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Medium Cuts Staff By One-Third, Shuts Down New York and DC Offices (arstechnica.com) 177

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Medium, the San Francisco-based online publishing platform founded in 2012, has laid off 50 employees, or roughly one-third of its staff. The company will also close offices in New York and Washington, DC. Ev Williams, Medium's CEO, wrote in a lengthy post on Wednesday that the company would be changing its business model despite ending 2016 as "our best year yet." He blamed the entire concept of "ad-driven media on the Internet" as the root of the company's shortcomings. As Williams, who is also a co-founder of Twitter, wrote: "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 getwell, what we get. And it's getting worse."
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Medium Cuts Staff By One-Third, Shuts Down New York and DC Offices

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  • by SensitiveMale ( 155605 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2017 @09:32PM (#53607811)

    So medium is now a small?

    • by Tackhead ( 54550 )

      So medium is now a small?

      No, they've regressed to the mean.

    • by fubarrr ( 884157 )

      >He blamed the entire concept of "ad-driven media on the Internet" as the root of the company's shortcomings.

      Welcome to the Internet baby

    • by shanen ( 462549 )

      Slightly funny, but mostly reminded me that January 3rd was January 2nd this year, at least locally. New Years Day didn't count as a holiday because it was already Sunday, so they had to move it to Monday, but then that official holiday had to be postponed and the calendar then insisted January 3rd was a holiday called January 2nd... As translation problems go, it must be extra large?

      Anyway, if I ever had a mod point, I wouldn't have given a "funny" to that one. Now about moderating this one... I guess "off

    • ...was an original, meme-before-memes headline, years ago
  • by Anonymous Coward

    God I hope so. So fucking overdue.

    • Why? That would put more people out of work, we will have less competition, less access to unique content and more reliance on just a few monopolies that simply copy one anothers content. Let me guess you work for Facebook, Microsoft or Google?
      • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ikihsam>> on Thursday January 05, 2017 @04:44AM (#53608913) Homepage

        Why? That would put more people out of work, we will have less competition, less access to unique content and more reliance on just a few monopolies that simply copy one anothers content. Let me guess you work for Facebook, Microsoft or Google?

        Because the entire dotcom industry needs a massive correction again. Uber being valued at half the valuation of Intel? More then Ford, GM, or Chrysler? Not seeing a problem here. It's pets.com and their ilk all over again.

        • Why can't we have a slow minor correction? Where over valued companies slow down and stop growing. And their downsizing comes from not replacing the natural turnover. Can we hope for slow evolution vs revolution that will make fallout for many positive aspects?

          • We are having exactly that, but it's causing newly minted MBA CEOs to miss their performance targets so they panic by shooting into both feet of the companies they run.

          • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

            Why can't we have a slow minor correction? Where over valued companies slow down and stop growing.

            People tried, and people warned that's what needed to happen back in 2008/09. When the economy was shit in 08/09 that would have been the perfect time. You know what the response was? We're gonna dump money into the market, turn on the printing presses and go like mad at it. Austerity? Real austerity? Hah. Nope, that's what it was called it was anything but.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Uber being valued at half the valuation of Intel? More then Ford, GM, or Chrysler?

          Everyone wants to invest in the next Google early. Uber could potentially be huge, especially with a fleet of driveless cars. Imagine not needing to own a car yourself because it's cheaper to just call an uber when you need one, and bus/taxi companies going out of business because of it. and GM dying again because no-one wants the hassle of owning a personal car...

          Of course, it's far from clear if it will happen. At least they have the potential though, unlike a lot of the dot-com companies whose plan was b

          • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

            Everyone wants to invest in the next Google early. Uber could potentially be huge, especially with a fleet of driveless cars.

            Uber is around 10 years too early. Just like many of the very first automakers, they're at the cutting edge and it will likely fail. Other companies will pick up from where they left off. But the people investing in Uber and driving up the valuation are VC's hoping that they'll get their initial buy-in back before the company goes tits up. Uber's potential is exactly the same as many dotcom companies, lots of flash no actual plan. It's the same reason why if Uber hadn't gotten an infusion of cash from

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              The key difference between Uber and a typical dot-com is that Uber has a revenue stream. It actually charges to use its service, instead of providing it for free.

              I still wouldn't invest, but it's not the same kind of crazy as dot-com. This kind of crazy involves just ignoring taxi laws because... innovation or something means they don't apply to you.

              • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

                Plenty of other things charged users for things during the previous dotcom boom. Almost all of them had some form of revenue stream besides VC injections. Almost all of them followed the laws in the countries they operated in. The difference as you pointed out correctly though, is that Uber believes the law doesn't apply to them. Which of course has led them to multiple criminal and civil cases being filed against them.

            • I am reminded of Netflix. The company started out mailing DVDs to homes, they knew the technology and ecosystems would evolve to allow them to stream directly to TVs, but they started with mailing, this is why they called it Netflix and not MailFlix.
              • Then why when they were considering spinning streaming away from mailing were they going to have Netflix be the mailing company?

      • Because some people think after such a crash they will take a step back and realize how wrong they are.
        However what normally happens is people will fall back on what they know and not take risks.
        The lesson after the market crashed?
        The liberals say well we need to be more liberal to get ourselves from the conservative Bush administration.
        The conservatives after loosing the election figured that they lost because they weren't conservative enough.

        What actually happens is during the good times people begin to m

  • ServePeople (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2017 @09:41PM (#53607855)
    You know what else doesn't serve people? Firing fifty of them right after Christmas because you lost interest in your hobby.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Medium, the San Francisco-based online publishing platform

      s/online publishing platform/blog/g

      Medium, Macy's.... What's the world coming to? Back in my day, people used to get fired right BEFORE Christmas.

      • by trevc ( 1471197 )
        ServiceMaster is upholding that tradition.

        Medium, the San Francisco-based online publishing platform

        s/online publishing platform/blog/g

        Medium, Macy's.... What's the world coming to? Back in my day, people used to get fired right BEFORE Christmas.

        ServiceMaster is upholding that tradition.

    • Doing it right before Christmas, would have been worse. All those ad-blockers have an impact.
      • Doing it right before Christmas, would have been worse. All those ad-blockers have an impact.

        Cool. "Adapt," I say. Come up with a way to sell shit other than advertising on the 'net. If there isn't a way and people hate it, uh, it's not going to work. It's amazing that online ads have actually had a function to this point! I pay no attention and avoid them, but that's my personality. I guess others still have "OOH, SHINY" reactions or something. *shrug*

    • One less bag of horsehit feeding the gullible. It's not clearly biased, but it is noise where more signal is needed.

      Losing 50 people to win the war on facts is fine at thus point. I'll happily pay my share of unemployment insurance for them.

      Journalism or die.

      • It may not be clearly biased, but the majority of articles hew to a common theme.

        Liberal left memes.

        I've been trying to read Medium for about a year or so. It's difficult. No, it's painful. Medium essentially plugs itself as a forum for writers who just want to write. Wow, that's revolutionary. And the result is a forum for navel-gazing, self-absorbed Millennials, the constantly offended, and whiners of every stripe - except conservative, alt--right, or middle of the road.

        Every time I go to read there, or o

  • Who is medium? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ash-Fox ( 726320 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2017 @09:50PM (#53607895) Homepage Journal

    I've never even heard of them before? Are they important?

    • Re:Who is medium? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2017 @10:24PM (#53608057)
      They're a crappy centralized blog site that had a terrible layout with a huge font rendering it unreadable .
    • I've never even heard of them before? Are they important?

      Does Starts-With-A-Bang ring a bell? Horrible horrible pseudo scientific garbage being spammed onto Slashdot so Medium gets more page views?

      You're UID is low enough that I imagine not only do you know who Medium are but you probably also contributed mod points to mod up comments saying "Stop linking to medium.com garbage"

      • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

        Does Starts-With-A-Bang ring a bell? Horrible horrible pseudo scientific garbage being spammed onto Slashdot so Medium gets more page views?

        No, but that's likely because I tend to avoid Slashdot summaries that meet that criteria typically.

        • He was one of the most prolific self promoters on Slashdot. https://slashdot.org/index2.pl... [slashdot.org] He eventually moved to Forbes which caused people to hate Forbes just as much.

          • The depressing thing about Starts-with-a-Bang was that from his other online information, he did actually know what he was talking about in terms of science and specifically astronomy. But he seems to have deliberately dumbed it down severely for the clickbait platforms of first Medium and then Forbes. Both of which went onto my noScript and Adblock shit lists because of him.

            I note he's been quiet for a time. I hope this means that he's back in paid employment and no longer having to whore out his braincel

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 04, 2017 @09:59PM (#53607933)

    The post's are neither rare nor well done.

  • bad business model (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2017 @09:59PM (#53607941)

    Evan Williams blames a "broken system" of financing media through advertising.

    I think a more likely problem with Medium is entering the crowded commodity market of blogging platforms with a bad business model and a staff of 150 for something that should take no more than a handful of people.

    Of course, he is worth $1.7 billion, so what does he care.

    • I'm not particularly a fan of Medium, and it may be that in this instance, blaming the "broken system" is an excuse. However, that doesn't mean he's wrong. The system is broken. It is not serving people well.
      • The system is broken. It is not serving people well.

        Works fine for me. How is it failing for you?

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          It encourages click-bait and other advertiser-friendly content.

          The ideal would be for journalism to be purely about presenting factual information in a digestible, engaging way that helped people understand the world and participate in democracy. It should also offer longer, deep investigations that are in the public interest.

          The practice journalists need to sell their product, which means getting people to click on headlines and not pissing off advertisers too much. It would benefit everyone if we could fi

          • The ideal would be for journalism to be purely about presenting factual information in a digestible, engaging way that helped people understand the world and participate in democracy. It should also offer longer, deep investigations that are in the public interest.

            And who determines what is "factual" and "in the public interest"?

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              Other journalists. That system works fairly well - when one media outlet prints something demonstrably false, the others are always quick to jump on it.

              • I disagree that that system works fairly well. Before the Internet, journalists had turned into a powerful little oligarchy with way too much power, power they wielded primarily for their own benefit.

                • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

                  Sure, it works well now because people have easy access to a plurality of media. Well, unless they live in their little alt-right bubble or whatever.

                  • You were saying that "the system of journalists checking on each other works fairly well". That is what I disagree with: history shows that that system fails badly, and it is still failing badly. In the US, for example, journalists overwhelmingly lean Democratic and those biases come through in shared errors in reporting.

        • It's not working for you. You're just so misinformed that you don't know how badly it's serving you.
          • It's not working for you. You're just so misinformed that you don't know how badly it's serving you.

            You have no idea what sources I use to stay informed or how "misinformed" I am. So, don't you worry your pretty little head about how the media are failing me.

            Try again: how are the media failing you?

            • By no longer being news, and being tabloid journalism instead. By being clickbait instead of useful information. I go through a lot of different news sources, and many of them are still full of nonsense.
  • I care because? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Snotnose ( 212196 )
    1) Never heard of the company
    2) Laid of 50 peeps, kinda insignificant
    3) Offices closed are 3k miles from me.


    Oh, it was some startup trying to feed me ads. So 4) fuck you.
    • How exactly is my comment offtopic? Whomever modded me, chime in any time.
    • Oh, it was some startup trying to feed me ads.

      They still haven't added ads to their site. I don't know what their monetization strategy is.

  • Based on the summary, the CEO seems to be saying that because corporations pay for advertising as a way to drive crappy 'news' to the forefront of the Internet, his site (which it is implied) has non-crappy 'content' that 'advertisers' (read corporations) will not pay for.

    Is that a long winded way of telling his ex-employees that his business model /really/ is sound, but the man is keeping them down?

  • by shanen ( 462549 ) on Thursday January 05, 2017 @12:40AM (#53608411) Homepage Journal

    Based on my comments posted over on Medium (but largely applicable to Slashdot, too, so you can substitute in most places):

    Pretty sure I looked at Medium a while ago, and if so, today’s visit reminded me why I wasn’t interested. Same sad story, same verse.

    There’s a fundamental mismatch here. Many people really do want to know about the problems of the day and even want to help make the world better. Many people want to learn new things so they can make better choices and be more free.

    Such goals are irrelevant to the advertisers who are paying for the “free” websites. They would actually prefer docile robots who will quietly obey the ads and buy the toothpaste or politicians. The kind of news they want to pay for is disaster porn like CNN or profitable propaganda like FAUX “news”.

    Apparently Medium is not succeeding with what appears to be click-bait approach. Are they desperate enough to consider REAL alternatives? Here are a couple of the top of my head:

    (1) Sell SOLUTIONS to the problems. After each article about a problem there should be some links to proposed projects to help SOLVE the problem. Interested readers could look over the projects and buy a share, perhaps $10 a pop, and if enough wannabe-helpful donors agree, then the project would get funded, and later evaluated and the results reported on. The sponsor should be a charitable umbrella organization that would make sure each project proposal was complete and a percentage of funded projects would go back to the websites that helped publicize the problem (like Medium).

    (2) Auction my valuable time in LIMITED amounts in exchange for sponsored news. The intermediary (which might be Medium) would have good reason to protect my privacy and personal information in order to protect their involvement, and the companies that are selling goods and services I actually want would get more reliable access to the customers who actually WANT to buy what they’re selling.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The biggest problem with news reporting is that once news is out there, it's free. If you spend a year doing an in-depth investigation, or even if you just bag an exclusive interview with some interesting person, the moment you publish it every other news outlet repeats the interesting bits and if you are lucky throws in a link to your original post.

      Some companies have managed to turn this into a business. Take Reuters and AP, for example. Other news outlets pay them a subscription to access their stories a

      • The biggest problem with news reporting is that once news is out there, it's free.

        It's only a problem because we allow news gathering and dissemination to be a for-profit enterprise; everything that derives from that will be (and is) tainted by valuing money first, which in turn means that facts aren't the goal, whatever content draws the most eyeballs is the goal.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          I agree, but I'm not sure what the alternative is. Government funded will lead to accusations of those outlets being little more than propaganda, although I suppose the BBC proves that it is possible to be independent and funded by a licence fee.

          Charity perhaps, but then you have the same problem with needing to woo donors instead of advertisers.

          • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

            Charity flat out is insufficient to the needs. If it wasn't, we would have no homeless, no one without proper healthcare, no one going hungry, no starving stray animals, no unnecessary suffering in general. There's no truth at all underlying the various absurd claims that charity could replace government redistribution in our society at this point in time. Selfishness is rampant, and highly thought of, in the public mindset; those of us who contribute (and I do, a lot, both money and time) get our ears bent

      • by shanen ( 462549 )

        It sounds like you're referring to the "scoop" problem? There was an extra value in being first because of the delays in publishing or even getting it on a later news problem. That part has basically been crushed out of the system by Internet speeds.

    • I don't think you know what Medium is...this is like suggesting that a paper company is at fault for the failure of a newspaper. Medium is a publishing platform, nothing more. You accuse them of using a "click-bait approach," but there are thousands of sites running on Medium, each with their own approach.
      • Medium is a publishing platform, nothing more.

        That is incorrect. Medium is a publishing platform, but of the many writing efforts it carries, the ones that it pushes absolutely define it as a highly biased site in terms of what people are most likely to see. It is not in any way a level platform for its writers. Spend just a little time considering which articles they push to the front page, and you'll realize this.

        There are plenty of worthy efforts that hit Medium. Very few people ever get to see them, tho

      • by shanen ( 462549 )

        I basically agree with you that I know little about Medium. My fuzzy recollection is that it sounded like a good idea, but when I looked at it, the reality was pretty much click-bait. The advertising links seemed rather weak, and that seems to be confirmed by the financial results of the article.

        I'm suggesting a more general approach to funding better journalism. I've seen a number of minor variations on the old standards, but so far nothing I'd "invest" in.

  • bu-huu, we can't find advertisers that don't want to censor our content... bu-huu
  • Medium is headquartered in SF with offices in NYC and DC? Those three cities are probably all in the "top-15 list of the most expensive office space" cities in the U.S. Is it possible the long list of start-up and "interruption" companies aren't really good stewards of their investor's money? Why not buy/lease office space in places like downtown Gary, Indiana or Glasgow, Montana? The overhead would certainly be a lot cheaper and once they figure out their real business model and start making real money, t
  • 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.

    Ev noted, continuing

    Apparently we suck at this, and those corporate overloards aren't paying us enough to keep the lights on so we will have to find another way.

  • Umm, that's the way it's been for years.... You should have thought of "the way people are paid suck and will kill us down the road" before opening the third office.

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