Pando needs your support (now more than ever)
Editor's note: The following is an email sent to Pando subscribers yesterday morning...
You’re receiving this note because you’re a Pando subscriber, and we love you for it.
You’re also receiving this note because your support has never been more important, and we have a favor to ask (some of you.)
As you’ve likely noticed, things have gone a little crazy recently -- in the tech world and beyond. This past week, many in the media were shocked to see Uber accused of institutional sexism and, later, implicated in a smear campaign against a whistleblower. Of course, Pando readers will know we’ve been covering exactly that kind of behavior from Uber since at least 2012. In fact, in 2014, it was revealed that an Uber executive had threatened a $1m smear campaign against Sarah and her family in retaliation for our reporting… about the company’s institutional sexism.
We were also the first to reveal huge flaws with the company’s background checks, and the first to expose just how badly the company’s must-win China operations were going. Roughly a year later, they pulled out of the market completely.
In 2014, Pando’s Mark Ames began reporting on a secret wage-fixing cartel involving Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt and many more of the Valley’s biggest names. It was Pando that first named the scandal “Techtopus,” first revealed the extent of the cartel’s reach, and our reporting was directly responsible for triggering a major class-action suit (“Techtopus II”) between animation workers and major Hollywood studios. Just last month, parties in that suit agreed to settle for $100m. That brings the total settlement in Techtopus II to just under $170m.
More recently, we’ve been focused on holding tech leaders feet to fire, making sure their actions match their words. Within hours of Pando calling out “Lean In” author Sheryl Sandberg for not publicly supporting the Women’s March, Sandberg pulled a 180: Denouncing Donald Trump’s anti-woman policies for the first time and then shortly after making a donation to Planned Parenthood and meeting the march’s leaders.
We could list a hundred examples of Pando reporting having real impact -- but as a subscriber, hopefully you don’t need us to. What you might not know, however, is that in reporting all of those stories, we’ve faced over $300m in threatened lawsuits. We’ve resisted every single one of those threats and have never once removed or corrected a story as a result. But that stance has brought tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs, bills we are still paying off.
With every passing week, the legal climate becomes more frightening. Gawker was destroyed by an increasingly litigious Peter Thiel (ironically a minor Pando investor through Founders Fund -- but that hasn’t stopped us calling him an asshole); and now Thiel’s lawyer has his sights set on TechDirt.
With the President having declared the media the enemy, and tech CEOs rushing to cozy up with him, things will only get harder for media outlets. Particularly independent ones. Pando remains majority owned by its founders and we have no parent company, and no external finance sources except for reader subscriptions and a tiny, tiny amount of advertising.
Our reporting has never been so important as it is right now. It has also never been so much at risk. Without your support, we simply wouldn’t be able to afford to pay our legal bills and keep doing the work we do.
So here comes the ask:
A lot of readers have told us that we should raise our subscription rates. We’ve long resisted doing so, because we think it’s important to remain accessible to as many people as possible, not just the top 1% of Valley moguls. We think our reporting is as valuable to Uber drivers as it is to Uber investors, for instance.
BUT, given all the new threats we’re facing, we increasingly have less of a choice. So, we've come up with a way for those of you who expense Pando or have a little extra more disposable income to pay a bit more to help keep Pando affordable for everyone else.
To be clear: This is 100% OPTIONAL. Right now, monthly subscribers pay $10 a month for full access to Pando. Annual subscribers pay $100 a year. If that’s still a good amount for you, simply ignore this email and that’s what you’ll keep paying.
But if you would like to pay a little more to support the work we’re doing, simply reply to this email (or to email@example.com) with a note saying how much more you’d like us to charge you.
For example, reply with: “Please increase my monthly subscription payment to $15” or “Please charge me $150 for my annual subscription.”
If you’d like to make a one-off extra payment, but keep your rebill the same, you can do that too. Just reply with something like “Please charge me a one-off payment of $100 but keep my rebill the same.”
For security reasons, we can only process requests received from your registered subscription email. Additional charges will be processed using the payment method we have on file. We will send you an email to verify the new charge.
For monthly subscriptions, we’ll charge you the new rate from your next subscription period. For annual subscriptions, we’ll charge you the difference right away, and then the full new amount at rebill time. You can go back to your previous payment level at any time.
Again, the option to pay more for your subscription is exactly that: 100% optional. We’re already unspeakably grateful for all your support. We just want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to maximise our subscription revenue as we sail into the coming storm.
Any questions? firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks once again. We literally couldn’t do any of this without you.
Sarah and Paul
Illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando