Ben Young
Ben Young
April 21, 2023

Edition #401

On how the modern media landscape supports writers like Grann, behind Ubers $500m ad business and more. 

I liked Noahs David Grann appreciation edition. For those of you not in the know, he is an author, that goes super deep into a topic, for years, and like a detective uncovers stories previously untold, and then brings them to life in a remarkable manner. 

His latest book, The Wager: A tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder is out this week, I’m looking forward to diving into this in my upcoming holiday. All of his books are brilliant, so if you haven’t read, don’t be afraid to grab them all. 

Here is an excerpt, which is good. 

He also, is a regular writer on the New Yorker, so if you read, you’ve probably come across him. But do check out his entire New Yorker archive (thanks Noah for the tip!). You won’t regret it.

But why am I talking about David Grann? And his book launch. Is this a plug? I guess so, but really I wanted to talk about how the modern media landscape helps support a writer doing this type of work. 

For example, Killers of the Flower Moon has been turned into an Apple TV movie, out later this year. Leo is the main star! Apparently Grann received $5m for the rights. That book took him five years to research and write – that’s a long and serious bet. 

Of course it takes great work to create these opportunities, but at least the opportunity is there, for writers to take the risk. And that is pretty neat, imagine being a young writer today, growing up with all these tools at your dispersal. 

Whatever was paid, movies are competitive, folks want the latest stories. And this incentivizes writers like Grann to go and find the untold stories. To spend years unravelling these stories, traveling the world, exploring archives. Interviewing. Killers of the Flower moon, the events were over a 100 years ago. 

And then, in-between books, there are the royalties (which has always been around) but also audiobooks. And the columns in New Yorker. He is a one man band media machine. Well I don’t know if he his a one man band, but his pent for curiosity to unfurl these stories, is something that can help him get paid in multiple ways. Each supporting more work. 

And that’s neat, whilst I doubt he is getting paid for any use of his work in ChatGPT, maybe he will at some point. Which segues nicely into Washington Posts piece, on what content has gone into the ML models, and what ‘percentage’ of the overall database does any particular domain contribute. It’s worth diving into. My works, have about ‘120,000 tokens’ per their data. 

Does that mean, my (and our) collective work will live on for infinity? Maybe. I just ask, if it does, and there are native ads, that they are at least good. 

Notable stories this week


  • Nativo raises $25m in structured capital from Capital IP.
  • WPP acquires Sonic Branding Agency.

Campaign of the week

View all 2023 best campaigns.

Smartest commentary

  • “I think it’s something of a lost art. Playful experimentation inside a social network doesn’t have to be a race to the bottom and I think can actually make the network better. That said, I don’t think he’s going to conquer LinkedIn, but I wish him the best.”Ryan Broderick

Datapoints of note

  • Uber has more than 200,000 advertisers on the platform.

That’s it for this week.