02 - The Hater Tipping Point
May I welcome you to the May update? Ha. See what I did there? You put nearly $9 million behind a guy who makes puns like that. Yikes! Don’t worry, if we pull this off, you’re going to look brilliant. Actually, I take that back, you already look brilliant. That’s why I’ve printed out all of those black and white photos of you and hung them up around the office.
Oh, right, we’re on Revue now. Mostly because Twitter bought it and it looks like they’re going to muscle out Substack. If Substack ends up somehow winning this slugfest, you can bet I’ll shamelessly switch back.
Building in Public
This whole ‘building in public’ gimmick sure is paying off. We had 70+ people apply to work at Metafy after the last public investor update, and countless investors have signed up and reached out. We have Series A funds breathing down our neck, hinted at pre-empting our next round.
It’s easier when you actually give a shit, but even if we didn’t, it’s hard to argue with those results during a time when hiring is harder than it has ever been.
Does it help that our updates have all been incredibly positive? Definitely. We’ll see how much the world still loves us when shit catches on fire, which it inevitably will. For now, we’re pretty well-loved by almost everyone.
Which leads me to…
The Hater Tipping Point
Putting things into the world means being vulnerable. You have to understand that a few people are going to hate it, and a few of those people are going to tell you all about it. You kind of have to write off that crushing emotional trauma as an occupational hazard because hitting The Hater Tipping Point is an important milestone.
What is The Hater Tipping Point? Well, I made the phrase up. So, please, allow me to explain in six paragraphs what could be said in one.
There’s a curious thing that happens when you put something you’ve made out into the world. People hate it. Now, sometimes they hate it because it actually sucks. That’s probably the case most of the time. Sometimes, however, they hate it because it doesn’t suck. They hate it because everyone else loves it.
Places like Twitter are interesting because everyone has a voice. We’re more connected than ever before. On paper, that’s a really great thing. In practice, however, evidence from past literature has associated heavy social media use with increased loneliness.
Like it or not, we’re social animals. We’re wired to seek validation in others. That’s right, even the people who wear leather jackets and ride motorcycles and shit. So what happens when something is popular? Wouldn’t that make us all inclined to like that something?
Ha, yeah right! The scattered minority find themselves stranded amid a sea of good vibes. Here’s the thing, that sea of good vibes acts as a distribution channel for their negativity. It’s a flare gun for an audience they may not have otherwise had. Suddenly, they can be the person who people point to and say “Finally, someone said it!”
Keep in mind, people are complicated and I don’t see this as an excuse to stop listening. In the wise words of my friend Kelly Wallick:
Sometimes it’s as simple as them voicing their opinions because they’re frustrated. Not necessarily with you directly, but the industry you’re a part of. You see the hate where the others don’t because you’re small enough to listen but big enough to do something about it.
It’s that or they’re all just insufferable black holes of joy.
Metafy has hit The Hater Tipping Point. It matters because it acts as a proxy for relevancy. It means we’re doing something right, we’re worth talking about. The Hater Tipping Point is essentially the goldilocks zone of love:hate. Memes are not only born but begin to spread widely, further accelerating organic growth and brand defensibility.
Alright, I hope you’re impressed with all that shit I just wrote because the inevitable dip is here. After 10 straight months of absurd growth, we’ve had our first month that shows a small drop. The good news is, this drop was entirely expected. We know from long-term coaches that seasonality is a factor. The summer following a year of lockdown means more than a few of our coaches taking some time off for vacations and in-person events.
- New Coaches: 54 (+18.8%)
- New Students: 569 (-0.9%)
- Sessions Booked: 1073 (-10.8%)
- GMV / Revenue: $56,401 / $2,820.05 (-26%)
- Cash in bank: $7,594,624.65
- Monthly burn: ~$95k
Impressions in organic search (the amount of time Metafy appears) are up 57% MoM, meaning Metafy’s presence is growing in Google. We’re becoming more discoverable by coach names, game titles, and soon, content marketing.
We made some on-site enhancements that grew our indexed keywords (how users can search and find us in Google) by 2.4K in one month, totaling 7.4K. The leaders combine game titles, coach names, and pretty direct requests for coaching.
Expanding these experiences with content, the ability to navigate coaches based on need and character, and supplemental assets like articles and courses will make Metafy best-in-class for this growing keyword set.
Our spend for marketing remains fairly low, at a couple thousand per month while we continue to test and optimize. Reach and impressions in paid social are up 87% MoM. Purchased bookings on paid social (Facebook/Instagram) are up 102% MoM as a result of optimized campaigns on Smash Ultimate and Smash Melee. These optimizations are a result of experimentations around creative, messaging, and audience testing.
We tested a few channels such as Twitter and Reddit and launched new campaigns across paid social and paid search focused on League of Legends, Teamfight Tactics, and Rocket League. Our initial results have shown strong top of funnel performance from both Twitter and Reddit ads but they did not perform as well for purchased bookings. We plan on testing additional campaigns for these two channels to see if we can close the gap on our prospecting audiences.
Coming up, we’ll explore TikTok as a potential channel for acquisition and continue to expand our campaigns on paid social and paid search. Our data suggests additional improvements that could be made on our website to improve UX and conversion rates. We’re launching new tests next month to improve our conversion flow and give users a better experience.
It’s amazing the shit you’ll come up with when you listen to your users. I don’t mean your highest income-generating users, I mean all of them. Our new game pages were born of this, with “Collections” being the crowning feature. You see, many of our coaches were telling us things like:
I love Metafy, and I love Josh more because he’s basically a perfect man, but how am I supposed to compete with the celebrity players?
It’s a problem of scaling, one that most marketplaces inside and outside of gaming struggle with. Collections have solved for this. You see, a collection can be anything from characters, regions, weapons, learning disabilities, etc. The possibilities are endless.
This enables us to very specifically cater game pages to the communities in which they’re servicing. If you play Kirby, now you can learn from the best Kirby players in the world. If you play Chess, you can learn from those who specialize in Endgame Strategies.
We’ve seen a whopping 40%+ increase in coach diversity on bookings since making this update. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how significant this is but uh… this is significant.
We’ve begun rolling collection pages out for the Smash Ultimate as a starting point and will continue to build out collections to create opportunities for the many, rather than the few.
Additional updates and fixes:
- Paypal is now supported as a payment option!
- Our iOS app for coaches is officially live!
- The ‘Starting Price’ preview on the game page is no longer occasionally inaccurate.
- Massive improvements to the student experience after booking a session.
- We have once again removed the ability to book a lesson with yourself, you psychopaths.
- Training Plans must now have at least two lessons within them because we hate fun.
- We’ve improved the display of Training Plans with 15+ lessons on coach profiles.
- The left nav bar in settings now remains on screen even as you scroll
- The intercom button no longer covers the navigation bar on our iOS app.
In June, we intend on tackling the following:
- Moving chat architecture over to Sendbird and making it less shit.
- New Student Dashboard (Preview)
- New Coach Dashboard (Preview)
- Track down and murder the remaining calendar sync issues.
What you can help with
We’re hiring exceptional people, but I mean, who isn’t? That said, our standards are indeed very high. I want individuals on our team who light up when they see an incredible solution to a hard problem. If you have someone in mind, have them take a look at our fancy new job page.
The highest priority roles for us right now:
- Senior Technical Recruiter
- Lead Marketing Designer
- Senior Product Designer
- Senior Software Engineer - Frontend
- Senior Software Engineer - Backend
Those in need of thanks
- Brian O'Malley - Appreciate you putting in so much time to help me around hiring, particularly adjusting your schedule to help me close a few key hires.
- David Cheng - Sending amazing people my way and actually using our product and giving feedback on it? You’re a real one.
- Greg Isenberg - I greatly enjoyed working with you and the LateCheckout team! Additionally, I found attending your community college course particularly insightful.
- Sahil Bloom - Thank you for the incredibly valuable advice around how to approach social and even newsletters such as this. I’ll probably put it into practice. Probably.
- Nick Candito - Your advice on how to approach large partnerships is amazing. I also feel a little more competitive every time we chat. Real recognize real, love your hustle dude.
- Greg Caplan - Your advice for me to think bigger and move faster is always welcomed and appreciated.
- Andy Ellwood - I’d be remiss if I didn’t include my executive coach here, who has been invaluable in helping me become self-aware enough to continue breaking through my own plateaus as a leader.
- Dan Teran - Being a founder is hard, but it’s made easier when you have genuine, honest people like Dan in your corner who are happy to give you the advice you need, when you need it. Thanks man.
- Deborah Quazzo & Kevin Zhang - Huge thank you for being so kind as to include me as a speaker at the GSU + ASV summit.
- Jeff Morris Jr. - I wouldn’t have spent time putting my thoughts together on ‘The Hater Tipping Point’ if not for you nudging me to do so!
- Taylor Feste - Thank you (and the rest of the team at Huntclub) for your incredible patience in dealing with me during our process of finding and vetting incredible talent to join the Metafy team.
That’s all for this month
Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you enjoyed it, please send me a tweet at @joshfabian so I know it’s worth continuing to do this. Okay, yes, subscribing would be more meaningful but I really need this validation, okay? Your undivided attention is the only thing that makes the feel-good juice in my brain activate.
From the community
Some of our favorite tweets from May, in no particular order.