Discover more from Understandably by Bill Murphy Jr.
Don't you like it when both sides get a great deal? Also, just before "low power mode," 7 other things worth knowing today.
Many nights over the past year, I’ve put the final edition of this newsletter to bed around midnight, Eastern Time.
Then sometimes, before I put myself to bed, I’ve engaged in a five-part, 31-step ritual that takes about 15 minutes, before shutting down and heading upstairs. It goes like this:
12:01 a.m: Solve the day’s Wordle puzzle, which goes live at midnight.
12:02 a.m.: Solve the day’s Dordle puzzles, also goes live at midnight.
12:04 a.m.: Solve the day’s Quordle puzzles, ditto.
12:08 a.m.: Solve the day’s Octordle puzzles, samesies.
12:12 a.m.: Solve the day’s Sedecordle puzzles, you get the picture.
If you’re not familiar, the point of Wordle is to guess a five-letter word; the point of Dordle is to guess two five-letter words, and so on. They used to take longer, but at this point, I think I may have memorized nearly every five-letter word in the English language.
Earlier this year, the New York Times bought Wordle from its creator, Josh Wardle (hence the name) for roughly $1 to $3 million. Both sides insist on coyly referring to it as “low 7 figures,” but that’s my educated guess.
And, earlier this month, the New York Times told Sara Fischer of Axios that it’s planning to “aggressively expand its advertising business across its bundled products, like games and sports.”
It all makes sense then. Which to me, means that in retrospect it was probably a fantastic deal on both sides.
Let’s start with Wardle, a software engineer who lived in Brooklyn, and whose partner enjoyed playing word games online, like the ones you'd find on the New York Times website.
He built Wordle: a no-frills, quick-loading game, as a gift for her.
She shared it with friends and family, and it became a bit of an obsession in their little bubble. Word spread, and according to one report, it might have been people in New Zealand who caught onto it somehow and spread the word.
This tweet might have been Player-Zero, or close to it:
From there, the thing kind of blew up.
Within a very, very, very, very, very narrow sliver of the Internet, your coolness ranking might be assigned based on how early you got into Wordle.
For me… last December maybe? January? Not sure.
Anyway, by February, Wardle had sold Wordle to the Times, and who could blame him? Still, a lot of people — myself included—thought this would probably be the end of it.
But, see the Times’s monetization plan above? And also, check out this chart showing Internet search traffic for Wordle (the blue line) compared to the James Webb space telescope, Donald Trump, Major League Baseball, and Beyonce.
Somehow, even though Wordle is only at about half of what it was in February, it still clobbers them all.
Anyway, when Wardle first sold Wordle, I tried to take some lessons from the deal. I think they’re valid:
The game is short, clean, simple, also habit-forming. Also, Wardle didn't try to hold out for a stupid price. Low seven figures for something he put together on the side for his girlfriend seems like a windfall to me.
And that’s why I like this story so much. We hear about synergy and win-win deals; this is one of the few times that I think it actually works out; especially for an individual creator like Wardle.
P.S. I always win at Wordle, because I’ve come up with the perfect pair of words to start the whole thing, which include every vowel plus “Y,” along with four of the other most-commonly used letters.
Basically you can’t lose. I hesitated whether to share them here so as not to ruin things for everyone else, but if you want to know email me with the words “wordle words” in the subject line before I leave for vacation and I’ll share.
Let us know if you play this game in the comments. And apologies to anyone among our readers today who literally has no idea what we’re talking about.
7 other things worth knowing today
Former president Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has been informed he is officially a target of an investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election being conducted by an Atlanta prosecutor. (Axios)
The Norwegian government euthanized its celebrity walrus Freya this week, after warning the public to stay away from her. Freya became a social media sensation this summer, after it had been spending time at an inlet on the country's southeastern coast, and was seemingly unafraid of humans, unlike most walruses. Several popular videos showed the walrus clambering onto small boats to sunbathe. (CNN)
Democratic member of Congress, asked during on the record interview with the New York Times if President Biden will run again: "Off the record, he’s not running again." ("Not off the record. On the record.") "On the record? No, he should not run again." (NYT)
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon blasted working from home and Zoom as “management by Hollywood Squares,” using the dated TV show reference on a call with the bank’s wealthy clients last week to reiterate his long-held preference that workers return to the office. (Fortune)
Apple finds its next big business: Showing ads on your iPhone. (Bloomberg)
Here are the “staggering” economics of the Tesla electric semi. (Torque News)
Let’s end on this one since it’s nice: A 31-year-old career minor leaguer shared the moment he told his mom his dream had come true, and he was being promoted to the big leagues with the Colorado Rockies. (WashPost, Twitter)Wynton Bernard spent a decade in the minor leagues. He got called up to play for the Rockies earlier today and the first thing he did was call his mom. Some Things