Job listings here.

*Will consider other locales especially those with similar timezones but we’re not set up to employ everywhere yet. Feel free to ask.

Today, while signing up for a new Spotify account just to see what that sign-up flow was like, I learned there’s a sub-genre of music called “blog house.” The origins are described at factmag:

“Blog house was what happened when people who ought to have been in bands spent more time in nightclubs than in venues,” says Jas Shaw, half of one of the era’s taste-making DJ duos Simian Mobile Disco. …

Helen Hunt: “Please stop talking about our clothes — the world is on fire”

I can’t anymore. I can’t take it. I mean I will take it because what is the alternative but to feel that even the accused “liberal media,” is giving airtime to any discussion of this is enraging. How about an in-depth look at Kamala Harris’ history with legislation around the Death Penalty? Young voters I know post that she’s “pro-death penalty,” but a deep dive proves this is not so and things aren’t so simple.” Instead I’m reading a piece about the, “…fabulous ruching…” on her otherwise “…conservative…” pant-suit.

Upcoming features and a status update

We’ve had a busy summer.

Last month, we announced new features coming to our publishing tools — specifically, more customizability, frictionless reading, and a better space for short(er)-form content. Last week, we announced our new mobile app, which is a complete rethink of how to seamlessly keep up with your favorite writers — and find new ones. These new versions are currently in beta and opening up more widely over the next few weeks as we incorporate user feedback and make them better.

These two pieces are just part of a comprehensive upgrade to the platform, which we are in the process of implementing. …

Last week we announced Medium’s new mobile app and started rolling out the beta more widely. (If you have the current Medium app, look for a prompt to opt in.)

This app is the result of months of work from a stellar team and represents some dramatic rethinking of our mobile reading experience — and, in fact, Medium in general. …

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Alicia McCarthy’s ‘Untitled,’ 2018 on the Proper Hotel. (Jay Jones ). KQED

“Someland’s decision to directly support a steward of the community like Luggage Store — and in turn, the people they serve — marks an unusual and somewhat optimistic moment. By working with artists who have deep roots in San Francisco, and are politically attuned to the responsibilities of making public work, Smith is helping restore the Mission School’s long history of painting artwork on city walls, for free and for everyone.”

On heads and heat 🥶

The researchers concluded that heat loss is largely dependent on the surface area of the body that is exposed, and the head only represents about 7% of the surface area of the body. Heat loss is almost proportional to the amount of skin showing. You would then lose more heat without pants or a shirt than you ever would by leaving your head exposed.

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Evan and Sara, 2007

Happy anniversary to my wonderful, amazing wife of 13 years, sara m. williams. I still remember the day we met.

Creativity is largely about accepting that we are always a work in progress and that no individual project has a definitive beginning or end. It’s the understanding that our creative potential is defined by the blending of our work to create a general trend, which we hope is progressing in the right direction.

“We collect information from measures that tell us how we are doing — whether we’re up to standard, whether we’re meeting our goals. But these measures lock us into learning only about a predetermined world. They keep us distracted from questioning our experience in a way that could create greater possibilities. They don’t ask us to question why we’re doing what we’re doing. They don’t ask us to notice what learning is available from all those things we decided not to measure.”

Margaret J. Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers, A Simpler Way

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Today, we announce that civil rights activist and athlete Colin Kaepernick will be joining our Board of Directors. In addition to the board seat, Medium will partner with Colin and Kaepernick Publishing to create and feature stories focused on race and civil rights in America, and to elevate emerging voices from communities of color.

I met Colin a couple years ago and have been wanting to work with him ever since. When he launched Kaepernick Publishing in February, we started a conversation and quickly realized how closely our ideals and sensibilities align. …

It is my 48th birthday today. That doesn’t sound like a milestone, but consider this: 47 rounds to mid-forties, while 48 clearly rounds to 50. That’s a big jump!

In The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success (which I picked up thanks to Vinod Khosla’s 2019 Book Recommendations), Albert-László Barabási writes about what he’s learned from studying the relationship between success and age. His conclusion is poetic:

Stubborn creativity, combined with a John Fenn-like tenacity, not only gives our lives their essential meaning, it also — as the data shows — provides the true secret to career-long success. That is what not only most effectively binds what we do with who we are but also explains why the people we most admire are those who recognize that while life may be finite, age is nothing more than a set of opportunities to celebrate with our friends. …

I got up at 6 to travel to 4 Times Square to go on CNBC, a television channel about business. I got to the entrance and told the door guy I was on the show. He said, “You are?” I said, “I am.” He said, “No, you are?,” by which he meant, “Who are you?” Oh, I said, “I’m that guy” — pointing at his sheet with my picture on it.

On the show with me was my partner at Obvious Ventures, James Joaquin. We were there to talk about our 3rd fund in 7 years. On the show, Andrew Ross Sorkin asked about my first company, Blogger. …

Sometimes focus is the wrong answer

I’ve been thinking lately about how you decide whether to optimize or innovate. Not that you can’t do both at the same time — it’s really a matter of degree. But it’s an important matter of degree.

In Steven Johnson’s, Where Good Ideas Come From, he describes the idea of the adjacent possible, a term coined to explain the process of invention/evolution, which is basically that ideas, technologies, and species unfold one step at a time. …

Managing your attention is a full-time job

Since I moved to New York, at least one thing about my daily habits has changed for the better: I only check Medium stats once (or twice) a day. Okay, that’s not entirely true. We have real-time traffic stats, which I’ll check out occasionally in a down moment. But the core product numbers — subscribers, users, and activity — get updated on Looker but once per day.

That’s the case in San Francisco, as well. But someone—whose name shall remain Brian—created a go/ link with which you can check up-to-the-minute new and churned subscribers numbers any time of day. For some reason, I can’t get to that URL from New York. …

Snow falling in front of buildings, Manhattan
Snow falling in front of buildings, Manhattan

There is something about working on your computer inside a warm office with snow falling outside. I had forgotten.

Twenty-two years ago I moved from Nebraska to the San Francisco Bay Area — aka, Silicon Valley. At least I thought I was going to Silicon Valley. I landed in Wine Country at first. It was May. In October it rained, which is when I realized it doesn’t rain in the summer in California. I thought it was eternally sunny. Then it didn’t stop raining for six months. El Niño they called it.

But it never snowed.

I moved out to be part of the Internet Revolution. It was 1997. I was worried I was too late. It worked out. …

How we are building a system for high-quality publishing at scale

In “The rationalization of publishing,” I argued that subscriptions for publishing on a wide scale are inevitable — and that’s a good thing. Now I will describe Medium’s unique approach to this opportunity.

First, in case you’re not aware, Medium has a subscription offering called Medium Membership. We launched it just over a year ago. Here’s what growth has looked like since then:

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Medium subscriber growth, year one. (Daily and total lines are on different scales.)

After a strong start (when people were really just subscribing because they believed in and wanted to support Medium’s mission — 🙏), and a mediocre middle (when we were figuring it out), we’re now seeing not only more subscribers, but higher-percentage gains every month this year (accelerating growth). …

Now that the ad-only experiment has decidedly failed, quality information providers will be able to build strong businesses, and consumers will be better served than ever

It was not a dumb idea. It may have even been the right idea at the time.

That is: With no printing costs and the ability to reach a much larger audience, publishing — the kind that had been traditionally supported by a combination of direct consumer dollars and advertising — could be supported by advertising alone. If so, it would be a huge win/win: Free information for the world and strong businesses with global reach.

It wasn’t obvious 20 years ago that by going down that road, publishers — who traditionally differentiated on brand, quality, and audience — were entering a commodity business that would be dominated by software and scale. And, even if it was, was there a better option? Getting money from consumers over the internet wasn’t easy back then. Entering a credit card was a lot of friction, and no one trusted it. Besides, publishers were getting paid. Advertisers still cared about brand and context. And, really, how bad was a little banner ad? It’s not like they were taking over your screen and tracking you across the web. And certainly they weren’t influencing what was getting published. …

Medium’s mission — five years in

Five years can seem like a long time. Two presidential elections and three iPhone generations ago, things were different. And that’s when we started Medium. At the time, I wrote:

It’s clear we’ve only scratched the surface of how we can use the tools available to us to connect hearts and minds. …

As a Medium member, you’ll have access to member-only stories about a range of topics and ideas that matter. While this exclusive content aspect of your subscription will start small — with the first pieces coming next week — it will become a dominant feature over time. I understand that locked content can be somewhat controversial, so I wanted to share more insight into why we’re doing this and our approach.

Free and open is the cake

First, let’s be clear: Many people just want to share their ideas and knowledge and don’t have the expectation of monetary reward. This is a beautiful thing — and one of the key traits of Medium. It has worked to great effect for millions of people and is not changing. …

We’ve decided to make some major changes at Medium.

I’ll start with the hard part: As of today, we are reducing our team by about one third — eliminating 50 jobs, mostly in sales, support, and other business functions. We are also changing our business model to more directly drive the mission we set out on originally.

Obviously, this is a tough thing to do, made tougher by the immense respect and love we have for these people who have helped make Medium what it is today. We reached this decision when Medium’s management team came together to review the last year and take a hard look at our business — where we are and where we’re headed. While we could continue on our current path — and there is a business case for doing so — we decided that we risk failing on our larger, original mission if we don’t make some proactive changes while we have the momentum and resources to do so. …


Ev Williams

CEO of Medium, partner at Obvious Ventures, co-founder of Twitter, curious consumer of ideas

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