The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

Interesting news from the Medium CEO. A large chunk of the Medium team has been let go and they’re trying to figure out how to make money.

On the one hand, I chuckle a little and think, “Here we go again.” Medium is Ev’s third company that he has built that has not made a profit while he’s in charge. And the news is not surprising at all.

On the other hand, I do admire them for being willing to attempt to monetize in some new fashion, rather than the tired model of current web publishing. Ev states:

We had started scaling up the teams to sell and support products that were, at best, incremental improvements on the ad-driven publishing model, not the transformative model we were aiming for.

And:

Upon further reflection, it’s clear that the broken system is ad-driven media on the internet. It simply doesn’t serve people. In fact, it’s not designed to.

That’s truth. But it’s sad that the CEO of a company that attempted to transform web publishing and has been around for 5 years is just coming to this conclusion. It makes me wonder: were sales just that bad? If they had been better, would this change of focus taken place, or would they have continued down the road they were on.

We’ll never know, but I have to wonder. This piece gives a good summary of the history of Medium and it sure seems like many VC funded services … they’re making it up as they go.

More commentary on this news:

  • DHH from Basecamp has some thoughts. I was very surprised when they made the move to use Medium wholesale, especially considering their stance on VC backed businesses. But I’m not surprised David posted his feelings here … I wonder how much they’re regretting the move.
  • David Kadavy, a writer earning income directly from Medium, shares his own unique thoughts on the news
  • This response to Ev’s post caught my attention. The writer was responding to Ev’s statement that Medium as a team will be focusing on rewarding writers for their work

The problem is, much of Medium’s best writing is being hidden, due to the link-bait titles and content being driven to the fore. New voices become disillusioned, and the circle continues.

I agree. Although the platform is very easy to use, provides a lovely reading environment, and has an active community, the content itself has seemed to go down. The content that is being driven to my own dashboard is definitely lacking in quality. And that was not the case even twelve months ago.