Last year — barely 12 months into the experiment — [CEO Evan] Williams had already grown uncomfortable with the cost of the team he had just built. Paid subscriptions, which had been on the rise, flatlined in 2020. Publication budgets were cut — and then cut again, and again. Editors who were lured to Medium on the promise of being able to build out full-fledged publications were suddenly begging for enough money to pay for a handful of freelance stories a week.
The rest of their “publications” would comprise posts written on spec by an army of self-serve freelancers who uploaded their work to the platform in hopes it would be selected by an editor for promotion. This program, called “Amplify,” has become a core pillar of Williams’ vision for the future. Instead of paying full-time salaries and benefits to staff, Williams can use Amplify to get the content he wants at a fraction of the cost.
Amplify’s writers are paid a small and essentially random fraction of subscription revenue, based on how many people read their story. In theory their financial upside is unlimited, but in practice the program pays almost no one a living wage.
It seems like all these “innovative” tech billionaire serial entrepreneurs only know how to make money one way.
The Mess at Medium | The Verge