Probably my last Substack post for a while (Platformer joins the Ghost club)

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

Casey Newton: Why Platformer Is Leaving Substack

After much consideration, we have decided to move Platformer off of Substack. Over the next few days, the publication will migrate to a new website powered by the nonprofit, open-source publishing platform Ghost. If you already subscribe to Platformer and wish to continue receiving it, you don’t need to do anything: your account will be ported over to the new platform.

I didn’t mention it in my post back in December, but I cancelled my Platformer subscription back then and left a note to Casey and Zoe that I loved their newsletter, but didn’t want to support Substack at the moment. I knew I wasn’t going to move the needle on my own, but based on recent free issues of Platformer, it sounds like I wasn’t the only one. As a big fan of Ghost myself, I’m happy to see them land on my blogging engine of choice, but honestly I’m just happy to be renewing my subscription next week.

Truly, if you’re into technology news, Platformer is outstanding. Each post is 3 main parts:

  1. The main article, often with first-hand reporting on the news of the day.
  2. A collection of dozens of links to news stories from the world of tech that day.
  3. “Those good posts” which are just some of the best posts from Threads, Mastodon, and Bluesky. Even on days I don’t need any more news, this section is always fun.

I’ve got no skin in the game here, I just like Platformer a lot ✌️

I almost launched Platformer on a custom-built stack of services centered on WordPress, the way my inspiration Ben Thompson had done for Stratechery. But Substack had some compelling advantages of its own. It was impressively fast and easy to set up. It paid to design Platformer’s logo. It offered me a year of healthcare subsidies, and ongoing legal support.

I’m glad Substack helped Casey go solo, and I don’t have anything bad to say about this other than it’s another example of Substack not exactly being hands-off with what speech they want to bring to and promote on their platform.

Platformer will save tens of thousands of dollars a year by no longer having to share 10 percent of its revenue with Substack.

And then there’s the money. At this point Platformer is an established brand that doesn’t need Substack to get attention. In fact, I’d say at this point Substack got more value from being able to say one of the most well-known tech newsletters used them than Platformer got from being on Substack. On a consistent subscriber count, they just got a raise as well, which ain’t bad.

Let’s end this with a high note: it’s to Substack’s credit that they continue to let their writers own their subscriber lists. Unlike something like the App Store, Substack writers can leave and take their customers with them. If Substack kept their readers private, then I think it’s very unlikely Platformer makes this move — throwing away your entire income and starting over is no small move.