Medium.com feels like forever. What happens if it isn't?

THIS WEEK

Medium.com, and the consolidation of content

One of the biggest shifts in online content, distribution and the entire media model itself was when Medium.com came onto the scene. It promised a beautiful, consistent experience in a world where blogging was mostly a fragmented mess between Wordpress, Blogger and whatever else.

Medium has been great for all of us, but the company itself hasn't been particularly focused, or loyal, to its users. Last week, Medium pivoted for the third time, away from publishers and doubling down on its new in-house subscription model... leaving publishers in the lurch.

The company pulled the plug on publishers with paid subscribers, removing those tools and deleting subscribers with just a few days' notice. Some of them were making thousands of dollars in revenue, gone in an instant.

Such is the technology industry's relationship with media: there when it's interesting to support publishers, gone when it means dealing with them. What's concerning is Medium's lack of focus.

I have conversations all the time about people who wish to start writing and struggle to choose between Ghost, Wordpress or Medium. Ultimately, most choose Medium, as it's the new de facto publishing tool that doesn't require figuring out hosting or a domain name. But what if the company disappears?

To date, Medium has raised $125M from investors, and we don't know how much is left. Now that it's paying writers directly as a result of its certainly-not-profitable subscription program, it's likely burning a lot of that cash.

It's not difficult to imagine an acquisition on the horizon (by who, one would wonder) or some other sort of exit. It doesn't feel like Medium has a strategy, living on borrowed time and money; what happens if this beautiful, simple central store of content just disappears?

Sure, it won't happen overnight, but like the long, gradual death of Blogger (hey, also a startup from Medium founder Ev), we'll realize it's over too late.

All of this is to say: Medium is great, but be wary! Owning your own platform is important, and valuable, even at this point in the internet's maturity cycle. It's a bit more work, but you are no longer at the mercy of the platform, a lesson we can learn from Facebook all too easily.

🌍 Medium drops publishers out of the blue

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Other news

👪 Zuckerberg to face EU parliament, will livestream it

🙅 Twitter will show you less "bad tweets"

🎵 Google plans to launch 'YouTube Music' subscription this week

🐛 Any phone can be location tracked. A bug meant anyone could access it.

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LONG READS

Are e-books dying or thriving? The answer is... yes.

E-books were at the top of everyone's mind just a few years ago. Apple was fighting to control the market with iBooks, Amazon was all-in on Kindle and even Kobo was still in the race. Now what? Do e-books even matter?

🌎 Read the feature on Quartz

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Other great reads

How Google is redefining the mobile OS with AI (By me, on Medium)

A look back at the evolution of the Bloomberg keyboard (Bloomberg)

What the Microsoft antitrust case taught us (NYT)

How to disappear from the Internet (The Guardian)

Charging electric scooters is a cut-throat business (The Atlantic)

CHECK IT

The new Google News is here

Ever since Google Reader died, I've missed RSS and struggled to find a decent service for reading the news. Google's latest run at its new News app for web, iOS and Android, however, is amazing.

Using AI, Google groups stories together, learns  to understand what you like reading and don't want to see, and brings even paid subscriptions into a single place. This app is beautiful and simple, I'm a big fan and have started checking it regularly on my phone.

🌎 Google News

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