Business Startups

Morning Report: Medium’s Fiverr Moment Draws Skepticism

Morning Report: Medium is moving to a subscription-focused monetization strategy and not everyone is enthused.

Medium, a startup that has raised $132 million over 3 rounds from 21 investors, wants $5.

The decision is dividing the technology community. After laying off a chunk of its staff earlier this year and promising to take its business model in a new direction, Medium recently announced that it is pursuing a paid, subscription-financed model for its published texts.

According to various reports, Medium wants people to pay $5 monthly for access to what The Verge calls “something, eventually.” Medium itself promises a slew of potentials that subscribers will receive access to, including “exclusive stories from top writers,” “early access to a new Medium experience,” and an offline reading list.

As you can imagine, the change to Medium’s methods has struck some as a bit loony. My former employer, The Next Web’s Bryan Clark, was blunt, writing that Medium founder “Ev Williams has lost his goddamn mind.” Not everyone agrees with him, but it seems fair to say that skepticism regarding Medium’s move is high.

(Back in college, I founded a little company with some friends working on a similar idea. TechCrunch covered our birth and rapid demise.)

I highlight all of this because Medium has raised so damn much money that it has massive revenue and profit expectations stuck around its neck. That means a media-ish company run by some smart people is betting more than just its reputation that subscriptions are, in fact, the future. There is something to be said for the wager: the New York Times has reported strong recent subscriber growth, along with other more traditional publications.

But it isn’t clear yet at all if Medium can pull off its new strategy given its short history in publishing.

Taking off my observer hat, it would be great to see Medium manage to best expectations and drive quite a lot of new money into writing. To that end, I’m going to sign up with my personal card. Sadly, however, when I tried to give the company my money I ended up here:

I’ll try again later, I suppose.

Today in the Crunchbase Daily:

tartups turn to remote workers

Working for a startup need not involve moving close to the office, Crunchbase finds. Today, at least 112 global startups operate with a majority of employees working remotely. The largest remote workforce employer on the list is open source developer Canonical. Other venture-backed companies that rely heavily on remote workers include unicorns Automattic and GitHub.

DataRobot raises $54M, expects more

DataRobot, the provider of an enterprise machine learning platform, announced that it has raised $54 million in the first close of its Series C round, with funding led by New Enterprise Associates. The Boston-based company said it also expects to raise a “significant” amount of money for the second close of the round.

Kabbage in talks to raise funds for M&A

Kabbage, an online small business lender, is in talks to raise fresh funding that may be used for acquisitions, according to a Reuters report citing people familiar with the matter. One of the companies Kabbage is said to be eyeing is publicly traded rival OnDeck.

AT&T and Verizon join boycott of Google ads

Verizon and AT&T, the largest U.S. wireless carriers, joined a growing list of companies that have suspended digital advertising on Google’s YouTube and other platforms not related to search. The boycott is tied to concerns that ads may have run next to extremist videos and other offensive content.

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