Updates: Preceden Trends, Training Help Scout’s New Analytics Engineer, Don’t Look Up, and Ray Dalio’s Principles

Photo by Ivana Cajina


  • Recurring Revenue: In January 2021 I introduced automatically recurring annual plans to Preceden. Prior to that the annual plans did not renew automatically which was an intentional (but bad) choice I had made because most users did not user Preceden for more than a year. However, the lack of recurring revenue made it really hard to grow the business because each year I’d basically be starting from zero (though some customers did manually renew). The changes I made last January were meant to address this: annual plans automatically renew by default, but users can easily disable that. I also email them a reminder 15 days prior to renewal, and a receipt when the charge happens, and also offer a 15 day refund window. This has worked well: most users who have no intent to use it long term wind up cancelling prior to renewal, those that forget can get a refund, and those that want to maintain their access can let their subscription automatically renew. Needless to say, this month (January 2022) has been stellar for renewal revenue.
  • New Revenue: This has been a challenge recently and is what I’m primarily focused on at the moment. Despite my best efforts, Preceden has languished at the top of page 2 for years for most key search terms. While I very much prefer product work over marketing work, I also recognize that marketing work to drive more quality to the site can move the needle much more than product improvements at this point. I have a few projects in the work that should help here.
  • Balance: This raises an important question though: how much of my day do I spend on potentially high impact marketing work (which I don’t terribly enjoy) vs low impact product work (which I do enjoy). This goes towards the question of what my goals are: do I want to grow the business as much as possible or enjoy my day as much as possible? Of course there’s some healthy middle ground, but I’ve been thinking a lot about how to balance the two.

Help Scout

We recently hired a new Analytics Engineer and I’ve been spending a good chunk of my contract work at Help Scout getting him spun up on everything. That brings Help Scout’s data team to 3 folks: a full time lead, a full time Analytics Engineer, and me (a contractor). We’re also work on hiring a full time product analyst which should round out our team very well.


In my last update I mentioned I was diving into Solana application development.

I’m glad I played around with it, but it just didn’t hold my attention very long. It would have helped if I had come up with some interesting use case for it besides speculation, gambling, DeFi, and NFTs, but that’s 99+% of what crypto is these days.

Plus, splitting my professional work between Preceden, Help Scout, and Solana was just too much to juggle well.

What I’m Watching

One movie I keep thinking about is Don’t Look Up on Netflix:

Of course there’s the obvious and important climate change metaphor, but it has me also thinking a lot about the shortness of life and not focusing on trivial things.

What I’m Reading

Ray Dalio’s Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order. It’s a brilliant book where he looks at various long term economic and political cycles and how they explain in part the dynamics happening in the world today, especially with respect to US and China.

That’s it for now, hope y’all are doing well.

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