Medium Offers Audio Stories To Entice Users

Still searching for a viable business mode, Medium is now courting potential subscribers with audio versions of stories.

As of Friday, more than 50 stories had already been made available to paying members, including a lesson in “How to Expand Your Vocabulary” by David Pfeiffer and Alex Loana’s explanation as to “Why most people’s favorite color is blue.”

Medium debuted what cofounder Ev Williams called “the first version” of its subscription service, in late March.

Medium is charging $5 a month for audio, full access to its fare, and other premium offerings.  

Earlier this year, the publishing platform cut one-third of its staff. The layoffs of some 50 employees mostly impacted sales, support and “other business functions,” Williams said at time.

Explaining the shift, 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.”

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More broadly, Williams attributed Medium’s struggles to systemic industry issues. “It’s clear the broken system is ad-driven media on the Internet,” he said. “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,” he added.

As of March, readers and published posts were up roughly 300%, year-over-year.

Founded in 2012, Medium most recently 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.

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