Post, a publisher-focused Twitter alternative, officially launches


Post, a Twitter alternative that reimagines how publishers interact with social media and monetize their readers has opened its doors to the public. Following Elon Musk’s discovery of Twitter, like many others in this space, many started looking for a new place to read and discuss the news or share their thoughts with their followers. But Post doesn’t want to be just another Twitter clone. Instead, the goal is to create a platform where publishers can earn money from micropayments – that is, users pay a small amount of money to read news articles.

This may include articles from traditional media outlets that may be behind some subscription-based paywalls, but may also include other media, such as subscription newsletters, or free and ad-supported content offered elsewhere. The latter is the source some Criticism for the post, on the lines “Who pays for news you can get for free elsewhere?”

But that response conveniently forgets the sad experience of reading free news on today’s website.

Ads and in-house promotions are everywhere – even in between magazines when you scroll down. Videos play automatically, often in their own pop-up windows. Cookie consent banners are displayed that attempt to trick you into agreeing to hand over additional data. A request to purchase a subscription or sign up for a publisher’s newsletter pops up at the top of the screen, forcing you to dismiss them.

Post co-founder and CEO Noam Bardin, previously CEO of Waze at Google, explains that the Post’s publisher partners have found that users want to read news rather than jump to external websites — even when it’s more expensive to do so.

Image Credits: Post a screenshot

“You go to a lot of news sites today and you’re bombarded with these ads, email capture forms, and subscriptions… you just want to read an article. And you wanted to read it because someone shared it with you. So, it’s a one-time transaction, but you’re bombarded,” he says. We think we can add a new business model to the world of advertising with a great user experience, the right pricing and no friction. [or] registration”

Bardin, speaking to TechCrunch with publishers, said they generally agreed with the startup’s thesis — that the current subscription structure outside of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal — isn’t good for publishers. They admit that website traffic from social media shares often doesn’t convert visitors into subscribers, and that subscribers only make up a small portion of their larger readership.

“Everyone agrees there is a problem. Nobody wants to be first,” Post said of his struggles with publisher adoption.

The Post website itself first went into closed beta in November 2022, which has grown to 650,000 people on its waiting list. Of these, 430,000 people have created an account. That’s when publishers took notice.

As the Post now enters its public beta period, Twitter is angering publishers by stripping them of their verified badges if they don’t pay. Post is being offered to paid publishers instead. That has some draw. The company today has 25 premium publishers on board and hundreds more at different levels. Some, like local news publishers, are waiting for more functionality to be added to the platform.

At launch, the Post has signed up partners including The Boston Globe, The Brookings Institution, Fortune, The Independent, Insider, LA Times, NBC News, Politico, ProPublica, Reuters, Semafor, SF Chronicle, MIT Technology Review, USA Today, Wired. World Politics Review and Yahoo Finance.

Image Credits: Post a screenshot

Some of these outlets are posting manually, others are experimenting with micropayments, and some are doing both. Those that have tried micropayment options include Fortune, The Independent, LA Times, Reuters, MIT Technology Review, USA Today and Wired.

Bardin says the average CPM publishers are getting from the Post platform is $25 per paid post. Top article earns $300 CPM. But, he adds, publishers are also earning an average of $1.30 CPM from their free posts through donations and tips.

Powered by Stripe, the micropayments platform allows users to purchase bundles of points from 300 ($4.20) to 10,000 ($126.70). When you reach higher levels — 1,500, 5,000 or 10,000 points — you get a discount on your purchase. Post generates revenue by taking a small percentage of these sales, similar to Twitch.

Image Credits: Post a screenshot

Bardin isn’t sharing figures for the Post’s current active user base, but says people enter their credit card information to buy 80% more when they run out of the 50 free points they’re gifted at signup. That number is promising, but it’s still early days for this startup. After all, Twitter has never really conquered the mass market, and Twitter alternatives have a tougher hill to climb when trying to attract a core user base.

What a publisher chooses to charge for their articles is up to them – as low as 1 point (see image to the right) and we’ve seen as high as 89 points when scrolling through our feed. Over time, the Post plans to add other payment options such as “pay what you want” (which can include paying nothing if you choose), a “buy one, share one” option and the first few articles. Months are free.

Similar to pre-Elon Twitter, the site also has a number of rules around user behavior. He gets people out by demolishing them, but he doesn’t yet know how to draw the line between temporary and permanent bans. His approach to “freedom of speech” — a controversial issue in Elon’s day — is too simplistic.

“When it comes to people, you don’t have the right to be ambiguous. That’s not a God-given right in the Constitution, so if you want to, go somewhere else. We don’t need you. There’s no need to be mean here.

Additionally, the Post aims to use AI technologies to tailor its news feed to its end users — an idea currently being tested by Artifact, the news app from Instagram’s founders. As a news feed experience, Post expects that many of its users will not be active content creators themselves. In fact, there’s an old Internet adage that states that most people on a service consume content, but don’t engage with it or create it. However, that is what most people forget when services are built.

“They will not be published. You don’t hear them,” says Bardin. But, he adds, “they are, in many ways, bystanders.”

“75% of Twitter users have never tweeted,” he continues. “People use it to consume information, but it’s built for the people who create the information. There are a lot of things I think we would all do differently on Twitter if we started today.”

The Postal Service as it stands today reflects that philosophy. It’s more of a place to scroll and read the news, but it doesn’t have active conversations about news happening on larger platforms like Twitter or new options like T2 or Mastodon. But that involvement may come in time, as Post is ultimately the protocol that powers ActivitPub — the open-source, decentralized Mastodon and the wider Fediverse. As an interactive application, Post may find more active use.

“We started building on Mastodon…we love what Mastodon does,” Bardin told us. “And Bluesky is another approach, but it’s the same concept,” he says. “We will add integration with Mastodon and others.”

That’s still a long way down the road – not in the works for 2023, we understand.

“We started the company in May. We have not completed a year. We have a lot of things we want to do — we don’t want to limit ourselves to supporting other protocols at this stage. Once we build the core and like it, we can see exactly how these protocols will plug or not,” says Bardin.

Post quietly dropped the invite requirement a few weeks ago, but didn’t officially announce the launch of the public beta.

While the startup isn’t talking about active usage, the site saw a traffic peak in December 2022 with more than 5.19 million monthly visits, according to data from Similarweb. That’s since dropped to 921,000+ visits in March 2023 (as of March 27). In the last 28 days, Post had approximately 946,120 total daily users. Not bad for today’s crowded alt-Twitter market, with Mastodon now boasting 1.2 million monthly actives.

The New York-based Post raised the seed round with a team including co-founder Noel Barron, Andresen Horowitz (a16z), and NYU professor and technology analyst Scott Galloway. Silicon Valley journalist Cara Swisher also said she would recommend the startup. The company is not currently promoting but is hiring.


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