Jan 27, 2021

Twitter X Revue

Revue is joining Twitter. The news has been making waves in the "newsletter world," this being only the most recent acquisition or investment over the last few weeks.

I haven't spend that much time digging around but so far the best take I've seen is from John Gruber.

  • Let Twitter users attach a credit card (or a Square Cash account — I’m sure Twitter’s CEO can get a few minutes of time with the folks at Square) to their Twitter account.
  • Let those users with a card attached sign up for “Twitter Pro”, which would give them a badge on their avatar like the blue-check verified badge.
  • Sell access to Revue content right in the Twitter app. See a tweet with a link to an article from a subscriber-only newsletter? Subscribe to the newsletter in two taps, right in the app, just like buying apps from the App Store.


I think it would be a very smart move, and only in part because I've already said something similar in the past 😉.


Granted, as some replies mentioned, it could take some monthly or yearly subscribers away, but I think the potential volume of one-off buys could replace it, especially if newsletter fatigue becomes an actual thing for more than the early-early-adopters.

I also think, especially with the current way Revue works, that it can open the door to a stronger focus on curators. I again bring back this idea from Jon Evans (2016!), suggesting Twitter should open-up the building of feeds and see themselves as a graph of interests.

I have a not-especially-modest proposal for how to solve almost all of Twitter’s problems. It’s very simple: let third-party developers build feeds. Extend their API and allow external developers to design, and users to install, custom tabs with custom feeds. So a user’s Twitter interface could include the Twitter-built Moments tab, if for some demented reason they actually wanted that … or, instead, an NBA fan who lives in Toronto could have a custom-built NBA feed, and a custom-built Toronto feed.

Or the StockTwits feed. Or the Nuzzel feed. Etc etc etc. All built by third parties– who share the income from “Promoted Tweets” within their feeds. Sure, give new users a default, Twitter-built curated feed. But also let them choose from a “Featured Feeds” list … or, better yet, from the Feed Store.

In short: make feeds Twitter’s apps.


Extrapolating a bit from the Gruber model and my tweet, someone writing a newsletter would have a few additional actions on each tweet to:

  • Mark one's own tweet or thread as a draft paragraph for their next issue.
  • Mark someone else's tweet or thread to be included as an item in the next issue.
  • Mark a linked article to be included.
  • Add an account to a list (see lower).

In other words, super simple flow from stream to newsletter issues being worked on.

Add Evan's strong feed API and equivalent functionalities being made native to Twitter (lists on steroids) you could now:

  • Curate a list for members only.
  • Sell access to curated lists.
  • Have an automated newsletter extracted from a list (à la Nuzzel), which you can tweak and add to before scheduling it for sending.
  • Collaborate on feeds/lists with others and leverage the group's network, each for their own sensing or writing; pooling signals if you will.

For some clients, I already setup a list I use by myself as one feed informing my search for signals to include in the client's report (which are usually loosely along one vertical). I can't do anything with it right now, just make it public or private. Now I could:

  • Include it in what the client pays for.
  • Sell access to only the list to other people in the field.
  • Sell one-off reports which include the list fashioned for the creation of the report.

A lot of newsletter writers, through their personal account or through a separate one, tweet every issue. Add these to your "client feed" and a reading experience that easily allows one to read the newsletters "in stream" or note them for later. Yes, that's basically merging Twitter with RSS, I'm not necessarily saying that's a good idea but in this framing, it might make sense for them to implement something like it.

Potentially, that means you have a list/feed that includes accounts for their tweets, but also issues from newsletters local to Twitter, or from elsewhere. That whole new feed can be paywalled, part of a subscription, or sold to be built upon as a bespoke experience. Think maxed-out game characters being bought and sold. Here again, the monthly wallet / budget I mentioned in the tweet above smooths things along and reduces friction.

Not all of these options should be top priorities for Twitter / Revue, and some would address relatively small markets, but all of them in various fashions would make sense for newsletter creators and if that's a market with the upside people like a16z seem to think it does, then perhaps that whole toolset has potential.