'1440' And Counting: Newsletter Makes Money Providing Bias-Free News

Readers who like their news straight can find it in 1440, a daily newsletter that provides a curated digest of events without any hint of opinion from the writers.  

“It’s in our DNA to remove all the bias and misinformation,” says Tim Huelskamp, co-founder and CEO of 1440.  

1440 offers no columns or humor pieces, although it does provide a daily list of cultural events and local attractions like fall foliage. And the editors are scrupulously objective when framing the news. 

Apparently, an audience exists for that approach. 1440 has 3.6 million subscribers, one-third of whom are Democrats, one-third Republicans and one-third independents. A third have graduate degrees. And it succeeds from the business standpoint. 

“We do over a million in revenue per employee per year and we have 17 employees,” Huelskamp says. 



This “lean-and-mean operation is incredibly profitable,” he adds. The revenue model is ad-based, but 1440 also has thousands of premium subscribers who pay $10 a month, as much to support the product as anything else.  

It started in 2017 when Huelskamp, who had worked in finance and investment, and his partner Drew Steigerwald, who came with a scientific background, were looking for ideas.  

“We were curious people, we wanted to learn,” Huelskamp says. “But the media landscape is not delivering in that way. It’s very verticalized. if you only have 15 or 20 minutes to learn every day, it’s  just a lot of work: you have to go to 20 different sites or newspapers.”

The partners began with friends and family, sending 78 emails the first week, 91 the second week and 104 the third week. Funded, in part, by venture capital, they hired reporters from places like Bloomberg or from Medill, the journalism school in nearby Evanston.  

What does the name 1440 denote? “In 1440, the  printing press was invented, knowledge exploded, and it’s the number of minutes in the day,” Huelskamp answers. 

The newsletter now carries two ads per day, direct sold, not programmatic. “The average ad draws about 20,000 clicks per day," he continues. "Finance brands might do lower than wellness brands.” 

There’s no office – the staff teams up via Zoom meetings. While Chicago is the base, there also are employees in towns such as Boston, Atlanta and San Francisco. 

What’s the lure? “We give them a world-class place to work, we pay them above market and they own part of the company,” Huelskamp says. The company also provides a strong benefits package. 

Moreover, “We never had a layoff,” Huelskamp boasts. “We only hire people who are going to be here for the next decade: layoffs are not in our vocabulary.” 

1440 acquires readers in two ways: by word of mouth (“our favorite way to grow”) and a paid acquisition program on social mediai in which it invests $1 million a month. The  publication draws 260,000 gross new subscriptions each month.

But Huelskamp observes that Facebook and Instagram deliver lower lifetime value than newsletters. 

Professional readers--doctors, say--do not read 1440 for information on their vertical areas; they get that elsewhere. The daily news digest provides an overview of what is happening in the world. 

Questioned if there were any mistakes along the way, Huelskamp asks, “How much time do we have?”

But he adds, “If we did it over again, might have started to focus on brand building and pr and awareness a little earlier. We put all our resources into building a world class product for the reader.”

Is there anything new in the offing? There’s one possibility – “taking that core value and trying to move it to a website experience. But we’re still trying to figure it out.”

Huelskamp laughs, “Everything takes twice as long as you think it will.”

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