First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

We'd like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick

More specifically, we'd like those who can afford to pay to start paying. What it comes down to is whether or not you value Daily Maverick. Think of us in terms of your daily cappuccino from your favourite coffee shop. It costs around R35. That’s R1,050 per month on frothy milk. Don’t get us wrong, we’re almost exclusively fuelled by coffee. BUT maybe R200 of that R1,050 could go to the journalism that’s fighting for the country?

We don’t dictate how much we’d like our readers to contribute. After all, how much you value our work is subjective (and frankly, every amount helps). At R200, you get it back in Uber Eats and ride vouchers every month, but that’s just a suggestion. A little less than a week’s worth of cappuccinos.

We can't survive on hope and our own determination. Our country is going to be considerably worse off if we don’t have a strong, sustainable news media. If you’re rejigging your budgets, and it comes to choosing between frothy milk and Daily Maverick, we hope you might reconsider that cappuccino.

We need your help. And we’re not ashamed to ask for it.

Our mission is to Defend Truth. Join Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Not-so-obscure startup 'Hipster' invites attention, for...



Not-so-obscure startup ‘Hipster’ invites attention, for now

What to make of a startup that already has tens of thousands of signups without revealing what it does? Consider the signees more gullible than PowerBalance bracelet wearers and sneer accordingly, we suppose. But as social experiments go, Hipster may turn out to be quite fascinating. By SIPHO HLONGWANE.

Viral “coming soon” pages are nothing new. already did it. The idea is to suck people in by promising them first access to some new soon-to-be-launched something, if they stick their email address in a provided field and invite some friends.

The new one, called Hipster, works the same way. Yes – Hipster. The invitation to let our minds wander elsewhere on the Internet is already in the name. It doesn’t get much better when we visit the site,, where we’re greeted by a stock image of an American city (like a postcard in an airport gift shop), and the promise that “something cool” is coming to said city and, if we give them our email address, we’ll be put on their invitation list.

Here’s the bit where we sit up and take notice: Ever since launching the startup on 1 January, Hipster CEO Doug Ludlow (feel free to smirk) has refused to say what Hipster will do. “You come to this page, and you see a big, beautiful picture of your city, so clearly it has something to do with your city,” he said to The Washington Post. “I think we might have perfected the viral ‘Coming Soon’ page.” So far, the site boasts more than 17,000 signups. In less than three weeks.

Well, 17,001 signups, if you, ahem, count me. The urge to be among the first to discover the next trend overpowers cynicism. Being the first to jump on the next bandwagon is invaluable social networking currency.

According to TechCrunch, we already have a vague idea what Hipster might do. “At this point we’ve heard the words Yelp, Quora and location-based Q&A site being tossed around by sundry reporters, savvy Googlers and one ambitious tipster who sent us an in-depth analysis of its Javascript,” they said.

But that is completely beside the point, and like trying to deconstruct hipsters, a bit tedious. There’s nothing really there, just listless middle-class adolescents who are stifled by the confines of their sterile suburban existence. Goths and emos have sat at that street corner before.

What is Hipster, if not a plea from us to be pleasantly surprised? In spite of living in an ultra-connected world where anything that takes more than a couple of seconds takes too long, where every sensual demand can be assuaged from the comfort of our couches and where nothing surprises us anymore; we still want to be excited and titillated. You don’t have to be a hipster to acknowledge that.

Doug Ludlow has done the first part well. Our interest is piqued. Whatever the great surprise is, we’ll know come 1 February. The second part, that of fulfilling our expectations, will be impossible to discharge. I signed up as an experiment – to see just how short of my expectations the final result will be. The disappointment will be even worse for those who aren’t above being associated with the label ‘hipster’, who might imagine the new startup’s service to perhaps be a re-engineering of 1970s society using 21st century tools or an ironic play on Facebook or geolocation services like FourSquare.

But by tickling the fancies of the easily-distracted, Ludlow is inviting the opprobrium of the most fickle tribe in society. Hipsters are about as loyal as a stray cat. As any obscure band that ever played in skinny jeans and ironic T-shirts knows, what the hipster giveth, the hipster taketh away. Ask MGMT. DM

Read more: TechCrunch, The Washington Post, ReadWriteWeb.


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted