WP012 - Ben Thompson, the lone-wolf analyst - blogs, podcasts, paywalls, and business analysis, or, “well, that’s fine for Ben!”
This week, we look at one of the new analyst models, and what they do, by way of Ben Thompson. Horace Dediu and RedMonk are other examples of this model, but Ben Thompson is the highest flying, most interesting practicer now. Ben’s business model is pretty straight-forward: a partial paywall around his some of his weekly content, podcast sponsorships, and (maybe?) consulting.

Also, the DC steak scene, BLT Steakhouse’s odd way of cooking a steak. Brandon says to go to Charlie Palmer’s.

“I like the ones where you prepare” - background

  • Ben’s Wikipedia profile - side-note, it’s amazing that it took until Feb 2017 for RedMonk to get a wikipedia page.

Common structure of the pieces

  1. Start with current news item
  1. Apply previously created framework/chart to news item
  1. Make argument that latest news validates previous framework/conclusions
  1. Strong state someone, a group, an organization is wrong and danger is eminent.
  1. Talk about free posts in the weekly podcast.

Models for this space

  1. Paid newsletter vs Johnny Lead Gen newsletter
  1. Freedom to speak your mind vs. being paid as consultant - and being “biased” by vendors.
  1. Virtuous circles
  1. stratechery — Free blog posts -> Free podcast (indirect revenue vis ads) -> paid newsletter (direct revenue)
  1. Galloway — Free newsletter -> Free videos -> paid consultant -> books sold -> Keynote Speaking Fees
  1. Could weave in some redmonk consultant experience too
  1. Also, I think we could touch on the idea of “the Weeds” podcast model, where by you take the news of the day/week but decompose much further. I think the Daily does this, SDT, Vox The Weeds and Exponent.


  • The medium of blogging, versus books, versus conferences, versus conference rooms.
  • Books: collection of articles would be fine, worry less about the “ossification” of the book.
  • His topic area is, more or less, the business side of consumer tech. There are some enterprise pieces here and there.
  • Not sure what exactly to say about the Microsoft streak of articles that Ben had. There’s something interesting there in mixing up analyst coverage with journalism speed reporting. 451 and RedMonk struggled with this kind of thing, classic analyst firms don’t do it at all.