Probably the Most Thorough Interview I’ve been subjected to happened in mid-June. It took journalist Simon Owens (who writes with great insight about the “Creator Economy”) until today to distill his notes down …to only 4,000 words! He was boggled that True was able to start, let alone survive, in the ancient days of the Internet, when there were no tools to do what I’ve been doing since 1994.
Those tools sure helped once they arrived, but it took years to get them, in part by my telling the very first Email Service Provider what I needed, thus setting the standards for the many thousands of newsletter publishers who followed in my footsteps. And hey: it only took a quarter century for newsletters to really take off!
“Cassingham was merely 20 years early to a business model that would transform the entire content industry,” he wrote, and “he certainly gets credit for forging a career path that hardly anyone else — even the internet’s most enthusiastic visionaries — thought possible.” It’s free to read on Substack: Was Randy Cassingham the first member of the Creator Economy?
Terribly Minor Quibbles
Just so the technology details are clear, I’ll comment on a couple of things from the story.
- “Majordomo only allowed for lists of 10,000 email addresses; anything larger than that and it started to suffer from delivery issues.” Actually, it wasn’t a Majordomo issue, it was a Unix sendmail issue. Majordomo, early mailing list software that was actually built for discussion lists, used sendmail to do the actual sending. But that Unix module would bog down when a message was sent to more than 9,999 addresses, so I broke them into blocks of 9,900. It was a tedious, time-consuming process (as he accurately summarizes).
- “So Cassingham began pitching newspapers directly about syndicating This is True”. Actually, no: they came to me. Smart newspaper editors were already online and looking around, and some found me. (It’s possible readers suggested it to their local newspapers too.) One was a local alternative tabloid, the Pasadena Weekly, which paid a very welcome $20/week (which I didn’t have to share with a syndicator). They were savvy enough that they still exist!
- He totally nailed my transition to Lyris, the first Email Service Provider (boy was that a relief!), and then the switch to a more advanced ESP, AWeber, which I still use today. That’s complex stuff, and he “got it” completely.
All in all, he did a great job with the firehose of information that I blasted him with that day, and he only had a couple of questions by email before he published.
I’m definitely proud to be the first True Member of the Creator Economy.
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