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What's TWiT Worth To You?

When I first started doing podcasts under the TWiT banner it was little more than a hobby. How that hobby has grown, from two audio-only shows in April 2005 (The Tech Guy radio show and "this WEEK in TECH") to over 15 shows plus 40 hours a week of live video streaming. TWiT is now a full-time business employing seven people at the TWiT Cottage in Petaluma and a dozen more contractors all over the world.

My original plan was to run TWiT solely on your contributions, and indeed, you have been very generous. I always liked the idea of the audience supporting the network. It's the best way for us to know whether we're on the right track or completely off track. You got us started, but the expansion of TWiT over the past four and a half years required more money than listeners could give. That's why we started taking advertising. We never have more than one ad per half hour of programming, and we've limited advertisers to a handful of products I personally use and can endorse. These companies: AOL, Cachefly, Citrix, Audible, Astaro, Drobo, Squarespace, Carbonite, Visa, Google, and Ford have helped us improve our quality, increase our variety, and become more of what you wanted. We're very grateful to our contributors for getting us started and our advertisers for keeping us going.

Lately, however, I've been wondering (and some have been asking) what role contributions play in an ad-supported network. The money is very helpful, certainly, but it only covers a small percentage of our operating expenses. I like being able to provide listeners with a way to show their support for what we are doing, but the connection between what we do and what you pay is getting more tenuous all the time. I want to get back to the old days where your contribution really meant something. So I'm going to make a change that gives your contribution vastly greater importance; to give you a way to vote with your dollar (or pound or Euro or peso).

Wouldn't it be great if customers could determine how a much company's chief executive is paid? Well I can't speak for AT&T or Apple, but at TWiT that's exactly what we're going to do.

Up to now I've been taking my pay from TWiT's general fund (along with all the other employees). Not any more. From now on you'll pay me directly with your contributions. I won't take a penny out of the operating funds.Think of your contributions as a tip jar. If you like what I'm doing with TWiT I hope you'll contribute $2 a month (or more or less depending on what TWiT is worth to you). If you are unhappy with our direction, you can cancel your contribution completely. Believe me, I'll notice. Your contributions will have a direct impact on how TWiT is run - because they'll have a direct impact on my personal bottom line.

I should say that I do have a "day job." My Tech Guy radio show pays enough to support me and my family, so I'm not risking bankruptcy with this plan, but the money I make from TWiT has a significant impact on my income, so your contributions will send a very clear message. We'll publish the amount monthly so you can see exactly what I'm making before taxes and adjust your contributions accordingly.

Many of you have existing recurring contributions with TWiT through Paypal. You can't change the amount directly, but you can cancel by logging into your Paypal account and going to the History->Subscriptions page. We'll keep the $2, $5, and $10 buttons for those who prefer an automatic monthly contribution, and there's a one-shot button you can use to put in a little bit from time to time. You can also mail contributions directly to TWiT, Box 1018, Petaluma, CA 94953. We're working on taking Google and Amazon payments, as well.

Please only contribute what you think TWiT is worth; only what you think I'm worth. Don't worry, our staff and hosts will continue to get paid out of our advertising revenue (and I'm proud to say we pay well and offer great benefits and will continue to do so).

I've worked hard to make TWiT an entertaining and informative resource for the technophile, but only you can determine how much that's worth. From now on when I say that your contributions are very important to me, you can believe it! And if you're happy (or unhappy) with what we're doing you can let me know directly and with a significant impact. I think this is the right way to run a business, and I'm pleased to put my income in your hands.

As always, thanks for your support for TWiT. We're here because you listen and watch. We couldn't do it without you.

Leo