Jack Kramer and Nick Martell, the 31-year-old creators and hosts of the popular financial podcast Snacks Daily, like to get an early start. They’re at their office in Palo Alto, California, by 5:30 a.m., and their workday begins with something they’ve dubbed the No-Sweat Six-Minute Workout.
“We’ve perfected getting just the right amount of reps so we’re not sweating,” says Martell. “Then we’ll go to our standing desks, which helps keep the energy going.”
“We have to do it that way, because we’re super-busy,” Kramer adds.
“It keeps us energized to cover the news from first thing in the morning all the way till we go to sleep at night,” Martell says.
Listening to Kramer and Martell can be a little exhausting. There aren’t a lot of pauses or meandering speech. They have a rapid-fire, rat-a-tat delivery that never slows down, like they’ve taken all their social cues from Aaron Sorkin shows.
But that manic energy is part of their shtick. They’ve put out a daily newsletter for almost a decade and a daily podcast since 2018—once called MarketSnacks, now renamed Snacks Daily—delivering financial news with a millennial sensibility: Short, snappy, and funny. Well, funny-ish. The jokes don’t always land. There are moments when it feels like they’re trying to sell you a timeshare, or giving a PowerPoint presentation explaining why they deserve to marry your daughter, with photos of Baby Yoda and Ron Burgundy for some reason.
Each podcast begins with a hip-hop theme song, performed by an actual rapper, with lyrics like “It’s all informational, just so ya know. We’re not recommending any securities, no!” It’s both laugh-out-loud funny and reminiscent of something your dad would have improvised during a high-school car pool to embarrass you.
Whether you’re fans of their formula or not, it’s been a good year for the longtime friends and Silicon Valley transplants. Last March, they were snatched up for an undisclosed sum by stock-trading app Robinhood—a company valued at more than $7 billion, with investors such as Jared Leto, Snoop Dogg, and Jay-Z—to become their “managing editors of news.”
It’s both laugh-out-loud funny and reminiscent of something your dad would have improvised during a high-school car pool.
Kramer and Martell have continued putting out the same daily podcast and newsletter, with the same bite-size content and high-energy “We swear we’re not on cocaine” patter, except now it’s targeted to Robinhood’s 10 million accounts.
Reviews have been mixed. Some users complain that the pair’s “gimmicky slapstick” can be “super cringey” and comes across “like a Buzzfeed article.” But others are impressed, like billionaire investor Mark Cuban. “Anything that gets people paying attention to what’s going on in business in a fun way is a huge plus,” he says. (Jim Cramer, a big fan of Robinhood and their millennial marketing, says he has “no knowledge” of Snacks Daily.)
Whatever the critical consensus, the numbers don’t lie, and they’re going up. Back in 2018, Kramer and Martell had an estimated audience of around 100,000 daily subscribers (or “Snackers,” as they prefer calling their loyal listeners), according to Forbes. But since joining Robinhood, their podcast has hit No. 3 in Apple’s Business News category, and earlier this month they passed 10 million downloads.
Their best asset, at least for the moment, is their outsider status. Despite being company men now—the original podcast was done as a “side hustle” while they held down nine-to-five jobs in finance—they’re not on Buffett’s or Gates’s speed dial just yet. And being on the fringes suits them. Their appeal has never been their behind-the-scenes clout. It’s their millennial Everyman charm, the promise that “if we can do this, so can you, bro!”
When they talk about their new friends in Palo Alto—where they’ve lived for less than a year—they brag about how much they don’t fit in.
“Living here is very much B.Y.O.B.,” says Kramer. “Bring your own Birkenstocks.”
“I think I hit the California hat trick the other day,” says Martell. “I did a yoga class, a wine tasting, and I tried to do surfing.”
Like we said, not all the jokes land.
But they’re getting there. One thing they’ve noticed, from socializing with a crowd of predominantly tech people, is that certain words become part of the shared vocabulary.
“It turns out that everyone is using the same word to describe the app they’re working on,” says Martell. “Right now, it’s ‘delightful.’”
“Every app is ‘delightful,’” Kramer laughs in agreement.
It’s the kind of smirking observation that only sounds convincing coming from somebody who isn’t invited to all the cool Silicon Valley parties.
A Labor of Love
Kramer and Martell like to say that their friendship was love at first sight. As freshmen at Middlebury College, in Vermont, they were randomly assigned to be roommates. When they walked into their dorm room during the fall of 2006 and met face-to-face, they realized they were both drinking the same type of protein shake.
“That was all it took,” says Kramer.
They stayed in touch when Martell transferred to Brown, and reconnected in Manhattan after graduating. They became roommates and worked in finance by day (Kramer at German investment bank Commerzbank, Martell at nonprofit Endeavor) and at night nursed beers at local watering holes and conspired for something more than a finance-bro existence.
It was during these boozy conclaves that they came up with the idea for what would become MarketSnacks. “We recognized that financial news wasn’t connecting with our generation,” says Kramer. “There was a sense back then that anything having to do with finance had to be stuffy and formal and kind of boring.”
What was needed, they decided, was something like The Daily Show, where a growing number of millennials were getting their political news. It was fun and satirical and entertaining, and viewers actually walked away having learned something.
So, in early 2012, they started their own daily financial newsletter, and six years later a podcast, filled with “bite-sized” business news covering everything from Grubhub to Tesla, Snapchat to Shopify. “We were committed to making sure we got business news that’s digestible to our audience, every day without missing a day,” says Martell. “And we’ve stayed true to that. Even when Jack was in Germany for work and I was down in Brazil for work, we never missed a day.”
Their parents are fans—they were MarketSnacks’ first four subscribers—but are often still confused about what it is exactly their sons are doing. Kramer’s parents, a schoolteacher mom and small-town-lawyer dad in Brattleboro, Vermont—Kramer describes him as “basically Atticus Finch”—never miss an episode, even when they don’t understand it. “My dad literally accepted potatoes as a form of payment from one of his clients,” Kramer says. “So financial news is a little foreign to him.” As for Martell’s family, they live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and both parents—his dad’s a lawyer and his mom runs a literary agency—still walk to their offices in Midtown.
But their biggest supporters are each other. That may sound like mushy self-help nonsense, but it’s actually the core of their creative process.
Their only hard-and-fast rule since the beginning is “one and done.” If they’re workshopping ideas for the podcast and one of them disagrees with a suggestion, it’s immediately cut. No questions asked. There’s no back-and-forth, no arguing about the merits of a joke or a story. The moment anyone has the slightest hesitation about anything at all, boom, it’s gone.
It sounds like madness—can a creative partnership actually grow and evolve if its mission statement is “Let’s agree to always agree on everything forever and ever, besties for life?”—but they insist they know what they’re doing.
“People have warned us that being co-C.E.O.’s and co–creative directors of a business with your best friend is a bad idea,” says Martell. “But we’ve found the opposite to be true. This relationship is more valuable than any joke. It allows us to produce even better jokes and better material in the long term.”
“And it also helps me maintain a relationship with my wife,” says Kramer. “I have a little bit of a semblance of a work-life balance.”
The Standing Committee
Every day at noon, Kramer and Martell prepare for another podcast and newsletter with something they call the Headline Hammer. It’s essentially a brainstorming session, but one where nobody is allowed to disagree or apparently take a pause to catch their breath.
“We research, like, dozens and dozens of resources and primary sources, and then we curate them and pitch them to each other,” says Martell. “What deserves to be one of the three top stories that go into our Snack podcast or Snack newsletter?”
For the first time since they vowed to create new content every day, fatigue or other social obligations be damned, they’ve hired a second “Snacker,” Rebecca Moretti, to help with the newsletter and creating videos. But not much else has changed since they were East Village roomies still learning the ropes of podcasting. Every last decision and veto is made by the same two guys who still approach the job like it’s a side hustle and they have to finish it quick so they can get back to work before their banker bosses find out.
It’s easy to make fun of them—they’re so peppy and optimistic, and dear God, are they ever not smiling?—but it’s just as easy to get swept up in their optimism. They may at times seem like they’ve stepped out of a Mentos ad from the 90s, but there’s also something noble about what they’re doing.
“For many of our listeners, this is their first foray into the markets,” says Martell. “We want to be that helping hand that gets you there. If we’re doing a story on something like, I don’t know, Chipotle, we want to help you understand that this isn’t just someplace you go for lunch. It’s actually something you can own stock in. And if you own stock in it, then maybe you want to pay attention to its earnings report.”
Above all, the reason to believe Kramer and Martell might be onto something is that they haven’t given up yet. “It’s really hard to produce a daily podcast,” says Kramer. “Really, really hard. There have probably been around 700,000 podcasts, and I’d estimate that 95 percent of them don’t exist anymore.”
He’s not wrong. Anybody can start a podcast with big ambitions. But it takes a deep-rooted self-belief and unrelenting stubbornness to do it day after day after day after day with the same tireless energy and enthusiasm, without once going, “Fuck it. I’m sticking with the banking job. I don’t need this shit.”
Anybody can start a podcast with big ambitions. But it takes a deep-rooted self-belief and unrelenting stubbornness to do it day after day after day after day.
Kramer and Martell can sometimes be wince-inducing in their attempts to be the Daily Show of finance, but they don’t seem all that interested in slowing down long enough to digest that criticism.
Just last August, on their way to Key West for Kramer’s bachelor party, they landed in Miami at 6:30 a.m. after a red-eye from San Francisco, and despite being exhausted and bleary-eyed, they were hell-bent on recording a podcast before the fun began.
“We had to do it quick because we were about to get on the road,” says Martell. “So Jack and I found a couple of standing desks by the airport Cinnabon.”
“It wasn’t a standing desk,” Kramer laughs. “It was just a table.”
“Whatever, a standing table,” Martell says. “We converted it, whipped out our podcast equipment, and people are running by, on their way to their gates, and meanwhile Jack and I are like, ‘This is Nick, this is Jack, and this is Snacks Daily!’”
All of this seems normal to Kramer and Martell. Sure, you’re getting married, your family is waiting, you have obligations. But you’ve got to do the podcast first. Even if it’s at an airport Cinnabon, on a standing desk that’s not really a standing desk. The Snackers are waiting, and you’re not about to disappoint them.
Eric Spitznagel is a writer based in Chicago