Medium’s Latest News Puts It On Shaky Ground as Platform for Publishers

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Ev Williams, a co-founder of Twitter, founded Medium in 2012 as a blogging platform for independent writers.

Medium’s ride ever since has been nothing short of a roller coaster, the latest dip coming this Tuesday when as the New York Times’ Katie Robertson reported that company is scaling back its journalism with accompanying layoffs.

Ev announced a voluntary severance program for staff who “would rather get off this crazy ride.”

Medium was founded as a blogging platform for independent writers back in 2012. Ad revenue was the goal.

The company was backed by an onslaught of venture capital in excess of $125 million.

Ev was white hot coming off the public offering of Twitter, personally realizing $2 billion as one of its co-founders.

It’s likely venture capital would have backed Ev on any idea, though backing him here in that he was one of the co-founders of Blogger, later acquired by Google, made some sense.

When Medium’s early business models didn’t generate the needed return for investors, Medium laid off a third of its workforce five years ago.

The company regrouped making a major commitment to publish independent niche focused “magazines” with talented writers and editors.

With the magazines not drawing their expected audience, Medium is now parting ways with its chief editor as well as its operating officer. Many others are likely to follow.

Medium, as the Columbia Journalism Review’s Mathew Ingram, one of my sources, reports, is coming full circle – back to its original business of a publishing platform for individual writers.

Will it work? Maybe, but with the shift in business model, it’s unlikely that development work has been focused on supporting independent writers. Not good as a writer and publisher.

In addition, though Medium is deriving north of $20 million a year on subscriptions to curated content, that may not be enough for investors probably expecting a billion dollar valuation.

The lesson for bloggers and writers is to write on your own site – your own domain – and not on someone else’s site and domain.

Anything short of that puts your content in as much risk as the jobs of those working at Medium.

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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