When a company lays off employees it doesn’t always have to be like alarm bells ringing, or the beginning of the end. Sometimes it is also a re-evaluation of what the company wants to be, and this is what the Medium founder Evan Williams explains in a recent Media blog post. The blogging platform company has laid off 50 employees, mostly in sales, support and “other business functions”. The company is also shutting down its offices in New York and Washington DC.
The basic dilemma Medium seems to be going through is that instead of the “transformative model” the company intended to follow in the beginning, it shifted to an ad-driven publishing model. The ad-driven publishing model makes money, but it is not the most efficient model and this was the reason why Medium came into existence in the first place. He calls this model are “broken model”.
When Evan Williams created Medium, he wanted to create “a transformational product for curious humans.”
This is the portion of the blog post where he explains what the team behind Medium intended to achieve.
We decided we needed to take a different — and bolder — approach to this problem. We believe people who write and share ideas should be rewarded on their ability to enlighten and inform, not simply their ability to attract a few seconds of attention. We believe there are millions of thinking people who want to deepen their understanding of the world and are dissatisfied with what they get from traditional news and their social feeds. We believe that a better system — one that serves people — is possible. In fact, it’s imperative.
If not advertising, then what? Williams says they haven’t yet decided which model to follow and it isn’t even easy with current technology and content consumption behavior.
Interestingly, Evan Williams invented the term “blogger”.