Why Newsletter Business Is Booming for Morning Brew
The origin story of business newsletter Morning Brew has gotten plenty of buzz. In 2015, co-founders Alex Lieberman and Austin Rief – then classmates at the University of Michigan – realized that business students were bored by traditional business news, so they started writing their own email newsletter to keep peers informed and engaged.
“We had no media background, which comes with pros and cons,” says Rief, chief operating officer at Morning Brew. “But I think one of the pros is that we simply sat down and said, ‘how do we think a newsletter should function that educates modern business leaders in the business world?’”
Their brainchild was a five-minute digest of the latest business news, written in what Rief calls a “conversational, witty tone.” (Recent Morning Brew subject lines such as “Good for you, Musk” and “Davos and Busters” hint at the tone you can expect.) The regular updates resonated with readers, and when Rief graduated in 2017, he and Lieberman began hiring a team to scale their business.
The big payoff came last year: Morning Brew grew revenue by 333%, from $3 million in 2018 to $13 million in 2019. Flagship daily (6x/week) newsletter Morning Brew was the primary breadwinner, “accounting for approximately 95% of the company’s overall revenue in 2019,” Digiday reported last week. The company also launched four more products last year – three newsletters (Retail Brew, Emerging Tech Brew, and The Turnout) and a podcast (Business Casual) – to serve new verticals with its signature style of business news.
“If you look at the evolution of some other media companies, a lot of their newsletters have started to mirror our style, our tone,” says Rief. “I think it’s great; I think there’s a need for that.”
Here’s a closer look at how Morning Brew has expanded to reach nearly 2 million subscribers – and why the company will continue to bank on email.
Leah Wynalek is the senior editor for Publishing Executive and Book Business. She has worked at national magazine publishing companies including Trusted Media Brands and Rodale, where she assisted in digital content creation and strategy for Prevention.com. More recently, she used her multimedia skillset on behalf of clients as a content specialist for Philadelphia-based marketing agency En Route.