The online publishing platform Medium revealed that they have had to lay off around a third of their staff today.
The CEO of the platform, Ev Williams revealed the news on a blog post today, revealing that they have laid off 50 members of its staff as it seeks a new business model, outside of pageview-based advertising.
Our vision, when we started in 2012, was ambitious: To build a platform that defined a new model for media on the internet. The problem, as we saw it, was that the incentives driving the creation and spread of content were not serving the people consuming it or creating it?—?or society as a whole. As I wrote at the time, “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.”
Despite the issue with a model, Williams said in the post that Medium has had a 300 percent growth in readers and published posts, however, he believes that the current way of serving advertising on the web to sustain publishing is “broken”.
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. 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. Period. As a result, we get…well, what we get. And it’s getting worse.
He didn’t reveal what the alternative to that kind of system is, however, he did write the following about Medium’s plans:
So, we are shifting our resources and attention to defining a new model for writers and creators to be rewarded, based on the value they’re creating for people. And toward building a transformational product for curious humans who want to get smarter about the world every day.
It is too soon to say exactly what this will look like. This strategy is more focused but also less proven. It will require time to get it right, as well as some different skills. Which is why we are taking these steps today and saying goodbye to many talented people. To stay efficient, we are shutting our offices in New York and Washington D.C. (though some people will continue to work remotely from those locales). And we will be parting ways with some of our executives who were brought on to scale these teams. The vast majority of the product development and engineering teams will remain, both to support the Medium you love and to bring it to the next level.
It’s an interesting move that is not only a problem for Medium at the moment, but the publishing market as a whole, it will be interesting to see how Medium hopes to change that.