San Francisco-based Medium — the poster child for User Generated Content — just got $57 million.

The Series B round was led by Andreessen Horowitz with "significant participation" from Google Ventures and Greylock Partners, the company announced on its website

The funds are in addition to the $25 million it already raised.

Now the blogging and social platform, which publishes a mix of non-professional contributions and professional, paid contributions, claims to be "thinking big." 

It promises to reveal the details about new features and partnerships Oct. 7.

How It Works

Medium has built a 20,000-writer machine on the theory that its website is "a better place to read and write things that matter." 

Almost anyone can share insights, such as Robert Parks, who has six followers on Twitter but earned the latest Medium tweet as of this afternoon about his short stint at a certain company in Redmond, Wash.:

Medium allows writers to build user profiles, and adopted the "share" and "follower" model of many leading social networks. Its algorithms generate recommended content. Some of its users have a few more followers than others.

Medium claims it has 25 million unique visitors per month back.

It is, in the words of Aaron Taube, "at once a premium publisher that commissions stories from high-end journalists and a social platform with an algorithmically determined homepage, a follow feature, and heaps of free-form, user-generated content."

Through a combination of algorithmic and editorial curation, posts on Medium get spread based on interest and engagement, Medium founder Ev Williams, co-founder of Blogger and Twitter, wrote in 2013.

“Some get hundreds of thousands of readers — and not because they were written by famous people," he noted.

Medium is not about who you are or whom you know, but about what you have to say, the company maintains.

Simplicity Rules

screenshot of chase bratton's profile on medium
Medium was created in 2012 and opened to the public in October 2013. It offers a "simple and elegant writing tool combined with a network centered around participation," according to a blog post by Andy Doyle, part of Medium's operations team.

Many digital media companies optimize click-through over quality, "forcing creators to learn content and marketing parlor tricks instead of allowing them to focus on creating fresh perspectives," Doyle wrote.

Medium, he said, operates in a fundamentally different way, turning the focus away from page views, unique visitors and click metrics. "We don’t litter the platform with ads that are low quality, high clutter," Doyle wrote. "We don’t tolerate bad behavior in the community. And we don’t violate people’s privacy."

Medium execs plan to use the $57 million to transform Medium into a digital powerhouse: the dominant pipeline for quality content and conversation, they claim.

"As a reader you will find all of the best stories and ideas on the internet, personalized for your interests and made richer by the activity of your Medium network," Doyle said. "As a creator you will find Medium the best place to build a voice, develop your own audience, and create value for yourself and others.

Investor = User

Ben Horowitz, founder and general partner of leading Medium investor Andreessen Horowitz, blogged today that Medium is the answer to a blogosphere that has yet to realize its potential.

He began watching Medium when Williams, co-founder of Blogger and Twitter, began developing the new platform. To test its viability, Horowitz posted on Medium himself. The post, written a couple of years earlier, was called "When Smart People Are Bad Employees." He did not promote it.

"If I’d done that on a new WordPress blog," he said, "I would probably get no more than a hundred views. Let’s see if Ev’s platform could really find an audience. The post generated 20,000 views."

Being a well-known writer, he tested the Medium platform on his wife Felicia, who had "zero technical skills" and was a "brand new author." She posted "Somewhere In-Between" on Medium and got more views than her husband — 29,000 views.

Horowitz lauded Medium's modern software with basic features such as drag and drop, WYSIWYG, autosave and responsive design features.

"This probably sounds trivial to non-bloggers," he wrote, "but if you blog it sounds miraculous. ... The best Medium posts are a combination of collaging and blogging. You include tweets, gifs, pull quotes, graphics, and videos along with your text. The social era fragmented the networks by media type. Medium gives you a way to pull it back together."

Further, he noted, Medium gives new bloggers a chance to reach an audience since it is a blogging tool.

"Perhaps more importantly than any of this," Horowitz said, "Ev and the team have a vision to make Medium a medium where independent authors can not only work with great tools and find their audience, but also earn a living thus finally fulfilling the true promise of blogging."

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