Substack shook up traditional media last year, offering six-figure cash advances and benefits including healthcare to recruit writers for a newsletter platform that publishes high-profile authors like Bari Weiss and Glenn Greenwald. But this year, the San Francisco startup has told some writers it is scaling back such perks, joining a group of tech companies reassessing the way they lure independent writers and online performers after a frenzied battle for talent in the past two years.
Some newsletter writers say Substack earlier this year told them it would be reducing the frequency of upfront payments. The five-year-old company, which has raised $82 million from Andreessen Horowitz and other investors, also said it has cut a healthcare subsidy it was offering to some top writers. And it’s “not being as aggressive” in offering support services, such as access to image repositories and legal help, to attract new writers, Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie said in an interview, although it is continuing to offer them to writers who already publish on its service.