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Medium at Large: Ev Williams Talks With Kara Swisher

The man who co-founded Blogger, and then Twitter, explains what he’s doing with Medium.

Asa Mathat / Asa Mathat Photography

Ev Williams built two of the most important publishing companies of the digital age. Can he do it a third time?

At the Code/Media conference, the man who co-founded Blogger and then Twitter explained what he’s doing with Medium in an onstage interview with Re/code Co-Executive Editor Kara Swisher.

Medium seems straightforward to Williams. But the split personality of the company — sometimes it’s a do-it-yourself publishing platform, sometimes it’s a digital magazine published by people Williams pays — takes some work to get across. It’s easier to understand why Williams keeps building companies that let people communicate with the world: “I was a shy boy in the cornfields in Nebraska. So I just, you know, wanted friends, I guess. Like everybody else.”

Medium garners a lot of attention because it’s from the guy who helped create Twitter. And since Williams is on Twitter’s board — and owns a big slug of its stock, which has made him a billionaire a couple times over — it’s worth hearing about what he thinks about that company, too. So Swisher asked, and he answered.

You can read Williams’ answers, and the rest of the conversation, via an edited transcript below. And because Re/code wants you to consume our media in whatever way you want, we’ve given you some other options, too: You can watch the full video of the chat, or edited highlights. And if you just want to listen, that’s okay: There’s a SoundCloud file embedded here, as well. Enjoy!

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


See the full interview below:


Kara Swisher: There’s so much to talk about. There’s so much going on. Do you want to start with the state of your management at Twitter, or do you want to start about what I have to say to get you to tell me to fuck off?

Ev Williams: Oh, well, you can start at either of those places. One might lead to the other, actually.

Yes. So let me explain the “fuck off” thing. Recently, Evan, who is, like, super shy — would you call yourself shy?

Very shy.

You are, and most Silicon Valley people really don’t know when to shut up, and you haven’t been one of those. And recently you’ve been posting quite actively and quite strongly on lots of issues. And in a post recently about what Medium is — let’s start with Medium — he told Sarah Lacy to fuck off. Which was fascinating, which doesn’t happen that much, but it was interesting. It was the last line of the piece, and I literally went “Whoa!” Like, did he just do that? No, he didn’t.

It wasn’t clear that the piece was to Sarah Lacy.

Yes, it was.

It was about Sarah Lacy’s piece, and then I just told the reader to fuck off.

Oh, I see, okay.

You could interpret it in different ways, I think.

In any case, that’s what I interpreted, and I sort of envied her for being told to fuck off.

She responded in good nature.

I thought so. What I’m more interested in is the issues that you guys were arguing about there, where she wrote a piece about what Medium is. People call it lots of different things — what is the word?

Platisher.

Which is a platform publisher.

So let’s talk about what you think it is. Peter [Kafka] called it — is it fish or fowl? What do you consider it? Is it a platform or a publisher or both, or do you not care at all?

Medium the product is a publishing platform. Medium the company builds a publishing platform most of time. We also, in order to make sure it’s as good as possible, publish on that platform. So Medium the company is both a publisher and a platform, but our effort is to build the best publishing platform there is.


Listen to the full interview below:


So, in that vein, your competitors would be the WordPresses of the world, all kinds of different CMS systems.

Sure, yeah.

When you think about your company like that, it’s a very different situation than when you’re a publisher, because a lot of people have given you all a hard time for saying you’re a platform and then putting some stuff on Medium that’s been controversial, or has had to have been taken down. You don’t want them to take it down. Correct?

Well, it’s certainly their right, but, yeah, there’s been nothing except — well there’s been the usual platform things that we take down, like certain types of abuse or plagiarism. But controversial things we don’t take down. Controversial things are great.

Asa Mathat / Asa Mathat Photography

Let’s talk about that responsibility. There’s two parts of it — one is, is it being used, what’s it being used for? And we’ll get to that in a second. But do you feel like as a publisher you have the responsibility for what’s on there? Because I feel like I do on our site [Re/code].

Yeah, for the things we publish, yes. If you think about it in terms of other platforms, it gets easier. So Twitter is a platform, YouTube is a platform. If Google puts a video on YouTube, they are responsible for that video. If Joe Blow puts a video on YouTube, Google is not responsible for the contents of that video. And so the same thing — we publish Matter; if I write something on Medium, I’m responsible for what that says, but that’s where the distinction is.

But isn’t that just a tiny bit convenient? You’re not more responsible for, you know, the crappy things — not me, the stuff I’m responsible for — because, you know, if people put, if we do op-eds, or we link to things, I feel like we’re responsible for putting them up there.

Yeah, but you don’t run a service where anyone can sign in and put up anything they want, which is the case with Medium.

So you don’t feel like you have to edit that, or curate it in any way?

No, we do curate it, actually, because we try to help good stuff float to the top. But we don’t edit it or moderate it, any more than Automattic moderates what goes onto WordPress.

Except WordPress is very different because they don’t put themselves out as that kind of publisher. Or do they? I mean, maybe you think they do.

Well, I don’t know. They don’t run, they publish. They have a blog. They publish that stuff. On WordPress. They’re responsible for that.

Yeah, but that’s more like, “We’ve just added 16 new features, please try them.” That’s a little different.

That’s a matter of the content. But technically it’s the same thing.

Yes, but that’s just — but it’s not.

Okay, well, so think about it as other types of platforms, not content platforms.

All right.

So the iPhone is a platform.

Right.

Apple makes that. They also make apps that go on that platform. They’re responsible for those apps. They didn’t make the other apps.

But that’s like something that you’re going to use to do your contact list or maps or things like that.

Sure.

Which some people found appalling at the very beginning. But that’s a different kind of thing. These are words that can hurt. Like there was the one about the San Francisco one. It’s a little different. It’s a little different to be a publisher.

Yeah, yeah.

So what do you think the modern-day publisher is responsible for? Since you’re trying something different. Clearly you’re trying to create a different …

The modern-day publisher?

Yeah, what is a modern-day publisher?

Well, pretty much everyone is a publisher in the modern day. So individuals in organizations, every organization in the world is a publisher usually at least about their own stuff. And then there are commercial publishers who actually that’s what their main job is, and they’re responsible for creating good stuff. Hopefully there’s a sense — if they do journalism there’s a sense of trying to get out the truth and, you know, tell accurate stories that enlighten and inspire or reveal things that are meaningful.

Asa Mathat

So what do you think you’re doing? Because you have Blogger, Twitter — you’re doing a lot of publishing platforms. What are you trying to get at? What happened to you in your youth that causes you to want to do this?

Well, I was a shy boy in the cornfields in Nebraska. So I just, you know, wanted friends, I guess. Like everybody else.

But what are you trying to get at? What is the goal here for you?

The goal, the reason I started Medium after doing all of this other stuff, and I started in 2012, was because I felt like it was different than Blogger and Twitter. And Blogger we sort of stumbled into, and then after stumbling into it I realized, this is very powerful. The idea that anyone can publish something that a large part of the world can see is a nontrivial thing, and it’s one of the great promises of the Internet, and the one that always inspired me much more than e-commerce or anything else. And what Blogger really did is they made that real for many, many more people. We figured out, well, here’s the forum, and here’s the tools in order to make that real.


Williams discusses why he started Medium in the video below:


And that was a pure publishing platform, would you say?

Yes.

Not publishing platform, just a platform.

It was really just a tool. And I got into this notion that people having a voice, and more of the democratization of media, was a really big deal and a meaningful thing. And Twitter was really a continuation of that for me, and we lowered the barrier substantially, got many more people putting their thoughts and ideas out there, and we really built both of those with the ethos that more people having a voice in the world is a good thing. And I still strongly believe that to be true, and it’s something we pretty much take for granted today.

But when I started Medium, I thought, well, we’ve pretty much done that. It’s as easy to put a thought out to the world as it is to send a text message. We can check off that box as the Internet. We’ve accomplished that. Now what else can we do? And it’s clear that when it comes to the ideas and stories that people tell and consume and that affect their world on an individual and societal level, we’re not doing the best job we possibly can.

And the Internet can do more than just lower the barrier to put things out there, and we can do all kinds of more things. We can help people direct their attention to things that are more meaningful, we can help people create things together that are better than things they can do on their own. And we can push forward formats and storytelling and all kinds of things in this digital world that we haven’t even scratched the surface on yet. So that was a set of ideas that I tackled Medium with, and said, we need to just keep going with this.

That’s sort of like priming the pump in a lot of ways. You’re trying to get good different stuff out there. But are you trying to do something different? Because, some of the stuff on there, I’m just not really clear what you’re publishing idea is, because some of it is — excuse me for saying this — but it’s like bloviating entrepreneurs telling people how to live.

Sure.

There’s those posts that are interesting, but, you know, Silicon Valley people like to do that. There are some that are really quite provocative. There are some that are ridiculous. There are some — I mean it’s really …

We’re not deciding what people write.

Right, but even the stuff you all put up. It does the gamut. Now I’m not saying we [at Re/code] don’t put up idiotic crap, but we try not to, and we try to do a certain tone. Is there a tonality that you have that you want?

For each of our publications, there’s a tone. Steven Levy publishes his technology publication called Backchannel.

What did you tell when you were hiring him? “I want to hire you, because I want you to what?” You’re footing the bill. You’re hiring someone who is a prominent journalist.

I’m trying to remember what I told him. But he actually came to me, but he said, “I want to do something new and I want to tell great stories, I want to be part of the future of media and not the past, and I want to go on this journey with you and figure out how to do all of this better.”

But you didn’t have anything of what it should be, any concept? Because publishers do have a conceptual idea of things.

Well, we talked, yeah we did. We talked about what Backchannel would be, but it’s his vision.

And you’re just funding that. But you don’t have, like, a point of view that you want to put out, for example.

Not as a publisher. I mean, I have points of view, and I will write them and publish them on my own. I’m not regularly talking to Steven, or Mark Lotto, who runs Matter. Or Jonathan Shecter ,who runs our music magazine, about you know we should really do this story or this story should be more like that. I have conversations with them about what will work and the types of things that they should be doing — not even content-wise, but more form-wise.

So, you don’t meddle, particularly. Would you call yourself a meddler? Publishers have been known to meddle.

I meddle on the product side. I meddle very little on the content side.

Like, this photo would be better, or if you did it this way, or that kind of thing?

I talk about the design, but not the content.

Interesting. So, how do you look at what’s happened, say, with Pierre [Omidyar]? Because you’re all trying different things. Pierre at his thing, and Chris Hughes, who just wandered into the biggest hornets’ nest of all time. How do you look at that?

A couple of things that are different is, what I do 95 percent of my time is really thinking about how to build the best platform possible, and there are publications that we run. We have a set of people doing that to help inform that process and to help get the flywheel going for that platform. So it’s not that I’m not concerned about the publishing efforts, it’s just I leave those up to other people, whereas Pierre and Chris, I think, were doing a noble thing and saying we want to either create or continue important journalistic institutions that tell important stories because the world needs that. And that is just a different mission.


Asa Mathat

What do you think happened in both of those cases?

I don’t care to speculate on that.

Well, do you worry about that?

For me?

Yeah.

No.

No, because?

It just doesn’t — I mean, looking at my own company and the people in it and my relationship with them, it’s just like, it’s not a volatile situation.

So you don’t have a point of view or a thing you want out, or anything like that. It’s interesting that you don’t …

I have lots of points of view, but I don’t use our publications to forward that.

That is a new kind of publisher. Talk about what you were … you put 25 million in funding. Correct? Is that right? Something like that.

Something — that’s the story that you broke. It was a little high. But Greylock invested about a year ago. They’re a lead investor in our first outside round. I had funded it up until that point.

Why did you take … I’m curious, you’re a wealthy man, you could have done this yourself.

Yeah.

What was the impetus for doing this?

I funded it up until that point, and was happy to keep doing so from an investor perspective. From my CEO hat, I thought, well, a company is healthier if it has a more diverse set of investors. As a CEO, I want someone else around the table who had skin in the game and could hold me accountable and give me feedback. And for the sake of my employees and other shareholders, I want them to have the confidence that there is someone who shares their interest who is not just me. I want to eliminate any idea that this is a hobby of mine.

Right, though many publications in the past have been hobbies of wealthy men.

Publications, yes. Not major software platforms with dozens of people working.

So you think about it as a business. You’re hoping to make money. Do you make money now?

We have some revenue. We’re not profitable.

How much revenue do you have? And from what?

I don’t know the total amount of revenue. It’s not a meaningful amount of revenue, but we’ve done some brand-marketing-type publications. BMW and Marriott and Intel and Motorola have all published on Medium, and we’ve helped them, and they paid us money for that.

So what’s your business hopes for this? To do what?

I hope to build something very large, and that will take money and make money. I mean, if you can build a very substantial content platform on the Internet, there’s no doubt that will make money, and we definitely want to make money, because that will help fuel it and make it better.

Right, but through advertising? What do you think the way publishers make money now? What are your thoughts on that? Since you have a business that’s trying to create that.

Well, “how will you make money in your Internet startup” is always such a trap question. Before you’re doing so. Because you can speculate, and you say, but if we’re building a content platform, there’s not that many ways to go. If you do that at scale, there’s definitely an advertising business. That has been proven and repeated, and it’s obvious, and that’s what we did with Twitter. And for years it was like, well. how is Twitter ever going to make money? And I was like, this is …

No, but do you have new ideas for publishers making money? I’m going to take notes.

Well, there are other things besides advertising. I think different types of content can be monetized in different ways. Some of it can be paid for, and premium content has a place in the world. And then there’s services, and whether services of individuals or software services that can all be tied in there. And they’re all …

What about selling the system, the CMS system?

Yeah, that would fall in the category of services. You can imagine all kinds of things, from when BuzzFeed makes money through a combination of advertising and services creating the content. And there’s all kinds of businesses around that. So I don’t know exactly which ones will make up the majority of our business, but right now we’re experimenting, we’re helping brands publish on the platform, we’re making money from that primarily in order to learn and to grow the platform.

I’m going to finish up with this, and then I wanted to ask about Twitter. You have this TTR, is that right? Total Time Read, is that right?

Yeah.

Asa Mathat

You’ve been trying to change metrics a lot. You discussed metrics, and what people shouldn’t pay attention to. TTRs versus users or uniques or page views. I’m going to let you explain why, because some people might say, “well, you don’t have that many page views or users, so let’s change the metrics.”

First of all, it’s not “versus,” necessarily. I think that a lot of the Internet and tight coverage of the Internet focuses on a very, on a distorting set of metrics. By far the primary one is number of users or monthly active users or unique visitors, if you’re more on the content or website. And by saying I think that’s not the only important thing, I’ve been misunderstood of saying that’s not important — that is important.

We want to reach people, we want a lot of people to use our service. I want a lot of people to use Twitter, but the analogy I’ve used is that’s like measuring a rectangle by talking about width and not length, and it’s just it’s meaningless on its own, or it’s at best half the story on its own, or a third of the story.

So what every advertiser and publisher knows, and every Web user who knows that if you land on a Web page, you’re there for three seconds and it doesn’t even load and you go away. Even though the server counts you as a user or a visitor, you’ve got no value. It was a waste of your time. The advertiser got no value. The publication didn’t tell anyone a story, and yet we act as if that’s the same thing. And my point about monthly active users was if you log into some service with your Facebook account, Facebook provided you a service, but you’re counted as a monthly active user of Facebook. We should just note that that’s what it is.

You’re trying to change the idea of total time — meaning they’re there on your site, adding value.

For us, this is a completely internal thing. We said, okay, what are we optimizing for? Because we don’t want to trick ourselves and fall into some trap where we are optimizing for the wrong thing that is not sustainable and not actually creating value. And so a better measure — if we’re going to pick one — internally, is the times people spend on these story pages, because they’re only doing that if they’re getting some worth out of it, is our theory.

Do you think you can change advertisers’ opinions about that?

A lot of advertisers really like that idea, and we’ve talked to them about it. And advertisers aren’t stupid. They know the same thing. It’s like a banner ad on a page that someone visits for three seconds isn’t that valuable to them. There’s a lot of systems that are going to pour money into that.

Let’s move to Twitter for a minute, because that’s been your ongoing sort of — I don’t know what it is with Wall Street, but they’re very interested in your growth, your monthly active users. You’ve talked about that this is not important. Is that what you’re saying in this?

I’ve said it’s not looking only at that number.

When you were talking about Instagram, you talked about, “I don’t give a shit.” Can you explain that quote? I know there was a whole quote before that.

There was a whole — yeah. It was as long as Twitter is doing the things it’s doing in the world, which is lots of important things for lots of people, it’s where people go for valuable news and information and sharing things and connecting, and world leaders are talking. And a friend of mine just posted on Medium yesterday, or I read it yesterday, about how when David Carr, died the natural thing to do was to go to Twitter, and there was this incredible outpouring, and there was nowhere else to get that.

That’s an important thing that Twitter is doing in the world, and saying, “well, Instagram is bigger, they have more people sharing pictures,” I’m like, that’s irrelevant. You may as well say that more people watch TV. Yes, more people watch TV. I’m not trivializing TV, I’m just saying that’s not relevant to how many people are using Twitter, and it’s not what we’re trying to do.

But you still are sort of catering to Wall Street and trying to up those numbers, Or are you unable to do that?

Well, that’s Dick’s [Costolo] job.

Yes, it is. I will talk about that in a minute. Do you think you cater too much to that idea, or can you shift the thinking?

I think Wall Street does not have a sophisticated understanding of what creates value in this world, and hopefully it will improve over time, and that’s a conversation that I’m trying to start.

Okay. Wow, that’s kind of an interesting reaction. But when you say, but you took their money, and you went public, and they get to determine what’s interesting to them. Correct?

Apparently, yeah. That’s how it works.

That’s the way capitalism works, just so you know.

Yeah.

When you said that, I thought, well, he’s right from a laudable point of view, but he did take the money. So it’s kind of an interesting … or Twitter took their money.

I’m not trying to argue with Wall Street about what they should value. I’m hopefully speaking to long-term investors in any technology, anything, because how many companies have gotten a lot of money, and we’ve seen go like this and then like this? It’s based on the same fallacy.

So should Twitter be huge? Should you be — like Nick [Denton] was talking last night — that Twitter shouldn’t compare itself to Facebook, but yet people make the comparison. Do you think that’s a comparison that should be made as its founder? Is that what you were aiming for when you created Twitter? Or to create this global information system of quality news links and people talking to each other?

Well, you can’t help comparing them. They’re two major things that obviously are pretty similar in functionality in many ways, and much similar — more similar than they used to be. When we started Twitter, we had never seen Facebook, at least Jack and Biz [Stone] and myself. Facebook existed for two years or whatever it was, and it was behind — you know, we didn’t go to fancy enough schools to have Facebook.

So it had nothing to do with what we were creating. And then later we realized they have this status thing, which was sort of an afterthought on Facebook, and became a major thing. So, no, it’s not what we were trying to do. From the beginning, the idea of an information network that was an asymmetric follow graph versus a friend graph painted the picture that they were very different things. Eventually, all big things start to collide and overlap and run into each other. It’s like Apple and Google didn’t used to be competitors, and now they are.

So what should Twitter be assessed on? What success? Besides that world leaders like it, and we all remember David Carr. I mean, those are all laudable things, but that’s different than a business.

Well if you want to do a Wall Street-type evaluation, look how much money it makes. That’s one metric. The number of people is important, but I don’t want to define what the metric for Twitter is. It’s something we can talk about at the board and in the company. There’s not one metric, and there’s certainly, there’s no one metric for Medium, either.

What do you think the most important metrics for each of those are? If you had to pick.

I don’t think I’m going to answer that question.

Okay. How about this one? How is Dick Costolo doing as CEO?

Great.

I love that. That’s a good look. That kind of stopped me. Well done. Look, he’s looking at the time. How do you assess what’s going around, all the swirl around his management? I mean you were CEO yourself. You know this swirl.

Yeah, yeah. You know, it’s a lot of noise and Twitter has always been a very public brand that people like to talk about, and so people are talking about it. I think Dick is doing a great job, and he’s made a lot of changes that I’m super excited about. I’m super excited about the new team that’s in product and engineering. If you look at what they’ve done just over the last six weeks in launching product changes, I think it’s very gratifying. I’m excited about the whole team for the long-term future.

And what do you see next — you’re still the chairman of the board. What is something that you want to see happen?

Jack is the chairman, but …

Jack [Dorsey] is chairman, sorry.

But on the board. What do I want to see? I don’t think I’m supposed to talk about the future of Twitter.

By the way, when I asked that question, you did give me a “Fuck you, Kara” look. It was a good one, though. It was well done. I heard it very loud and clear. Questions from the audience?


Ryan Lawler: One of the things that I personally find really interesting and would love to see Medium do is to allow people to publish outside of Medium, as in, on my own domain, and it could live in both places. I’m wondering how you think about that, and what you think of the role as a content-publishing platform versus a place where people will go to read the stuff that’s published on that platform.

We’ve actually tried to figure out the best way to do that, to allow you to publish using Medium tools and publish in multiple places.

Kara Swisher: Like the way Twitter would, the way you can put tweets …

You can embed stuff, and is it embedding, or is it through an API to your blog? And then there’s lots of questions about that, like, what’s the canonical source, and all that? So we’re not opposed to that fundamentally. I don’t like the idea of, like, all content is just everybody, because I think it’s not going to be a good user experience.

Kara Swisher: Meaning there should be different destinations.

Well, yeah, there can be. Anyone who publishes something has a right to put it anywhere. What I think will be more interesting over time is when the conversation and the notes and the collective reaction to something that’s published is more aggregated, and that’s what we’re trying to do on Medium. So if we figure out a good way to do that, we will do it. But it’s not a primary focus, because what we’re really trying to do is create a place where the whole is really greater than the sum of the parts. And where, because you’re in this network, you get both qualitative and quantitative feedback that is meaningful, and you spur conversations, and I can respond to something you said, and on equal footing.

Kara Swisher: So, the idea of a place.

A place. A network that’s vibrant.

Kara Swisher: What do you think about the idea of putting everything on Facebook, for example, putting all of your publishing?

Well, it seems like that is certainly something that lots of publishers are going to be faced with as a choice, and will probably work really well, because it will be fast, and they’ll know lots about the audience and stuff. I think it’s a scary world if all of the content is on Facebook.

Chris Schreiber: First of all, I just wanted to say thank you for building Medium. I think it’s been an incredible thing. It has really reserved a place for meaningful content. I can’t really think of any platform I would describe that as. So thank you for that. On that subject, though, I’m curious of what the future of Medium looks like. It’s a very sparse design, which is the best part about it, it’s very minimalist and there’s mostly editorial focus. But I was just looking through recent Steve Levy posts, and it was mostly video done in a really kind of interesting execution, but it was a very multimedia …

The Twitter one with the …


Asa Mathat

Chris Schreiber: Yeah, about the neuroscience stuff. And that got me thinking, is the visual future of Medium very multimedia-based, and do we lose some of that clean design, or where do you see that heading?

Kara Swisher: It’s got big colorful lists, and shit like that.

In my opinion, it’s almost too sparse — in fact, we did a redesign of the navigation late last year, and it’s a little less sparse. We put more things on the page because we realized it was too cryptic. So it will always be our main focus to build the best user experience possible, but a lot of people are sometimes, like, “well, there’s nothing there.” Like, “I’m confused.” And so we tried to correct for that. And in terms of form, we’ve always been agnostic in terms of what Medium is. Some people call it a long-form publishing, and it was never meant to be long-form primarily — in fact it was supposed to be medium-length publishing.

Kara Swisher: That’s funny. Who thought up the time thing?

I don’t know. That was a good idea. One of the geniuses on my team, I think. But there is video and audio, and we’re trying to figure out better ways to incorporate different types of media. I don’t think it’s going to spoil the design at all. I think it’s going to enrich it, really, so we’ll experiment with all of those things, but it will still be good.

Steve Wildstrom: Going back to what you were saying early on about you or Medium and Automattic. There’s a long-established law on how the responsibility is passed on from printed matter, who is responsible for what. For online, there’s not much yet. How do you think that gets resolved, who is responsible for what, and basically who ends up having to pay for what goes on?

Kara Swisher: Libel, or something like that.

Steve Windstorm: It’s a “libel” question.

Kara Swisher: Like if something is published, is it, I mean you can say, “we’re like Google.” Right? That’s essentially what you said.

Steve Wildstrom: Especially taking something like Medium, where you have two different kinds of publications, but it’s very hard for readers to tell them apart unless they know. Some are done by your employees, some are done just by people.

I think this will get easier over time to understand, and the publisher of the content is always the one responsible for it. And I would still, despite Kara’s resistance, argue that it’s the same as …

Kara Swisher: YouTube.

Say Comcast. Comcast owns a lot of the shows that are on Comcast, and they don’t own other shows, and maybe that’s a bad analogy, because it’s also not open. Not just anyone can put …

Kara Swisher: I think my issue with this is you’re trying to have it both ways, and it’s really hard. I mean, as you start to hire more — he’s right, it is confusing. You don’t know which is, sometimes you don’t, but maybe if you differentiate.

So we will work on making that clearer. But if we are there, I would argue that if you go on Twitter, like what do you know about who exactly said that, and what were their motivations? It’s always a question with every platform. There’s a name attached to …

Kara Swisher: But Twitter didn’t hire journalists, Twitter didn’t — you’re trying something out, two things at once. It’s sort of riding two horses, which I think is fascinating, but …

All right. It doesn’t seem that confusing to me. But …

Do you plan on hiring a lot more journalists?

Stewart Alsop: Hey Ev? Just look Kara in the eyes and satisfy all of us and just say “Fuck off.”

Kara Swisher: Thank you, Stewart.

Thanks, Stewart.

Kara Swisher: You do that, you do that in your own special way every day, Stewart. But are you going to hire a lot more journalists? Is that the way you’re going or are you going to go …

We may. We’re not focusing on that right now. We need to make the publications work on Medium, and that’s …

Kara Swisher: So there’s no more of — you’re going to not do more of those? You feel like you’ve done enough?

We’re not not going to do more, but we’re trying to make them work. It’s largely an experiment to say like we have the organic and community-generated content. More and more people are publishing their ideas and stories on Medium — more individuals. And I think that will be the majority of the platform, long-term. We’re trying to also make this commercial and professional content work. We’re trying to do that on our own, because we don’t know if it will work yet, and we think we can learn faster if we do it on our own. It’s best if we can make that work, and lots of other people do it, and then the fact that we do some is sort of a footnote.

Kara Swisher: Well, thank you, Evan. I would hire you as a journalist myself. I think you’re a great writer, actually, as it turns out. And it’s interesting to see what will happen next. Thank you very much, Evan.

Thank you.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.