University of Michigan alum Alex Lieberman spoke about Morning Brew, the startup he founded after graduating from the Ross School of Business in 2015, at the Robertson Auditorium Thursday.
Lieberman is the co-founder and CEO of Morning Brew, a daily email newsletter that condenses business news into content that appeals to a younger audience. During his time at the Business School, Lieberman said he realized there wasn’t a platform that made business news interesting for students and young adults.
“These students are working their asses off to have careers in business, and yet they don’t have content that’s storytelling the business world in a fun and engaging way,” Lieberman said. “So I just started writing a daily business roundup — which at the time looked very different from Morning Brew — but I would say had a lot of the same DNA.”
The event was sponsored by the TAMID group, a club that helps business students connect with Israel’s economy. Shalena Srna, assistant professor of marketing at the Business School, moderated the event. Lieberman, a former TAMID group member, shared insights about the fundamentals of starting a business and how the company has fared through rapid changes.
He started the newsletter as a senior in 2015 with Austin Rief, a 2017 University alum . Currently, Morning Brew has an audience of more than a million subscribers.
Lieberman said Morning Brew is coming out with new ways to share business content all the time, noting the company currently offers four products: the core newsletter, the retail newsletter, the emerging technology newsletter and a podcast.
“Basically, for the first two and a half years of being full time in this business, we did one thing: We just sent out our daily newsletter, and we did it extremely well,” Lieberman said. “I think focus is the biggest thing. A lot of people would say that it isn’t very sexy to send out one email newsletter every single day for two and a half years. People think it probably can get monotonous and email is not like an exciting technology, but often in my view is that what is sexy is building love. With an audience that you can then parlay into other things, there are so few media companies in the world right now that have actually built deep loyalty with their audience.”
When Lieberman attended the University, he said he expected to go into finance. After graduation, he got a job at Morgan Stanley. However, he was working on Morning Brew at the same time and said he found he enjoyed that more than his day job at Morgan Stanley. Ultimately, he decided to leave Morgan Stanley and go all in with Morning Brew.
Lieberman said he is OK with being uncomfortable as long as he enjoys what he is doing.
“I think it’s this perspective that was forced upon me, that life is so precious that kind of got me thinking: I actually am more scared by not being uncomfortable,” Lieberman said.
Business freshman Avery Bradshaw said hearing about Lieberman’s success made her more confident about her education at the University.
“My favorite part about this event as a new member of TAMID was hearing about the immense success that Alex Lieberman has had in his business,” Bradshaw said. “As a student at the University of Michigan and a member of TAMID, it was really reassuring that this institution and all the opportunities available will only lead students to success in the future.”
Lieberman said he focuses on the creative aspect of the newsletter while his co-founder, Reif works on the analytical elements of Morning Brew. He said storytelling is the secret to his success at Morning Brew, adding that making complex topics relatable to the readers is a top priority.
“To me, understanding how to teach something makes you hypersensitive to good storytelling, and how to distill things that are complex in a simple way that, at the end of the day, at the heart of Morning Brew, think about what we do,” Lieberman said.
Business freshman Richard Shu said he enjoyed learning about the process of entrepreneurship.
“I really liked how Alex talks about his process in going into entrepreneurship,” Shu said. “Entrepreneurship seems like a really far off goal that not everybody — but a lot of people — go into and there are a lot of failures, and seeing somebody who was successful in it talk about his thought processes behind it, I thought that was extremely insightful.”