$132 million later, Ev Williams says he is raising even more money for Medium

Jim EdwardsEv Williams
  • Ev Williams needs more money for Medium, which he says is still not profitable.
  • Medium has received $US132 million from investors so far.
  • “We are coming out of this phase where it was assumed that the best quality journalism is free in unlimited quantities,” he said.

LISBON – Ev Williams, the Twitter cofounder who has so far raised $US132 million in investment for his longform publishing platform Medium, says the company is still not profitable and he will be raising more money.

The announcement – made today at the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon – will raise eyebrows because Medium is not yet profitable, Williams told Business Insider earlier in the day. It was founded in 2012, two years after Williams stepped down as Twitter CEO.

The site currently has 90 million unique users each month, and publishes 20,000 articles per day, mostly from writers creating one-off articles. It recently moved away from selling advertising as a revenue model to a subscription paywall, in which readers are asked for money if they see more than three stories per month.

Williams said Medium’s last investment round was in early 2016. “We will be raising more money but there is nothing to disclose on that.”

The investment will go into Williams’ effort to make Medium a bit more like a vast, thoughtful magazine. What started as a longform blogging platform is looking more and more like The Atlantic crossed with Wikipedia. Williams has a corp of editors who are paying fees or commissions to writers for high-quality material, and then keeping that high-quality content behind the paywall. While the majority of Medium’s writers are amateurs writing for coffee money, the professional work – which feels a lot like the journalism you’d see in a monthly magazine – will get much of the investment, he said.

“We pay thousands of writers on a monthly basis,” he said. “Whether they participate in our partners program indirectly, and we pay them directly through our editorial team. And we licence content from major publishers … we are ramping the budgets for all those avenues every month.”

Williams said he is doubling down on the subscription business – dubbed “Medium Membership – because the future of journalism depends on not giving it away for free. “We are coming out of this phase where it was assumed that the best quality journalism is free in unlimited quantities,” he said. “No other business is like that.”

The company was valued last year at $US600 million.

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