All is not well at Medium.
Last we heard, the content platform pioneered by Twitter cofounder Evan Williams was planning a big monetization push. Now, however, those efforts seem to have stalled, and the company has decided to cut a third of its staff.
That amounts to 50 positions -- mostly in sales, support, and “other business functions,” Williams reports in a new Medium post.
In turn, the company is also closing its offices in New York and Washington, D.C. -- although some staffers are expected to continue to work remotely from these areas.
“The vast majority of the product development and engineering teams will remain,” according to Williams.
Why the shift? Speaking for the entire management team, Williams said: “We decided that we risk failing on our larger, original mission if we don’t make some proactive changes while we have the momentum and resources to do so.”
And Medium does appear to have momentum. Year-over-year, readers and published posts were up about 300%, according to internal figures.
Yet as it has grown as a destination for premium publisher content, Medium’s monetization efforts appear to have lagged behind. According to Williams, however, the issue a just a symptom of a more systemic industry problem.
“It’s clear the broken system is ad-driven media on the Internet,” William contends. “It simply doesn’t serve people. 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.”
Challenging this system, Medium is shifting its resources and attention to defining a new model for writers and creators to be rewarded based on the “value” they create for the reader.
What does it mean in practice? As set, Williams and his team are not quite sure. “It is too soon to say exactly what this will look like,” he admitted. “It will require time to get it right, as well as some different skills.”
Now, the question is how long Williams can keep Medium’s investors calm.
Most recently, the company raised $57 million in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz. Also participating in the round were Google Ventures, Greylock Partners, Obvious Ventures and The Chernin Group.
Medium was founded in 2012, and released to the public in late 2013.