2023: For you, us, and the world

What to expect in the new year

Dear reader,

First up, wishing you and your loved ones Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

It's that time of year, when things slow down, pause, and (rightly) come to a bit of a standstill. Which also gives us a good few days to reflect upon everything that happened in the year.

We began 2022 presenting The Signal to investors, who responded by backing us wholeheartedly. Here is a list of our supporters. We had just breached the 10,000 subscribers mark when we approached them. We will close the year marginally shy of 60,000 subscribers, a 6X growth. Our avid readers include business and tech leaders, economists and policymakers. We also count as readers students from the country’s top institutions and those who are taking early steps in their careers as corporate managers, techies, engineers, lawyers, journalists, and public policy professionals, among others.

This reinforces our belief that there is space for a high-quality news product for the thinking, discerning Indian, traversing generations and demographics. In a recent reader survey we conducted through the newsletter, 91.7% respondents said they read us either every day or two to three times a week. To our immense satisfaction, several readers have told us that The Signal is the first news product they read in the morning.

The Intersection, our engaging weekend long-read, has received words of appreciation from policymakers, business and thought leaders in India and abroad.

We launched The Playbook, a newsletter on the business of sports, in mid-October. And in the 11 editions that have been published, its author Jaideep Vaidya has unravelled trends shaping the space that often don't get their place in the proverbial sun. The Playbook reported on the big money in media rights, sports’ dalliance with crypto (NFTs), equal pay, sponsorship patterns, and betting, among other issues. To quote a cricketing analogy here, in 2022, we've just about taken guard.

And finally, our flagship daily podcast, The Signal Daily, has been growing steadily. In fact, the first episode of 2023 will also be the 300th! It’s a validation of our belief that India is ready for high-quality audio content. With ~15,000 monthly listeners, we've shown the value of a quick, digestible offering, which, much like The Signal, provides listeners with just enough to start their day. We also launched a podcast series called Back to Campus. Anchored by my co-founder Rajneil Kamath, it is an interview-style podcast featuring the likes of Harsha Bhogle reminiscing about their college days.

What's ahead?

Come January, there's a lot to do, a lot to build, and a lot more to grow.

For a start, The Signal (and its related properties) will don a new look in 2023. With The Playbook’s logo and design, we may have already dropped a hint. All our properties will wear the new colours beginning next month.

Next, The Signal will be gradually moving to a new platform, beehiiv, in the early weeks of January. Much like moving into Substack, a lot of consideration, particularly around growth, has gone into this migration. What I can promise you is that except the look and the publishing platform, nothing else will change. The content will be as sparkling and delightful to read as ever. We will continue to publish on Substack for our loyal readers on the platform app and website.

Many of you have asked us to consider WhatsApp as a potential channel. I am happy to tell you that The Signal will be available on WhatsApp in the first quarter of 2023. We are currently working out the nuts and bolts of the rollout. I am also happy to announce that we will bring you an app (bowing to demand, again) in 2023.

More newsletters and podcasts

The Playbook was the first of a bunch of newsletters we plan to launch. Expect the next one in the first quarter of 2023. Ditto for podcasts. We will be working with high-quality creators to bring you narrative-led storytelling and other gripping content.

We have also begun to actively solicit advertisements. Does that mean The Signal will be peppered with ads everywhere? Not at all. We believe ads must not spoil the reading experience. They must be tasteful, non-intrusive, and an enjoyable element native to the newsletter. But I’m sure you would understand that we need to pay our bills and acquire talent to bring you high-quality newsletters and podcasts. Allow me to even make a pitch. If you would like to tell the story of your brand, please get in touch with Divya Sampath ([email protected]), who recently joined us to head sales and partnerships.

One last thing before I leave you to a collection of the most interesting predictions for 2023. The Signal has thus far catered to an audience that ranges from news junkies to casual readers. With “news avoidance” becoming a thing lately (and understandably so), The Signal and its sibling products will strive to make sure that 'fun to read' does not mean 'dumb to read'.

Warmest regards,

Venkat Ananth

Co-founder and CEO, The Signal


What lies ahead? The world was just about stabilising after two years of the Covid-19 pandemic when Russia invaded Ukraine. The war sent prices soaring, and a cost-of-living crisis gripped many countries, especially in Europe. There's also a grey cloud of a recession looming over economies as central banks fight inflation. Then, there's China, which was touted to take on America to become the world's biggest economy between 2020 and 2035. China's economy is having anything but a dream run. Meanwhile, next year, India is expected to overtake China to become the world's most populous country. The metaverse could receive a reality check, the crypto winter may just continue into 2023, and electric "air taxis" could aim for the skies. Here is The Economist peering into the future to forecast how the world will change in the next 12 months.

No more bricks in the wall: Earlier this month, we recapped the tectonic shift that was Apple’s compliance with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act, which has a March 2024 deadline. The gist is that Apple’s iOS—which for 15 years locked users in a closed ecosystem that dictated what apps they can and cannot use—will never be the same. Come September 2023, users in the EU will be able to access third-party stores and sideload apps not available in the official App Store.

Dell’s vice chairman and COO Jeff Clarke predicts that the interoperability of the cloud will break down tech’s walled gardens—something Microsoft chief Satya Nadella wisened up to before other Big Tech companies did.

2023 will force Apple to innovate when it comes to ensuring the same degree of privacy, security, and user experience it offered when it had battened down the hatches. This isn’t great news for Google, because the development will eat into the one advantage its open-source Android operating system has.

TV in movie halls?: It's been a year of hell for the entertainment industry, says former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar. He isn't entirely wrong. Entertainment companies bled billions this year. Then, there were high-level executive shakeups and massive cost-cutting measures. According to Kilar, the road to making billions could get rougher. In this op-ed piece for The Wall Street Journal, Kilar pens down what's in store for 2023. In his opinion, only three entertainment companies are built to survive—barring tech giants Apple and Amazon—the streaming war. What happens to the rest? And so, expect news of major acquisitions. One unlikely prediction: major TV episodes could receive theatrical releases.

Destination equities: As 2022 dawned, it was pretty much certain that the era of easy money was over. Markets were prepared for an adjustment. The magnitude of central bank action, particularly the US Federal Reserve, however, took markets by surprise. Investors head into 2023 much more uncertain about what the year will herald. A recession in the Euro zone and the UK is more or less a certainty. Analysts believe the US might just manage to skirt one, even with a somewhat hard landing. That is why a Financial Times panel on investments concludes that equities may yet be the best bet in 2023. Even though tech companies, darlings until last year, might remain out of favour, there is value to be mined in several other sectors.

Cricket’s future: The first international cricket match was played between Canada and the US in Manhattan in 1844. The US lost the match and interest in the long-drawn British pastime, as American football, baseball and basketball—games that demanded much less time—grew deep roots. Cricket is now seeing a revival as baseball, the sport that comes closest to the gentleman’s game, fails to innovate. A group of influential South Asians and diaspora from other cricketing nations are laying the foundations of American cricket. By the 200th anniversary of the first international cricket match, there is a good chance the centre of gravity of the sport, which moved from England to Asia in the 1990s and 2000s, shifts to the US, where big money meets big sport. Made for each other, says The Economist.

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