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How Alex Lieberman built a 9-figure media brand out of his dorm room
And how he would approach building an online presence if he had to do it all over again
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If you’ve ever found yourself looking for market insights, finance news, or just basic career advice, odds are you’ve encountered Morning Brew. With a mind blowing portfolio of 14 brands (yes, you’ve read that right), Alex Lieberman catapulted Morning Brew into the major leagues of digital media companies. What began as a college project evolved into one of the most vocal media companies in the world. Today, we are bringing you the story of how he made all of this happen.
Something is brewing
Alex attended the University of Michigan where he met Austin Rief, with whom he soon became buddies. Both business majors, they were enthusiastic about starting their own hustle. When they asked other college students how they kept up with business news most said they read the WSJ or other traditional finance newspaper because they felt like they had to.
‘That can’t be it!?’ Alex thought to himself, and was keen to come up with an alternative solution. It wasn’t long after that Alex and Austin were working on their first episode of what was soon to become the infamous Morning Brew.
Making finance news sexy again
What followed was a years-long process of what Alex calls the ‘balloon effect’. For the first couple of years, Alex and Austin were establishing Morning Brew as a solid newsletter and raised a $750,000 seed round from friends and family in 2017. While the team grew and many different writers came on board, the vision of Alex stayed the same: make finance news more attractive.
With a growing subscriber base, the balloon inflated until it eventually burst. From an audience of 100,000 in 2017, Morning Brew gained more than three million new subscribers in just the last three years. They also added countless brands to their portfolio, including light brew, tech brew, and many others.
How to grow an audience in 2023
When Alex was asked how he would approach building an audience today, here’s what he said. He would use the tools provided on social media, leverage the heck out of them, and then take his audience with him to a community-based medium where one can ‘own’ their audience.
Here’s what he means by that: when building a social media audience, there is always platform-specific risk. Shadow bans are a real thing, no matter whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, or Youtube. While the algorithm can work wonders in the beginning, it may turn on you faster than you think. That is why Alex would migrate his community to a newsletter or podcast, where the only variable is the quality of the content, and nothing else.
While Morning Brew has always been Alex’s main focus, there’s been other side quests along the way. After succeeding with Morning Brew as a media company, he started investing into other firms as well, such as Bark Social and MicroAquire, and advised many more. To complement the portfolio of media brands under Alex’s thumb, he started co-hosting the podcast ‘The Crazy One’ in 2020, where Jesse Pujji and Alex dole out unfiltered opinions and advice on how to build businesses.
Alex’s idea on how to build an audience today shows how fast the development of content on the internet really is, and while his audience building journey began without any helpful algorithms or viral tweets, we can all learn from his experience-based advice.
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Salley is your personal career coach, that helps you master AI-proof skills such as business storytelling and building your online presence. As the workplace evolves due to AI, Salley helps you to easily master relevant skills that can't be easily automated. If you're looking to build your online presence to unlock more career or business opportunities, be sure to request early access at salley.co