If you look at the Nikes, McDonald’s, and Apples of the world, those companies became hugely popular when they tapped into what their customers were thinking and feeling.
Exactly. The reason certain companies outperform others is that they are in tune with their…
Clay Rivers

I must disagree with this analysis. Nike, McDonald’s and Apple are all companies which were formed by the will of a singular psychotic identity. That identity, RE. their founders, is what formed the core of their approach to their respective products. Jobs, for example, would pour over every single detail of each product that Apple made and he was brutal in the application of his vision.

Nike’s have never been the best shoes on the market, but they did have the most intense marketing, especially with Jordan and their ‘Just Do It’ campaign. I remember people who couldn’t afford their shoes wearing the Nike swish T-shirts when I was a kid with that motto on it.

McDonald’s has been fantastic at undercutting their opponents in the market place on pricing, having integrated sales incentives such as the ‘Kids Meals’ which now have the movie based ‘toys’ in them. They also employed the most aggressive expansion campaign in fast food. This BBC World Service ‘Witness’ radio segment about the first McDonald’s in Russia is fascinating:

This segment from NPR’s ‘Invisibilia’ about how difficult it was to get the Russian employees to SMILE when they worked at the McDonald’s is also very fascinating:

One could also point to the Coca Cola vs. Pepsi. From studies that I’ve seen, Pepsi is favored when tasted blind, because it’s less acidic and sweeter then Coca Cola. But, Coca Cola has long outsold Pepsi, mainly I believe to superior advertising and, seriously, a hard ‘C’ puts more oomph into a name, more power.

Would Trump have won had his last name been ‘Bower’? Bower being a term for a powerful card in old card games, there typically being a left and right bower. I’ve determined that I will never utter the phrase ‘trump card’ again in my life, but revert to the antiquated ‘triumph card’.

But I digress.

My main point being that the most successful enterprises typically begin with a singular and self contained vision and then are spread through extremely aggressive marketing.

To be a bit more specific, I’ve only been here since October of last year, but the two most common complaints that I’ve seen have been:

1: The lack of organization of the display of ones writing. IE. that our standalone stories are buried down in our feed somewhere.

2: That you can’t place two spaces after a sentence.

Thus, if:

1: The creators of Medium had a singular objective, then it would have followed the typical application of such, IE. it’s put into the market, it’s perfected and it’s advertised heavily. Those two problems would be simple to detect and perfect, yet, they haven’t been as of yet.

2: If the main objective was to create a ‘writers paradise’ then those two issues, which almost all of the writers complain of, would have been fixed long ago. Well before I ever showed up here. Yet, the fixes have been all about the homepage, the feed, put plainly, the consumption not the creation.

This all lead me to:

3: It appears that the goal was to grab up a segment of potential consumers which are difficult to obtain. That is the creative types, we’re all kinds of hell for the marketplace to figure out. But, said creation, lure if you will, was composed on a basic assumption and then modified by committee in hopes that one of the flashing lights would capture the school of fish that are so elusive.

So, the cynic in me sees this place as a ruse, a minor con of sorts.

Trying to cater to an audience just doesn’t work, as you pointed out in a recent essay of yours about the evolution of your writing style. Your going from, ‘I’ll write what people want to read and everyone will love it!’ to ‘I’ll just write my heart and soul, because that’s the only thing that’s true.’ The latter of course should be every writers ultimate objective.