Medium.com has shocked the blogosphere this week with a change in direction. In what CEO (and Twitter co-founder) Ev Williams describes as "one of the hardest things I’ve done in my years as a founder and CEO", he has fired about one third of the Medium.com workforce and
Since it was founded in August 2012, Medium.com has built up a reputation as the blog hosting platform of choice for both amateur and professional writers, and it's growth rate has been remarkable and the de facto place to host a blog if you want to be heard.
In describing the new direction, Williams noted
"In 2016, we made big investments in teams and technology aimed at attracting and migrating commercial publishers to Medium. And in order to get these publishers paid, we built out and started selling our first ad products"
and then went to to say
"we realized we didn’t yet have the right solution to the big question of driving payment for quality content. 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" ... "the broken system is ad-driven media on the internet. It simply doesn’t serve people. In fact, it’s not designed to. The vast majority of articles, videos, and other “content” we all consume on a daily basis is paid for — directly or indirectly — by corporations who are funding it in order to advance their goals. And it is measured, amplified, and rewarded based on its ability to do that.
The social media industry has not been quiet on the matter! David Heinemeier Hansson, Creator of Ruby on Rails and Founder/CTO at Basecamp, in a post called "Venture Capital is going to murder Medium said this (on Medium.com of course!)
"But I don’t think we’ll grow old together, Medium and I. I suspect it’ll end quite tragic, actually. $132,000,000 is a lot of money after all, and that’s how much venture capital Medium has been dipped in. Before having a prayer or a song about how to turn into that multi-billion-dollar business it must to satisfy the required rate of return."
Yes, it's too early to predict, but it seems that Williams' premise that Medium.com was broken enough that it needed fixing in a drastic manner brings significantly more questions than answers.