Big (Sponsored) Desk Energy

The full Morning Brew to beehiiv backstory, and then some.

Today is a special newsletter for a few reasons:

  1. I’m going to share the full backstory as to how I even got here — running beehiiv with 60+ employees and slinging emails like the one you’re reading right now.

  2. You may have noticed that Branch sponsor logo up above. That’s right, this is the first ever Big Desk Energy with an ad.

And it’s only fitting that my first ever newsletter sponsor is Branch, who offers the most quality and affordable office furniture around. If you haven’t heard of them, your desk energy is probably pretty mid.

I was just living in Medellin, Colombia for the past 4 months and it was as incredible as always.

Morning view from my rooftop

But I was set to return to LA last week and was in need of elevating the WFH setup. So I fired off this tweet…

I genuinely just wanted to receive some solid recommendations. But I ended up connecting with one the cofounders of Branch, Sib, who offered to help pimp out the setup.

Duo Standing Desk + Verve Chair

I’m now 2x as productive and 5x as comfortable, all courtesy of Branch. BTW I asked Sib if I could share a promo code with you all and he agreed. You can use BDE10 for 10% off everything.

Now you might be wondering… how the fuck did I get here?

Here meaning — running a 60 person company, having my personal newsletter sponsored, and offering all ~10,000 of you a promo code to get sweet desks and office stuff.

I wonder about that from time to time to be honest. So here’s the full backstory…

When I joined Morning Brew back in 2017, we were 4 guys in a closet-sized office sending an email to a few thousand people. Fortunately, we did a few of things right. We grew incredibly quickly, and scaled that thing to millions of readers and began making millions of dollars per month.


  • We built a brand and created content that people resonated with.

  • We had a valuable audience (mostly those in 20s and 30s, upwardly mobile in their careers, with disposable income, interested in business and current events).

  • The top brands in the world wanted to access our audience and we had the right people to make sponsoring Morning Brew a great investment.

As we scaled the company, one team grew faster than any other — brand partnerships (i.e. ad sales). It made sense, nurturing those relationships with brands, selling the value of Morning Brew, then managing the dozens of campaigns that went live each week was a tall task.

And I made a few other observations…

  • Newsletters as an acquisition channel worked really well. The advertisers kept coming back for more.

  • It required a large audience, large supporting team, and tons of relationships for this to work.

  • There were so many other newsletters who should have been able to monetize their emails with premium sponsors, but couldn’t due to the lack of the above (re team, scale, and relationships).

Elsewhere in the company, me and my small team of engineers had built a custom CMS for the writers to use, a referral program that led to over 1M new subscribers, best in class dashboards for growth, attribution, and audience development… and a whole lot more.

And then opportunity came calling…

  1. We received dozens of requests per day from readers asking us about the software we were using. Aka people wanted what we had built.

  2. Substack, a newsletter platform, raised at a $650M valuation. I knew our tech was better than theirs plus we had the case study of Morning Brew itself as proof.

beehiiv (at least mentally) was born.

I left Morning Brew in the fall of 2020, did a little stint at YouTube, and then launched beehiiv in November 2021 with my two cofounders, Ben and Jake.

We wanted to build the absolute best email platform that’s ever existed. But we didn’t want to be like every other platform that simply sent emails… we genuinely wanted to build something that helped our users meaningfully grow and monetize.

Fast forward to today and our growth tools have helped users acquire tens of millions of new subscribers. And our users are currently earning nearly $1M per month on the platform.

One of our other big bets was to build and scale the largest ad network in the email space. Today we work with companies like Hubspot, Betterment, brooklinen, etc. (I.e. beehiiv users can have their newsletter sponsored by these brands.)

And why do these brands continue to invest into the beehiiv ad network?

Because advertising in email works. Just ask Branch, who offers some of the highest quality and most affordable office furniture in the world. And they’ll even give it to you for 10% off with code BDE10.

If you enjoyed this post or know someone who may find it useful, please share it with them and encourage them to subscribe:

Credit: Darson Russell

Shoutout Darson for the reader submission. I can’t for the life of me figure out how you’re supposed to access that laptop on the left. Do you stand in the middle of the table?

Reply with your own AI generated office and I’ll feature it in an upcoming issue.

Turn on, tune in, drop out. Click on any of the tracks below to get in a groove — each selected from the full Big Desk Energy playlist.

Some of my favorite content I found on the internet this week…

  • I’m currently chugging through the Elon biography, so I appreciated this contrarian take on Walter Isaacson’s work (The Drift)

  • I love the Elon show and the never-ending news cycle this guy provides. The latest with Don Lemon, who he hired to create content for X, then fired after being interviewed (YouTube)

  • Our friend Hank Green unpacks YouTube’s biggest problems (YouTube)

  • Should I be launching a humanoid robot? Seems like everyone else is…

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