Medium has around 725,000 subscribers and no one knows what’s next

Medium has around 725,000 subscribers and no one knows what's next

The sudden change of course announced on Tuesday by Medium came as a surprise to editorial staff; many of them must now decide in the days to come whether to accept a buyout offer or other employment with the company.
Why is this important: This is not the first time that Medium has abruptly cut internal editorial operations after investing heavily in and hiring journalists and editors, even if it is given a different reason each time.

  • “Everyone at the meeting was surprised,” a Medium source said in a meeting Tuesday with CEO Ev Williams and editorial staff.
  • Some senior executives were briefed ahead of the announcement, another source told Axios.

In numbers: The company currently has approximately 725,000 paying subscribers. According to a source, the company had around 400,000 in 2019.

  • Digiday reported in 2019 that Medium hopes to attract at least one million subscribers by 2020.
  • Williams on Tuesday announced the buyout of all of the editorial staff and suggested that the future of the company’s editorial ambitions be built around individual voices rather than editorial franchises.

The big picture Medium has spent the past two years investing heavily in bringing in highly experienced editors and writers to launch high-end digital publications.

  • In a blog post, Williams said that “overall” the post was not producing enough success stories to make the economy work.
  • “We have published many great stories that found a large following and more than paid for themselves. But our success rate has been low, and we’re nowhere near where we need to be for it to work economically, ”he wrote.
  • One of the problems with the current model was that Medium struggled to attract a larger audience for stories that they could then use to funnel into subscriptions, a source said.
  • The changes come less than a month after the editors’ unionization efforts failed.

And after: Editors must decide in the coming days whether or not to take the buyout, which includes five months of severance pay and six months of paid health care.

  • The buyout decisions are somewhat tricky because, according to some sources, there is no clear understanding of the rest of Medium’s editorial ambitions, other than to focus more on “people”.


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