Patreon Acquires Memberful, An Interview with Patreon CEO Jack Conte and Memberful CEO Drew Strojny

Long-time Stratechery members may recall that three years ago — a year into the Daily Update — I ripped out the old buggy membership system and installed a new-to-the-market SaaS product called Memberful. It was one of the best decisions I have made, and over the years I have recommended Memberful to the many folks that have asked me about the software I use to run their own subscription site.

Then, earlier this week, I received an email from Drew Strojny, the founder and CEO of Memberful, with the subject line “Quick call to discuss some Memberful news.” Of course I immediately suspected that Memberful had been acquired, and the only question was by whom: once Drew told me the acquirer was Patreon, a deal that was announced today, I asked if he and Jack Conte, the CEO of Patreon, would be willing to do an on-the-record interview for the Daily Update. It is an acquisition and space that is not only pertinent to the business of Stratechery, but also some of the major concepts that I talk about, particularly when it comes to the evolution of media.

Like all Stratechery interviews, I have transcribed the conversation in its entirety, with light editing for clarity. In addition, given the timeliness of this interview and the connection to Stratechery, I am making it available without a subscription.


I have the mother of all conflict of interest statements to make about today’s interview: I’m talking with the CEO of Patreon, Jack Conte, and the CEO of Memberful, Drew Strojny. The news is that Patreon has acquired Memberful, the software I used to manage memberships on Stratechery, and Drew I wanted to start with you. When you said you wanted to talk to me out of the blue, I kind of assumed you were being acquired because that’s exactly how these conversations go. At the same time, I was pretty surprised because one thing that you’ve talked a lot about over the years we’ve worked together is the importance of being independent, and I think a driving force for Memberful was enabling independence and now you’re no longer independent. Can you walk me through how this went down from your perspective?

Drew Strojny: Absolutely. I started a company back in 2008-2009 [that made WordPress themes] which is called The Theme Foundry — it actually still exists — and Memberful started as a side project borne out of frustration with existing membership software. So we built something for The Theme Foundry and we launched it there where we knew that it would have volume because we actually had customers and it was a business. We got a good response from it so then we launched it as a beta and we had lots of people who were interested.

So on The Theme Foundry you were selling WordPress themes, so when you created Memberful was the idea that you were going to sell themes on a subscription basis or was it kind of a better payment processor for selling downloadable themes?

DS: It was both. One of the things that was happening in the theme market is that there were a lot of new people coming in, and we felt like in order for that business to support itself, it needed to have recurring revenue. We couldn’t just sell a one-off theme, so we needed something that we could charge on an annual basis so that we could charge for support and updates and things like that and be a more viable business going forward.

So that’s where we started: we built something that really suited The Theme Foundry, and then as we started to use it and then when we put it into beta and we started having other people use it, we started getting even more feedback around the membership capabilities. Obviously we called it Memberful from day one, so were thinking about it from a membership standpoint, but the downloads feature for example was a big focus for us, and now it’s less of an emphasis because we’ve pivoted more to memberships specifically. Obviously you Ben were instrumental in that from the early days, as one of the earliest Memberful customers, and helping us see that this was becoming a big thing and there were a lot of people that needed something reliable, you know, SaaS software, that could help them handle this at scale reliably.

Yeah, speaking for myself I started with all those crappy WordPress plugins that you mentioned as well, and it was an unbelievable nightmare. I think I did an interview or something, and you reached out to me on Twitter, saying “Hey you should check us out”. I loved the fact that it was a SaaS product, I loved the fact that it was a recurring revenue product for you, because from my view, I wanted you to have an ongoing sustainable business, instead of a plugin I bought for 50 bucks or something and that was all I gave them. The problem with that is that the model was completely wrong because I wanted someone to be there on an ongoing basis and I was willing to pay on an ongoing basis to have that. You were hustling to get folks, and it worked for me, and it’s certainly been a great relationship from my perspective.

DS: Awesome, yeah, it’s a similar thing when we thought of it as a company. We knew that if we wanted to be there to support people over the long term it needed to be a SaaS model where we could build a business around it as well, not just selling some one-off thing.

So fast-forward a little bit, you started out focused on downloadable products, things that were already made, with a SaaS model for support, and over time you have shifted to a membership model that’s supporting creators that are — I feel a bit self-conscious using that term but I guess I’m in that bucket now; no offense Jack, it just feels weird — creating content over time. From my perspective, this shift from “You’re buying stuff that’s already created” to “You’re funding the creation of ongoing content” has been a clear evolution in Memberful.

DS: Absolutely, and just zooming out on that and even your original question on why this acquisition made sense, I went out to San Francisco, I met with Jack, I met with everyone on the team, and at the end of the day we found a team that really cares about the same things we do. We both saw this shift where people had previously relied on advertising companies, the big advertising companies like Google and Facebook, and they were seeing that it just wasn’t working anymore and what was working was a direct connection with our audience. Obviously Ben, that’s something you saw coming way ahead of time and something you talk about all the time. We believe in that, and we want to actually be a provider of a tool that can help people do that sort of thing and connect directly with their audience and be supported on an ongoing basis for the long term, and that was something we both believed really strongly and that’s a big part of why this made sense.

So, Jack, before I get into why you acquired Memberful, I think it’s also interesting to think about the evolution story of Patreon itself. I know it’s a long story, but do you have a sort of thirty-second synopsis that gets at how Patreon become the company it is today?

Jack Conte: Sure, I’ll give you the thirty second version. I’ve been a professional creator for ten years, and by professional creator I mean I’ve been making a living online by putting out music and videos. The thing that has been the most difficult about that is that I have to find all these crazy, weird ways to monetize as a creative person, instead of just making money from the thing that makes me valuable which is my music and my videos. You end up having to do merchandising things, and doing livestreams, and all these things that are unrelated to the value that you are actually giving the world.

I remember logging into my YouTube dashboard and seeing a million views on my most recent video, and getting paid $166 for those million views, and just feeling like there was such a discrepancy between what creative people are worth and the financial engine of the web that is paying them. There’s this massive break there and the first version of the web that we’ve built is great and has been wonderful for so many reasons, but ultimately it’s the wrong financial engine to make sure that the people who are filling the web with all the beautiful things that we love to read, see, watch, and listen can get paid.

So that was sort of the birth of Patreon, looking at my own dashboard, feeling so frustrated about this delta between the impact I felt like I was having on the world and on my fans’ lives, and the paycheck that came to me at the end of the month. That’s what we are here to fix. Ultimately, Drew and I see that the same way, we see the web evolving in the same direction, and that’s why this makes sense.

So, what’s interesting about that is, and correct me if I’m wrong here, Patreon was in many respects, and I’m dramatically oversimplifying here, but the original version was a way to monetize YouTube and monetize YouTube viewers directly. Is that a fair way to characterize it?

JC: Not really, actually. If you look at the first version of Patreon that I sketched out in a little black book of dead ideas that never went anywhere, and then there’s Patreon, the original idea says that “Anybody who puts things on the web is in the same sinking ship of trying to squeeze juice out of $2 CPMs and reaching twenty thousand people, reaching people that fill a basketball stadium, and making a few hundred bucks from that”. Originally we were thinking about it for podcasters, for journalists, for video creators, for anybody who sort of puts art online.

Thank you for that correction. The reason why I ask is it seems to me the original version of Patreon was really patron management plus payment processor — the name is kind of there, “Patreon” — where it was almost more of, I don’t want to say goodwill from customers, but I guess there’s an aspect of that, where you were going to put something on YouTube regardless, you were going to make a podcast regardless, or you were going to write something on the web regardless, and the hope was that people would be appreciative of the effort and fund you. I’m curious about the separation, at least in v1 of Patreon, of this sort of Patreon site for funding and the places where the content was actually offered, if that makes sense.

JC: Yeah, totally, and you’re hitting the nail on the head. At the very beginning, in 2013 when we launched, the value proposition to the fan was ultimately, “Hey, you can be a part of something by supporting it and voting with your dollars” and that feels good! The generations that are growing up now are very socially aware generations, they want to spend their money in ways that make the world better. Patreon was a way to do that, a way to affect the world in a positive way, and to actually support the people that are filling the web with all the things we love. So yeah, that was the original value prop.

Over the last five years, we’ve been figuring out what membership means and it’s not just that — that emotion is definitely a component of it — but the benefits that you get from being a patron, you know when you become a patron of SFMOMA you get some early access tickets, and you get to see some exhibits that other people don’t get, there’s some exclusivity, there’s other things associated with what it means to be a member. So Patreon has definitely moved in this direction figuring out what those things are, what that means, what’s valuable to the people that are giving, what keeps them around, what gets them in the first place, and all those questions are important when you’re thinking about it holistically as membership and not just as just giving money to somebody.

So was that in the little black notebook or has that been an evolution in your thinking? That is, moving beyond being a patron to “there’s a product for sale, and I am paying for it”, almost a more transactional relationship, even though there’s still a relationship but you’re not getting the stuff unless you pay for it.

JC: No, it wasn’t part of the original vision and it’s definitely been something that we’ve learned and built and grown into as the company has scaled. You use the word “transactional”, we use that word too sometimes, and we always back off of it because…

The emotion’s still there, right?

JC: Exactly, on the scale of “Buying something from a Chevron corner store” to “Giving money at the Red Cross”, it’s not one or the other, Patreon is definitely in between those two things, it’s not a pure transaction and it’s not altruism. There’s a thing that membership is that I think a lot of people have in the physical world, a lot of companies have, brick and mortar companies, have memberships, and it’s meaningful to be a member of something. Patreon is attempting to define what that means in a digital world, attempting to define what that means online.

What I find interesting about that evolution is, and I’d be curious about both your points on this, is it seems to be a little bit of a mirror of Memberful’s transition, where Memberful kind of started with a “We have this product that you can subscribe to”, and maybe I’m overly anchoring myself on stuff that I’ve written before, but to me a critical evolution in the way you have to think about the creator business model is that people need to feel like they’re not just paying for stuff that’s already been created.

If somebody signs up for Stratechery they can get all the old Daily Updates, but in my mind that’s not the ultimate reason to subscribe to Stratechery. Rather, the reason to subscribe to Stratechery is that you want there to be more Stratechery going forward and want it not just in a “I like Ben and I want him to succeed” sort of way, but in a “It is valuable to have this content and to that end it’s important that I pay for it” sort of way.

I think there has been a shift from paying for stuff that’s already made to paying for the ongoing creation of content, and to my mind publishers need to get into that mindset of shifting away from selling something that’s already done to selling the creation of something. That shift seems to mirror the Patreon “This stuff is already out there, and if you want to throw a few bucks our way that’d be amazing and you’ll feel good about it” to “Look, if you want this stuff, you gotta pay for it” sort of way. Do you think that’s a fair characterization, do you see the same shift, or am I sort of imagining things here?

JC: I mean I can’t speak for Drew, but, yes, in spades. The way I sort of phrase it is: at this point, there are so many people in the music industry debating whether or not music should be free. I don’t mean to sound crass, but it’s sort of a silly argument in 2018. Music is free, why are we talking about whether or not it should be free? Regardless, it is free, you can listen to any song you want in the world in eight seconds, you can pull up that song up on your mobile device. You have every song you’ve ever wanted. It’s not whether or not content is free anymore.

What I’ve always said is, look, content may be free, but people are not free. That’s what I think you mean by the “ongoing creation” of content. The stuff itself, yes that’s valuable, but the creation of that stuff, the ongoing creation of that stuff, the future production of that content stream is like that future expected value that a member is getting when they make that “purchase”, when they become a patron, when they become a member. And that is a really meaningful, valuable thing.

DS: The thing is, Ben, you’ve talked about this, how the Internet has enabled this model, and maybe fifteen years ago people weren’t aware of that but now they are very aware of the ability to essentially make a living at doing something they love in any kind of thousands and hundreds of thousands of niches are out there, because you only need a certain size audience to do that.

Where, then, does Memberful fit in Patreon? I would go back to I believe last year, Jack, you guys launched a new feature that I wrote about, about having plugins in WordPress and things like that, and being more of a platform. Originally with Patreon you had to go to the Patreon page, and then you added the ability to put exclusive content on the Patreon page, and then last year you announced an initiative to allow people to put content in their own place and there would be infrastructure that Patreon would provide that would allow you to use the Patreon back end but have the content somewhere other than Patreon.

Now, you’re acquiring Memberful. Is that in conflict with what you launched last year? I’m wondering if you could walk me through your thought process as you went down that path.

JC: I think it’s counterintuitive for a lot of folks, because most business models on the web until pretty recently have been attention-based business models because you want to make sure that you can get as many ad dollars out of the product as you can and you need eyeballs. You need people on your site, on your own property that you are running ads against in order to make money.

One thing that makes Patreon unique, and I think gives us a bit of a strategic advantage, is we don’t need that. We don’t care where you consume content, we want you to consume content where it is best for you, the creator, and best for you, the fan. If that means you have a great community that’s on WordPress, awesome, we’ll help you reach your fans on WordPress. If it means that you have your own owned-and-operated website, awesome. We don’t need those fans to be bumping our session time metrics so that we can run ads against that and make more money. That’s not our business model.

What we care about is that the payment recurs, what we care about is that the patron is getting ongoing values from that creator, and that the creator is being funded and is able to keep producing work. If that happens, then we’re excited, because the creator is making more money, the patron continues paying money, and the engagement is just less important to us, or I would say not important at all. That is why we’ve had great partnerships through that platform product that you mentioned, with folks like Discourse, where we see lots of creators running their communities on Discourse. We are totally okay not owning that community and that engagement experience.

Obviously, we’ve been excited about Memberful for a long time, and the other important thing about Memberful is a lot of bigger creators, they want to completely own their fanbase, they don’t want any platform getting in the way, they don’t want anyone else’s branding getting in the way. When they run a membership product, they want to run their membership product with their brand, they want to have custom colors, and custom tech, and custom integrations, they want full control – great! Again, because we don’t have to own engagement, we are super excited about that, and we want to support that and we want those bigger creators to be able to run communities the way they want to run their communities, where they want to run their communities, with whatever branding that they want for those communities. That’s really important to us. So, Memberful makes a lot of sense given that philosophy and given that business model.

So the expectation then is, from a Memberful customer perspective, what’s going to change for a Memberful customer? Are you going to combine the platform product and Memberful?

JC: On a high level, there’s not going to be any changes. Drew’s got a roadmap that they are executing on for Memberful, but no, there’s no immediate plans for integration. Memberful will be a subsidiary that’s independent and operating and building their roadmaps and their tools and making their product better.

DS: Just to answer the question directly: it’s going to be business as usual but it’s going to be better and faster. Like Jack said, we are a subsidiary of Patreon now, but we’re still running Memberful the same way. We’re going to be building out the product team over the next few months, Patreon is going to give us more resources, we’re going to start building more exciting new features, functionality, more of the things that everyone’s been asking for including you Ben, like group memberships, better language support, customizations, taxes are becoming a big thing. We’re just going to have more resources to build those sorts of things so it’s just going to be business as usual.

I guess my question on that is: I think I know Drew well enough to know that he believes in the independent model, and while I’m sure he admires you Jack and what you’ve done with Patreon, if he’s going to sell the company you must have made him a pretty good offer. What’s the point then? If you’re not going to integrate, if you’re going to pay a big chunk of change to Drew to take him under and be a subsidiary, what is the benefit that accrues to Patreon from your perspective?

JC: There’s a couple of things: one, there’s a whole segment of the market that doesn’t want to build a membership business on someone else’s platform, they want full control of the branding, they want full control of the experience. Right now Patreon is unable to serve that market, if we were to build that, it would be a completely separate thing. Working with the Memberful team accelerates us into that market segment, so it gives us a very big head start. I would say mostly that’s where the value is.

There’s also the idea of focus and learning. This is a way for us to start learning about that segment right out of the gate, and not only that, but also acquire a team that has so much organizational knowledge and understanding of that segment and what they need and what they want.

The biggest thing is pretty simple: there’s a market segment that we are unable to serve right now, and Patreon’s mission is to fund the creative class. That’s not a small thing: we want to serve all creators, all creative people who are putting things either online or even in person, and this is a way to accelerate our progress to our mission.

It became very clear after talking with Drew that not only is it the right product and does it solve a lot of the blockers that we’re hearing from creators when we’re talking about Patreon and their needs and their wants, but it’s super on-mission and again, Drew and I see the world in the same way, so all the pieces lined up and it made a lot of sense.

DS: I would just echo what Jack said, both of us together viewed these as different segments but we see it as a large and quickly growing market, and so there’s a big opportunity for Patreon as well with acquiring Memberful to really play a lot bigger in that growing market.

To that point, I think that you’ve been very clear throughout, Jack, that you’re very mission-driven, that Patreon was in many respects built for yourself first but then also to the extent it was built beyond that it was because you wanted to enable creators broadly and unlock new business models on the Internet to get away from the ad business model. Is it a fair way to summarize what you just said that you want Patreon to be the one stop shop for creators, and basically you will be flexible with the way you fill that market?

So in this case, it means an acquisition, and maybe a slightly different business model — I guess you’re still taking a percentage of charges so in that respect it’s the same business model, but in the respects of not owning the platform, being completely white label. You’re basically willing to be flexible basically on everything else as long as you’re able to be the place to go for the creative class. Is that a fair summary?

JC: Yeah, very much so. Let’s talk ten-year ambition, here. Creators are disconnected from the world right now. Just personally, I bought a house in 2010 after I did a big advertising campaign…

Congratulations on your timing!

JC: (laughs) Thank you, it was really great timing! I was in escrow for ninety days because they didn’t understand how the heck I made money, and it was a really frustrating experience, and it became very clear to me after that experience that the world isn’t ready to connect to creative people and how they operate and how they run their businesses and how they make money.

Creators as a segment right now are an entirely underserved population, mostly because people just don’t understand them, they don’t understand their business models, they don’t understand how much they value their fans, they don’t understand why they do what they do and the things that they need and the problems that they have, they don’t understand how much they value independence and how much they value trust with their fans and with the platforms that they’re using to distribute their content. There’s a lot about the creator population that people don’t understand.

I think that the result is that it’s very hard to be an independent creator, there’s a lot of problems that those creators have that we need people to solve for us. It’s financial problems, gosh there’s even things like, I’m not saying we’re going to get into this, but health insurance as an independent creator is crazy, there’s so many problems that should just be easier if you’re a creative professional. Patreon wants to look at these problems holistically and make sure that we’re looking at the world through the lens of a creator and understanding those problems and solving them. Ultimately we think of ourselves like Drew thinks of Memberful, we are a SaaS platform that exists to serve creators and help them build their businesses. You can imagine that there’s a wide range of opportunities that we can get into when we think of ourselves that way.

Yeah, I was going get into that because Drew, you mentioned taxes earlier as well, and I wrote an Article called The Faceless Publisher advocating for a platform that would do all the functionality of a publisher including payroll, taxes, and all the sorts of things that people need that a job provides you that are kind of in the air, you don’t even realize that it’s being done until you try to go on your own and you have all this stuff that you have to deal with and you didn’t even realize it. So it sounds like that is a long term objective for Patreon is to provide all those sort of additional services?

JC: Yeah, I would say, I can’t get into which services we’re going to offer and which services we are not, because honestly we’re talking a ten-year timeline here. Our three-year ambition is more geared toward building a great membership offering, but in the long term, yeah, we want a more robust set of tools that helps creators be real, thriving businesses. I think if we’re successful in our mission, you’re absolutely right in how you described it. It shouldn’t be any harder to write for yourself than it is to write for an employer, it should be easy.

Patreon, I think relatively speaking, is pretty inexpensive, and Memberful I would argue even more so. Do you think that this business model as-is is going to be sustainable? Are you going to make it up in volume? What’s your long term view of the underlying economics of this business?

JC: The phrase that we use internally is value for value. I definitely see Patreon, as we add more of these services and products, we will have to necessarily re-think business models for those services and products. So, for instance, if we start helping creators do fulfillment and merchandise and stuff like that, we’ll have to figure out how to pay for that.

Right, you acquired Kit earlier this year.

JC: Exactly. Part of that work is going to be figuring out what the business model is associated with the merchandise on Patreon. So, yeah, I definitely see the business model expanding.

Drew, was Memberful ever, you were independent for several years, I don’t think you took any sort of venture investment, so I presume Memberful was a profitable business?

DS: Yes, was bootstrapped and has been profitable for it’s entire existence.

Do you envision in the long run offering bundles? If you can get a bundle in place, there’s a lot of benefits, it’s usually a net positive both for consumers and for producers because they’re getting second-order customers that would not subscribe otherwise, but the challenge of course is how do you get from here to there? How do you get a sufficient customer base such that it’s worth taking less from your best customers so they’ll get more overall. Is that something that you’ve given thought to in the long run, or not really?

JC: Here’s what I would say about bundles: I think the bundle problem, and sorry if it sounds like I’m dodging the question, I’ve seen so many things change that anything can happen, but my thoughts on bundles right now are bundles are solving a problem for consumers and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not Patreon’s focus right now. It’s not that we don’t care about fans and that we don’t care about members, it’s just that sort of assumes a two-sided marketplace where there’s discovery, there’s a big product focus on helping members find new projects and creators to support, and that’s a whole set of work and strategies and product development that is not our focus right now.

We want to stay hyper focused on what matters to us, which is serving creators and helping them build out their individual membership offerings. The bundle solution is a much more consumer-focused product and a solution that is just not our focus right now. Now could we get into something like that way down the road in the future? Never say never, but it’s not something that we’re going to be doing in the next couple of years.

My last question is, and I’m going to start with you Drew, and then Jack you can go next, is that you mentioned the idea of trust and you want people to trust Patreon, both creators and fans. I would say that’s something that has been a great thing about Memberful, just the tremendous reliability of the platform. That’s something that has been very attractive to me, particularly relative to the experience I’ve had with the WordPress plugins that I was using previously. The other thing that’s great about Memberful from my perspective is that it’s built on Stripe, and I’ve had just a great experience with Stripe. I was using Stripe before I was using Memberful, and that’s something that’s attractive to me as well.

Drew, what’s your perspective on maintaining that level of reliability and trust as you become a part of Patreon, and the follow-up for you Jack would be that there have been concerns both last year with the rate change and this month with the payment challenges; what’s your perspective on both comforting people like me that are on Memberful and don’t want to lose that?

DS: It’s a good question, Ben. From day one, we built Memberful to be reliable, that’s our number one thing. Reliability and security, if we don’t check those two boxes, then we’re not going to have customers. That’s a non-negotiable thing for us, so we built our entire platform in a way so that it is reliable. We’re on AWS, we use Heroku, everything is decentralized, we purposely made things very modular so that we don’t have single points of failure, so that’s been a focus of Memberful, and it’s going to be continue to be a focus of Memberful because on the technical level, Memberful and Patreon are two completely different pieces of software, so they’re going to live independently from one another, they’re not dependent on one another. We feel really good about being able to continue to be reliable, secure, and dependable because we’re going to be building on those same core values and it’s going to be the same software.

What happens if Patreon decides that we’re duplicating work here, we should put this all on the same infrastructure?

DS: We have actually talked about that and I don’t know if Jack wants to get into it, but if we had felt that the long term goal was to kind of merge these two companies into one thing, one giant thing, I don’t think it would’ve made much sense to do this. But I’ll let Jack speak to that and how he feels about it.

JC: I’ll speak to your first question about trust, I have a couple of thoughts about that. First, I don’t mean for this to be an excuse, it’s not, there’s no excuses, we just gotta nail this stuff, but Patreon has scaled at an astronomical rate and we’ve run into a lot of trouble with that scaling. Again, that’s the job of a tech company, so it’s up to us to figure that out, and to make sure it’s reliable and functional every time, so we’ve got to do that. I’d like to think that when we’ve flubbed, we’ve owned up to it, and we’ve made it right. I remember in the early days, we were literally fronting money to creators if they needed it and there was some lock on the payout or something like that. And we’ve continued to do things that are unusual and unusually creator-centric as we’ve scaled despite some of the challenges of just rapid growth.

The other things that we intend to do and are doing are investing a lot in our trust and safety teams and our content policy in communication, in our creator-facing teams, we have so many creator-facing teams that provide one-on-one care to creators and talk with creators. You can can actually call Patreon as a creator and talk with somebody, and so we invest a lot in those teams and those relationships and our email support, so I think that goes a long way.

Also, from a philosophical perspective, our number one core behavior — some companies have values, Patreon has behaviors, we like that word because it’s something you can do — is “Put creators first”. That’s the number one core behavior that we have, and that I think is ultimately what is going to build trust if we can scale that culture as the company scales. That means that every line of code, every legal policy that we change, every bit of trust and safety, community guideline stuff that we work on, we’re always thinking about “How is this affecting creators?”, and the fact that that’s our priority as opposed to advertisers, consumers, partners, or whatever it is, we’re prioritizing creators. We never treat creators like so many platforms have to do in order to keep their revenue models alive or in order to keep their ecosystems alive. Ultimately, I think that is what is going to build trust as Patreon scales.

To your second point, Ben, where you ask “What if we tell Drew, hey we’re integrating infrastructures” or something like that. We had that conversation, and we both agree that it wouldn’t make sense to do that. If down the road there’s a safe, secure way to do it, ten years or whatever, whenever it changes, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there but that’s not the intention, it’s not the plan, and it’s not something that we would do too fast or without good deliberation, it’s not something that we want to do. I don’t know what to say other than that’s not what we intend to do, it’s not the plan, it’s the plan to have Memberful be a fully independent subsidiary operating on its own and we’re helping them hire folks, we’re helping them hire engineers, and product folks, helping them build out the team and that’s what we’re doing and it’s why we wanted to do this in the first place.

From my perspective this acquisition does make a ton of sense. I love your point about focusing on creators, and this fills a segment, you’re absolutely right: I would never have gone to Patreon for all the reasons you listed, and Memberful fits that bill, and I can see from Memberful’s perspective, not just for the payout for Drew, but I imagine there are so many folks that didn’t even know Memberful existed. Patreon is a known quantity, it is what it is, and Memberful being a part of that I can see leading to a big jump in growth along with the additional resources and things like that.


My thanks to Jack Conte and Drew Strojny for taking the time.