Person in boots standing on broken glass
Medium called its business model "an extension of a broken system." PHOTO: veeterzy

San Francisco-based Medium kicked off the year with discouraging news for publishers everywhere, warning ad-driven online media is a “broken system" and announcing it was cutting a third of its staff.

Four-year-old Medium, the online publishing company started by Twitter co-founder Ev Williams, contends its current business model was at risk of becoming "an extension of a broken system" — one reliant on ad-driven media that does not serve readers.

50 Job Cuts

Ev Williams
Ev Williams

Medium CEO Ev Williams confirmed in a blog post this week that his company eliminated 50 jobs, mostly in sales and support. It's the first step, he said, in a move to drive away from an ad-driven publishing model.

"The vast majority of articles, videos, and other 'content' we all consume on a daily basis is paid for — directly or indirectly — by corporations who are funding it in order to advance their goals," he said. "And it is measured, amplified and rewarded based on its ability to do that. Period. As a result, we get … well, what we get. And it’s getting worse. That’s a big part of why we are making this change today."

Medium is a mix of paid and non-paid content that allows writers to build user profiles. It adopted the "share" and "follower" model of many leading social networks. Its algorithms generate recommended content.

What kind of model will Williams drive now? Williams said it's too soon to share specifics of the new business model. But he's hoping for one that rewards writers and creators "based on the value they’re creating for people."

"We believe people who write and share ideas should be rewarded on their ability to enlighten and inform, not simply their ability to attract a few seconds of attention," Williams wrote. "We believe there are millions of thinking people who want to deepen their understanding of the world and are dissatisfied with what they get from traditional news and their social feeds. We believe that a better system — one that serves people — is possible. In fact, it’s imperative."

Readers, Content Still Growing

Williams said privately held Medium is thriving: In 2016 readers and published posts were up approximately 300 percent year-over-year. But without hard data to support his claims, it's hard to know exactly how the company is doing.

What is known is that Medium closed $57 million in Series B funding in September 2015, adding to the $25 million it previously raised.

Through investments in staff and technology, Medium attracted commercial publishers, big brands and promising results from content marketing campaigns. Though it drove growth, it served only as "incremental improvements on the ad-driven publishing model," Williams said. It was "not the transformative model we were aiming for."

In other technology news ...

Bitglass Secures $45 Million

Cloud security provider Bitglass secured $45 million in Series C funding. New investor Future Fund and existing investors NEA, Norwest, Singtel Innov8 were among the participants in the round, which brings Bitglass' total funding to $80 million.

Bitglass officials said the company will use the funds to expand in the US, EMEA and APAC regions. Bitglass was founded in 2013. Officials claim the company has experienced growth particularly in regulated industries, including healthcare, financial services and life sciences.

"Cloud and mobile are driving business data beyond the firewall, introducing new security and compliance risks," said Nat Kausik, CEO of Bitglass. Kausik was once principal scientist at the former Hewlett-Packard.

Bitglass's hosting enables organizations to secure BYOD and adopt cloud-based applications such as Google's G Suite, Microsoft Office 365, Box, Slack and Salesforce.

CloudCraze Closes on $20M

Chicago-based ecommerce provider CloudCraze has closed $20 million in funding led by Insight Venture Partners. Salesforce Ventures joins Insight as an additional investor.

CloudCraze is built off the Salesforce platform. Company officials said the funds will aid product development, support continued growth in the United States and EMEA, and expand the company’s team of B2B commerce experts.

CloudCraze's customers include Coca-Cola, Avid, AB InBev, Barry-Callebaut, Land O’ Lakes and Kellogg’s. Chris Dalton, CEO of CloudCraze, said in a statement the company achieved triple-digit growth in the last year.

“Based on our experience investing in companies involved in the Salesforce ecosystem, we see B2B commerce as an important investment driver for us,” said Nikitas Koutoupes, managing director at Insight Venture Partners.

Last March Gartner named CloudCraze a visionary in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce. Forrester Research also recognized CloudCraze as one of eight firms in its Wave for B2B Commerce Suites last year.

Enterprise Collaboration to Hit $49.5B in 2021

MarketsandMarkets predicts the enterprise collaboration market will grow to $26.7 billion this year and $49.5 billion by 2021. In a new report on enterprise collaboration, it also predicts widespread use of social networking websites, increased use of mobile devices and a growing need for improved enterprise efficiencies as some of the major forces driving the market.

Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) hold the largest market size in the enterprise collaboration solution market in 2016. They allow internal and external users to leverage social workflow capabilities, researchers found.

Other findings from the MarketsandMarkets report include:

  • Cloud deployment is expected to be the largest contributor to the enterprise collaboration market during the forecast period
  • The North American region is expected to contribute to the maximum market share to the overall enterprise collaboration market
  • The market is in the emerging stage in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Middle East and Africa because of the increased focus on digital workplace transformation initiatives and increase in IT investment

Core dna, Rightpoint Partner on WCM

Digital experience provider Core dna is partnering with digital agency Rightpoint to provide a Web CMS for digital marketing, content and commerce.

Core dna will provide the technology and Rightpoint will provide the digital marketing consultants. The managed solutions include corporate marketing, ecommerce, intranets and online communities.

Sam Saltis, founder and CEO of Core dna, said Rightpoint's approach to consulting aligns well with the "way we have shaped our perspective on website development and maintenance."

G2 Crowd Names Mid-Market Web CMS Leaders

In its new crowdsourced report on web content management, G2 Crowd rated HubSpot, WordPress.org and Sitefinity as leaders. Each received strong customer satisfaction scores with a large market presence.

HubSpot
The scene at HubSpot's annual INBOUND conference in Boston in November.PHOTO: Dom Nicastro

Kentico, Episerver, Ingeniux and Joomla were named high performers in the report, earning strong customer satisfaction marks with smaller market presence scores. Drupal was tabbed for the niche quadrant in the Mid-Market Grid.

HubSpot earned the highest overall satisfaction score and the highest overall market presence score. The Grid leverages customer satisfaction data reported by users along with vendor market presence determined from social and public data. G2 Crowd considered reviews from only users at companies with 51 to 1,000 employees.

The report is based on 687 reviews written by business professionals. Of the 94 products listed in G2 Crowd’s Web Content Management category, the ranked products each received 10 or more reviews to qualify for inclusion on the Grid.