Medium finally made its biggest pivot of all its many pivots: It changed its CEO. Ev Williams is stepping down after 10 years and more experiments than can probably be accurately counted. Casey Newton has the details for The Verge. He focuses, as I would, on the constant pace of change for the platform.
There’s no shame in a startup trying lots of different ideas. But Medium’s ideas were often coupled to the livelihoods of journalists and the publications they worked for. It’s one thing to have a singular vision and change your tactics along the way; Williams vision for what Medium was transformed almost continuously.
I have twice been subscribed to Medium, but I couldn’t justify keeping my subscription because it didn’t make sense to get a yearly subscription to a service when you had no idea what the service would look like over the course of that year. The most recent time I subscribed, I paid because I liked publications on the platform — by the end of the year of my paid subscription — they were gone. Ev was unapologetic about the changes. Even last year, after nine years of turmoil, he suggested that more change was healthy and to be expected.
Throughout all its changes, Medium kept betraying the trust of its partners. The string of people hurt by the platform and the pivots towards new ideas became appallingly long over the years. The constant casting about for different approaches was bad for both loyal customers and content creators.
I hope that Medium’s new CEO, Tony Stubblebine, is not only cognizant of the ways that the inconsistency has been damaging to the platform, but that he has a plan to steady the ship.