In the creator economy, communities are front and center. When does the community start to run on autopilot without the founder?
One can build a community as an ecosystem of a blockchain, a community of fans of a creator, or a community of readers of a newsletter. There are various platforms to do it. They range from community platforms such as Mighty Networks and Circle, to general communication platforms such as a Slack workspace, a Discord server, or a Telegram group.
Such communities are founded by an individual or a small founding team and start assembling members.
Naturally, network effects kick in when the community members contribute and gain from other members. This goes beyond what they gain from the founder(s) and their contribution to the founder(s) in the form of subscription fees or tips.
It is interesting to understand when such communities take off and fly on autopilot without the founding team.
For instance, consider the Ethereum blockchain ecosystem, which is spread across numerous community platforms, all of which were not created by the founders of Ethereum. From recent comments by one of the founders, Vitalik Buterin, and a general impression, it seems the community is on autopilot.
Lenny's Newsletter by Lenny Rachitsky, to which I subscribed, runs a Slack workspace of about 10,000 people. The rich discussion is so intense that it is clear that the community has taken off. They continue to read the newsletter, yet the discussion between members is well beyond any particular newsletter issue.
When a community takes off, it is like going to a club to watch a show and finding the audience's company as exciting and enjoyable as the show itself.
I prefer to use the term escape velocity, as the threshold at which the intensity of interaction within the community takes off beyond the founding core. Desirably you want to reach the escape velocity ASAP. You may lose complete control of what is going on, but you created something which will run on autopilot and will outlive you.