That’s a strong statement that seems to be missing a time element. I don’t agree with it.
The NYT digital subscriptions only hit 465,000 subscribers after year one and they made it all the way to $700M in annual revenue. That’s plenty to justify the investments in Medium so far.
Better take, that still jives with all the numbers, this will need a long time to work, which is why they have so much money in the bank.
FWIW, I think Medium is actually pretty simple to understand, and I’m saying that as both an author and a business partner with three publications that get paid by Medium (including the one this article is published in). But the reason it looks confusing is because Medium’s branding hasn’t caught up to what they are.
They are an open-platform subscription service. It would be like Netflix, but if anyone could make their own TV show and post it. Sure, there’s some other stuff going on around the edges of Medium, but the subscription service is the core. And then it’s just a matter of how they want to grow subscribers. The open-platform part implies one goal is to have a massive volume of content. Then the incentives they are putting in place for partner publications to do more editorial work and the editorial backgrounds of their internally run publications implies that they also need unique very high quality content that people feel makes the subscription worthwhile.
I always tell potential readers that they should regularly ask, “Is a Medium subscription worthwhile?” The answer right now might be no for a lot of people. But Medium is investing more into editors and authors inline with revenue growth, so readers should ask the question again in six months when the quality of content might have increased drastically.