Every quarter I like to do a little update just to give our readers a behind-the-scenes look at what is happening. Oftentimes there is a big difference between what folks see publicly and the inner workings of STH, so I like to peel that back. In this edition, I just wanted to go through some of the exciting things coming to STH along with the challenges they bring. I also wanted to address a few questions we have gotten recently. I also have an ask of our readers.
If you want to check out how this series has evolved, here are the links to the previous ones:
- STH Q1 2019 Update A Letter from the Editor
- STH Q2 2019 Update A Letter from the Editor
- STH Q3 2019 Update A Letter from the Editor
- STH Q4 2019 Update A Letter from the Editor
- STH Q1 2020 Update A Letter from the Editor
- STH Q2 2020 Update A Letter from the Editor
- STH Q3 2020 Update A Letter from the Editor
- STH Q4 2020 Update A Letter from the Editor
- STH Q1 2021 Update A Letter from the Editor
- STH Q2 2021 Update A Letter from the Editor
- STH Q3 2021 Update A Letter from the Editor
- STH Q4 2021 Update A Letter from the Editor
- STH Q1 2022 Update A Letter from the Editor
- STH Q2 2022 Update A Letter from the Editor
That list is getting quite long.
STH Q3 2022: The Road Before the Storm
At STH Q3 went from very slow over the summer, to a very fast pace. Actually, we had a bit of a strange pattern. July was seasonally slow. Companies have employees taking summer vacations en masse with the return of travel after the pandemic years so launches this summer trickled to a virtual standstill. At the same time, August was STH’s 3rd busiest month ever in terms of main site traffic and had a few top 10 traffic days ever for the site. August was rocking, and September is strong as well. To me, not only did we have some great Hot Chips coverage, but we also had the Huawei HiSilicon Kunpeng 920 series that I was excited to share. In the next few days, we will have another Arm server that is perhaps equally as exciting.
In the meantime, Will and I have been working on a new series for STH. We are going beyond SSDs and looking at what happens when you get many of them in a system.
Will has some really interesting solutions that you will see soon on STH.
I mean really interesting.
Rohit is working on getting back to network testing. We actually have been investing in a new FPGA-based test platform for network devices. I am hoping it will start being used in Q4, but I am not entirely sure if it will need to wait until January 2023. These things take time.
For my part, I have been working with the team on two main objectives. One is getting ready for the next generation of servers. That includes deep dives into new architectures and features. Expect more on that this week with Intel Innovation and then to continue into 2023. The other big focus has been picking up the pace of the STH Mini PC and Project TinyMiniMicro again. One area I have been looking at is figuring out how to effectively work being on the road. A challenge is that I have been flying a lot lately. There was a period in Q3 where I was in Austin only 6 of 38 days. Here is a snapshot from an upcoming STH Mini PC as I have started to do these on the road.
The upcoming NVIDIA Jetson AGX Orin development kit has traveled with me to Puerto Rico, Switzerland, Germany, and six mainland US cities.
Rohit has a queue of around 10 devices, Will has 10+, Eric has 9-10, I have 15-20. Hopefully, we will have the first piece by an old-time STH author in Q4 as well. For those that see five or so folks working on STH, the behind-the-scenes team is actually much larger. That helps when I am on the road, but in Q4 I am going to look at how we expand since we are now in a situation where we have had our content plan basically set for the remainder of 2022 about 120 days in advance. That buffer is too long and I am doing content this week in California already for its Q1 2023 release.
The most likely impact of this is that we are going to need to add a bit to the team and publish more than one piece per day on a regular basis. I always try to curate the best piece we can for a given day, but we have so many requests that this is going to have to happen.
For us, the challenge is that looking at both inflationary and recession headwinds, expanding is scary. Just for some context, many tech sites in 2001 after that era’s crash saw ad revenue drop by 95% in a month or two. Aside from just doing some of our review content and showing up on our videos, I also have to manage all of the sausage-making behind the scenes.
On that note, one area that will change is something I mentioned in the Q1 2022 letter. The question I posed was “what is STH?” Press, influencer, analyst, white paper house, a combination of all of them? Something I have noticed is that I have increasingly felt like in 2022 being labeled as “press” has been negative for STH where coverage opportunities have gone to analysts and influencers with significantly smaller audiences (e.g. an order of magnitude) and STH has been left out. I am not going to compromise on the content we make, and the editorial standards we have had for over a decade, but for organizations that bestow us with a “press” label and give inferior access as a result, in my Q4 plan there are action items to have conversations. I do not want a label to negatively impact our team’s ability to do the best content possible, especially with how large STH has become over the years.
What is clear is that Q4 is going to be at a breakneck pace. As I mentioned, we have had a full content schedule for the rest of the year starting in late August/ early September. That does not include things like anything beyond 1-2 days of trade show coverage, new product announcements beyond a day of coverage, and so forth. I have seen this pattern before, and usually, it means little sleep for me.
With that said, I do have an ask as we move into the new season.
The Mini-Goal Update: So Close to 100K YouTube Subscribers
In our Q2 Letter from the Editor, we had this prediction:
“If you have not already, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel. I know most of our readers do not subscribe, but it would be amazing if somehow we managed to get over the 100K mark by the end of Q3. I think it is highly unlikely with 98K being more realistic, but there is a chance.”
Here we are about 4 days from the end of Q3, and we have passed the “realistic” 98K and are sitting at 99,250 YouTube subscribers. We are so close to 100K!
Just for some reference, it seems like we have only 1-5% overlap on any given topic between our YouTube and main site. That totally makes sense, but hopefully, that goes up slightly this week. If you were thinking about subscribing next week, subscribing this week instead would be great since we are so close to that stretch goal.
We also launched the ability to join the STH YouTube channel. While we do not have Patreon, we are using the STH YouTube membership feature for those that want to help STH. We are going to use those funds to pay for the Project TinyMiniMicro, STH Mini PC, and some of the networking gear that we purchase to review.
Subscribe to the STH’s Newsletter and YouTube
Did you know STH has a weekly newsletter that comes out Saturday with curated “Top 5” pieces from the week? We know you cannot visit every day, so we can deliver our picks for weekend reading directly to your inbox. Subscribing to the newsletter is easy. Here is the form.
We are not selling your e-mail addresses and MailChimp is managing everything at this point so you can subscribe and unsubscribe from the list as you want.
We are not promoting the newsletter via overlays and pop-ups. Those are very effective, but they are bad for readers. I do not like them, so as long as I have a say, we are not going to have newsletter signup overlays. I run STH as something I would want to visit daily even if I did not work on it.
Finally, subscribe to our YouTube and check it out here. This is an area that we are going to have more of in 2022, especially if the pandemic subsides a bit more.
@Patrick – maybe you should make clear distinctions between review and research articles, and product announcement / opinion articles. It’s the latter that’s making STH feel more like a press site. If you billed the review and research articles more assertively on your homepage, or at least created separate landing pages for the two of them, that might achieve your end. I’d definitely bookmark the review/research landing page and skip the product announcements. Well… I already do.
STH as an online platform tends to be seen as an old man’s club. Also the forum pretty much revolves around old-gear and online-bargain scavengers.
The audience is neither here nor there, this is why STH is lacking identity in my humble opinion.
It will never grow the audience to the level of LTT for example, or even Anandtech, they come in at a different angle even though technically they are probably no different in as far as skillsets are concerned especially in latest tech considering their servers and sponsors alike. However this is not to say STH ‘cant’ evolve.
Imo, Gaming and mainstream high-end gear, that is what is missing from STH, plus exciting lovable reviewers are also missing. The gaming industry is one of the largest revenue streams in tech, and not covering this huge chunk of the pie even in a small way is madness.
Maybe consider adding these large-audience attracting angles into the fold and then watch STH grow exponentially to the level it deserves.
Also the website needs a re-design, it is a dated design from yesteryear.
My advice, Evolve or get left behind during the great reset.
Hi Goldfish – some thoughts on this one.
Just in terms of main site traffic, STH is now bigger than Anandtech by more than 2x in terms of page views. We are also much larger than many of the older PC gaming sites. STH is only about 30% smaller than AT was at its height when Anand was still there.
The “magic” of STH is that the main site is around the scale of gaming sites, but we cover data center gear and very high-end workstation gear. Our nearest competitor in this market is 1/8 to 1/10th our size. STH is also growing, whereas many of the web-focused gaming and data center sites are shrinking considerably.
Goldfish: I think Patrick is plenty lovable… at least I love his energy on YouTube videos, that he gets excited about this stuff like I do.
As far as the “old man’s club” and “online bargain scavengers”, well… I resemble that remark. Can’t speak for everyone here but I do come here to learn how best to upgrade my old systems and keep them running. I’m not here often, but I don’t make a tech purchase without checking with STH.
As far as the press/influencer distinction, if manufacturers are too dense to see STH’s online audience numbers and the influence they have over purchasers like me, wow. You guys were just early to the influencing role, doing it before they started calling it that.
Like many old hackers I use YouTube without being signed in, so probably will never show up in anyone’s numbers. So maybe they don’t value STH’s audience as much but again, their loss.
As far as growing the team and/or updating the design: take it slow, my unsolicited advice is just keep executing on the core. I’ve hired people too soon and that’s a lose-lose proposition for everyone.