Evan Williams’ Medium Lays Off 50 Employees, Changes Business Model

Founder and CEO says he plans to move away from ad-supported media

Last Updated: January 4, 2017 @ 4:00 PM

Internet publishing platform Medium is laying off 50 employees, closing two offices and changing its business model from free-to-read, ad-supported content, founder and CEO Evan Williams announced in a Wednesday post on the site.

The company is axing about one-third of its workforce, mostly on the sales and business side, as it moves away from monetizing itself through internet ads. Medium is also shuttering its New York City and Washington, D.C. ,offices.

In the post, Williams touted Medium’s growth in readers and published posts, which were both up threefold year-over-year — but despite that engagement and the onboarding of numerous commercial publishers to Medium’s platform, the company wasn’t able to make enough money for its content creators (those who didn’t have subscription memberships) solely through its reliance on internet advertising.

“In building out this model, we realized we didn’t yet have the right solution to the big question of driving payment for quality content. We had started scaling up the teams to sell and support products that were, at best, incremental improvements on the ad-driven publishing model, not the transformative model we were aiming for,” Williams wrote. “To continue on this trajectory put us at risk  —  even if we were successful, business-wise  —  of becoming an extension of a broken system.”

Williams said ad-driven media in itself is that “broken system,” and said the company would take a different tack as it moves forward with its business model.

“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,” Williams wrote.

Medium has raised $132 million in venture capital, including two $50 million rounds in a little more than six months.

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