November 11, 2020

Podcast: Ryan Selkis on Building Messari in the Crypto Space

Ryan Selkis is the co-founder and CEO of Messari, a crypto data and market intelligence platform. Ryan and I go way back with him hiring me at CoinDesk nearly four years to the day. Since then, he has gone on to build an exciting and well respected data and research company in the rapidly evolving world of crypto assets.

A few things jumped out to me in this discussion…

On competing with Chrome

In the crypto space, there are so many providers of data and information. And each tends to do one really well. That means users are bouncing around from provider to provider.

In Ryan’s mind, this means Messari sees Chrome as a major competitor. It’s attempting to train its users to seek out Messari directly rather than searching for information through Google.

What Messari is attempting to do is provide users with a single place to get their crypto information. Why search on Chrome when you can get it right from Messari is their logic.

On negative CACs

This is a theme that was explored a bit in another episode. Messari runs sponsorships in its two primary media properties: newsletter and podcast. However, in Ryan’s mind, the goal here isn’t to actually generate revenue.

Instead, it uses these products to show prospective subscribers the data and information that Messari has to offer with the hope that users will sign up. However, because there’s an engaged audience, companies want to sponsor this.

This results in a reduced or, sometimes, negative CAC whereby you are paid to acquire new customers rather than having to spend marketing dollars.

On not giving up

Before Ryan ran Messari or CoinDesk, he was one of the first in crypto to run an independent newsletter. His advice to creators looking to go solo is important: don’t give up if the numbers don’t show great and immediate results.

It’s easy to see slow growth and assume that something isn’t working. But as many of us know, media is a slog. Persistence results in growth rather than a sudden explosion.

I can echo this point. A Media Operator has not been a hockey stick. It’s steadily grown month-after-month. But as you get those first few hundred readers, it really starts to stick and compound.

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