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Ev Williams's Medium Raises $57 Million for the 'Best Stories and Ideas on the Internet'

The Twitter co-founder's new company is now worth more than $400 million.

Asa Mathat / Re/code
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Medium, the publishing platform hatched by Twitter co-founder Ev Williams, has raised $57 million in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz.

It’s the three-year-old company’s second funding round, and people familiar with Medium say it places a $400 million pre-money valuation on the startup.

In the old days, that might have seemed like a lofty number for a company that has yet to generate much revenue and doesn’t have eye-popping user numbers to boast about; today it seems like a modest sum.

You can read about the company’s rationale for raising more money (it had previously raised $25 million) and a state-of-the-state from Andy Doyle, Medium’s operations head, over here. Williams and Medium are famously averse to talking about metrics, so the only one you’ll find there is that 20,000 people are creating Medium posts each week; Doyle tells Re/code that that number is up 4x in the last year.

What about traffic, registered users or other numbers that would give you a sense of how Medium’s doing? Doyle won’t say. “We don’t focus on page views, unique visitors or click metrics,” he writes in his post. In May, Medium said it was attracting 25 million unique visitors a month.

Medium is Williams’ attempt to solve a problem most people didn’t know they had: In an age when anyone with a phone can blast whatever they want to the entire world, he thinks that digital publishing is still too hard for most people. It’s not just enough to post something, Williams argues — you want people to see what you’ve posted.

Medium is supposed to solve that by creating a new kind of social network, one that makes it easy to find stuff you want to see as well as stuff you didn’t know you wanted to see.*

But by the company’s own admission, it hasn’t figured that part out yet, and only a small percentage of Medium readers log in to the service, where they can take advantage of most of its networking features. That means for now Medium is closer to Blogger, Williams’ first company, than Twitter, his second effort.

Some of that could change soon, if a new set of features and a revamped app help. Medium is likely to unveil those at an event it is hosting on Oct. 7.

Also coming: Ways for people who post stuff on Medium to get paid for their work. Medium has experimented with advertising a bit in the past, but only recently signaled that it was actually gearing up to generate revenue. In March, the company hired ad sales exec Joe Purzycki from Vox Media; last month, Williams said the company was mulling revenue options including selling “branded content” advertising, as well as placing some stuff behind a paywall.

For many years Williams was primarily a behind-the-scenes Internet mogul, but in recent months he has become more voluble. In February, he sat down with Re/code’s Kara Swisher at our Code/Media event — you can see that interview below or read a transcript of it here. I’m biased but it’s worth your time.

* For extra credit, read this very sharp post about distribution from Andreessen Horowitz’s Benedict Evans, which riffs on Medium, BuzzFeed and the new options available to digital content makers today. “Blogging tools are a commodity but the network is not.”

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