Expenses

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TL;DR:

  • Barrabas has set aside $10,000 to run SoylentNews for the first year.
  • Startup costs are less than $1,000
  • Legal and business costs are expected to be less than $1000
  • Bandwidth fees are estimated at $300/mo. or less


Summary of finances

  • Barrabas has set aside $10,000 to run the project for the first year.
  • Startup costs are less than $1,000
  • Legal and business costs are expected to be less than $1000
  • Bandwidth fees are estimated at $300/mo. or less


Startup expenses

Expenses incurred leading up to the initial rollout on Feb. 17:

Item Cost
(1) AltSlashdot.org 16.05
(2) AltSlashdot.net 16.58
(2) AltSlashdot.com 15.50
(3) Virtual phone # 14.83
(4) BlueHost hosting 178.20
(5) SoylentNews.org 16.05
(2) SoylentNews.net 16.58
(2) SoylentNews.com 15.50
(6) Pimsleur Spanish I 120.00
(6) Pimsleur Spanish II 120.00
(6) Pimsleur Spanish II 120.00
(7) Sony MP3 player 74.99
(7) USPS Shipping 6.15
Total 730.43

Notes:

  1. The original name for the project was "AltSlashdot".
  2. The project uses the ".org" top level domain. It's important to also get ".com" and ".net" to prevent squatters from creating lookalike sites that can confuse readers and dilute out brand.
  3. I got a virtual phone number (for $4.99/mo) to keep my personal line private. Mostly this was for account activation.
  4. The project was originally hosted by BlueHost, and bumped up two tiers as we exceeded their capacity. We have since migrated to linodes.
  5. The project was renamed "SoylentNews", as the original name "AltSlashdot" was thought to be legally dangerous.
  6. Personal gift to NCommander (who is studying Spanish) for getting SlashCode running.
  7. I shipped NCommander a "burner" (ie - inexpensive) MP3 player to use.


Ongoing expenses

Additional ongoing expenses, as of Mar 1:

Item Cost
(1,2) Linode 1024 220.74
(1,2) Linode 1024 220.74
(1,2) Linode 1024 220.74
(3) Linode backup 61.32
(4) Linode backup 6.42
(4) Linode backup 6.42
(5) Linode backup 110.00
(6) SoylentNews.jp 90.00
(6,7) SoylentNews.cn 35.00
Total 971.38

Notes:

  1. The project migrated from BlueHost to linodes.
  2. Linode 1024 for 12 months (10% discount).
  3. Monthly backups for 12 months (10% discount).
  4. One month of backups.
  5. Monthly backup charges converted to 12 month single charge (10% discount).
  6. For future use.
  7. Failed to complete due to Chinese registrations restrictions :-(


Estimated bandwidth costs

Note: These estimates are based on background information given in the appendix.

Assuming we don't hire anyone, bandwidth will be our biggest ongoing expense.

From the 2007 article, Slashdot was using 16.74 TB of transfer, which would cost $160/mo at today's rates.

Using GoogleTrends as a guide and estimating by eye, Slashdot at present uses 1.7 TB of transfer, which would cost $20/mo. at today's rates.

Also using GoogleTrends, Slashdot at its peak used 32 TB of transfer, which would cost $320/mo at today's rates.

NCommander has extrapolated our data usage and estimates that we are serving 5 million pageviews per month, which will use approximately 1/3 of our monthly linode bandwidth allocation. This is consistent with Slashdot's current usage estimate of 15 million pageviews from the data given in the appendix.

From these sources, it seems likely that SoylentNews will require less than $300/mo. for bandwidth in the first year.

These estimates are preliminary, and will be updated as we get more information.


Estimated manpower costs

I read somewhere that Slashdot at it's peak employed 10 people full time, but I can't find a link.

If we accept the Slashdot cash-flow estimates given in the appendix, extrapolating $38,000 monthly revenues gives Slashdot an annual revenue of $456,000. Assuming an average $100,000 salary, this would sustain a couple of people with a small profit to cover expenses.

The standard employee calculation doubles the average salary to estimate infrastructure costs. If an employee is paid X dollars, then the company assumes X dollars of infrastructure costs: building rent, cubicles, computer hardware, network maintenance, and so on.

SoylentNews employees will likely be working from home, and not require extra infrastructure.


Other estimated expenses

  • $1000 for business and legal (mostly incorporation fees).


Appendix: Background information

To inform this discussion, note [Slashdot's 2007 statistics], summarized:

  • 5.5 million user visits per month.
  • 7,000 comments are added every day.
  • Over 9 million pages views daily.
  • Over 21 million comments.
  • Average monthly bandwidth usage is around 40-50 mbit/sec.


Also, the [Google Trends] page for Slashdot:

GoogleTrendSlashdot.png


An estimate of [Slashdot's current usage]:

SlashdotPageviews.png


Finally, [This pricing scheme] is the basis for calculating bandwidth costs:

LinodePlans.png