A Note on Smallness

There’s this pattern in internet communities called The 1% Rule, which looks like this:

So in any given website:

1% create all the content, 9% edit and organize, 90% make up the viewing audience.

Svpply was like this. Even as we grew to hundreds of thousands of viewers, it was always a small group of a few thousand members that fueled the engine.

The problem was that while we recognized this as being true, we didn’t recognize it as something we should do anything with. In our minds, the only path to healthy growth and success was through growing our member numbers into the millions.

Annnd..You know where this is headed.

We lost our soul and growth was slow and I failed to raise a Series A investment round and Ebay.




But wait, there’s more...

What I’ve noticed since leaving Svpply is that other industries treat their 1% differently. In the fashion or magazine industries for instance, they give the creative output of their star members their full attention. The 1% is the whole thing. There’s no open invitation to contribute content to Monocle.

With hindsight, I feel the reason Svpply never grew into anything substantial is because we misread the opportunity. Smallness was the steam that drove our engine and we opened the gasket.

The familiar social network pattern is to aspire to convert the whole world into a member.

We think there’s room for a different approach. A social network that’s both niche and healthy. A social network that’s more magazine than platform.

More specifically,

in Very Goods case,

since we know our membership will be small, and we know that that is probably ideal anyway, we believe the right move is to double-down on the smallness of (our now) ~1,000 members.

Of course we don’t know if this will work, but if nothing else we know it means treating our members really well, and that can’t be a bad thing.

Ok that’s it.

Thanks for your attention,

We hope you find the opportunity of Very Goods as interesting as we do.