This document was last updated on March 14, 2022. I’ll update it periodically to ensure it remains up-to-date.
Sources of income
Below is a list of all sources of financial support I have received since the beginning of 2008, outside of immediate family, starting with my most recent employers.
Full Stack Economics
Full Stack Economics is a newsletter I launched in August 2021 with Alan Cole. We have no outside investors or donors. The vast majority of our revenue has come from reader subscriptions—our only other revenue source so far has been a few hundred dollars we’ve earned syndicating some of our content to Slate.
Full Stack Economics has been my only source of income since we launched the newsletter in August 2021, I expect it to account for a large majority of my income in 2022.
Andrew Lee / Shortwave
My brother, Andrew Lee, created a startup called Firebase that was acquired by Google in 2014. That year he shared a portion of the proceeds with members of his family, including me.
Andrew started a new company called Shortwave in 2020. In June and July 2021, the company paid me a total of $2,400 to advise them on media strategy. I expect to earn less than $1,000 in 2022 doing additional consulting work for Shortwave.
Ars Technica is a tech news site owned by Condé Nast. I’m a reporter there.
- July 2017-2021: Ars was my only significant source of income.
- June 2011-May 2013: Ars accounted for a majority of my income.
- 2010: I earned less than $1000 from Ars.
- 2009: Ars accounted for less than 10 percent of my income.
- 2008: I was a regular contributor to Ars until August, accounting for about 20 percent of my income.
Vox Media is the parent company of Vox.com, the news site I helped launch in April 2014. I worked there from March 2014 to July 2017, and—with the exception of the Andrew Lee gift disclosed below—Vox was my only significant source of income during this period.
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is a newspaper based in Washington DC. I was a reporter there from May 2013 to February 2014, and the Post was my only significant source of income during this period.
Forbes is a print magazine that also runs an excellent website. I wrote a blog for them from 2011 to 2013.
- June 2011-May 2013: Forbes accounted for 10 to 20 percent of my income.
From 2008 to 2011, I was a graduate student in computer science at Princeton.
- 2017: I received an honorarium for moderating a panel at Princeton’s Fung Global Forum in Berlin. I donated the money to two charities.
- 2011: For the 2010-11 school year my work was supported by a grant from Public.resource.org, a non-profit organization run by Carl Malamud that promotes web-enabled government transparency. Princeton accounted for about a third of my income in 2011.
- 2010: For the 2009-10 school year I was paid by the computer science department to assist with teaching an introductory computer science course. Princeton accounted for about half my income in 2010.
- 2009: For the 2008-09 school year I received a fellowship that the computer science department offers to all first-year graduate students. Princeton accounted for about half my income in 2009.
- 2008: Princeton accounted for about 20 percent of my income.
The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank that employed me as a writer from 2003 to 2005. After I left full-time employment there, they named me an adjunct scholar, a position I held until 2013.
- 2013: I received a $1000 honorarium for contributing to Cato Unbound.
- 2010: I received a $1000 honorarium for contributing to Cato Unbound.
- 2008: I did two major writing projects that accounted for about 30 percent of my income.
The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is a free-market think tank.
- 2012: I was asked to contribute a chapter for a forthcoming Mercatus book on copyright policy that accounted for less than 10 percent of my income.
- 2011: Mercatus paid me less than $1,000 to provide comments on a forthcoming paper.
National Affairs is a “quarterly journal of essays about domestic policy, political economy, society, culture, and political thought.” I wrote this piece on broadband competition for them.
- 2012: National Affairs accounted for less than 10 percent of my income.
The Templeton Foundation
The Templeton Foundation says that it “serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality.”
- 2012: I was invited to contribute to Templeton’s “Big Questions Online” site, accounting for less than 10 percent of my income.
During the summer of 2009, I did web development work for Dancing Mammoth, the firm that hosts this blog.
- 2012: DM paid me less than $1000 to write an essay for them.
- 2009: DM accounted for about 25 percent of my income.
During the summer of 2010 I did a paid internship at Google. It was an engineering internship, so I was paid to write code, not to write about public policy. Google accounted for around half my income in 2010.
The Institute for Humane Studies
The Institute for Humane Studies is a libertarian-leaning academic organization that awards Humane Studies Fellowship to grad students. The awards are made via a competitive application process.
- 2010: I was awarded a fellowship that accounted for about less than 10 percent of my income. This award was funded through the generosity of the Searle Freedom Trust.
- 2009: I was awarded a fellowship that accounted for about 10 percent of my income. This award was funded through the generosity of the Searle Freedom Trust.
- 2008: I was awarded a fellowship that accounted for less than 10 percent of my income.
In 2008-09 I was a regular, paid contributor to the Techdirt blog. I also made a few hundred dollars participating in the Techdirt Insight Community. Techdirt is published by Floor 64, a company which specializes in providing strategic advice to businesses.
- 2009: I wrote a handful of posts and received less than $1000.
- 2008: Techdirt accounted for about 20 percent of my income.
Other Sources ($1000 or less)
- 2014: In November I earned $1500 as a driver for Lyft. I donated this sum to DC Central Kitchen.
- 2013: Al Jazeera paid me an honorarium for appearing on one of their programs.
- 2012: I did paid writing for the New America Foundation, and the Daily.
- 2011: ETS paid me for the rights to include an excerpt of my work in standardized tests. I also wrote articles for National Review, GOOD magazine, and Slate.
- 2009: A textbook publisher paid me to license one of my blog posts. In December 2009 I received an honorarium from a firm called “Qualitative Insights” to participate in a half-hour interview about my views on “Internet infrastructure.” Although they wouldn’t tell me who the client was, it became clear from the questions being asked that that the client was VeriSign. Most of the questions concerned the upcoming renewal of Verisign’s contract to administer the .com and .net domains.
- 2008: I received an honorarium for attending a Liberty Fund event. Slate and Reason paid me for articles I wrote for them. And the Fraser Institute paid me to review and comment on a forthcoming study.
I own some shares in Vox Media as a result of exercising stock options I received while working there. I also own shares in Shortwave, the email startup my brother co-founded in 2020. In February 2022 I purchased some shares in the lidar companies Ouster and Aeva. I’ll refrain from covering the lidar and email industries as long as I own these shares.
Aside from the above companies, all of my investments are in broad index funds.
My friend PJ Doland is generously hosting this site free of charge. PJ is the president of Dancing Mammoth, a web consulting firm. They do great work, so I encourage you to check them out if you’re in need to get some custom web design or development work done.