Medium, the online publishing platform founded by former Twitter co-founder Ev Williams, has today announced that it is streamlining its business. Under the same, the company now plans to explore a new business model which is leading to workforce reductions and closure of two of their offices.
The official blog post started out by breaking the news of the layoffs, which includes about one-third of the workforce or about 50 employees who were part of the non-technological team. It mostly impacted sales, support, and other business functions across the company. This has also led Medium to shutter its offices in New York and Washington, D.C. The company is also parting ways with some of the key executives who were brought in to scale operations.
In a rather lengthy Medium post (a 5 minute read) penned by the founder himself, he mentions that the platform was performing well but it had now lost the charm it had set out to create among the communities online. People were creating and spreading content online but there were no incentives for them to continue doing so. Thus, the company is adopting a new model to build an even better social publishing tool and not run out of cash in the long run.
Williams had previously described this problem in a blog post stating,
The current system causes increasing amounts of misinformation…and pressure to put out more content more cheaply — depth, originality, or quality be damned. It’s unsustainable and unsatisfying for producers and consumers alike….We need a new model.
Ever since its inception in 2012, the company has tried to focus on providing a simplistic and intuitive blogging tool to publishers across the interwebs. Last year, Medium tried to expedite its efforts to become the biggest source of content creation and sharing by onboarding some big commercial publishers. This led the company to dedicate technology efforts and resources towards the development of an ad product to support payments for them. And it spelt doom for the platform, says Williams.
This strategy worked in terms of driving growth, as well as improving the volume and consistency of great content. However, in building out this model, we realized we didn’t yet have the right solution to the big question of driving payment for quality content.
This means that publishers instead of focusing on the quality of their content started planning on ways to drive views and grow the revenues they make through ads on Medium. And this ad-driven publishing model used by other blogging platform isn’t something the company has hoped it would build in order to scale. Thus, it is giving up on the same to not lead the spread of false news and focus on moolah.
Medium is now shifting its efforts, technology teams and resources towards building a platform where individuals pay for good content and not everything that secures the highest views. It is now building a transformational product for online users who’re fed up with traditional media and social feeds flooding with an abundance of sub-par content.
We believe people who write and share ideas should be rewarded on their ability to enlighten and inform, not simply their ability to attract a few seconds of attention.
Medium now wants to go beyond the current metrics for readers and published posts, which were up approx 300 percent year-on-year but on the back of quality content from true publishers. The company has raised a massive $132 million from investors including Spark Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and Greylock until date.