's remarkable that he can keep up that pace.

I've also been very impressed with Jeff's pace and consistent quality/depth. Joe Rogan is the only other podcaster that I listen to who comes close to that.

Joe's daily podcast is 3 hours long on average, so he doesn't come close, he exceeds by a factor of 3!

I listen to Joe pretty often, but to be honest the quality of his interviews is hit-or-miss to me. Sometimes it's really great, sometimes he rambles and goes back over the same topic a few times.

I listened to him for a while but I think 3 hours is too long. It gets boring and you know most of the stories and rants already from having listened to 100's of hours of him talk already.

Well they're not 'making' 60k a month - they have revenue of 60k. A small bakery with a few locations has that sort of revenue. They have payment processing fees, accounting and other admin costs, housing, hosting, yadda yadda yadda - not to mention three people on payroll (and not on minimum wage, I'd imagine).

It would be much more interesting if they would show a balance sheet and profit and loss statement for the last few years. I've seen companies flaunting much better looking numbers than this and still go bankrupt. The real question is: how much is he pocketing, and how does that compare to say a consulting job?

(another way to put my point is 'it's easy to have revenue of 1mm a month - start a luxury car dealership, buy 5 250k Lamborghini's each month and sell them for 200k').

But the inputs to his podcast are merely time (and one-time equipment costs). As you point out, a car dealership needs to spend a ton of money on the inputs, but that doesn't translate to a podcast business.

"But the inputs to his podcast are merely time (and one-time equipment costs)"

Well no - they have, among others, the costs I mentioned in my second sentence. But maybe I'm wrong, hence why 'revenue' doesn't mean much - it'd be much more interesting to look at some real numbers instead of the clickbait of just using whatever is the highest number one can find.

An Uber driver doesn't 'make' 15k when he gets paid 15k a year by Uber. He has to pay for gas and maintenance and whatnot. He 'makes' whatever is left over after that, just like any job where one has to pay for (part of) business-related costs themselves. A construction worker who has to pay for his own safety shoes @ $250 and is paid 30k doesn't 'make' 30k, he makes 29750. In this last example the distinction is so tiny that it doesn't matter, but it all depends on the ratios.

Now I realize that in some (dare I say 'less financially savvy') circles the amount that comes in is called the amount that one 'makes', but no person with any (business) financial skills would call it that. And from a website that purports to target those interested in running ones own business, I would expect some more rigor in this respect.

You're forgetting salary, admin costs, and office/recording space (if they have one). They have three podcasters on staff.

A fair point. However, those are all relatively fixed. A car dealer needs to buy a new car to sell one. They don't necessarily have to invest more in the items you mentioned to grow their revenues.

TLDR: businesses that scale vs those that dont : )

Well, the flip side of your argument is that since "his inputs are only time," then he only has a fixed amount of time to make money from. Whereas, as long as the car dealer can sell every car he buys, he just has to keep buying cars in order to increase his revenues. Clearly there's more to both of these statements than that, but that's the point!

In any case, roel_v is pointing out that revenue isn't a very good metric without more data to evaluate it.

I'd like you to provide an example of a business that doesn't scale :-)

I hear you. I don't find the argument that robust given that everyone is limited by their time - car salesman included - but I hear you.

Agree that more data helps. For a headline I'd rather see revenue than margin or profit, as those are more subjective (or net revenue, if you're selling goods).

Unscalable business? Obviously a subjective take but, to me, that means anything where you're charging by the hour (e.g. consulting).

Three podcasters on staff = $20,000/month for each of them = $240,000/yr .

That's a pretty good salary.

It costs a company a lot more to employ someone than the amount that employee actually sees on a paycheck.

Also where did you get the $20K/month/podcaster number from?? You're just making stuff up.

he was dividing the $60k over 3 people.

Agreed that's simplistic, but it's a starting point.

Assuming taxes, office overhead, other processing stuff, keeping profit overhead in place, etc, one could still be paying 3 people $5k-$10k/month with room to spare.

I wish that hour-long podcasts weren't an hour long. They are often too unstructured and slow paced. I think with some editing for pace they could be winnowed down to say, 20 minutes. I don't have time to sit around listening to an hour long podcast, especially not every day and multiple different podcasts!

I remember the old giants robots ruby podcast was about 20 minutes and covered 3 topics (not sure if I'm remembering correctly though, it's around 40 minutes these days). http://giantrobots.fm/

> I wish that hour-long podcasts weren't an hour long.

Or at least that more podcasts were better edited. For example, John Gruber writes a blog, which he edits. Whether I agree with it or not, it's readable and terse. But he also does a podcast, which is him and some other person going on random tangents, pausing to cough or let out the cat, etc. I can't stand it.

I guess it's like the difference between talk radio and the nightly news: one is trying to fill airtime, the other is trying to squeeze into 22 minutes; one is meant to be background sound, the other is meant to be watched. I happen to prefer other kinds of background sound, but that's just me.

Structure is an editing problem, but there are lots of people who listen to podcasts sped up, or with silences removed. Apps like Overcast will do this for you.

Some podcasts, like Hardcore History, are worth the 5 hour runtime and they're so rarely published it doesn't really matter.

Structure is an "editing problem" but once you go beyond a fairly straight interview or talk show format, the amount of post-production work increases dramatically. With the help of some automation, I can edit a 20 minute interview in an hour so so. Structuring a 1 hour show from different clips and inserting various breaks etc. would probably add a good day to the whole process.

When I say it's an editing problem, I mean it's not something you can easily change as a consumer. On the other hand cutting out silences and speeding up slow speakers is something you can fix 'in post' using a generic podcast app.

Any recommendations for podcast apps on Android?

I'm carrying around my a junked iPhone 5C and using it just for Overcast. I haven't been able to find any podcast players on Android that work as well for me. If I could find one, I could stop carrying two phones.

I've been a fan of PocketCasts. Lots of people recommend podcastaddict because it's free and has a million knobs, but I enjoy the comparatively slick interface of PocketCasts.

I'm personally a fan of PocketCasts but with a small caveat: Syncing feeds goes through their servers, which means smaller feeds aren't updated instantly, even when manually syncing.

Another happy customer of PocketCasts. When I moved from Android to iOS, I still find PocketCasts to be superior to alternatives.

I'm going to give PocketCasts a try. Overcast was pretty much a perfect app for me. If I can't find something I like as much on Android, Overcast might be the killer app that makes my next phone an iPhone.

I find antennapod decent (and open source). To be honest, it might be wise with something in the cloud that can keep tabs on what episodes you have listened too. Most do it locally and it is easily forgotten when switching devices.

I have been using DoggCatcher for years now, and I have no complaints.

I'm a big fan of player.fm

At the other end of the scale are podcasts that are a few minutes long - daily briefings, the news, etc. I've always found these hard to listen to in normal podcast software since they're meant to be ephemeral and quick, so I've been working on a new approach: http://briefings.fm/

I agree on both counts. A 5-10 minute podcast often feels like it's "not worth" selecting and playing--at least as part of a standard podcast queueing and listening flow. At the same time, a straight interview/discussion without a lot of production work to break it into segments, etc. that's an hour feels too long. (And producing a radio show rather than just putting an interview up is a lot more work.) I find the interview podcasts that I do naturally gravitating into the 20-25 minute range.

There seems to be a market for all kinds of lengths. I like the 60-minuteish with some banter but mostly on topic. I mostly listen to podcasts while walking or doing the dishes or something like that so I'm not super focused and the longer and slower podcasts work best for that. Running the garbage disposal or a truck driving past won't force me to rewind. If they go to multiple hours I usually rather opt-in for an audiobook at that point.

Yeah, I'm totally with you on that. That's how I want my podcasts to stay. I do see the value in quickly grabbing an up to the hour briefing on something though, so want to explore ways to do that.

As both a listener and once guest of SE Daily (and now contributor to the open source project), I really appreciate both the content and the community around it. Jeff is fantastic at conducting the interviews, even with people who arent very experienced with being interviewed (e.g me). Glad that it's doing so well. Would be curious to know how many people on HN listen to it as well.

Damn, that is a lot of revenue! Congrats!

Can you share some stats about your advertisers? Like, how many advertisers do you have per month? How many per show? What is their average spend? How many months do they usually stay on as an advertiser? Do they normally re-sub automatically or do you have to get them to commit to another month, every month? How do you usually find new advertisers, cold calling them or ?

And a personal question, I only listen to US Political podcasts, but I always press the "skip 30 seconds" button on ads. Why do you think there is a button that makes it super easy to skip ads built into the Podcasts app? How do people creating the podcasts feel about that? Do you have any stats on how many people skip the ads vs listen to the whole thing?

Great quote:

"If I had to start over I would prioritize health — exercise, diet, sleep, socialization, getting outside for fresh air. I would be nicer to those who love me, and try to opt for kindness over cleverness."

The title is misleading, considering what the article says: "Our monthly ad sales have variance, usually falling between $30-60k." If the average revenues are $45K, that number, not the peak number, should appear in the title.

>(Work from 9am to 9pm, six days a week.)

Jesus. I'm sure this is small business owner hours but still, this person musn't have a family or any other commitments.

This is a typical work commitment in China. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2016-09/13/content_2677...

It's not luxuriously easy, but it's not ridiculous, and is microscopically different from _average_ working hours 150 years ago.

Sure, but I'm not sure it's something we should be looking to as a healthy model.

Here in NYC many regularly does that with 2/3 of the minimum wage.

I do that, I'm not the owner either. My wife just had a son, so I definitely have a family. Add on top an hour and a half commute each way and it can be a little difficult at times to have family time I'll admit.

"Having a family," as in, relatives that physically exist, is obviously different from "having a family you value spending time with." I think it was clear the GP was talking about the latter.

For some people, quality time with family is better than quantity. The key is to have those hours or days with the family focus. This is not even a workaholic or tech thing - it's the way military families have worked for centuries.

Well I have a wide and son, which I quite enjoy spending time with. Not sure how you managed to take from anything I said that I don't.

Some of us don't have a choice but to work jobs that require that many hours to pay the bills.

so with your schedule, you would be away from your family from 7:30am to 10:30 pm, 6 days per week.

I doubt your spending any more than 30 mins per day with your son on weekdays.

Correct, I'm hoping to move a little closer to work to cut some of that commute off soon.

My day off is all about family, so it's daily planned :-)

so the other person's point is that although you have a family, you're not spending a lot of "quality" time with them

* very well planned *

Too late to edit haha.

Why would you do that?

I hope you manage to reduce your hours until your son is old enough to remember whether you were there or not.

I'm a chef, these are the hours expected of in this industry.

15 hours a day away from home with an infant? Good god, man, stop! Spend some time with your wife and kid, or one day you'll wake up and they'll both have moved out because it's been years since they actually saw you conscious and you no longer have any kind of connection.

(Unless you're doing this just for a very limited time for a very good reason. But don't let it become a lifestyle!)

6 day weeks = 6/7 of 365 = 313 days work per year

12 hour days = 313 * 12 = 3756 hours work per year

Hours per month = 3756 / 12 = 313

Hourly rate if $60000 per month = 60000/313 = $192

$192/hr / 3/ppl = $64/hr/person

And that's without considering overhead costs.

Yeah a business where the gross and net income are the same definitely doesn't exist. Taxes, equipment, hosting, setting up interviews, marketing the podcast, selling ad slots...

Yeah, I got stuck in that sentence. I know lots of people do these hours, but people from Henry Ford onwards have been finding people are more efficient with less hours.

Then again if your job is learning about new tech, cooking and exercise-the sort of thing others are doing in their hobby time, I can see how you can make 12 hours of that a day.

>Then again if your job is learning about new tech, cooking and exercise-the sort of thing others are doing in their hobby time, I can see how you can make 12 hours of that a day.

Taking these three things together I also have a 12-14h day. It's just that I don't cook or exercise for work.

> people from Henry Ford onwards have been finding people are more efficient with less hours.

On average. It's not impossible that there are outliers than can just work crazy hours without productivity decrease.

I'm sure that's what they tell themselves.

I remeber that the guy that made Diablo said that he can sustain 18 hour workdays for a couple months during a final crunch. Given how successful his product was, there may be something to it.

And I'm sure that everyone is 1.77 metres tall, despite what people tell themselves.

It's not impossible. It doesn't seem sensible for outliers to tell us ordinary people that we should be like them

I don't think there are many insights about operating a business you can get from this article but the business owner does have some interesting views on how to handle your personal and professional life. Also its very interesting that so many web entrepreneurs played poker so much in their early adulthood.

My theory is that entrepeneurship in general, and lean startups especially, relies a lot on "fake it till you make" and sales that rely on heavy bluffing, and poker players are the sort of people that can do that. In web tech, it's especially true, because "lean startup" theory means that you can sell your product before you build it, but you have to bluff to your customers that you have already built it and investors (if any) that you know how to build it... and free-market competition means that since bluffing provides an edge, you must bluff to keep up with your competitors.

At high level, maybe. But poker is really about process and discipline. Playing poker to create income is a grind.

You sit there for up to 5 hours and do math on odds and make decisions, hand after hand. Every now and then you utilize bluffing or other techniques to bully to win a pot. Then you keep stacking to get a bank roll going so you can get to the next table, the next tier.

The college aged poker kids optimize for it like any engineer. They have spreadsheets tracking EV on time, earnings per hour.

But if you have the discipline and dedication to go through that for a year or so, then yeah, you can sit there and code to problem solve or sit there and go through the hundreds of decisions needed to operate a business.

Absolutely right. I was terrible at online poker since I wanted to have fun playing it. You can't bluff someone who knows the math in the long run. You'll lose all your money.

Bluffing was important to the extent that I had to convince the listener that I understood the topics being discussed when I did not.

In general, I would discourage bluffing in a business like SE Daily. I'm on display for 250 minutes per week. It would be very easy to get caught in a lie.

A few of the topics I know well myself, like networking, can be a pain to listen to. But the overall quality is great, and I realize that you can't be an expert on all topics. I listen to pretty much every episode and rarely skip one. Even the topics I think are of no interest to me often ends up with something useful and interesting. Doing daily shows also allows for a lot of diversity in topics, letting some episodes go really deep or just have a subject covered broadly and intensely like the k8s. I really recommend it to anyone who wants to keep tabs on what is going on.

Bill Gates is a good example of someone that gained a lot of success with a hard bluff: http://www.technoventure.eu/valuation/Bill-Gates-Microsoft.p... (perhaps not the best written retelling, but emphasizes the "bluff" part)

Or, you know, just stealing an interface he didn't create and marketing it as his own, but who's here to split hairs anyway?

Despite the downvotes, I stand by my statement, as an interface designer that pours years of effort into perfecting the arrangement and composition of elements on the infinite canvas, it's not acceptable to me that such things are not protected or even noticed by others.

He did buy it, albeit without revealing the potential it had. I can see differing views on that tactic.

Thank you so much, Jeff. I've listened to over 100 episodes. Your podcast is an incredible way to learn about a technology before deciding if it is worth a deep dive. For anyone who likes to maintain a wide general knowledge base to help them navigate the rapid advance of trends and truly transformative technologies, I would highly recommend SE Daily.

And once you're hooked on the tech pieces, check out the rare philosophical episodes, like https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12584991

I don’t think podcasts are for me, but maybe I’m missing out on something. I don’t even really know how to play them. Do you stream them or pre-download? People listen to them on their commute do they, or while driving? So requires a cellphone contract with no download limit? I guess you don’t just sit in your living room listening? And you wouldn’t be able to pay attention while cooking right? I don’t think I can take in information in real time, and I hate meetings, so I’ve always assumed I should stick to reading and writing for studying.

I use an app[0] that pre-downloads them, and I listen to them on the treadmill at the gym; while cooking or doing household chores; as background when I'm coding at night; and, sometimes, to help me get to sleep. For every one of those uses except the treadmill I sometimes listen to music instead.

Oh yeah, and I sometimes listen to current-affairs stuff in the morning, but owing to time zone differences that can be tricky.

I'm sure a lot of people listen to them while driving or otherwise commuting, but my commute is by tram and by foot, and it doesn't fit that well.

I don't find it distracts me from cooking, though from coding sometimes yes (then I switch to music). I don't just sit in my living room listening without anything else going on, but I don't think that would be weird. I'd listen to podcasts in the bath if I had a bathtub.

It took me a while to find a set of podcasts I really like. This is different for everyone, but I think it's worth spending some time on. I'm still looking for good ones on a few topics that seem under... undercasted? I think there's still room for a lot more good podcasts, and some of them will even make a good living for the host.

You can download everything on WiFi if you like, but they're just audio files so it doesn't eat that much out of a normal-ish mobile data plan.

Give them a chance, and try a bunch of different ones before making up your mind. I ended up liking podcasts way more than I expected I would.

[0]: https://overcast.fm

So I didn’t do podcasts for a long time.

Now I put one earphone in, go for an easy bike ride for a couple of hours and listen to one. It’s pretty good.

You can’t really do it when you are concentrating on something else (or riding hard!), but commutes or whatever are good.

You download them using a podcast player. On Android I use PocketCast.

you mostly predownload them over wifi. you listen during commute, driving or otherwise. yes you can pay attention while cooking, just depends if you can multitask.

Recall the original iPods. They didn't have network connectivity at all. A desktop computer running iTunes would automatically check for & download new episodes of podcasts subscribed to in it, and they would be synced to an iPod when it was plugged in to charge.

Just came to say so excited to read this and on the top of HN! Jeff is a hero of mine.

Jeff, I once responded to your survey. I lost a ton of weight abroad with nothing going for me bc your podcast and the Changelog podcast gave me the weird fuel I needed to just run but also learn and be engaged mentally. I find your career choice from Amazon inspiring as a transition (not to mention poker) and you always ask insightful questions. I am trying to get into security with dev work on top bc you make me want to be in that culture, after a decade of avoiding it as a jaded IT guy.

I have sent every group of developers and tech enthusiasts links to one or more episodes. I need to make time to contribute to the open source SE Daily apps. Just because.

Thanks for building me an ethos so I don't have to for myself. ;-)

How to make $60k/mo from a podcast:

When I was 19 there was a month when I played poorly and lost ~$250k. I quit shortly after that. It took me awhile to recover my psychological bearings.

Step 1: Be super rich.

I do feel a little bad about this comment--it's probably overly snarky. Maybe he won that 250 grand playing poker from a small nest egg that he earned at a minimum wage job. And he isn't claiming to be sharing the secret of success--he's just sharing his experience, which is valuable regardless of his beginnings.

I don't know. Something about this rubbed me the wrong way, but it probably says something more about me than about him or life in general.

I know someone who did this during college.

I had a friend in college — let's call him Sam — with whom I paired on most CS projects. It was useful to find a partner who was as studious as yourself to avoid having to deal with anyone else's potential BS and end up doing all the work yourself. Sam seemed like a completely normal guy where normal is… we share some of the same interests.

Sam wasn't from money, worked hard on assignments, we shot pool and worked on projects together. I knew Sam was "into" poker but I didn't understand the extent. I was "into" lots of things too.

We're hanging out one day and Sam tells me the "funny story" that happened last week where his parents and girlfriend staged an intervention to demand that he stop playing online poker after he had gone on tilt and lost $200k in a single night.

I about lost my marbles.

He then goes on to explain that while he had agreed to quit playing online poker because he valued his relationships, he was of the opinion that an intervention was a bit much since he was still up over $600k and wasn't on tilt so much as trying out higher stakes tables in an effort to make money more quickly than on the low stakes tables he had already found success grinding.

Same. Especially at poker's hottest peak, I had a number of friends who ended up going really large on online gambling (and they didn't come from money, either- just had built up a bank roll over a few years). After awhile they found themselves experiencing these huge $xx,xxx swings on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. I think they intellectually understood what that meant, but once you got to that level you kind of have to put the idea of it being a lot of money aside to be able to properly gamble it (if there is a "proper" way to gamble it).

Anyway, one friend in particular told me he was making ~$200k a year, when we were around 22. Asked him about taxes and he said he had never paid a dime. So, uh, that could have been his greatest gamble right there.

I started with $100 and built it up, then lost most of it

But also started with a roof over my head, great parents, an internet connection, etc. I would consider myself a trust fund baby in that sense.

See, I knew this was going to happen and then I was going to feel real bad.

One question I do have for you: How did you get Stephen Wolfram, Seth Godin, etc. to come on your early pods?


if you're 19 and you have 250 grand you are maybe not super rich but pretty rich at that point.

frankly, cutting with ockam's razor leads me to conclude that super rich is a more likely explanation than playing poker from a small nest egg and then going and losing it all.

Can you quantify in terms of percentage how you define super rich vs rich?

In my mind, rich is top 20% (income of $134k or more) of society and super rich is top 5% (income of $214k or more). I'm wondering if that correlates to your thoughts.

In my mind there a big difference between being “rich” and being a “high income earner” (HIE).

Someone who is a HIE may have a better chance of becoming rich if they invest and are good at money management. On the other hand they may be very bad with money and living paycheck to paycheck despite this.

Someone who is rich has freedom. They have enough money in investments to live off of the returns indefinitely.

Your “rich” is just upper class, and your “super rich” is mostly just well off.

Anyone in the 500k to 1000k range are the almost rich. These are the people who will feel “tax hikes on the wealthy” the most. On paper their income is great but then taxes bump them down a social class.

When you clear the 1000k range and are well on your way to 2000k, after taxes you’re still making a million or so a year depending where you live, so still safely a millionaire and thus rich (two commas club).

However, it’s worth noting there are more and more millionaires these days. These are “inflation” millionaires. A true “millionaire” in the spirit of what the word meant in the time it was first coined (early 1900s) would be someone who has a net worth of around 25 million USD today.

Someday merely being a millionaire won’t be rich or impressive at all.

>>after taxes you’re still making a million or so a year depending where you live, so still safely a millionaire and thus rich (two commas club).

A millionaire just has a net worth greater than or equal to a million dollars. They don't need to have an after-tax income greater than or equal to a million dollars.

There’s different kinds of millionaires. I guess I was referring to a cash flow millionaire.

I guess I rely on Chris Rock's difference between rich and wealthy; so super rich has to be just before you're wealthy.

I remember reading somewhere else that rich also required a million in assets, not just a high income like 250 grand, but I figure in the context of a 19 year old they don't need assets at that point to still be rich if they have a high enough income for the year.

Maybe a one time 250 grand earner from a poor background can be a temporarily advantaged poor person.

Super rich means you can afford your own Learjet and a pilot to fly you around like other people have a car.

I made nearly 100k flipping domain names when I was 19. My seed capital was my college tuition money for a semester (I delayed paying the fees and bought a domain name instead). So it's entirely possible

Hey just want to note that although that sentence makes him look like just some rich kid with infinite resources, I went to college with Jeff and I actually have personally talked to him when he was starting this project. Regardless of what affluence he had in the past/present, he started this idea from near-zero -- the site looked like shit, he worked on it slowly, and from reading the article it looks like he got the right people on his ship at the right time, and kept doing what he was good at.

Also, he's not tone-deaf -- I'm sure it took some consideration to let that sentence fly (I'd be very surprised if he didn't wonder something along the lines of "are people going to think I'm just some rich kid"), I like to think he leaned to the side of honesty.

I can say at least personally that he did NOT have the silver spoon rich kid vibe. Not at all, he was lost just like the rest of us sometimes are, I'm super jealous and happy for him :)

It's disingenuous to say, "…regardless of what affluence he had." The thing about being wealthy isn't that you don't have to work as hard to succeed at something (well, sometimes it is). The thing about being wealthy is that you don't have to do anything, so you have all this time to focus on what you want to do—and you can fail while doing it without any major consequences. Most people can't do that. Hell, half of the people in the US are scared to take a day off of work for fear of getting fired.

Yes. If you are wealthy (i.e. don’t depend on income) you can take big risks. 99% of the US couldn’t afford to spend $250k for a learning experience and a cute blog post.

To me that's almost the exact definition of wealth: not the amount of money that you have, but the fact that you have the freedom to do whatever you want to do - and fail hard at it - with no (or little) negative consequence. When people talk about "living the dream", that's what it means to me: not the life of the idle rich, but the freedom to try and fail - and hopefully succeed eventually - without ending up destitute or dependent on a salary to live (as most of us are).

99% of the world couldn’t afford to spend $25k

I don't think it's disingenous, becasue there are lots of different kinds of wealthy people. At the least, I meant to distinguish him from silver spoon types that simply purchase viewers/apps/influence and ride it out, or those that just fail and fail and fail in incredibly stupid ways, learn little and fall back on parents' money all the time. As far as I know, he is not that person.

In my mind what he's accomplished is doable by just living at your parents house (yes, that's also a bit of a luxury that others may not have), which is why I don't consider this to be simply a byproduct of wealth. With a bunch of drive and sheer will it could be done in nights and weekends. Is he entrepreneur of the year? maybe not, but he's certainly not richie rich who bought his way to the table -- while I have no idea what his resources are or what his interactions with whatever wealth source allowed him 250K @ 19, what he's done is not out of the realm of most office workers, especially in tech.

[EDIT]: He actually responded with how he got his start: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16573002

Exactly, and this is a thing which would merit some work and attention from SV aspirational rich-sters. The damage done from scarcity is very real, and it's a profound handicap: it's not that effective to go temporarily insane and take on lots of risk without thinking of the consequences. You can't really artifically create the mental state of 'there aren't really consequences so I can focus my attention fully on this work without fear of disaster'.

So, logically, in order to maximize productivity output of entrepreneurs and new-thing-tryers, you must truly remove the consequences, perhaps with something like a universal basic income. Only then do you get to experience innovation as applied to an entire population, and only that will produce a broad enough population of experiments that you'll get a synergism and the invention of really new industries and scenarios.

Not rocket science, but maybe it'd lead to better rocket science :)

Step 1. Be super rich Step 2. Still be likable


After a bit of digging, I think his story is plausible. He got into the game in 2004; At that time, it was very much possible for a smart, determined teenager to grind a hundred bucks into a quarter mil. Before Black Friday[1] chased all the soft money out of the game, pretty much anyone with an ounce of sense could play profitable poker and some people made a lot of money very quickly. He claims to have blown most of his winnings in that one-month losing streak, which is very much a thing that cocky 18-year-old poker players do.

I think it's fairly clear that Meyerson came from a relatively privileged background and had a lot of advantages - he attended one of the best high schools in the US - but I don't think it's necessarily fair to dismiss him as a trust fund kid who lucked his way through life.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Scheinberg

Sorry but you have to get lucky, too. No way you can turn 100 into 250k no way no how unless you are coming out on the good side of the luck factor.

It's nice, and I'm sure you're a good player, but you definitely got lucky.

" Before Black Friday[1] chased all the soft money out of the game, pretty much anyone with an ounce of sense could play profitable poker and some people made a lot of money very quickly. "

You're best edge in the softest game of all time is not as big as you think it is.


Are you really surprised that starting a business requires upfront capital and an environment where financial risk can be absorbed?

Does this sentiment have to be echoed every time someone who comes from money talks about their business. There is a class system in the US, you're only wasting your breath trying to be snarky about it. Business is a mix of talent and chance and people with money can buy more chances where others might not even get one. It doesn't diminish this person's accomplishment.

It is mentioned because it is important to remember. Those successful privileged tend to think it was all their own mental acumen and hard work, so everyone could have done it.

In the past we would poke holes in the start-up idea or the weekend hacking project, but in good fun and there would be solid feedback generally. Having someone execute their idea, and then go out of their way to explain the process to the rest of us should be a source of encouragement. It makes me sad just how personal the dismissiveness on HN has become.

I don’t see how it’s dismissive. It’s concise.

Here let me waste my time telling you how I hacked advertising to make xyz product with a gazillion users OR I can just tell you I started out with many hundreds of thousands of dollars and just spent way into success.

Would’ve saved me some time idk

Money can influence but won't guarantee success. They still need to execute on something. And surely at some point in describing process for us, there could be is a nugget of knowledge that triggers some insight in someone else.

That's only accurate if the person in question did, indeed, spend their way into success.

It sounds like that was a bankroll he built up through play, not his initial stake.

It's quite common for people to start with just $1k and do well and get to that kind of money. I'd recommend doing some research before just jumping to conclusions:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeff-meyerson-05275716/ - "Parlayed a single small investment into a large bankroll." under Online Poker Player

$250k isn't a huge amount of money for a professional poker player. I few successful and/or lucky years and you can build up quite an operating fund.

As a 19 year old, at least in the US, he'd have had less than two years to win a quarter million dollars. I doubt that happened.

During the online poker boom there were many such stories. The amount of money moving around online poker in 2005-2009 was just insane.

Lots and lots of people went from 1k or less invested to moderately wealthy. I knew multiple people personally in college then who went from ~0 to > 100k.

It happened to me and many people in my poker circle. If you played well, had good bankroll management, game selected and studied hard it wasn't nearly as hard as you think.

Absolutely could have happened even if he played the lowest variance games available with good bankroll management.

All it would take is good streak (maybe luckbox some SnGs), move up the stakes, and have a good run in something like PLO to do the same in-a-day.

I played extensively and still have friends that play professionally, this type of story is not uncommon at all.

If the timeframe was right, around the middle to the end of the last decade, it was reasonably possible. I was the kinda guy handing them the money :-(

Not super rich. Just rich enough not to need a job for a while. Which if you don't have kids, means save $5k and live on a mate's sofa or something similar.

Yeah, because only "super rich" people start successful podcasts, blogs, etc.

Like that Neistat guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6Y-ahQFQDA

Exception to the rule and dismissal of the enormous advantage money gives.

I haven't found any "enormous advantage money gives" when it comes to podcasts, and other such works.

Starting some regular business, yes, but writers, podcasters, and artists in general, have always come from all kinds of backgrounds, especially troubles ones.

The advantage is simply being in a place where you can focus on creating something like a podcast that will not make you (actually will cost you) money for a good long while.

Most people without money or support don't have the time and resources to devote to creating something like that.

Are we talking the homeless or third world poor here?

Because the average american squanders 2-3 hours on tv and social media every day -- more than enough to start a podcast, even if they also work.

Human beings need a little bit of downtime for general decompression and whatnot in my experience (unless you want to go for that coveted 35yo burnout status). I'm not saying that that 2-3 hours of tv/social media can't be more efficiently spent on a different form of relaxation plus some kind of after-work job/hobby, but I do think it's oversimplifying a bit to say that leisure activities = waste.

Or more specifically, be born by rich parents.

Hmm, so you make money from ad revenue. Do you sell ad time (and make advert announcements) during the podcast?

Yes :)

So delighted for your success my friend. Keep inspiring people through your labors! =)

Should be titled "Wasting >>$60,000/mo of people's time, but getting paid $60,000/mo for it".

This is one part of the truth, but not all of it. The remaining minutes of the the hour long podcast evidently provide enough value to the listeners for them to keep tuning in, despite the annoyance of ads. As long as his output has value and he charges what the market will bear (in terms of ad time), he should do well.

The point is, it's not a net "waste" of people's time, it enriches their lives in some way.

SE daily is a great podcast with quality content on new topics in Computer Science. Jeff asks great questions and really tries to understand the mechanics of how things work. With an episode every day it's hard to keep up.

SE Daily gets ~140,000 downloads per week

I don't understand how can apps then have 1000-5000 downloads total?

By using other podcast players :-) Not everyone uses the SE Daily app, they'll be using RSS/iTunes/etc.

This part is really critical, and this interview on indiehackers made it easy to find (unlike some of the other interviews): I like how they show how they acquired all their users: Word of mouth!

i do feel like we're in some kind of golden age for podcasts, there's so much great content out there. maybe i should dump my netflix subscription and just listen to podcasts?


What are your favorite episodes?

The site feels so buggy to me, that weird css load and the logo carousel behaves so odd (not to mention the wrong hover on the left/right arrows), i just can't stand it.


It appears the old site is https://softwareengineeringdaily.com/, and the new site ("in early beta") is https://softwaredaily.com/. The two sites appear to contain the same set of podcasts.

You can find an RSS feed at:


Somewhat confusingly, the new site has a navigation link, labeled "Feed", at the top of the page. But it's not an RSS feed. Rather, it leads to a compendium of links to interesting articles on software engineering from around the web. It looks like the plan is to implement voting for the articles (there is a vote count, but it's empty).

Check out softwaredaily.com

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