A message from Currently's founder, Eric Holthaus
Today and since its founding in 2021, Currently offers cutting edge meteorology, analysis, and climate science via a digital-first media platform (including newsletters, personalized mobile messaging, and social media). Over the past 12 months, we've been hard at work building our meteorology support system designed to save people and businesses money, stay ahead of disruptions, and help connect people with climate-forward weather information — regardless of the language they speak or where they live.
I'm writing today to explain why I'm moving Currently to a side project, temporarily, and why I still think building a weather service for the climate emergency is the most important work I can imagine doing right now.
For Currently subscribers, nothing will change. In fact, we have plenty of new things planned over the coming months. I will remain personally focused on growing Currently into a weather service for the climate emergency — and we still have a team of meteorologists around the world doing that work with me.
A few cascading events over the past 12 months happened that have forced us to scale back our near term plans. When Twitter switched hands last October, Currently pivoted quickly and intentionally to other dissemination platforms, building the largest climate-focused server on Mastodon and raising nearly $1mm to scale up our team to take advantage of the chaos. Despite those efforts, the loss of Twitter as our primary source of new members has been a serious setback to our growth.
In the past 30 days, we've had two additional major setbacks that are prompting us to tighten our focus. The upside of these changes is that we are now profitable with unit economics that are more favorable than ever for our core subscription-based climate-forward personal weather service.
Here's what happened:
- In early April, we were notified that a large solar company we had been negotiating with for a major advertising deal with potential for $500k+ in annual revenue was pausing their marketing spend across their entire company, and indefinitely postponed our working relationship.
- Last week, we were notified that a large media partner we had been in discussions with since our founding no longer had capacity to pursue a project that had the potential for ~$1mm in annual revenue and would serve as a testbed for our weather service for tens of millions of people.
In response to these challenges, Currently has:
- Eliminated our advertising model and our newsroom, letting go six full-time equivalent staff members.
- Restructured our weather service, and reduced the number of cities we operate in.
- Entirely divested ourselves of Project Mushroom, our social media experiment, which is now owned and operated entirely by the community.
- Successfully renegotiated repayment terms on a $120,000 loan we took out to cover operating expenses while we were negotiating the business deals that ultimately did not pan out.
That leaves us with about $150,000 in debt and severance obligations to our former colleagues. My top priority is sending Currently alumni the money they deserve, and building the next phase of Currently at the same time.
Here's what's next for Currently:
- Currently is now down to just me as the only full time employee. I'm eager to expand our team again when appropriate, but for now I'll be able to send all our newsletters and serve as our Chief Meteorologist myself.
- We still have an incredible slate of meteorologists, enthusiastic members, and a world-changing idea with a huge potential for growth.
Here's our most recent pitch deck: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/181iOD-RTaz4Lc0K_chH2ot4Ed2m3FMJptUR7PQuDwTg/edit?usp=sharing
- Our plan is a membership drive during June and July, launching member-ownership as part of every subscription (paid and unpaid), and migrating to Beehiiv which is pioneering newsletter growth. We anticipate we can double or triple paid membership from ~650 members to ~2,000 members over the next 10 weeks.
- These changes are perfectly timed for hurricane season and the coming El Niño, which (according to the news) is now more likely than not to make 2023 the hottest year in human history.
Currently's bet is that direct access to meteorologists and highly personalized weather information will catalyze millions of people to live safer, happier, more productive lives while adapting to climate change. I've learned the lesson that no matter how urgent the problem of extreme weather and climate change is, it's not possible to save the world by yourself by brute force. So in this next iteration of Currently, my main goal is making our ends meet internally, which will unlock the ability for Currently to provide lasting impact we all know is desperately needed.
Here's how you can help us:
- We'd like to raise $150,000 by December through our membership drive to pay severance to our employees and pay off all our debt. This gives us a clean slate and the best possible chance of success in the years to come, and will save us $10,000 per month in loan expenses. Laying it all out there, here’s our financial projections for the next 18 months: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1NPrHaBJ2SPkVZ_Y6EDLWqcO3MA49KaC8iICArLnCAQ0/edit?usp=sharing
Despite the headwinds Currently has faced, I still believe this is perhaps the best possible time to grow a climate startup. Our 2024 goal is to produce massive improvements in our mobile-first weather service, and work towards our first consumer-focused climate-forward weather app.
If you have any questions or want to set up a call, please go ahead and book some time on my Calendly: https://calendly.com/eric-holthaus/30min?month=2023-05
And again — I’d be thrilled to chat with you if you’re interested in partnership opportunities or have any questions at all about Currently: https://calendly.com/eric-holthaus/30min?month=2023-05
May you have good weather,
Founder and CEO, Currently