Medium is a terrific blogging tool and has managed to attract great writers. Led by Ev Williams, the company took on $132m in investment since their founding in 2011. But despite the great features and content, the site has struggled to find a revenue model. And earlier this year, Medium laid off 50 of their 150 employees.
At that time, Ev noted that that they need a new business model:
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.”
We now know this new model is charging access to a possibly growing list of exclusives: exclusive content, a thrice-daily updated list of curated content, access to a new UI, and an offline reader. It reminds me in some ways of what YouTube is trying to do with YouTube Red.
Both posts by Ev have the feel of a person searching, perhaps with increasing worry, for a sustainable business model. We'll see more features added to this exclusive offering. But will it be enough?