New Outlets & New Voices

The greatest thing about blogging is that it has opened up so many new voices and new outlets. 

Just in the past few weeks, we have two new outlets, both from WSJ veterans.

The All Things D team has flown the coop and has resurfaced as Recode. The formula seems to be pretty similar to All Things D, the team is intact (at least it looks so to my untrained eye) and the format is familiar. They will do a big conference to anchor the whole thing. At least right now, it seems that the only things that have really changed here are the URL, the color scheme, and the ownership structure. But a new home and a new ownership structure may open up possibilities that they could not pursue in the past. We will see about that.

Jessica Lessin, one of the top tech journalists at the WSJ over the past ten years, launched The Information in December. I am not a fan of paywalls and barriers to the free flow of content and information and so I am not a subscriber or a reader and I don't plan to link to anything behind a paywall. But this is an ambitious experiment and an attempt to make a challenging business model work in the tech news sector. As I told Jessica in a private email last month, I am happy to be proven wrong about the paywall business model and there is nobody I would rather see prove me wrong than her.

But maybe more exciting to me is the proliferation of new voices that I am seeing out there. One of the driving factors is the emergence of Medium as a blogging platform that is home to many of these new voices. Every day I seem to find a new blogger on who has written something interesting on Medium. 

But it isn't just Medium that is hosting great content. You can still find great stuff on old platforms, like the one that Ev built before Twitter and Medium – Blogger. This post from Duncan Anderson on the important trends in mobile is on Blogger.

As far as I can tell, there has never been more diversity and quality of content than there is right now. And the reason for that is the printing press of our times, the cms in the cloud, is just getting better and better, easier and easier, and cheaper and cheaper. I will continue to do my part in feeding the blogosphere and I hope and expect that will continue to be a good filter for those who are interested in the intersection of technology, startups, policy, and capital markets. With all of these new voices and new outlets emerging, we need filters and discovery more than ever.

#VC & Technology#Web/Tech#Weblogs

Comments (Archived):

  1. Semil Shah

    I agree with everything here (wrt to Recode, Information, Medium), well said. For curation and discovery, however, I don’t know how much changes. Twitter remains the ultimate aggregator and filter. What “could” change this is if someone creates content in a mobile-first/only context, which cannot (for at least now) be deep-linked, and have possibly a vertical focus. For instance, if and when USV “Conversations” comes out with an iPhone app, I’d probably check that just as much as Twitter.

    1. Drew Meyers

      I’ve been thinking along these lines as well. A vertical-specific, mobile only, content discovery app would be awesome. Travel bloggers would be smart to figure this out…as they are deep on knowledge, and short on audience

    2. fredwilson

      so the mobile web version of is not good enough? what is missing?

      1. falicon

        The constant reminder/bookmark that the native app icon provides…(most) people aren’t going to be standing in line looking to kill time and think, “hey I should open my mobile web browser, then type in” when they can just click the Twitter or Facebook icon and immediately be immersed…Sucks – but is true.

        1. fredwilson

          great point

          1. bsoist

            Indeed, and native mobile apps for would be fairly straightforward considering how it’s put together. Just need a shell to read the xml or JSON and it’s done.

        2. bsoist

          Exactly! I was having a conversation about this the other day with an entrepreneur I’m advising on a software product. In my opinion, though his original idea fits desktop better, mobile will probably drive early users better.

        3. LE

          “hey I should open my mobile web browser, then type in””But the idea is that they like it enough to bookmark it and visit in their “top 10” on a regular basis.

      2. Semil Shah

        On an iPhone, mobile web is just limited — not a developer’s fault, of course. With all the controls possible in USV for the Community Site (voting, commenting, etc.), I think native would be a better, more engaging experience. The more I think about this, the more I think you guys should do this — no other VC firm could pull it off, and now as Twitter goes more mainstream (and thereby horizontal, even if filters are right), I think vertical plays (like Howard and Stocktwits) are going to get more engagement. USV Community could be just that for tech/investing.

        1. fredwilson

          thanks for taking the time to reply. it has got me thinking.

          1. Semil Shah

            Always happy to share my thoughts with you guys. If I can help more, just let me know and I’ll email some bullet points (from a consumer’s point of view).

          2. William Mougayar

            I know you said you don’t read news on Apps, but as an experiment, try the Feedly and Zite mobile apps. They let you consume news really fast, and you can share in a variety of ways.

        2. howardlindzon

          since we moved off twitter metrics growing faster than ever. we may never get andreeson or fred on stocktwits or krugman or icahn…but you cant or shouldnt try to compete with twitter or wordpress there. stocktwits is where you come for pure trending and context for tickers. we can live with that and fight within our weight on this for now.

          1. Semil Shah

            Yeah, I love stocktwits, and I think Fred/Albert/Andy and the crew can use a USV app in the same way for early-stage startup trends and tech. For instance, as you know, that’s where many people found out about Bitcoin years ago. Today, where is that conversation about the next thing?

          2. howardlindzon

            Its why we have $ for 1500 private companies, I guess we should add a trending private ticker page on stocktwits. I pitched fred on that way back $TWIT $GRPN before they came public. time is better now for this.

          3. Semil Shah

            I’m an audience of one, but I trade lots of stocks, and gearing up for 2014, and I want to use Stocktwts more and more. I don’t want to have those discussions on Twitter or FB. Vertical niche networks on mobile are going to be great. Keep going!

  2. Raj

    Billion dollar exits will keep happening because of innovations around the HTML form field.

    1. fredwilson


    2. JamesHRH

      Raj – do me a favour and expand on this, would you?Are you talking HTML5 in particular or the next thing down the pike?

      1. Raj

        I’m just saying that new services will be introduced that are fundamentally just new wrappers around things like HTML form input fields.The basic notion of a user input field hasn’t changed much. What does change is the way in which we interact with these elements.

  3. William Mougayar

    Definitely it’s exciting to see this new variety. The challenge with the paywall approach is that others will comment out of context on a partial view of what gets leaked, and that can quickly degenerate into inaccurate innuendos, like we saw last week with Paul Graham’s comments on women in tech.And I love Medium. It has a lot of innovative subtleties.

  4. Joe Lazarus

    I’m surprised more well regarded journalists don’t go the startup route. For example, why don’t a few of the best OpEd writers from the NY Times, Washington Post and Financial Times get together and start a blog where they personally own all the ad inventory? Or, a group of top Sports writers from around the country. Admittedly, I know little about the news biz, but seems like they have a built in audience and could do better as entrepreneurs than as employees of bloated news organizations.

    1. LE

      NYT WP and FT are the big mall that attracts people to stop by and read the op eds.The question isn’t whether there would be an audience as a stand alone (hey similar to a big box store, right?) but whether that audience would be big enough to hit critical mass and the right amount of ad dollars to become profitable.

      1. Richard

        Doubt it

    2. pointsnfigures

      Check out The Blaze. Making huge profit-but it’s conservative. There are a low supply of conservative outlets, so conservatives will pay for them. Most of the media is pretty liberal, so the publications you cite are undifferentiated.

    3. Drew Meyers

      I think another reason this hasn’t happened more, is that many of these people like to write, not do sales / admin associated with building your own company/audience.

    4. Matt Zagaja

      In Connecticut we have a couple of news startups. and both provide quality content. New Haven even has the New Haven Independent. I have friends that work at these organizations but they do not have nearly the budget or distribution that the Hartford Courant or New Haven Register have. When I talk to people outside the Connecticut political circles there is little awareness of these quality but online only publications, even though some are staffed by veteran journalists that worked for the Courant.Most of the sites survive on a combination of reader donations and advertising. The CT Mirror is also taking the novel approach of crowdfunding some investigations (http://www.ctmirrorprojects…). I think advertising is a tough market to crack. I often help political campaigns purchase ad space and asking them to buy Courant is an easy sell, but it requires moving heaven and earth to convince them these new startups are a good value, even with statistics about readership provided by their sales team.The Verge has an interesting model but I think its easier for publications in the tech space to do that kind of thing because its audience is naturally online. My experience with non-tech Internet users is that they are visiting Facebook and their e-mail and maybe one or two sites or blogs they enjoy plus using Google for information. Getting them to expand their consumption beyond that isn’t easy.

    5. Richard

      They wouldn’t be oped writers if they were entrepreneurs

  5. Darren Herman

    I can’t imagine this comment will be loved but I really don’t see the need for Medium to exist. Maybe I just don’t get it? If Medium is purely a filter-play, then I get that. But why the entire platform? I can’t imagine this comment will be liked 🙂

    1. LE

      if you worry about what you are say and being liked or loved you will begin to stutter in your writing. Another symptom of this (in addition to your phrasing) is people who start off by saying “am I the only one that thinks..”.My best ideas have been where I am the only one who thinks something.

    2. fredwilson

      i share your view Darren. but its working. so maybe we are wrong.

      1. howardlindzon

        i dont know how someone builds an audience using medium…i do know a few smart friends using it but I ask them the same question…do it from a homebase. Its like writing for alley insider or techcrunch, …

        1. JamesHRH

          I agree & see absolutely no value add outside of a possible coolness factor.

          1. Andrew Hoydich

            You can never count out the “trendiness” factor these days

        2. panterosa,

          Sounds like Medium is to blogging as Kickstarter is to funding – bring your own posse/audience.

          1. howardlindzon

            i dont htink so, but scale does matter. I wouldnt bet against ev when death and the web and money is on the line! 🙂

          2. fredwilson

            That is not exactly right. Many kickstarter projects benefit a lot from the kickstarter network/communityBut just as many don’tOnly ~50% of kickstarter projects get funded

        3. Craig Lauer

          For me, a non-prolific blogger, it’s about cycle time, not reach. The cycle time from “I have something to say but it’s probably stupid and not worth reading” to “wow I just got 17 likes on LinkedIn, who knew?” is shorter and less intimidating than any other platform. Also, cycle time for correcting a grammar mistake is better than anything out there too. Typical, Ev–removing friction in many minute ways leads to big win in aggregate especially around historical non-adopters.

        4. fredwilson

          Or huffpo

      2. awaldstein

        Is it really working Fred?Obviously they caught something but I look at this like a supply side network that can’t find the customers. I just can’t find the glue.

          1. awaldstein

            truelet’s revisit in a few months. traffic. social spikes without some sort of engagement to me often are blips.i could be wrong of course but i like deeper engagement over traffic any day. bounce seems on the high side and time on site really low.

    3. falicon

      Here’s my theory (and it’s just a theory):It’s a low friction place for the occasional blogger to have a ‘home’ (with a somewhat built-in audience and pleasant publishing experience)….is that a huge problem? I don’t know…but I do know it is/was a real problem for lots of people who have tried/like blogging, but never really put in the hours to build the audience themselves.Of course the rub is that in the early days (which we are still mostly in)…Medium itself doesn’t have much of an audience yet either…so the only *real* immediate benefit is the pleasant publishing environment (not a HUGE selling point/advantage…and that’s why everyone is able to shrug it off as not needed).

      1. LE

        Medium (along the lines in my other comment here re: “meeting someone famous”) provides a way to get pleasure from saying something with the illusion that there is an audience (even if small). The same way commenting here does. [1]Also with Medium the “product” (occasional blogger) gets a bigger boost than if they had their own blog and only posted occasionally.Posting occasionally can be a negative if you don’t live up to the obligation. Even if Medium had a small audience it would still be positive.So I guess one way that Medium could make money is by figuring out a way to expand on my theory (as far as people’s motivations) along with what you are saying which I agree with.Blasphemy but thinking out of that box perhaps charge for better placement of your words or to include in some promotional effort that would bring more attention to your words. Or publish a real book (of several articles) that would be sold and bring attention to the writer. Off the top un vetted.[1] Or talking to a small group at a bar or at a small dinner party.

        1. ShanaC

          Nope, and I actually got my boyfriend to post there on this basis (science-fantasy fiction)

        2. Andrew Hoydich

          “…provides a way to get pleasure from saying something with the illusion that there is an audience (even if small). The same way commenting here does.”My exact thought. They aren’t just posting on their personal blog, which may be the equivalent to a stand-alone message board in the middle of a desert that they have to get people to look at. They are posting on a message board next to other message boards in a place that has the illusion of having a steady, interested, ~educated traffic of readers.

    4. ShanaC

      1) Because maintenance of your own stuff is a bitch2) because everyone wants a chance to be discovered – which means someone somewhere (or something) needs to filter you to something)

  6. LIAD

    it’s really cool that Recode let a kid in 2nd grade design their site.

    1. LE

      Agree. They are writers and they don’t have seat of the pants design skills. So as often happens even if they hire someone to do the design (and they most certainly have even with your jest) it will be based on their creative vision.The first thing I identified is the “braille like” icons in the upper right corner. Try to guess what they are. You can’t. It doesn’t work.

      1. LIAD

        (the joys of cross-browser compatibility)you are using firefox. right?. they are using font-awesome icons and their developer hasn’t set the correct htaccess permissions.try it on chrome, you will see social icons

        1. LE

          Also works on safari but I use Firefox.So what’s the story did their developer just graduate from the academy of HTML? Because you know it would have to to difficult to come up with other icons to use here, right? How lazy.

          1. LIAD

            a small tweak and they will sort it. early days.

    2. William Mougayar

      Funny, I was underwhelmed by it too. Maybe it’s temporary til they get it going. In their defense, they are like a startup.

    3. Bruce Warila

      yup.. Who said all those columns are sexy and easy to digest? Makes my brain hurt.

  7. LE

    “I am not a fan of paywalls”Not to mention that (just like in entertainment with Howard Stern moving to sirius) a journalists power decreases greatly with a paywall. The large audience and the attachment to a name brand is what gives them power and access. Remove that and importance decreases.

    1. pointsnfigures

      I subscribe to the WSJ and Crains. Both behind paywalls. If there is value you will subscribe. You need to be very very choosy as to why and whom you subscribe to. Agree with broader sentiment-but sometimes publications have good content and lead you to explore other things.

      1. LE

        Those are legacy publications with a built in brand and following by old school people.I’m talking specifically with regards to what Jessica is doing since she is starting out. (I should have made that clear but I didn’t).

        1. bcarroll1234

          Tinypass is seeing plenty of new brands launch with a paid subscription model. E.g., Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish, SPN’s Ron Paul Channel, BKLYNR, etc. Paid content is the original crowd-sourced funding.

          1. bcarroll1234

            Sorry to hear that, though is primarily a B2B site. Consumers usually first encounter us during the checkout process at their favorite publisher. e.g., the checkout page here: http://dish.andrewsullivan….

      2. Matt Zagaja

        I think paywalls are fine but the publication has to earn it. When the New York Times activated its leaky paywall they sent me an e-mail saying I was in the top one percent of readers (as far as articles viewed) and gave me a free subscription for a year. After that year I subscribed.

      3. fredwilson

        i can easily afford to subscribe but i never would. i like the sharability of content. if i can read it but not share it, i don’t want to read it.

        1. LE

          I have this theory that at least one reason people like meeting someone famous is that then they can then tell someone that they met someone famous! A burst of joy because of perceived elevation. People will even share a negative “Hey I saw the person get shot!” with glee.If you can’t share something it takes some of the fun out of what you experience.This same thing applies in many situations. For example gotham gal sharing her trip on to cuba made it more enjoyable for her for sure. Or people who put minutia on facebook another obvious example.Sharability is really key to enjoyment.One of the reasons I like commenting is that I get to share what I think and know.I was visiting a relative in the hospital and noticed all these things that were simply wrong about the place. So I took all sorts of pictures (while waiting to visit the patient) and now I’m tempted to share what I found with the head of the hospital. I keep saying “what do I have to gain by doing this?” but keep thinking how much fun it would be to do so and am fighting the impulse to waste time.

          1. fredwilson


          2. bcarroll1234

            Sharability is another form of value exchange with your users. Smart publishers are granting access to content along more axes than just money. Readers can support publishers by: watching ads, sharing content, paying $ directly, filling surveys, commenting, visiting regularly, etc. A “paywall” in the broader sense can be construed as a way of granting access to content in exchange for any one of these. It’s access control. I would argue you’ve got a “paywall” on your own site in the form of Disqus registration.

          3. fredwilson

            You don’t have to login with Disqus to read and you can login with your Twitter, Facebook, of Google credentialsIf that is a paywall, its a cardboard one

      4. falicon

        I subscribed briefly to the Harvard Business Review Kindle version (but I found I didn’t often read it and when I did it was a clunky experience)…so I opt’ed out…that’s the only ‘digital content’ I’ve subscribed to that I can remember…and it didn’t last long…

        1. LE

          Back when I used to troll Barnes and Noble for books (brick and mortar) if I found that if a book was by an academic I generally passed on it. I don’t like that writing style. To many big words and to long winded.

  8. pointsnfigures

    Hard thing is to filter the good information from other. Unfortunately, what might be good info to me might not be for someone else. At least the NSA knows what I want, when I want it. Perhaps they can deliver it! (attempt at satire there)

    1. fredwilson

      that’s why vertical/niche discovery communities have so much promise

      1. pointsnfigures

        Totally agree. I posted an article at USV about a new bluetooth device hooked up to your phone for ice fishing. There are about 1.2m ice fisherman in MN and WI alone…..I don’t know the world wide market, but suspect in the Northeast and in MI there are more. Huge relief for Packers fans. They can watch the playoffs and their rod at the same time. Did Benedict Evans see that trend in mobile coming? Heh.

      2. falicon

        From a utility perspective YES…from a financial one…that’s still to be figured out as an exercise for the owners…

      3. William Mougayar

        Exactly. The abundance and diversity spread of content makes its curation and organization even more valuable.

        1. panterosa,

          William, not to beat a dead horse here on curation and discovery….but it all still boils down to being interesting, and having interesting friends/acquaintances.

          1. William Mougayar

            Yup. Good curation is interesting. Bad curation is boring.

          2. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Humans still make better curators than algorithms 🙂 I’m betting on that one.

        2. Kirsten Lambertsen


      4. Sebastian Wain

        Don’t you think there is room for (again) a search engine specialized in blogs? In some way it can be like the Twitter search but receiving the information from different sources.

        1. fredwilson

          i think discovery is so much more important than search when it comes to content

          1. William Mougayar

            Discovery is great, but sometimes you got to search. Somewhere in-between is “monitoring”, in essence when someone programs their RSS reader to fetch the same sources continuously.

          2. Geoffrey Weg

            How do you define discovery in this context?

        2. falicon

 is a version of this (on a miniscule level though).

          1. Sebastian Wain

            The last time I checked it was searching on Disqus comments right? can you share some info about the features it has?

          2. falicon

            It indexes the post content and the comments associated to a given post.When you search directly from a site that has it installed (like the search box here on AVC) it will default to searching against just the blog post content (you can then switch over to search against the comments if you want to expand your results)…when you search directly on it defaults to searching the comments first (and you can switch over to search against blog posts for other results).The other big difference/feature is that when searching from a blog that has it installed, the service automatically limits itself to just that blogs content and conversations…when you search directly on it searches across the universe of blogs that it indexes…technically the service can be set up to just search a subset of blogs as well (say for example to just search Albert and Fred’s blogs as one ‘source’)…but no one actually uses it in that fashion right now.There is a lot of other details around it all (I’ve talked about a lot of them via my blog – over the past couple of years)…but that’s the high-level concept behind the search features (there is a big ‘discovery’ component to it all as well but I’ve mostly moved all that to the service now)

        3. William Mougayar

          I think there is room for that and a need for it. Sometimes, you got to search for content, and not just rely on serendipitous or guided discovery. There is one I know of that will come out, but I can’t divulge.

          1. Sebastian Wain

            That will be interesting, I am playing with a custom focused crawler to see if I can discover new resources in short time. The basic idea is that you drive the crawler in real-time, cut the branches and guide the crawler.

          2. William Mougayar

            That’s great. You need some deterministic guidance to round-up the serendipitous nature of discovery. Are you scrapping or crawling though?

          3. Sebastian Wain

            You are the “Web Driver”. For example, you can go to a Wikipedia article and follow related subjects from there and cutting the uninteresting hyperlinks like History/Main Page/etc. The challenge is how to reduce the work you do in the way to a tolerable level.The concept does not differentiate between scraping or crawling: you have nodes that are connected to more nodes. You can even have search engine results as part of the crawling.Right now I am implementing a proof of concept and looking at the published papers in the field to see if there is room for a cs publication.

          4. SubstrateUndertow

            When you think about it; the evolution of everything from sub-atomic particle to hunan consciousness is all about ever more organically synchronous, upwardly mobile, substrate-filtering techniques?

          5. William Mougayar

            Yup. I’m a fan of using deterministic filters to augment the serendipitous discovery.

          6. awaldstein

            Blogs as posts or blogs through the eyes of the comments.I’m quickly loosing belief in the central nature of comments as discoverable data.It’s a community by community dynamics, not raw context to be sifted and sorted from the outside.

          7. fredwilson

            I am with you Arnold. Comments requires you to engage to get value. There are no shortcuts

      5. howardlindzon

        music to my ears

  9. Drew Meyers is the best discovery tool created in 2013.. 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      thanks for saying that. i hope we can make it even better in 2014

      1. thomasknoll

        ave y’all considered requiring a personal perspective (technically minimum of x characters) along with the link? Everywhere I turn, there is another linkdump. “highly curated” or “community driven” etc. But, the only thing that is really interesting is the conversations around the collection. IMHO, would *love* to see USV require some perspective on each post.

        1. fredwilson

          yes, we require that. you have to give us some text in addition to the link

          1. falicon

            I think it’s actually a bug then right now (I’ll have to check into that)…there are many posts without any text.

          2. thomasknoll

            Hm, sorry, I guess I’m still learning. Currently 2 of the top 6 hottest don’t seem to have any commentary at all. I’ll keep learning. =)

          3. fredwilson

            i think we have a bug in our code because we are supposed to require it

        2. falicon

          I think this was in at least one of the past releases…but seems to be out of the current one.I agree that the comments/conversation around the link share are a large part of what I like about so far (I often click in to each share just to see what the person doing the share said along with the share — and am most disappointed when it’s blank and/or just a quote/copy from the post itself).

  10. LE

    “The All Things D team has flown the coop and has resurfaced as Recode.”I wonder how much time it will take the investors to float this expensive labor until it becomes profitable? [1] We are talking about people with golden handcuffs of pay. Not a bunch of recent grads living with their parents.[1] Even with the conference and the cheddar that it potentially will earn.

    1. Salt Shaker

      NBC and its cable/digital verticals will deliver the infrastructure, sales and marketing resources to make this puppy sing. Their traffic will be huge. The founders come to the table w/ considerable brand equity and the NBC alliance is the perfect complement. Very hard to build and monetize a brand organically these days. CNBC/MSNBC is hungry for newsworthy content and Recede will deliver. Very symbiotic relationship.

      1. LE

        Good points. Let see what happens with that.

    2. Jennifer McFadden

      They were generating a profit of ~ $5M on ~$14.4M in revenues at WSJ. And, Swisher + Mossberg have huge # of followers on Twitter–no doubt one of the biggest drivers of traffic to both AllThingsD (or, WSJD now) and Recode. Should be interesting to see how quickly they can ramp up given the audience on Twitter.Twitter:AllThingsD: 192KRecode: 25KWSJD: 97KMossberg: 544K Swisher: 925K

  11. JimHirshfield

    You would never publish under someone else’s URL (as you’ve stated). So why the love for Medium? Is it the platform that you love? Or is it the fact that the content there happens to be engaging?Sounds like the latter. If so, you’re driven by the content, not the construct. So why not give The Information a try?

    1. LE

      Why?Because “Every day I seem to find a new blogger on who has written something interesting on Medium. “I love anything that puts something good in my pocket in general.Apparently Fred views medium is good for and for his own discovery.

      1. JimHirshfield

        I’m not diss’in’ Medium…and I’ve found some very compelling content there. I’m saying if it’s the content that drives your consumption, why not let the content do the same for you at The Information before deciding whether or not to try it?

        1. LE

          Well once someone has stated a dogma there is a principle that implies that they need to remain consistent with what they have previously concluded (my speculation with Fred).Otoh as that saying goes, roughly, “when the facts change I might change my opinion”.In any case Fred did say:”I am happy to be proven wrong about the paywall business model and there is nobody I would rather see prove me wrong than her.”Jessica did a great job of bring attention to her nascent site of course by the Paul Graham quotegate. After the negative wears off (like the carrier in wd40) only the PR benefit of hearing the name of the site will remain with no long term detriment. IMO as they say. Any publicity is good publicity.http://upstart.bizjournals….

        2. fredwilson

          principles. i don’t like paywalls and login screens between me and content

          1. pointsnfigures

            Yes, and hate the screen they put up that lasts for 15 seconds you can click away from, and while we are at it, having to click through 20 frames to see a list. Just give me the damn list.

          2. JimHirshfield

            But you pay for Netflix? Hulu? Premium streaming music?Not trying to poke you in the tummy. Just curious what you think it is that makes textual content different as regards paywall/login.

          3. fredwilson

            youtube and soundcloud are the sharing options in video and musici also have accounts at netflix and rdio (or spotify, i choose rdio) but they are not where i listen or watch when i want to share

          4. JimHirshfield

            Well, I appreciate you sharing your purchase of The Goldfinch, albeit inadvertently. I’m enjoying it.

          5. fredwilson

            it’s my next read. all three women in my house loved it.

          6. falicon

            OK – very fair point (I said elsewhere in the thread that I don’t pay for digital content, but you got me as I *do* pay for all three of the video services).They are fundamentally different in my mind because the content and experiences (that I pay for access to) is exclusive to those environments…whereas even the best of written content is quickly pushed out to some ‘free’ source (the Paul Graham bit is a perfect example, I would argue most read the ValleyWag summary and *not* The Information orig. version because one was free and good enough, while the other was likely higher quality but not easily accessible).The moment The Information writes a “House of Cards”, can keep it locked up behind their paywall, AND get everyone around me to chatter non-stop about it…is the moment I’ll start to seriously consider subscribing…until then, I’ll happily ignore the content being produced there.

          7. JimHirshfield

            Right. So it’s an issue of whether there’s a substitute sufficiently akin to the original that’s more easily accessible.#thatsmytakeaway

          8. falicon

            yes…at least for me that’s 90% of it.

          9. ShanaC

            the tech news doesn’t really produce house of cards…

          10. LE

            Netflix has things that I want to watch that are not easily found elsewhere.Reading things online is limitless with plenty of opportunity to avoid a paywall unless there is some compelling reason (such as pointsnfigures points out) like WSJ etc (which I do pay for and even get the print edition). (Or HBO, Showtime because you want to see Dexter etc.)You only have so much time to consume after all.Words that people write (to the point that Fred is making) is so easy to do that and there is plenty of “satisficing” quality that you don’t so much as have to even sign up somewhere to read. Any friction you try something else.Also if Fred started to use paywall sites than he might want to share that content. And then the readers of this blog would need to pay and that (if they didn’t) would make the content here less desirable for those that didn’t subscribe. In theory that could lead (depending on the extent that he shared paywall stories) lead to the decline of (as I said in theory).

          11. Jennifer McFadden

            You don’t subscribe to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist or The Financial Times?

          12. fredwilson

            I don’t subscribe to any of that nor do I pay for any information services

          13. Jennifer McFadden

            Wow, not even the Sunday edition of the NYTimes? It’s a New York (and, CT burbs) tradition. Surprising. And, interesting.

          14. jaffe

            Except for your investment portfolio.

          15. fredwilson


          16. WayneMulligan

            (this might be a dupe, having trouble posting): How do your personal consumption preferences reconcile with some of the companies your firms have backed over the years? SkillShare, TheStreet — both premium content / information services businesses.

          17. fredwilson

            TheStreet should not have been paidMarketwatch took the free approach and crushed usSkillshare is not a “shareable” content type. It is a class. And they are cheap. $20 I believe

          18. WayneMulligan

            Not sure I understand…TheStreet failed due to poor execution, not to a bad business model. There are plenty of financial news / newsletter publishers that are just as big (if not bigger) than TheStreet and MarketWatch.Re: SkillShare — are you saying that if the content is cheap and not shareable, you’d potentially pay for it? Because one could argue that SkillShare chooses not to make their content shareable – “classes” could just as easily be pre-recorded (e.g., Udacity, TED, etc.) – and a WSJ subscription is even cheaper by those standards.Not trying to bust chops, just trying to understand the framework you apply to premium content both as a consumer and as an investor. Fwiw, it’s a question I ask myself a lot re: the future of my industry (premium financial content).

          19. fredwilson

            Well I was Chairman of TheStreet and my view was it was a bad business model As for free/paid content, something quick and shareable, a post, an article, a song, a picture, a funny video should be free but something longer and less shareable, a class, a movie, a novel need not be

          20. WayneMulligan

            Based on that definition, one could argue that longer form content – like one would find in premium financial publications – should command a premium price.But there probably isn’t a hard and fast rule to any of this — it’s more like porn (you know it when you see it). :)The “nature” of the content probably matters a lot here as well. My partners and I use the DIKW Pyramid (… a lot when thinking about content businesses.I rarely, if ever, pay for data or information. But I regularly pay for knowledge and wisdom.

          21. ShanaC

            so where are you getting the news – twitter?

          22. fredwilson

            everywhere. the internet is a firehose of information. it comes from everywhere all the time.

          23. howardlindzon

            i never have…

    2. fredwilson

      i would not blog at medium but i do love that it seems to be bringing a lot of new voices to the blogosphere.and i like that the content there is free for anyone to consume without having to pay or log in

      1. JimHirshfield


    3. thomasknoll

      Yeah… I really love Medium as a product. And I keep testing a few things on there, trying to figure out how it could mentally fit into my model for content and conversations online, but I keep running up against mental road-blocks. I’ll keep testing, because I love exploring new, um.. mediums.

      1. JimHirshfield

        What do you mean by “testing”? Are you just occasionally browsing around Medium and seeing how you like the content? Is that your test? #justcurious

        1. thomasknoll

          thank you for helping me be more clear! I mean testing using the platform as a publishing tool. I have created a few collections, published several different types of content on there (longer form/highly formatted; shorter form/tweet+), and used a number of the recommendation features.It seems like it can be great for distribution, if you work very hard to get into the top (begging for clicks on recommend). Which is likely worth while if you’re trying to peddle something (book, class, other content).On the other end, as just a platform/outlet for writing, I still can’t get over not “owning” the metrics/content… so I’d rather publish on my own domain/servers/etc.But there is definitely something interesting about it. So I keep playing. =)

          1. JimHirshfield

            Thanks for clarifying.

    4. falicon

      I’m with Fred on this…generally, I won’t publish on someone else’s system (though being I have less pull, I’m less strict about this than Fred) and I won’t consume behind a paywall.When consuming – it’s about the quality of content first but the access to that content also plays a big role in my consumption…and that’s why “Medium OK, The Information a no go”.

      1. Dave Pinsen

        I guest post occasionally on high traffic financial platforms and blogs. Incidentally, I laid out some of the details on that new feature we discussed over the summer in today’s guest post at Slope of Hope:…That new feature isn’t live just yet (looking forward to having you demo it when it is), but that post is actually the copy I’m planning to put on the home page to describe it.

        1. falicon

          Cool – looking forward to being able to play with it!

      2. jaffe

        You don’t publish on other people’s system? Rounding up, I’d guess 100% of people here know you because you comment on Fred’s blog. Weak point ‘con.

        1. falicon

          That’s a fair point (everyone knows everyone here because it’s “here”)…but I wasn’t counting ‘reacting’ or ‘commenting’ as publishing (though you are technically right because it is a version of publishing).Also to be fair – 100% of the people that have read the books I’ve published know me because of the books I’ve published (which were published by Apress and O’Reilly and are completely out of ‘my system’ or control)….but my main point still stands. I’ll be *very* choosy about where I publish…I’m less choosy about where I consume. There are different reasons/motivations behind that.

  12. LE

    Separately the domain is still shows as ownership by buydomains the seller:Domain Name: RECODE.NETRegistry Domain ID: 1219253993_DOMAIN_NET-VRSNRegistrar WHOIS Server: URL: Date: 2013-12-12 15:13:09Creation Date: 2007-09-15 13:41:54Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2015-09-15 13:41:54Registrar:, LLCRegistrar IANA ID: 146Registrar Abuse Contact Email: [email protected] Abuse Contact Phone: +1.480-624-2505Domain Status: clientTransferProhibitedDomain Status: clientUpdateProhibitedDomain Status: clientRenewProhibitedDomain Status: clientDeleteProhibitedRegistry Registrant ID: Registrant Name: Registrant Organization: BUYDOMAINS.COMRegistrant Street: 738 MAIN STREET, #389Registrant City: WALTHAMRegistrant State/Province: MassachusettsRegistrant Postal Code: 02451Registrant Country: United StatesRegistrant Phone: Registrant Phone Ext:Registrant Fax: Registrant Fax Ext:Registrant Email: [email protected] three reasons I can think of this is that they didn’t pay for it or someone screwed up with the transfer of ownership. If they haven’t paid that’s strange because a .net name from buydomains simply isn’t that expensive.

    1. fredwilson


  13. matthughes

    I’m a big fan.You can’t go wrong with a trusted community hand-picking the best stories from around the web.If I may, I mentioned this once before on AVC but as it’s relevant to today’s post…I launched a new sports newsletter in October called Slugball: consistent feedback I’ve received is it’s the non-sports fans’ sports page.

    1. fredwilson

      i like what i’ve seen from slugball

      1. matthughes

        Thanks Fred.

  14. Geoffrey Weg

    Definitely agree that filters and discovery are needed now more than ever.Personally, I’ve found that this need exists especially for best-practices content. There is so much high-quality content out there (by yourself included, Fred) that can help founders and operators through almost any challenge, yet this content has been scattered and not easily accessible. This is why I built Startup{ery ( So far, I’ve aggregated over 520 of these best-practice blog posts and organized them by over 370 topics. Other good initiatives in this space are and

  15. John Fazzolari

    I think that The Information will be successful only because it is aimed at the enterprise. Although it is ambitious to try and launch with a paywall in the crowded tech news/blogging/journalism sector I believe the company has not taken any money from outside investors. If you do the math quickly you’ll realize that Jessica only needs a few thousand subscribers in order to build a profitable business. Assuming I was a writer for Gawker, Biz Insider or Buzzfeed I don’t see how management wouldn’t be willing to pay a few hundred dollars and ensure I never miss out. From a B2C perspective don’t think this would ever work and personally the New York Times is probably the only publication worth paying for consistently.

  16. JLM

    .Journalism is dead. Long live journalism.In the total deregulation and democratization of news, what is missing is the imprimatur of a news “organization” whose very seal assures readers that what they are reading is the truth.Now, everyone is a journalist and nobody is a news organization. And there is no imprimatur.Well, of course, except for all of us, right?JLM.

    1. LE

      that what they are reading is the truth.This assumes a few things.One (as you are saying I think) that they care about the truth.Two is that they have the resources to research and fully present the truth. That takes money and work and time. Not everyone can do that the way ad dollars are spent now. That’s why the local paper here can’t afford to spend two years on some ground breaking hard hitting expose like they were able to do 20 years ago.Cutting corners results in less truth.

      1. JLM

        .You hit a brilliant point — most people don’t care about the freakin’ truth. They not only believe propaganda, they want to believe it.They are like lab rats willing to do anything in order to get their dole. Anything.The number of low information and uninformed Americans is increasing as fast as the National Debt. The cockroach Olympics.Of course, I may be a bit uncharitable. I am like that sometimes.JLM.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


        2. SubstrateUndertow

          Well yes!Ignorance is popular because it is easy to learn.To be fair though, we are all born with an honorary PHD in ignorance!Still the internet is making it ever easier to deliver workable, superficial-characterization-style, contextually-interactive, drill-down-access into almost every topic or process, interactive-drill-down access that all contextually pivots around our personal realtime daily needs.Giving everyone much easier access to more effective, contextually-informed, truth will surely improve our collective truth juggling skills ?

    2. fredwilson

      maybe we don’t go back there. maybe in the discussion (comments) we discus and find the truth

      1. JLM

        .I think it is pretty safe to say that THE truth is dead. Stone cold dead.”If you like YOUR truth, you can keep it. PERIOD”What is developing is a salon of generally informed persons as opposed to a mob of low information and generally misinformed persons.The real challenge is to see whether our individual definitions of the truth comport with the facts.Facts, those rascals, are usually not subject to individual ownership.JLM.

        1. fredwilson

          i think you are right, as usual

        2. SubstrateUndertow

          Yes “TRUTH” is not a NOUN !TRUTH is VERB, a process by which we triangulate multiple perspectives for maximum convergence.

        3. howardlindzon

          price is the truth 99 percent of the time and likely why I am addicted to markets and not news…

          1. JLM

            .Just a bit of fun with you —-Price is never the truth. It is however always the market.The market is set by, among other things: competition, information and liquidity.The market fluctuates, the truth does not.The truth is immutable and is not subject to vagaries of such things as liquidity.The truth is not “bid” for and not “asked” after.It is the confusion of what sort of truth is “marketable” that creates all the mischief.If you like YOUR truth, you can keep it. PERIODJLM.

          2. howardlindzon

            MOST excellent response to my price is everything.Let me elaborate. will blog it too.Price (in markets and why we are headed to markets like angel list and kickstarter) is the truth of the moment. Mainly because its impossible to properly factor in competition, liquidity and info, it has become that truth.With this truth you can manage risk.Thats the truth I care about.The rest is just opinions and why I wont pay, read or watch much ‘news’.

          3. JLM

            .”…the truth of the moment…”I agree more with you than you do with yourself.The notion of situational ethics and changing explanations is what has created the current level of distrust in Washington and government, in general.As to financial markets, whether the “hand” is efficient or not is no longer the important consideration. It is EXACTLY what you state — the truth of the moment.And this is the basis for any trade. The future will be decided by how closely the truth of that moment comports with the truth of the moment when the trade was made.When our President made his pack of lies utterances about OBAMAcare, as an example, he made a cynical and prescient decision that his “truth” of that moment would not be undone by a Congress in which the Senate was controlled by his party.While I get your observation as it relates to watching news, I come down on the other side.I want to know all the alternative explanations and thinking of my “opponents” and “enemies” almost moreso than what I think. I always want to test my own assumptions by the thoughts of others.JLM.

      2. Matt Zagaja

        If you read the comments on many mainstream news websites it disappointingly appears you are more likely to find vitriol, myths, and partisanship. AVC seems to be an outlier. Either you need to find a way to bottle and sell your secret sauce to these mainstream sites, or maybe there is not hope that comments will do much to help us.

        1. JLM

          .I agree more with you than you do with yourself.JLM.

        2. pointsnfigures

          It is an outlier. But, I find the startup community as an outlier. They are intentionally curious because it benefits them to be so. It’s not like they don’t have principles etc, but they need to examine lots of angles to win.

          1. fredwilson


          2. JamesHRH

            Mainstream news comments are dogmatic.Its like Seinfeld – no one learns anything is a core principle.

        3. FAKE GRIMLOCK




  17. Salt Shaker

    Is blogging a hobby or a biz? Some blog for self expression or personal fulfillment, while others harbor a desire to monetize. Paywalls potentially can work for legacy brands or where a creator has a following and considerable brand equity. Very few are in a position to capitalize on a paywall model, particularly with so much quality content avail for free. Monetization via paid advertising is becoming increasingly more challenging. There just isn’t an influx of ad dollars (and likely never will be) commensurate with the growth of “new voices” or quality content. The market can only sustain a select number of brands, which is why having a distinct, innovative voice w/ scale is so critical. Parity products will always fail.

    1. fredwilson

      i monetize this blog by acting on what i learn here

      1. William Mougayar

        Indirect monetization is more powerful than direct monetization, at least at the personal blog level. There are no upper bounds to the ROI.

      2. Salt Shaker

        AVC isn’t your core biz, although I certainly can see how you benefit from it as a learning tool and as an industry thought-leader. Very different form of monetization than Kara and Jessica Lessin’s endeavors, for example.

      3. Andrew Kennedy

        me too. its great.

  18. panterosa,

    I keep getting poked to blog, so 2014 is the year for this big experiment I have guested a few times. Wish me luck!

    1. William Mougayar

      Just do it 🙂

      1. panterosa,

        I will do it. Would be nice if someone read it!

        1. bsoist

          I’ll read it.

          1. panterosa,

            Awesome! I started writing already!

          2. bsoist

            So, I assume you’ll share when you’re ready? Or do I have to go looking? because I will find it. 🙂

          3. panterosa,

            I will share. Unless you want the challenge of finding it! 😉

    2. thomasknoll

      “The harder I work, the more luck I have.”– Possibly Thomas JeffersonGood luck!!

      1. panterosa,

        Yes! As my favorite character (and @shanac ‘s) Edna says “Luck favors the prepared!”

    3. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Good luck! (You won’t need it)

      1. panterosa,

        Ha! I love your blind faith! Keep it up! And stay tuned – I am writing now….

  19. Salt Shaker

    “The All Things D team has flown the coop and has resurfaced as Recode. The formula seems to be pretty similar to All Things D, the team is intact (at least it looks so to my untrained eye) and the format is familiar.”Recode’s strategic alliance with NBC and its cable and digital verticals will deliver the promo and ad sales engine that Kara/Walt never fully realized with their predecessor, Dow Jones (WSJ). Recode will be a home run not necessarily cause the content is so strong, but because they have the marketing muscle to scale, make noise and become considerably more mainstream.

  20. bsoist

    I like Medium a lot. My use of it reminds me of when I first discovered Wikipedia. I get lost in a web of reading one piece after another.Though my preference is to host my own writing, I was excited about doing some writing there. I thought I’d do it more, but when it came down to it, I didn’t like not having it on my own blog ( and I’m still hesitant to cross post too much ).Oddly enough, I was thinking of one of the posts I wrote yesterday. I celebrated my birthday by playing games with the family and not reading email. It was a joy!

    1. falicon

      Happy belated birthday!

      1. bsoist

        Thanks. We have at least one other AVCer bday, but I haven’t seen her in the comments yet today.

        1. Anne Libby

          I have also been mostly offline, yesterday snowshoeing and shoveling snow, and today shoveling snow and building a quinzhee with a young relative…happy belated birthday!

          1. bsoist

            Thanx! You too!

  21. Dave Pinsen

    Every time I read about The Information, I’m reminded of the eponymous Martin Amis novel:

  22. bcarroll1234

    I think you’re wrong on this trend Fred. 2014 will be the year of the paywall. The $$ from ever better ad-targeted banners never came, and now it’s time for publishers to make money on their hard work.

    1. fredwilson

      That assumes that the free alternatives won’t be good enough. I think that’s a bad bet to make. I get amazing free content all day long and its coming faster and better than ever. But as I said I am willing to be proven wrong.

      1. LE

        Agree. If anything there is to much to read that is good already.In the small universe of paywall (for content) there are really only a handful of legacy players that have brands other than specialized small publications in niches.And the amount of people that really need quality content (not just infotainment) isn’t that big (sounds like famous last words for sure).

        1. bcarroll1234

          LE – there are so so many niches. At Tinypass we have El Explicador – the Carl Sagan of Mexico blogging about physics. Sputnik Pogrom, the Daily Show of Russia. Pilotjobsnetwork – listings of where to find jobs as a pilot. How-to videos on running an organic pig farm. High-end surfing videos. The East Hampton local news stories. Self-help daily email projects from Gretchen Rubin. On and on.I propose that paying the $2 to support a talented content producer isn’t the thing that annoys you – it’s the friction of 2 minutes of fiddling with credit cards and logins.

      2. howardlindzon

        its been your lifes job to mix it up, get messy and indulge and curate within all the new platforms. You are the .01 percenter on this one. I dont think that means making wallstrip type investments is a good idea or ever was, but art will always be paid for and the content platforms are now creating artists at a greater pace than ever. Anyone with fingertips and or eyes is an artist today.

      3. howardlindzon

        also if you are a regular professional…billing by the hour, you will find people you trust and pay for their advice…especially financial.

    2. Brian Borton

      I disagree with you bcarroll1234. Your implicit assumption in the re-emergence of paywalls is that the readers will be the ones paying for access to the content rather than advertisers. The necessary adtech innovation is occurring, and it has equipped independent publishers to monetize their content well. Just look at Federated Media, Sharethrough, and rewardStyle as examples of successful, native/affiliate advertising models. Yes, targeted display ads are becoming less and less successful, but other models are emerging to pay publishers for their content that do not rely on the reader to write the check to access the content.Paywalls are an increasingly dying model among consumer media (e.g. magazine/newspaper/cable subscriptions), and enterprise seems to be quickly following. This is from personal experience, as the “resubscribed” list of content paid by my employers has shortened year after year. There are some holdouts among enterprise customers though, such as Capital IQ, FactSet, LexisNexis, etc. which are all paywall-oriented information services. But their value is less in the content and more with accessibility (consolidation), and integration. This isn’t something that Google search can disintermediate.Like Fred said, I’m willing to be proven wrong, but I haven’t seen many successful implementations of a user-paid content model except for perhaps Netflix.

      1. bcarroll1234

        NYT, Netflix, Spotify, Pandora, WSJ, iTunes, Kindle, Hulu . . . the list of paid media sites goes on and on. NYT digital subscription revenue exceeded online ads this year. Just look around your house at all the physical media: books, DVD’s, magazines, etc. Most of that media was a combination of paid and ad-supported, and it’ll all be replaced by a digital version in the next 10 years. The dominant economic model for media has been paid media, and will be again.

        1. fredwilson

          Maybe 2% of Pandora revenue (and users) are paid subs. Spotify is moving toward Pandora’s model as fast as the music industry will let themLong form video content works well for the paid modelI don’t see much else out there where that will work

          1. bcarroll1234

            Market here is growing fast – though maybe as a % share of audience it’s still early adopters:http://www.businessinsider….

        2. Brian Borton

          You bring up some solid examples bcarroll! And interesting point on the NYT digital subs vs. online ads mix. I would have assumed it would be much more like Pandora (20% subs / 80% ads). And full disclosure here, I do pay for Netflix! That’s what I get for making assumptions. Now, to think through this a bit more….I’ve witnessed the struggle of applying a purely paid-subscription model to a magazine through doing some advisory work with a quarterly ad-free print magazine. It wasn’t impossible, but it was difficult to convince consumers that the magazine’s content was different enough to merit purchase. In this example, the magazine was competing against other positive women’s lifestyle publishers. Basically zero barriers to entry right there. So it’s an uphill battle, fighting against millions of bloggers who produce similar content.So after thinking through this a bit more, it seems like the companies that are making the paid subscription model work are offering content that costs a lot to produce such as TV shows/movies. It makes more financial sense for the content owners to protect the IP of their expensive content and control and enforce the distribution channel aggressively.The companies that are struggling the most with making paid sub model work are the ones offering content that is cheaper to produce (written). Although the NYT and WSJ are generating some revenue of subs, I’m not confident in the sustainability of a profit margin over time.Music costs a lot less than film to produce, so my bet would be that it will eventually go the way of the written word and trend more towards ads over subs. Services like Soundcloud will continue to drive Pandora and Spotify this direction, as it’s becoming less and less expensive to record, produce, and distribute music (similar to how blogging has made written word less and less expensive to write and distribute).

          1. bcarroll1234

            Yes – that’s right. Certain online content is cheap to produce – everyone can post an opinion on Miley Cyrus. Expensive content is research intensive, local news, expert opinion, original voices. That stuff’s not commodity – and it attracts rabid fans willing to pay.

          2. Brian Borton

            Yeah, good summary. I think we agree on the direct connection between cost/difficulty of production and a successful paid content model. But we may just disagree a bit on what we’d be willing to pay for personally given our limited amount of time to consume media each day.

      2. bcarroll1234

        Also – the ad-targeting biz has been promising to boost CPM’s and rescue online publishing for 15+ years and it’s not panning out. Maybe if you can push massive pageviews like Buzzfeed or Business Insider. Otherwise, ads don’t cut it.

        1. Drew Meyers

          Agree, the scale you need to be at to really make money from ads is way beyond the audience most people have.

      3. Jennifer McFadden

        Federated Media et. al. focus primarily on news/information that is heavily commoditized–fashion, food, design–as well as tech/biz news primarily from sites that do very little original reporting or deep analysis (outside of a handful, like GigaOm). Tough to charge premiums for information that has become commoditized.

        1. Brian Borton

          Yes, that’s a good point Jennifer about Federated Media focusing on commoditized content. However, do you think that to access high quality content online you need to pay for it?Personally, I find that the FREE high quality content that I want to read on a daily basis absolutely dwarfs my time available to read it by a factor of 100 to 1 at least! So why would I pay for anything that my other limited resource, time, won’t permit? At least when it comes to written content. See my extended reply to bcarroll below on my thoughts on other media modes (music and film).

          1. Jennifer McFadden

            I think that what you will see is a version of paid content that is a lighter, more frequent version of what you see in larger (and wildly expensive) research reports of the type put out by Gartner et. al. If it is content that is heavily researched and actionable (e.g., biz, not lifestyle), it is more easy to monetize via paywalls. And, it is likely a very specific audience who will exhibit a strong willingness to pay (as in lobbyists and policymakers for Politico Pro, i-bankers for things like Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, and consultants/upper level management for things like Gartner reports).

          2. Brian Borton

            Interesting point. I’d have to disagree with you a bit though. In my opinion, I think it’s likely to shift in the opposite direction you’re suggesting – I’d expect that type of paid content to move towards denser, more highly researched and analytical content, and the lighter, frequent, fluffier reports will become freebies/ad-supported since it is easier to replicate by the general public. Just look at Seeking Alpha.I previously worked in equity research, and we relied heavily on expensive long-form research reports written by the Wall Street analysts covering certain sectors or companies. And we of course paid for those reports with soft dollar commissions. Given the narrow audience + high cost of production, a paid model suits it perfectly.

          3. Jennifer McFadden

            I think that we’re saying the same thing–when I say lighter, I mean lighter than a 400-page research report. So, lighter than Gartner but deeper than a long-form article that you might find in something like The Economist or Business Week. Seeking Alpha is the perfect example–they produce a bunch of stuff in front of the paywall to increase the top of the funnel and then push (or hope to push) some percentage of users to the pro version. Talking Points Memo does the same thing. These Pro models will likely also include platforms that leverage data to create a media/data hybrid that can also be monetized. I suspect that you’ll also see the emergence of more in-depth analyst reports similar to the types that you encountered in banking (I wrote my share in B-school–see this gem http://analystreports.som.y… that leverage the data stream as well and fill in the gaps that have emerged post-2008 when the research teams at banks were gutted.

          4. Brian Borton

            Nice call on the sell rating of JRC, with two bankruptcies in the last three years it sounds like you were spot on! (http://www.huffingtonpost.c…I think you’re right that we’re saying the same thing. I get where you’re coming from now. It makes sense for specialized research or expert opinions with actionable insights to sit behind a paywall. I still think that paywalls for media targeted at enterprise customers makes more sense than consumers, because there’s a clear ROI proposition (e.g. “subscribe to this paid content to make better trades and generate higher returns for your clients”).”The Information” model just doesn’t make sense to me. I personally think they will have a hard time producing differentiated written content in the areas they are targeting – breaking news and technology analysis.

          5. fredwilson

            Supply vs demand



      1. bcarroll1234

        Yep – that’s correct. Tiers of access. Just like the video game eco-system. 80% of the money will come from the most active 10% of the fans.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


      2. LE

        For written content?To me that is a strategy to annoy the customer.For example I go to Amazon and I’m confronted with steak in addition to the same free Prime things I can already get on Netflix. But I don’t get annoyed with netflix. Everytime I see a movie on Amazon while browsing free movies I get annoyed.And the written word is no where near as vital and entertaining as a movie.I think baiting people with some or all of an article and then making them pay for more isn’t going to work. It will just annoy them. Unless they are in Colorado where all bets are off.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. LE

            LIKE THAT OTHER GUY SAY, US AGREE WITH EACH OTHER MORE THAN AGREE WITH US SELVES. OR SOMETHING.The humor made me more receptive to this idea for sure. Like when in Tommy Boy they had the ambulance accident during the sales pitch. “New guy puking his guts out”.Anyway executing this would work or not depending on the precise dosing and execution. Not low hanging fruit for sure. I mean there was a point where HBO might have seemed like a non starter.I think this is something that if you asked people you would get answers that didn’t even matter either. People might say “sure” people might say “no” but what they end up doing would be determined at a later date when there was an actual product. They might just say “I want a faster horse”.My brain just thought of an idea.The way to get people to pay is not to give them a MBG. It’s to actually tell them you will give them back their money plus 5% if they are not happy. Almost like a dare. (Arbitrary).If a product is overpriced enough (with no incremental costs) you can afford to play a game like that. Because there are enough honest people out there that will make up for the schiesters.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          3. LE

            As a point of reference:…(She has been around since the 90’s. Interesting side note I paid her brother $6500 for a project that he bailed on and didn’t even get past square one. He bit off way more than he could chew.)

          4. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          5. العشق الممنوع


    4. Jennifer McFadden

      Agree with this. There is room for ways to monetize outside of advertising and people will (and have) pay for quality content. Politico Pro is one example, as are the many vertical-specific sites that serve industries like Cleantech. The convergence of news/information/analysis is the sweet spot for monetization via subscription and, if done well, there are ways to broaden your audience via short (commoditized) content in front of the paywall and longer-form, deeper analysis behind the paywall.

    5. howardlindzon

      its not an either or…just a pendulum swing as the tools get better and everyone connected.



    1. fredwilson




    1. bcarroll1234

      Page-view driven publishers are incentivized to keep you clicking (i.e., to distract you). They mix junk-food into your information diet. When consumers begin to value their limited attention, the screaming-headline-click-bait-viral business models will come under pressure.

      1. Drew Meyers

        It certainly can’t happen soon enough..

    2. ShanaC

      Unfortunately, this is not how humans work. Outside of some exceptions, genius requires much toil and practice

  25. Donna Brewington White

    I respect that you have principles, Fred.When I clicked over to The Information recently and saw that I had to pay, I thought “are you kidding me?” We’ve become so spoiled.But I also thought, “Is there something I’m missing?” because you do get what you pay for in many instances.I don’t mind paying for things if there is value, but I would be more inclined to pay for something like this if there was a freemium model or even a trial period. I will sometimes pay for things as a way of “investing.” Jessica Lessin must have quite a following to attempt to pull this off.

  26. Mark Birch

    Honestly, I find the overwhelming percentage of Medium content to be pure dreck. For every one quality post, I rummage through twenty others that were simply a waste of time. The newer forums certainly have lowered the bar to entry, but in many ways they have also lowered the bar to quality.

    1. Anne Libby

      I’m with you, and also don’t love the obscure search function (apparently deliberate, according to a friend who was an early-ish blogger there.)

  27. howardlindzon

    and you are not even counting new platforms like Newhive or obviously soundcloud, blogtalkradio etc….audio and remix is really just getting started too as you know

  28. TamiMForman

    Here’s another one, Fred. Ezra Klein looking to leave WashPo. The tweet he got from Swisher is hilarious: http://www.capitalnewyork.c

  29. Mo Koyfman

    i see you found some ‘light religion’ on medium 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t like the platform for a host of reasons but i can’t ignore that good content is being created there

      1. Mo Koyfman

        understood, but getting quality content if the hardest thing to do and they’ve started to do itlet’s see where they go from here…

  30. Tracey Jackson

    I instantly stuck a blog from one of my sites up there as I liked the way it looked. Then once I did it, I pondered now what do I do. So I found some people who seemed to have a smaller following than I do on my sites. Had it not been for this site I never would have found it.I notice you all talking about but who finds you there. How is it that different than Storify?

  31. Brian Borton

    Fred, I’ve been thinking about this post for the last week, and after discussing paywalls and other digital content monetization strategies with people in the comments below, I came up with the framework below and wrote an extended response on my blog. I’d love to get your thoughts:

  32. sdwardhenry

    I can’t imagine this comment will be loved but I really don’t see the need for Medium to exist. Desain Interior Ruang Tamu

  33. sdwardhenry

    I can’t imagine this comment will be loved but I really don’t see the need for Medium to exist. Maybe I just don’t get it? If Medium is purely a filter-play, then I get that. Desain Ruang Tamu Minimalis

  34. fredwilson

    We are working on a redesign and I hope you will like it better. Stay tuned