Medium Discontinues Its Membership Product: Fixing By Killing

Since its inception, the online publishing platform Medium has securely placed itself in the media business, but that has problems.

With the vision "to build a platform that defined a new model for media on the internet," Medium started out as a blogging platform, to then evolved to become a full-on content creator. But then, it scaled back and turned to a CMS-like approach. All of those times, Medium wanted to remain as a tech company that keeps its startup being no matter how influential it has become.

But tech companies change fast, this is why Medium do things and see what works.

Evan Williams, the founder and CEO of Medium, wants to make online publishing sustainable by "saving the internet". And here, Medium ends its paid membership program for publications.

This feature allowed blogs hosted on Medium to build their own individual paying subscriber base. Many of the publications using this feature were coming to Medium because of this very offering. But with Medium in ending paid memberships, it's like Medium in kicking these websites off the platform.

Medium saw a problem on its platform. As Williams described it, "the incentives driving the creation and spread of content were not serving the people consuming it or creating it — or society as a whole." This made the system in creating massive amounts of of misinformation.

This is because writers were under pressure on deadlines, making them create more content more cheaply, but with less depth, no originality, or quality.

"We need a new model.”

"It’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."

To fix what he thought was broken, Williams laid off its advertising staff and aims to fix the entire problem with a new business model.


So here, Medium is shifting its resources and attention to defining a new model for writers and creators to be rewarded, based on the value they’re creating for people.

"We believe in compensating writers for the value they provide to you, not the fleeting attention they attract for advertisers," said Medium.

The platform has pulled a feature that allowed publishers to operate paywalls on its platform. As a results, many publications and media outlets that rely on Medium to power their digital publications and create revenue, are ousted from the platform. They could either rely back to the platforms they were once on, or try to survive on ad-free Medium using a business model that has yet to benefit them.

According to Medium, the move was primarily a result of the introduction of Medium’s own $5 per month subscription product introduced in 2017.

Medium has contacted its subscription publishing partners to give them the notice. Although Medium said that it would offered to extend the deadline for those who needed more time.

According to those affected, it’s true that ad-based digital media is unsustainable. But bringing on journalists and editors inside the platform, to then kill their revenue in the name of a business pivot, cannot be seen as an appropriate fix.

"We know the path ahead will not be easy," closed Williams.