Medium: big job cuts and a direction change

Ev Williams:

I’ll start with the hard part: As of today, we are reducing our team by about one third — eliminating 50 jobs, mostly in sales, support, and other business functions. We are also changing our business model to more directly drive the mission we set out on originally.

That’s a big, big cull. Medium’s whole approach to becoming a business is clearly shifting.

The problem?

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.

Seeking a business solution

Does he have a solution? No. But he clearly doesn’t want Medium to be part of that problem, so he’s chopped sales staff to reduce burn rate while the site seeks a new business model:

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.

The buried implication here seems to be some form of method for committed readers rewarding inspiring creators – but that’s an assumption. All we can say for sure is that Medium is changing direction, seeks a new way of monetising publishing – and will be doing it with one third fewer staff – and an existing workforce who’ve just lost a bunch of colleagues, and who are keenly aware that their (admittedly well-funded) employer doesn’t have a workable business model yet.

Interesting times at Medium.