Medium, a web publishing platform used by a number of lawyers, announced in a blog post that it is making major changes, laying off a third of its employees – 50 people and closing its offices in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Ev Williams, their CEO and founder, said in his post that the company is “changing our business model to more directly drive the mission we set out on originally.”

Ev doesn’t say what the new business model will be. He does say that ad-driven media on the Internet doesn’t serve the publishers or the public.

…[I]t’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.

……

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.

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.

I’ve never liked a publishing model driven by eyeballs as a measure of success. Publishers, particularly professionals such as lawyers, will publish (blog) to build a name for themselves. The money they’ll earn with their name will be far greater than what they could ever earn through traffic, ads or selling their content.

When you’re building a name for yourself, you’ll even pay for comprehensive publishing software. LexBlog has proven it with thousands of lawyers paying to publish on professionally tailored software offered as a SaaS model.

Ironically, some lawyers chasing traffic, versus building a name for themselves started to use Medium over the last year. I have not heard from the lawyers, but I wonder how it’s worked out for them as a revenue generator — that is through legal fees.

This is quite a fall for Medium. The company raised $130 million in venture capital, most of it in the last year. The valuation for the latest round was $600 million. I always wondered if the investors were betting on Ev than the business model. Appears so.

Ev’s a talented and caring guy, giving us Blogger, Twitter and now Medium. Medium, as publishing software, also appears to be pretty good. It will be interesting to see what becomes of Medium.

One lesson for lawyers and law firms is to control your own publication. Not only do you control your content, what gets highlighted and how things are syndicated, but you don’t have to worry about your host’s business model when so much is at stake.

  • Apologies, I only noticed this post after I published my post earlier. I updated my post to link to yours.