Online Publishing Should Look At Steem, Not Spotify, For Inspiration

Yesterday Medium announced that they are moving away from ads and thinking about a different kind of business model for their online publishing network.

I saw this tweet suggesting they are looking at Spotify for inspiration:

I don’t have any inside information here. USV is not an investor in Medium and I am not privy to any of the strategic thinking at Medium. So they may not be looking at Spotify for inspiration. But they are certainly looking around to figure out where to go from here.

I don’t think Spotify (music), or Netflix (video), or Amazon (books), should be the inspiration for online publishers in search of a new business model. The sad truth is most people are not going to pay a monthly subscription for online publishing content. Certainly not for blog posts by people they have never heard of.

The new online publications that have a paywall have built nice small businesses that pay the bills and maybe make some money for the founders. That’s a great way to go if you want to be small. But if you want to be a large network with millions of readers and publishers, as Medium already is (2 billion words written on Medium in the last year. 7.5 million posts during that time. 60 million monthly readers), a paywall is not going to work.

I think the blockchain based social network Steem would be a more interesting place for the Medium team to poke around at. Here’s the Steem white paper. That’s a good place to start.

To be clear, I don’t think Steem has this all figured out. I don’t own any Steem (or at least I don’t think I do). And I think they have made things a bit too complicated with their tokens and incentives. To their credit, they have taken steps to simplify things and they are headed in the right direction.

The thing about token based business models is that the token captures the value of the network as it grows and it is the only business model that exists for the network. You can buy tokens if you want to speculate on the value of the network (or invest in the online publication business, as it were). You can earn tokens by participating in the network (or by publishing content on the online publishing network, as it were). You can spend tokens to participate in the network (or by engaging in or curating the online publishing network, as it were).

Twitter could also go this route but clearly it would be harder for them to move away from an ad-based business model than it was for Medium. And believe me, it was not easy for Medium to do this.

The most likely companies that are going to figure out this token based business model are startups. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It would be stunning, bold, and brilliant for Medium to do this. I hope they do.


Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    “they have made things a bit too complicated with their tokens and incentives”Yeah, that.

    1. Jess Bachman

      Great comment, I hereby award you .34 Steem Power (SP) and 6 Steem dollars (SMP). You may convert this to STEEM at your leisure. Keep it up!

      1. JimHirshfield

        Thank you for boosting my self-esteem.


        Steem Dollars is represented as SBD, not SMP…

    2. Nathaniel Hourt

      Yeah, the tokens and incentives are complicated, but you can completely ignore 99% of it unless you’re interested in cryptoeconomics or the security of the platform. Most of the complexity is to make sure that people can’t make infinite amounts of money by creating thousands of accounts to upvote their empty post, or creating thousands of empty posts and upvoting all of them… and a litany of other attacks that nobody ever bothered to make a list of, but the developers had to consider before publishing the software.All you need to know about the Steem tokens and incentives to get started is that you get paid rewards for posting content people liked, and the amount you get paid varies but is always more than Facebook would’ve paid you. Your Steem and Steem Dollars are available to cash out immediately for Bitcoin. Everything else can be learned as you go.

  2. Valerian Bennett

    The trick is to embody the ideal that “the people ARE the network” without the mechanics being overly cumbersome. Easier said than done, but blockchain technology gives us options that were never possible before bitcoin. It’s early but the ultimate, holistic future is to have creators, consumers, and the network itself all have equal stake in the system. That seems the heart of what Medium is trying to achieve. And, it’s a goal we share at — community-supported video. No ads. No subscriptions.

  3. falicon

    Based on the title, I thought you might just have a typo and be talking about Steam ( ) … got me all excited for a minute there!

    1. mplsvbhvr

      I wrote a response below… but I think this is the right track. The freemium gaming model used by many popular Steam games as well as Twitch is an easy fit for Medium.

      1. Jess Bachman

        Freemium is a terrible model for games. I don’t see many on Steam either. I think Steam has figured it out… convience. No service has gotten me to open up my waller more this year than Steam, not STEEM.

        1. mplsvbhvr

          Maybe freemium isn’t 100% correct nomenclature, but I was referring to games like DotA 2 and TF2 which make quite a bit of money for Valve despite being completely free to play.Sorry if there was any confusion there.

        2. Robert DISQUS Rivera

          I dunno… Eve Online going Freemium actually gave it a shot in the arm

        3. awaldstein

          Freemium was a leap forward for certain but had its behavior beginnings in the ‘light game’ promotional category.Back when we went to the bank on this in the early days of CD ROM distribution. What a huge huge model.

    2. Srv Rungta

      No, that was not a typo. He is indeed talking about Steem. If you want to know more visit: and see for yourself the revolutionary platform and how it can benefit Medium.

  4. William Mougayar

    Amen to all of that.The new online “work” needs to be tied to tokens, creating a circular economy where spending and earning are the transactions.Cryptocurrency will refuel the attention economy, Get Ready!http://startupmanagement.or

  5. kidmercury

    virtual currencies are definitely the business model that ushers in “the world beyond google” (and probably amazon) but until the anarchist dream of all this magically resolving itself via a completely free market void of central regulation is relinquished, it won’t be achieved. certain participants will prefer a coin of lower value while others will prefer one of higher value. the only way to harmonize this incongruence is through regulation of the currency’s value. central banking policies in the nation-state world, while a massive problem and thus not a good example, at least illustrate the mechanism by which such regulation can be achieved.i doubt medium has the will or competences needed to go this route. i do think the subscription model is viable; netflix, spotify, etc pull you in through content you already know, and then keep you by introducing you to content you’ll like. blogs can be the same. i don’t think this is a very lucrative business model unless they can somehow cultivate something like subscription communities, interaction with experts, or something beyond blog content.

    1. @mikeriddell62

      Why would one prefer a coin of lower value if one could have a coin of higher value? I don’t understand this part of the argument. 🙂

      1. kidmercury

        one would always want to possess coins of rising value, but how about when one spends a coin? suppose you have coins and wanted to give fred some coins for great blogging. for frame of reference imagine a world in which you have 1 disquscoin which you bought from a speculator for 5 USD. this seems like a reasonable tip to give so you generously give it to fred.tomorrow an economic shock occurs and the value of disquscoins goes through the roof. 1 disquscoin now sells for $500,000 USD!!!! how do you feel about giving fred 1 disquscoin now?put more simply, if prices are always rising, there is no incentive to spend — too hoard only. if prices are always falling, there is only an incentive to spend and future savings (and thus, future spending) is at risk. some kind of equilibrium is needed.

        1. Salt Shaker

          Right, and then we’ll all hire financial advisors to manage our disqcoin. Way too complicated and likely not that important for most to manage or really care about (e.g., rising/lowering currency valuations).

          1. kidmercury

            agreed, but if there were no concerns about the exchange rate, it might compelling. or even better, if you could be confident that the currency was a superior alternative to other currencies you have the option of using, than you might be especially interested.

        2. @mikeriddell62

          The equilibrium would surely come from the market? Supply of and demand for the currency?

          1. kidmercury

            sure, that’s the theory. hasn’t played out yet. never before in the known history of mankind has a currency gained wide scale relying exclusive on a free market approach to regulate its value. in fact, regulating the value of the currency used within an economy has generally been one of the principal functions of the economy’s government.

          2. pointsnfigures

            I see ways for this to happen.

          3. @mikeriddell62

            The government doesn’t regulate the value – the market does that. Government tries to regulate the value through macro economic policies and so on but in the end it’s really a question of ‘what can bang can i get for my buck’.

    2. Richard

      The funny thing about the free market is it always will find people to pay for things that are in demand, whether legitimatley or illegitimately (v scarcity et al). “It’s the content, stupid.”

    3. Drew Meyers

      “unless they can somehow cultivate something like subscription communities, interaction with experts, or something beyond blog content.”I believe someone will figure out the subscription communities opportunity. Could take awhile, but I’m bullish that’s where the future of great content lies.

  6. Brandon Kessler

    “You can buy tokens if you want to speculate on the value of the network.” I don’t know about others, but I find it hard to understand the value of a two-in-one: a new social network and a market-based speculative currency. Reminds me of bitcoin vs blockchain.As for community tipping, makes sense to try!

    1. Robert DISQUS Rivera

      The value is that it’s pretty much the only way it can work, since the masses aren’t very likely to tip actual BTC out of a wallet on too much content, if any at all. This HUGE hurdle is overcome at Steemit, since there is no buy in and readers/authors can earn while never once parting with one digital cent

    2. Robert Konsdorf

      You could also earn tokens by contributing content to the platform as well, if you don’t want to risk the money.

  7. jason wright

    I don’t use Spotify. What is its model?

    1. JimHirshfield

      You pay; they let you listen to music. Innovative, I know, right?

      1. jason wright

        but we now live in a world of webonomics.what does that mean for access to the enjoyment of music when the marginal cost of distribution is effectively zero?

        1. Ryan Frew

          Spotify has a free model and it’s perfectly acceptable for merely listening to music with occasional ads.But I pay for Spotify Premium because I want features and good technology. I want to control the music being played on my laptop from my cell phone. I want to be able to download music locally to my machine, and I want that local music to vary by which machine I’m using. I want something that will run in the background and interact natively with the device/OS. I want access to good playlists based on my mood, genre, or which way the wind is blowing. I want to be able to share my music with friends and see what they’re listing to. Most things I’m describing are deal breakers when it comes to YouTube, Soundcloud, and others. Spotify is differentiated.

          1. jason wright

            so does Spotify give you all of your wants?

          2. Ryan Frew

            And then some. For example, they have a tight integration with apps like Nike+RunClub. That isn’t something that I care about, but others do. Spotify is just in a whole different universe compared to the competition.

  8. Surabhi Shastri

    Hi Fred – I think Medium is looking at a solid business model on the B2B side. A lot of companies are switching their blogging platforms (including product update blogs) to medium because of its usability, minimal design and reach. I think there is scope for a hybrid business model where they allow influencers to be seen by all, and have a subscription model for businesses to host content. I also feel they are not following a Spotify model but something to similar to news media such as WSJ or New York Times, we do pay for news so why not pay for really high quality articles from people you follow.

    1. fredwilson

      Selling software to media companies is about the worst business model ever

      1. Surabhi Shastri

        Hi Fred – I din’t mean selling software to media companies. They are selling their publishing platform as a service to companies. For instance, I work for a tech company and we are moving all our blog infrastructure over to medium, including product updates etc, which a lot of other tech firms are doing as well. How they monetize influencers though could be a very different model similar to Linkedin, where they first started with articles, then videos and now learning courses.

    2. someone

      It’s Blogger all over again

  9. awaldstein

    Sorry– I simply can’t imagine a token based model for written content,Can anyone of the experts here draw a simple picture of a ‘what if’ from a user perspective?Not what BC can do but how a users behavior can be harnessed in this. Something bold that can be relevant and behaviorally market sensible at scale.I’m blocked and not getting this.

    1. kidmercury

      imagine if disqus gave you coins for commenting, upvoting, flagging bad comments, upvotes received, for sharing computing resources that could help disqus operate, etc. you could then spend these coins by giving some to fred and other bloggers on disqus for giving great content. speculators can come in and trade dollars/pounds/bitcoin/dogecoin/etc for the disquscoins you’ve earned. it sort of becomes this self-operating system. that is the basic framework being put forth.

      1. awaldstein

        Thanks.I’ve heard this in some of William’s posts.I know a little about blockchain. I know a fair bit and have built my career on discovering and capitalizing on the behavioral reflexes of consumers.Not feeling this one.

        1. Twain Twain

          “Not FEELING this one.”

        2. Rob Larson

          Yes, it seems to come down to contributors hoping for voluntary tips from their (mostly anonymous) readers. The incentives don’t seem completely right.Probably would work for a few high profile contributors, but not many.

          1. awaldstein

            hmmexpert system with the context of open discourse. interesting.i like subscription models btw but i agree with fred that they are not by structure home runs.

          2. Robert DISQUS Rivera

            I can’t see the blogosphere operating well under a subscription model. I don’t know many people who would pay a monthly fee with no guarantee of a quality product… meaning some months may have awesome posts, and some months zilch. Once that happens, I see a ship jump. At least, I’d jump ship if I were paying monthly and December had only 2 articles worth my time.Steemit doesn’t charge me, so if there’s content I don’t like, I move on.Whenever I’m linked to an article that is paywalled I do not bother with the article and I may stop clicking on the posters work. Paywalls are the old guards past.

          3. awaldstein

            I subscribe to some but i understand.My own blogs more than pay for themselves through brand building turning into advisor positions and some pipeline for investments.

          4. Robert DISQUS Rivera

            I’m curious what blog-related subscriptions you have?Also, it sounds like you may be the type of author who would find value in Steemit and vice-versa.

          5. Robert Konsdorf

            Not quite, instead there is a daily rewards pool. Think of it as a firehose. All of the existing stakeholders use their voting power to determine where that rewards pool is allocated- basically which posts are most deserving. Nobody has to micro-tip explicitly, instead there is a 9.5% (and lowering) inflation rate of new STEEM. Portions of the new STEEM that is created also goes to existing Steem Power holders as well as the block validators (known as witnesses). It can also be obtaining by PoW mining.

        3. Robert DISQUS Rivera

          Steemit works better because there aren’t tips coming out of the users pocket. This helps to bring attention to authors who are unknowns.The only Steem tokens that you separate with are the ones you choose to separate with, say, for gifting purposes or because you like the authors work and want them to receive more compensation than their post earned. Otherwise, your wallet only gets bigger as you curate, comment, and author posts

      2. ErikSchwartz

        Why would the speculator want to turn over hard currency for disquscoins?

        1. falicon

          I think there has to be a b2b model or something additional behind it as well…So the idea being that ‘disqus’ is making money (and growing in it’s overall value)…that makes the disquscoin go up (or down) in value as it’s relative to the company value.*IF* that becomes the case, then a ‘demand’ for disquscoin can develop…and you can meet that demand either via cash (buy-in) or activity (earn-in).A LOT of ifs and maybes here though…the fact that Medium has a large and fairly engaged/active network gives it a better shot than most to jump start something like this…but it would still be a long shot in today’s market…

          1. @mikeriddell62

            “I think there has to be a b2b model or something additional behind it as well…” <<

        2. kidmercury

          money laundering (i.e. hide wealth or conceal its source), a desire to speculate (for better or worse) on a volatile asset. i don’t advocate this world — at least not yet.the question might also be more interesting from the perspective of someone in venezuela, whose currency is collapsing.

        3. Robert DISQUS Rivera

          This is why direct tipping with crypto will never fully work. Sure I may love the article, but enough to actually send currency??? Very tough sell for most of us workers.That’s why the daily reward pool at Steemit actually DOES work. There is no incentive to hoard your votes, as the rewards that go to the poster do NOT come out of your holdings.

      3. LE

        Fred is not looking for $$ he is looking for information and advantage.But besides that remember the paradox that says people will do for free what they won’t do if paid only a little bit (because it frames the value and they say ‘not worth it’ and think to much about what a waste it is). [1]Disqus can make money by summarizing the information in people’s comments and aggregating it for others who will pay for that anonymized data. This could be used by investors (to predict trends) media outlets (to be able to get a handle on what people are thinking) as only two examples. Retailers, manufacturers, politicians endless list. What are people talking about? How has that changed over time? How are their opinions changed? And so on.Right now info on twitter is used and quoted everyday by the media but disqus comments (for that matter written comments from any source) are way more valuable. What people think and what people think about what people think (the replies and further parts of threads).There is probably an opportunity for a third party company to access the disqus data (as well as others who compete with them and just general blog comments) and implement this idea.[1] The example I will use is the lawyer who will do pro bono work but not take a rate of $75 per hour for their time.

      4. @mikeriddell62

        really this steem thing is an economy the productivity of which is represented by its currency. Would i want to trade out of a hard currency and into a soft currency that produces very little new value that would be needed to attract more market participants to produce more liquidity and give more stability? Nope – i don’t get the value proposition.

        1. Robert DISQUS Rivera

          You’re assuming you have to trade out of a hard currency to get into Steem. Not true, you can just author posts and engage the community and eventually see (potential) rewards. So no risk.The value proposition is potentially being compensated for commenting, curating, or authoring posts that others find value in.Since there is no Fiat required to get set up, there is ZERO risk.

          1. pointsnfigures

            But, if I want to buy “stuff” from outside the ecosystem, I have to convert to fiat no? My work needs to translate into something of value that is tangible (like food, shelter etc)

          2. @mikeriddell62

            It’s not about the risk though is it, it’s about the ‘what’s in it for me?’ and that’s what I can’t see – not now anyhow.

    2. jason wright

      Imagine if you receive a fredcoin for every incisive and thoughtful comment you write at avc.

      1. TRoberts

        If I had a nickel for every Fredcoin I earned… I could have my very own shiny nickel.

        1. jason wright

          i guess it depends on the rate of exchange and the value of your avc comments to others in this community. as i write you have three approving votes. as we know real votes are a zero sum game as you win or you lose. fredcoin ‘votes’ are you win.

      2. awaldstein

        This is the business model revolution for content publishing that bitcoin is promising?I agree there needs to be a new creative model found and it will be.But this feels too much like want forcing need.

        1. jason wright

          i’m not quite sure what bitcoin is promising. it is guaranteeing well executed price pump and dump plans. i think it has been captured by its creators and early adopters and is a hostage to their greed.the underlying technical principles that bitcoin is built on might be successfully applied to amongst other things content publishing, where there’s the attempt to create a new economic model that is free of a dependency on advertising revenue et.c.. this is the live experiment we are seeing with Steem. if the Steem developers can prove a resilient new model of value exchange for content creation and distribution and consumption then there will be disruption of the old order…i think.i didn’t take Fred’s suggestion last year to try out Steem, but i will be giving it a go at some point during the first quarter of this new year. i want to get a better feel for the mechanics of the process.

          1. awaldstein

            i know what I don’t know.I know developers who are investigating this as a backbone for alternative currency systems–in europe btw.i am not going to dedicate a huge portion of my time to dig deep without being inspired to do so till i need to.that inspiration for me as tech savvy business person outside of core plumbing for fin tech is eluding is my shortcoming through and through. yet i’m surprised that the influencers/experts have decided that those in my position are not important enough to inform.i/we are.

          2. Robert DISQUS Rivera

            Indeed you should try out, powered by Steem. But only if you’re interested in writing and only POTENTIALLY earning monetary rewards if it is well received. As an average person in today’s world, you will definitely NOT receive any monetary rewards for writing, commenting and/or curating on any of the platforms.That being said, I see many users come to Steemit with ideas of being guaranteed a payout and then leaving disabused and upset.This is a great time to get into Steemit now that there’s a wiki available and a host of tools and sites dedicated to onboarding new authors into this crazy new world.

          3. jason wright

            Learning is the greater value I can accummulate by trying it. I may even improve my ordinary writing skills. Doing nothing leads to nothing. Not an option, in this or other things.

          4. Robert DISQUS Rivera

            I couldn’t agree more 🙂 And even with ordinary writing skills, you may have a hobby, interest, or skill that you could post about. It’s all about bringing value. I’m a poet, but I also share my adventures in coffee roasting or making Terrariums, etc. Some people find value in my work, so my following has developed, as have my rewards.Make sure to hit me up when you try it out (@prufarchy). I’ll make sure to send you some Steem or Steempower as a welcome gift 😉

          5. jason wright

            That’s good of you. I certainly will.

    3. @mikeriddell62

      Me neither

    4. jason wright

      imagine reading a novel where each page is plastered with advertising, most of it irrelevant to the content, and much of it getting in the way of the process of reading. to avoid this unpleasant experience we pay for the book.

      1. Robert DISQUS Rivera

        This is why Medium + Steemit would be such a good idea! @stellabelle A Steemit friend of mine who is also a regular at Medium, penned this today:

  10. Anish Kumar

    Talk Markets has interesting model where writers get equity in the business. They have a point system based on comments, views, exclusivity of articles, etc.

  11. Michael O'Rourke

    Brave browser is taking steps toward this reality with their publishers initiative. You preload $5 worth of bitcoin in a local wallet in the browser and they pay the websites based on which ones you visit the most.…It’s going to be difficult to re-train the world into getting accustomed to paying instead of seeing ads. Properties like NYT and WaPo are helping acclimate the public consciousness with paywalls. It’s going to take time, but I think in five years it will be significantly more “normal” to pay for content.

  12. Wouter is already offering a pay-per-article model. However they started with mainly traditional journalism businesses, where most already have their own subscription/commercial models in place. For Medium it could be even more difficult since users are not really used to pay for articles made by individual contributors.

  13. Mario Cantin

    The question is who is going to pay Medium’s operating expenses, and thereby creating enough value for its shareholders after having raised so much money? The readers sure aren’t going to. The only viable way so far for an online content company with a social network component has been through advertising, which users tolerate. Innovation on business models is rare. Good luck to them, they’ll need it.

  14. Bobby Lux

    What are the unique characteristics of appcoins/tokens that set them apart from other asset classes? A brief skim of the Steem whitepaper makes it seem like Steem’s tokens are just equity options in the company used to reward contributors, but there’s no mention of ownership being the right to a portion of future profits. The value propositions all seem to be based on speculation: “Buy SMD, convert it to STEEM, convert that to SP, and hopefully more people will want to do that and you’ll be able to buy low and sell high.”

    1. @mikeriddell62

      Yeah I agree that there’s no inherent value in what this community is creating. The work that it produces won’t be solving many problems and thus will find it difficult, i imagine, to attract sustainable investment whether debt or equity.

    2. Daniel Notestein

      Among other things, the tokens give you the ability to reward the content you like, thus encouraging it, or even promoting it (think indirect advertising).

      1. Bobby Lux

        Why would I be incentivized to give up the “ownership” that a token indicates by passing it along to quality content producers? Don’t we already have the ability to reward content we like (likes, shares, producer engagement, and other methods of paying content producers)? Why do we need a token to accomplish that?

        1. Robert DISQUS Rivera

          Well you don’t have buy SBD (I think that’s what you intended when you said SMD). You can earn SBD/STEEM/SP by posting and/or curating good content. You do have an option to buy in with btc too, as well as Debit/CC’s.You don’t give up “ownership” of your steem in upvoting quality content producers. Instead, your SP level determines how much your vote is worth on the post in question. When you upvote and see that number go up, it’s coming from the daily rewards pool that’s generated by the miners, not from your crypto-wallet. This removes the incentive to hoard your “votes” in trying to protect your interest. I’m definitely no expert on Steemit, but you should definitely stop by Steemit and ask those same questions. It’s a very welcoming and intelligent community. Tell ’em @prufarchy sent ya 😉

          1. Bobby Lux

            You’re right, I definitely need to check out Steemit and learn more.(Sorry about the SBD, the whitepaper calls it SMD–guess that’s outdated).Do you know how Steemit’s system relates to the idea of appcoins in general? Appcoins seem like such a tantalizing idea: hearing enthusiasts talk about them is very exciting, but it’s hard to nail down any specific properties of appcoins. I’ve tried asking these questions before (… but I still don’t feel like I have any answers. I’d definitely appreciate ideas and direction on the topic.

          2. Robert DISQUS Rivera

            I could try to muddle through an answer for you but I have a better idea. Why don’t you give Steemit a trial run and, in your first post, introduce yourself and what you like to write or read and then include that question. It costs you nothing to sign up, with the potential upside being that you like what you hear and decide to share quality content on that platform :)There are too many brilliant people on Steemit who could answer your question in a way that will give you that tantalizing feeling. Tell em @prufarchy sent ya for the straight dope ;)tl;dr I’m not a crypto expert, but I cavort with a horde of em. Sign up and ask and they’ll tell you what you wanna know and way more!

          3. Robert Konsdorf

            Hey Bobby.@biophil on steemit has some good posts about how the mechanics of the system work. Here’s one on how the voting power diminishing returns work.…Check out his Game Theory of Steem posts too for a deeper dive. I use my SP to auto-vote on content in order to generate passive income via curation rewards. That’s one reason I find it valuable to hold. Oh, and the interest SBD provides some pretty good ROI!

  15. JimHirshfield

    Maybe there’s a startup that can fix online advertising? Seems like the chances are greater for that happening than for users to subscribe (whether in micro-payments, aggregated or not).

    1. falicon

      Medium, with it’s large network, is in the unique position to really play with the idea of ‘sponsored’ or ‘native’ content.They could prob. use some data science to match writers with appropriate advertisers (i.e. positive, unsolicited, posts related to or even about the advertisers products/services/etc.)…some of the money the advertiser spends with Medium could go to these writers automatically (while Medium could give these publishers tools to better connect with, and promote/partner with these posts/authors).Still a lot to figure out – and not an overall easy task – but at least a bit down the path towards a win-win-win (without having to change the expectations, behaviors, or price for readers).

      1. JimHirshfield

        “Medium, with it’s large network, is in the unique position…”And yet they couldn’t make it happen.

    2. William Mougayar

      Here’s one called adChain that’s trying something different – guess, it’s blockchain related 🙂

      1. JimHirshfield

        An expert like you need not guess that it’s blockchain related 😉

        1. William Mougayar

          i meant to the reader “Guess” 🙂

      2. Twain Twain

        Tackling the fraud part of adtech with Blockchain has parallels with how AI gets applied to tackle fraud in financial risk management.These are known needs and known solutions, so it could be said they’re examples of adapting tools from one domain to another with some incremental improvements.

    3. Twain Twain

      Google, FB et al: “It’s not broken so why fix it?!”Everyone’s so data-centric wrt ROI and yet …”One dollar of online display advertising will buy you approximately $0.03 worth of actual ads seen by real people, according to Bob Hoffman, a partner in media consultancy Type A Group.”*

      1. JimHirshfield


        1. Twain Twain

          Ugh but they own the data oil process, end-to-end.Production, extraction, filtration, dissemination, price-setting and commoditization (data <=> ads <=> revenue).

      2. LE

        Had a case years ago in business where a company with a confusingly similar name was sending out tons of postal letters (we got them as well) offering their service which was similar to ours. Got plenty of phone calls and emails as well. I hypothesized that this was actually good and free advertising for us (how is that for contrary thinking?) so I didn’t do anything about it. As time went on there was evidence that my theory was right (hard to explain to a general audience why but it was close to being a fact) and it was actually a benefit to us even with the confusion.Now it’s even more clear since they stopped doing the expensive direct mail pieces business has dropped. God knows I wish they would start up again!Some things advertising wise, and anyone who has done advertising can tell you this, (I have in multiple businesses) is that if done right (the big thing of course) it’s a big advantage. The propeller heads are just talking about nuances that matter to larger companies in terms of ROI which they’d like to be able to quantify because that is where their training and strongpoints are.

    4. Kirsten Lambertsen

      I think we’re going to see the beginnings of this in 2017. Thanks to Outbrain et al we’ve achieved peak sh*t in advertising (aka rock bottom), and the moment is ripe for innovative solutions.

      1. JimHirshfield

        :hankey: emoji

    5. bizyhood

      Jim, how would you want it to work?

      1. JimHirshfield

        Too big of a topic to outline here, but problems fall into the areas of too many ads, too aggressive, tracking, malvertising…to mention a few of the issues. So, I can’t say how I would want it to work. But I can say those things need to be fixed.

        1. bizyhood

          Happy to chat offline if you are open to it. The problems are well known (no offense to your comment!) The real challenge is how to address them.

  16. William Mougayar

    Amen to all of that.The new online “work” needs to be tied to tokens, creating a circular economy where spending and earning are the transactions.Cryptocurrency will refuel the attention economy, Get Ready!http://startupmanagement.or

    1. awaldstein

      The future is the Attention Economy–basically micropayments based on tidbits of participation multiplied by your link status?I’m not seeing this behavior anywhere in depth honestly.Can you share why you think this other than the obvious that its a good use of the technology?I’m blocked on why this is part of human nature that is looking to be platformed in any way.

      1. Krzysztof Szumny

        Micropayments will never going to work… because people just hate spend money. Dan Larimer – creator of Steem – found out on his previous projects, that even if a payment is less than 1 cent, there is a mental decision which needs to be made, about, whether particular action is actually worth that money.Steem flips this model. There is a daily rewards-pool which is distributed among all active authors and curators, according to votes gather from whole community.Whatever you will do, those money from daily rewards-pool will be spend. As a steem community member, you can watch as other decides for you, or you can participate and also vote.Do you have your favorite blogger or youtube author? I bet you would like to support them. On steemit your appreciation translates directly as a reward for author which you like.

        1. awaldstein

          I am opening my mind and on the recommendation of Fred and William I will spend some cycles understanding it.I have my own communities around my blogs so have a solid point of view but m open.

      2. William Mougayar

        You certainly need to have the right mechanics that would prevent users from gaming these systems. But think that if Facebook were to be re-invented with a token-based currency, we (as users) should be compensated based on our contribution towards giving our attention which they re-sell to advertisers. Of course, this is a speculative assumption, and at the experimental stage in companies like Steemit. We shall see if it takes off.

        1. awaldstein

          so having trouble with the token mechanics as the panacea.i’m opening an account on steemit and will play with it but it is simply not touching me.there are so many truly dramatic things like mobility itself that have redefined work that this seem–excuse the pub–as a token attempt.

          1. William Mougayar

            An economic incentive might be a moving factor….maybe.

          2. awaldstein

            there are few things that feel as flat as this to me.

    2. Sam

      “A circular economy where spending and earning are the transactions.”I don’t get how this works where some are highly skilled at producing/earning (think Dreamworks and movies), but most of us mere mortals wouldn’t have anything to contribute and therefore wouldn’t have the currency to spend with. That’s a pretty big asymmetry that’s hardwired into a lot of industries right now. Other way of saying it… Difficult for me to imagine a world where Facebook will give me crypto-tuppence for my attention.

      1. William Mougayar

        I think it would happen gradually at first, and will attract early adopters, like any other novelty. But then, these practices get adopted later, by larger crowds. The idea is that users don’t do anything differently, but they get rewarded differently.

  17. mplsvbhvr

    Personally, I think Twitch has the model they need more or less figured out (at least as a starting point)Would not be surprised to see something similar once they’re ready to launch.

    1. fredwilson

      Can you elaborate? I am intrigued

      1. mplsvbhvr

        Twitch has basically adopted a similar freemium model to many of the games it allows you to view players streaming.The vast majority of the content is free – anyone can hop on and watching anyone else streaming, no payments required. Money starts changing hands in via two primary methods:1)Subscriptions – this is the classic way to support a channel/streamer. A $4.99 payment (which is split between Twitch and the streamer) gets you some additional benefits when using the site. Common rewards include exclusive emotes (smilies to be used in chat), participation in subscriber only chat (which popular streamers can turn on to communicate more effectively with their fan base), being invited to play a game with the streamer while broadcasting, and generally a shout out from the streamer. An interesting side note – since Twitch was purchased by Amazon, all Amazon Prime subscribers now get one free “prime subscription” per month to use and support their favorite streamers.2)Bits – this is a relatively new idea on twitch, but it’s simple. Bits can be acquired either through purchase, or voluntary viewing of ads. The bits can then be donated to the streamer of your choice as “cheering” – generally accompanied by a notification everyone watching can see. This is particularly useful during major competitions to support a team putting in more effort than normal.As far as the relationship to medium goes, it’s easy to see the parallels. Essetially, the site will remain generally free to read with the option to support specific content providers either through a basic donation system, or low cost subscription service which can grant access to any number of benefits.Some subscription rewards Medium writers could use off the top of my head:-Access to longer content such as novellas/serials which don’t necessarily make sense to publish on the standard platform.-Access to articles on a different website (useful for publications like The Economist who are expanding their Medium presence)-Unique icons/avatars – never underestimate how much people like showing off on the internet!-Advanced access to articles (maybe more pertinent to financial writing)-Private (online) Q&A sessions with an author/guest-Access to ticketed live readings or guest panels (think mini TEDx)Hopefully that all makes sense, wrote this up pretty quick.

        1. falicon

          I’m with you that *this* is a model worth digging into and emulating.You prob. won’t have people ‘watching’ writers…but you certainly could have private or closed comment boards & thought communities get built up around specific authors and/or topics…and those could include some really interesting ‘rewards’ themselves…

          1. mplsvbhvr

            Agreed – I think it’s a little dangerous as far as serving as an echo chamber/fake news source (which it sounds like medium is trying to get away from) – but you’re 100% right as far as the benefits and viability.

        2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. mplsvbhvr

            Very similar

          2. jason wright


          3. pointsnfigures

            Someone made a prediction you’d be back in 2017. Already true

      2. Rob Larson

        I don’t understand why ad-based revenue is necessarily broken for Medium. (Works pretty well for facebook.) If the problem is that it’s just not producing enough revenue, that may change if they play the long game and keep growing at 300%. If the issue is that ad-based $ rewards fluffy content (which is what Ev’s post seems to be suggesting), then that might be solved by having Medium play a role in the middle, directing $ disproportionately to the quality content producers. True that it would be hard not to succumb to the temptation of drifting towards supporting short term $ wins (fluffy content), but if they are rock solid focused on their mission, it seems doable–and maybe with a higher likelihood of success than completely upending their business model. What am I missing?

        1. mplsvbhvr

          Sorry – but you’re pretty off base as far as Twitch revenue goes. Ads can be run, generally during down/waiting time at the will of the streamer. Most streams run ad-free for the vast majority of the time they are up.One great example is the DotA 7.00 patch notes by PurgeGamers – a 9.5 hour long stream where he purposefully chose not to run ads because he felt it would hurt the experience of the viewers. Ironically, the viewers at one point started demanding ads so that he made money off of the large number of viewers he had at the time (much larger than he had on average).This is how great content gets created, and supported.

          1. Rob Larson

            Thanks for clarification

          2. mplsvbhvr

            No worries! The esports community is something I’m pretty passionate about – just wanted to make sure we’re all on the same page.

          3. falicon

            …besides we need snack and bathroom breaks too! 😉

          4. mplsvbhvr

            2017 and we’re not taking bathroom breaks at our desks? Technology has failed us….. 😀

        2. Drew Meyers

          “I don’t understand why ad-based revenue is necessarily broken for Medium. (Works pretty well for facebook.)”The revenue model works. It’s what that revenue model means for incentives internally that is broken. An ad model means the incentive is to drive as many page views as possible, no matter what that means. More crappy content, to waste more of people’s most precious asset – time – is not improving the world.I applaud them for taking the hard road to actually attempt to change behavior & improve the world as a result — rather than just do what publishers have been doing since the start of the internet to make a buck.

          1. Rob Larson

            Drew, I agree that they would be exposed to that incentive, but they could still shield content producers (writers) from it by rewarding writers of meaningful content vs. crappy content (following a scoring system they design.) Seems that radically changing their revenue model is akin to saying that they wouldn’t be able to hold themselves to their own standard and would be forced to slavishly optimize to the company’s external revenue scheme.I’m not saying that would be easy, might even be impossible. But I think it just might be possible, and may actually be less risky than giving up on ad revenue and starting over from ground zero.

        3. pointsnfigures

          Maybe not enough readers.

  18. LIAD

    Reversing into an appcoin model when at user, operating and investment scale like Medium would be bloody hard – but not impossible.With the right stakeholders buying in and some smart financial engineering – it could be done.With risky disruptions of this magnitude, I’m with Fred, fortune favors the small.

    1. Rob Larson

      Yes, this is the equivalent of a hail Mary pass. Most of which fall sadly to the ground. Occasionally one is caught and the clip gets featured prominently on sports TV.

  19. Owen

    I have a pretty out of left field comparison that come’s to mind about this. There is already an example of online “publishing” companies employing tokens that people can purchase and then spend on the websites in order to reward the “publishers” that have their “content” hosted on the company’s website. It is the adult online cam modeling industry. There are already plenty of websites out there (easy enough to find on google) that allow models to sign up and do their thing to earn tokens for the content they provide. The models get to earn money and the websites get a cut in return for providing the hosting. I’m no industry insider that can provide numbers about the success of the industry, and it’s definitely not a direct comparison, but I thought it was an interesting example.

    1. LE

      This is actually exactly what Fred’s investment should consider doing in the “SFW” category (since what you are talking about is NSFW).

      1. Owen

        Hm, interesting. So i’m guessing that the goal for most of the people on websites like that is to perform for free online in order to promote their content that people can pay for elsewhere? It would be interesting to see the amount of people that would use tokens for this. Kind of seems like people who give money to street performers.

        1. LE

          Update: Shows how much I know about younow since they are already doing this. Fwiw it’s not apparent from a visit to the homepage from what I have seen.

  20. Twain Twain

    Natch’, I read Steem’s white paper and went straight to the words “SUBJECTIVE CONTRIBUTIONS” on P2 and on P6-7, it said this:”The challenge faced by Steem is deriving an algorithm for scoring individual contributions that most community members consider to be a fair assessment of the subjective value of each contribution.The fundamental unit of account on the Steem platform is STEEM, a crypto currency token. Steem operates on the basis of one-STEEM, one-vote. Under this model, individuals who have contributed the most to the platform, as measured by their account balance, have the most influence over how contributions are scored.Readers no longer have to decide whether or not they want to pay someone from their own pocket, instead they can vote content up or down and Steem will use their votes to determine individual rewards.Steem recognizes and rewards using objective metrics. Among these are: transaction validation, proof of work mining, liquidity rewards, and reporting of misbehaving block producers.”Well, there was no need to read all 44 pages to know they have the wrong business AND technical model.Any investor who invests in any blockchain technology that basically repeats and reinforces all the mistakes of the old technology (e.g., binary vote up (1) / vote down (0)] will be sowing the seeds for a repetition of what just happened with Trump, FB+Google+Twitter.Gaming the system, false news (false positives), filter bubbles and misrepresentation+misunderstanding of democratic values with amiss algorithms.

    1. Robert DISQUS Rivera

      Interesting perspective. Have you investigated the platform to check it out for yourself, or was the above enough to turn you off?? I’d definitely enjoy hearing your opinions (I’m sure those on Steemit would, too).

    2. Dima Starodubcev

      You analysis is not correct. There is a way to weight actions based on voter shares. Thus it is not binary voting either. Moreover – all actions are protected from Sybil Attacks by design. Go and try to post fake news yourself to either proof you are wrong or me. But than you fail to proof me wrong come back and read all 44 pages one more time. Than, go and read principles behind quadratic voting and all blockchain stuff.

      1. Twain Twain

        There’s a whole bunch of weighting in Google, Facebook, Amazon’s voting systems, including quadratic voting and matrix vectorization of votes.Did that enable them to filter for fake news, avoid filter bubbles etc? NO.The problems are to do with ALL existing mathematical frameworks wrt distribution curves and power laws, including in game theory.Here is an example from that Quadratic Voting paper: “The marginal benefit to a voter is her value multiplied by her marginal pivotality (roughly, the perceived probability that an additional unit of vote will sway the decision). She maximizes this marginal utility by equating this to the linear marginal cost of the vote. Therefore, if voters share the same marginal pivotality, they will buy votes in proportion to their values, thus bringing about utilitarian efficiency.”Since we’re all trying to formulate rational, scientific principles for organic human behaviors, let’s examine the science behind Quadratic Voting:(1.) Probability was a man-made tool invented in 1654 to model the random behavior of rational, “fair” dice.Distribution curves are the graphing of the observed outcomes and their frequency (representation) of occurrence relative to each outcome.Probability as a tool was later generalized over to measure and model humans. That’s like having a yardstick and then saying it can measure weight, blood flow, DNA, love, everything.In case it’s not obvious … DICE HAVE NO SUBJECTIVITY. So probability (perceived or otherwise) is NOT an appropriate tool if “subjective contributions” is what blockchain technologies are setting out to solve and model.(2.) It makes no sense to benchmark marginal utility as a quadratic whilst the marginal cost of the vote is linear.Demand for the vote is NOT linear (so that’s where quadratic growth graphs like the one attached are wrong). Therefore, the cost (actual and marginal) of the vote to the voter is not linear either. To assume it is linear means falling into a huge deadweight loss area.(3.) Subjectivity is about perceptions not probabilities.Everyone will soon wake up to the fundamental flaws in using probability to model us, our language, our economic behaviors and values —Even more so than Daniel Kahneman the Nobel Economics prize winner saying that, “Our minds aren’t built to follow the rules of probability” in his and Tversky’s work.

        1. Twain Twain

          Taleb: “Probability and expectation are not the same. Its probability and probability times the payoff.”The expectation of a linear demand and cost curve for each user’s vote is WRONG.

      2. Twain Twain

        Demand for the vote is not linear. This and all other such quadratic graphs are wrong.https://uploads.disquscdn.c

  21. Jens Schindler

    Thank you for not dropping the topic ofmonetization of content from your posts, much appreciated. – In my mind thecurrency of payment (for content) is not a critical factor (currencies beinganything from dollars, euros, bitcoin, altcoin, time, attention to even actions(likes, links, tweets, etc)). I cannot name one model where choosing one ofthese currencies over another leads to actual willingness to pay where therewas no WTP before (I have looked at over one hundred).Neither is pre- or post-payment. Pre-payment asks people to deliver a value upfrontwithout receiving a value in return at the same time. Humans don’t like thatdue to ‘loss aversion’ (Kahnemann/Tversky). “Why should I pay now, if I am notgetting (all) of my value right now?” – I have spoken to people, who built anationwide pre-payment for content solution ten years ago and they said thebiggest issue was no one was prepared to pay into a wallet upfront.Post-payment does not work as evaluation and consumption of content cannot be separated. “Why should I pay for something I already received/read?” The real issue is not how people would like to pay, but why people do not want to pay. Changing the howdoes not create a why.Any solution must give people a valid reason WHY they would WANT to pay. (They will then find a way, how they can pay.) Stating the obvious people will pay if their value received is higher than the value they give up in their perception. This value must only be realized by the transaction. Only then a true incentive is created for the user to enter thetransaction.

    1. Robert DISQUS Rivera

      I feel like your comment was describing why Steemit works in this regard, compared to the other options. If Steemit hadn’t been free to join, I would never have thought long enough about it to give it a chance. Now that I have given it a chance and don’t have to pay transactions to view content, I can think about the material I’m reading and whether it’s valuable to me or not. If it is, I upvote and contribute my voting power (sp) to their rewards. I lose no coins doing this, only voting power which is replenished at a fixed interval. And even if I use up all my voting power I can still vote, comment, post, read… it just won’t be worth any currency to the author at that point. But as you said — likes/votes/tweets (attention) is still a form of currency, in the attention economy.

      1. Jens Schindler

        Thanks for your comment. Agree completely.

  22. Salt Shaker

    Although one could argue that long-form publishers, like Medium, deliver a more, highly engaged audience, the truth is that user-generated content still has a large stigma w/ adv. Also, less and less publishers today are able to successfully monetize their content through adv, and less and less will be able to monetize via a sub or token model if a shift in biz model should occur. The Plain Truth: There’s only so much content consumers are willing to pay for when there’s so many free (and good) alternatives. The music biz–after many years–may have finally turned a corner by converting consumers from free-to-pay (e.g., Spotify), while others struggle (e.g., Pandora). Very few sub based music services will survive as the market isn’t strong or large enough to carry more than a few in what is essentially a commodity based biz (sans Soundcloud). The Bottom Line With Respect to Ad Models: There’s too many content companies chasing ad dollars and not enough money to support the need. I foresee a big shake out (e.g., downsizing) in digital publishing and ad tech in 2017. Maybe the market needs a reset, or a weeding out, before new and successful pay models can evolve.

    1. Drew Meyers

      I agree. Way too many chasing ad dollars. The vast majority of people who haven’t seen media businesses inside don’t truly understand the scale of users (aka attention) needed to actually make serious money (aka have a viable long term business).

  23. Eric Wilson

    Respectfully, the Steem model is rife with problems. Certain subreddits, for example, are now rife with people peddling “steem spam” which, because of the incentive structure, is the click-baitiest of all clickbait. I love Medium and I hope they approach this thoughtfully enough to avoid Steem’s problems.

    1. Robert DISQUS Rivera

      Sure, everything has its problems indeed. But that’s what useful about being in beta with Steem and Steemit. Have you tried the platform?

  24. Elizabeth Spiers

    I like the idea of Steem but I played with it a few months ago and found the UX infuriating.

    1. Robert DISQUS Rivera

      You should come back and check it out. I’ve been there since July 2016 and agree that the UX was super frustrating (I was understanding about it thought because it’s in beta).But NOW… the UX has come a ways, there are notifications, promotion tools and a host of new tools/features that have made it tantalizingly close to ready for a bigger audience. Also, there’s the eSteem app which is getting better every day (@good-karma just announced the desktop version of the app too!)Say hi when you come back 😉 @prufarchy

    2. Krzysztof Szumny

      So I am very happy to say you, that really soon you will be able to give a try to an alternative frontend which also works on Steem network – UI, the same content, the same rules. Both services Steemit and Busy will be like different cinemas displaying the same movie. Of course, competition is always good 🙂

  25. pbreit

    Why is it so hard to build wall between editorial and business?

    1. Drew Meyers

      Advertisers want more articles written about what they care about — and mentions of their company. If you don’t agree, they take their dollars elsewhere.

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Have you ever wondered why companies that most people have never heard of who deliver products to other companies, with no consumer offering whatsoever, advertise during prime time TV? It’s primarily to buy influence over the programming.

  26. creative group

    FRED:We concur with the difficulty of people paying for unknown content. But those writing that content do have people who know and follow them in the online world.That would be similar to our gathering all top twenty VC principals together to participate in writing on a blog that pays them for their insights on startup investing. It wouldn’t be for everyone but it would definitely have a strong subscriber base. How many of the AVC contributors would pay for a AVC subscription?The majority desiring an upvote will comment in the affirmative. But how many would really subscribe at $200 per month? There are wealthy contributors on AVC that discuss not wanting to pay for 11.99 subscriptions.With all the people online how many people do you really require to succeed via subscription? Someone has the analytics. Please post the white paper. Thanks

    1. Drew Meyers

      “How many of the AVC contributors would pay for a AVC subscription?”*Raises hand*I’d pay $11.99 — not $200 though.

      1. jason wright

        Pay to contribute?

  27. Brownstoner

    Maybe Medium should recognize it is a niche business… and recognize that Google and Facebook are the controlling platforms… and stop trying to be so big. Maybe too much money was thrown at Medium, and maybe the right thing to do is give some of it back (or find some other graceful exit) and find and occupy a successful niche for people who enjoy reading quality content and find a way to monetize that.. and that monetization doesn’t have to be an innovation. Attempting to achieve a return on capital at the scale Medium is shooting for in the publishing business, in 2017, may just be too tall an order.

    1. someone

      Watch Ev buy it back from the investors…again

    2. bizyhood

      There’s nothing wrong with moonshots – and Google/Facebook won’t be the controlling platforms forever (see: Microsoft). What I do agree with is the moonshots almost never come from the well funded serial founders, but rather from scrappy startups who start by solving something much smaller, and naturally (almost by mistake) bump into something disruptive.Medium, Nextdoor, Patch all raised > $100M to disrupt existing industries. We know Patch couldn’t do it…. the jury is still out with Medium/Nextdoor, but simply having tons of money doesn’t mean you’ll be able to change an entire industry.

  28. Chimpwithcans

    I subscribe to a couple of services. Content, combined with tech integration/ease of use is the killer combo. A network is not necessary. Medium’s selling point seems to be it’s network. This makes me think that subscription is not the way to go for medium. However, ads are a pain in the butt. Maybe adding a marketplace is a good next step for monetisation.

  29. haremonious

    I think people would be willing to pay per article, if it was cheap enough. For example, if it cost me 10 cents to read an article, and the payment was set up to be handled seamlessly in the background, I wouldn’t have a problem with that, so long as my monthly spend was clearly visible. I imagine Medium’s demographic is relatively well educated and wouldn’t think twice about burning a few dollars per month in this fashion. And 80% could go back to the writer. At Medium’s scale, I think the numbers could work.This is much different psychologically than signing up for a subscription, since you feel more in control of the amount you are spending and there’s no risk of underutilizing your subscription. Perhaps you can set yourself a budget per month and are warned if the next article will put you over budget. You’re essentially letting users choose their own personal subscription price by letting them manage their own individual economics.I realize this is similar to the idea of micropayments with cryptocurrencies, but I don’t see why the same approach can’t be taken with traditional currencies that “normals” are more likely to be comfortable with? Yes, you can’t go smaller than 1 cent, but for quality content I think that is beyond small enough.

    1. Robert DISQUS Rivera

      I surely would not be willing to pay per article, no matter the price. I may try it, but having to part with currency at the door, before I’ve even seen the quality… that might just prevent me from ever hitting the sign up button

      1. haremonious

        I agree there would need to be some level of previewing the content. Perhaps they design a way to interpret how much of the article you have actually read and only charge you once you pass the 50% (or some other) mark. Or if you read something and decide it was not worth it you can flag the article, and if enough people flag it an automatic refund is triggered to the readers. These are just some immediate ideas. It’s definitely tricky, but not unsolvable, I think.

    2. Drew Meyers

      I think we’d see similar behavior as tipping in restaurants. Those who have previously lived off of tips are those who now tip well. Those who are content creators themselves would be those willing to pay others small amounts, because they know how hard it is 1st hand.

    1. Robert Konsdorf

      I’ll pitch in some Steem Dollars as well. 🙂

      1. Robert DISQUS Rivera

        Let’s just make it a hat trick and say that I will also pitch in some SBD if Fred joins.

    2. Dima Starodubcev

      I think our awesome community can give Fred much more than couple of SBD or STEEM. If he will he can buy it on markets. And much more than you can afford. What we can and will is disrupt publishing together. That is quite exciting.BTW @fredwilson:disqus – last post you wrote that you somehow miss a Steem train… It is not true now. Steem cap is about $ 35 mln. Traction begin to normalize. Development team is strong as never. Consensus design is the most performant and scalable on the market. Recently sister project Golos (Russian successful fork) emerge. Currently AMU (Active Monthly User) cost about $3k. That is roughly 10x from Facebook. But that means either (1) a platform is overestimated or (2) we have much more valuable users. The second is much more likely as there is no monetary value behind average Facebook user but every Steem user has self controlled digital identity, account with value and reputation. Thus its more correct to compare with states. Currently average Steem citizen is evaluated 4 times cheaper than average Joe (US Citizen – $ 3,816 bln MO / 318 mln = $12k). Thus it opens enormous opportunity no only in terms of publishing.

      1. creative group

        Dima Starodubcev:You must be STREEMS unofficial Evangelical Spokesperson.You either really believe in the platform or are selling the hell out of it for position.Are you Slavic?

        1. taoteh1221

          Creative group, welcome to the wild semi-regulated world of traded decentralized assets.

  30. Linda holliday

    1. Online publishing is a low to negative margin business2. Yet it seems to have unlimited resources for expensive custom technology (profitable businesses need to address the expense side)3. Media consumption has solidly moved into this new atomized user-controlled feed era but the commercialization units and strategies are still rooted in the ‘interruption’ past. More effective, user-friendly formats (like Citia) are the missing link to more lucrative business models.

  31. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I agree because the two activities (reading vs listening to music) are completely different. No such thing as passive reading (I don’t think!).I think that publishing begins with the person behind the writing. People pay people not posts. People fund writers on Patreon, not articles. So while I don’t think a micro-payment per-post is going to work, I do think a patronage model could definitely work. I’m not willing to pay a blanket subscription to Medium, but I’m willing to pay $1/mo to make sure my favorite writer keeps writing.Combine patronage possibly with some of what Steem is doing right and add in some premium products and services that ‘power’ users can purchase or subscribe to, and I think there’s a robust ad-free business to be had.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Oh, and patronage buys me access to patrons-only content. Pretty classic, really.

    2. Drew Meyers

      I think Twitter should buy Patreon and automatically give every single twitter account a way to easily raise money (only requirement be to connect a bank account to get paid too)

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Wouldn’t that be amazing?! That would be amazing 🙂 Hey @jack you see this?

        1. Drew Meyers

          Make it happen!

  32. Jose Paul Martin

    Thank Fred! I was trying to recall the blockchain name – Steem all day today after reading Medium! Yes, totally agree – it may not be a good idea for them to follow Spotify or streaming model which is itself broken but working (… )

    1. Krzysztof Szumny

      For sure, to not forget a name of Steem and Steemit again, you may think about creating account, just to make sure, that your favorite nickname will not be taken by someone else ;)In case of any questions, we have a great community-based “customer support” on official🙂

  33. baba12

    As most of the readers will tip toe around this topic of tokens and practical examples of services that have deployed and are successful, I shall tarnish my reputation in stating that Adult porn sites have figured out tokens and are delivering value to both content creators and the consumers of said content. I have not signed up for any of the services ever. But I know a company that started out in 2011 that built a platform for adult porn content created by members of the public and consumed by members of the public and distributed worldwide, using tokens as a way to pay for it. This isn’t difficult nor is it unique, people wont discuss it nor acknowledge it that it exists.

  34. Thomas Huynh

    Quite frankly, Medium writers and their posts aren’t at quite the same level as traditional channels. If even the newspapers aren’t necessarily getting paid, not sure how Medium will.

    1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      I’m afraid that is a massive generalisation – begging for someone to debunk it.Let me try:Many self-promoted contributors in any platform are bad.Many journalists are terrible.Regardless of my opinions (not humble) – until you have researched your topic thoroughly (and it is apparent you have not) you should wind your neck in.Certainly whatever the monetization approach adopted by Medium or other written content platforms, where participation is self-certified there will be along tail of content that few people would ever wish to read.Equally there will be pearls !These may need effective tools to surface them – but you cannot deny the existence of pearls any more that Bertrand Russell could prove the nonexistence of a teapot in orbit around earth.

  35. Abhi can also be interesting to look at.Spoiler: crypto based

  36. rbucks

    Why doesn’t Medium charge publishers and take a cut on content licensing and writer hiring?

  37. The Cryptofiend

    Hi it would be great if you crossposted your blog on Steemit too:)

  38. Judd Morgenstern

    If you read between the lines, it sounds like Medium is facing a moral conundrum, not just a business model one.”… rewarded on their [creators] ability to enlighten and inform… based on value they’re creating… for curious humans who want to get smarter about the world every day.”(This is grossly paraphrased, but sums up the sentiment appropriately.)Medium (any business for that matter) needs to serve two purposes: (1) to create value and (2) to capture value. Any discussion of how best to capture value (the business model question) begs the question of how to create value. Based on their choice of words (enlighten, inform), I’m guessing Medium is having an existential debate on market values vs. Medium’s morals.So back to the business model… alternative currencies and token-based markets are interesting, but don’t seem to naturally align to the product experience or community.Considering the value created today (through creation tools, consumption experience, content archive) there are a few obvious options:1. Platform Services (premium publishing + hosting tools, optional paywall mechanism | i.e. Automattic)2. Unbundled Editorial Subscriptions (creators set optional monthly subscription rate; subscribers not charged if creator doesn’t publish. | i.e. Patreon for editorial)3. Content Consignment (disaggregate editorial stack; handle content management + remittance with rev share. | E.G. NewsCred meets TuneCore)Without radically changing the content or consumption experience itself, paywalls are a tough sell. My guess is they explore the consignment model, creating pipelines to sell content to existing publishers and split proceeds with authors.

  39. Michael Q Todd

    We are paying bloggers and contributors on Crowdify and it is going well. Consistent daily growth. Is the best model

  40. pointsnfigures

    We are assuming “large” network. All depends how you measure that network. Just because you get an email from Medium doesn’t mean you will go to the site. I am reminded of Fred’s 30/10/10 model and wonder if it applies. Medium could be an echo chamber.