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Medium lays off third of staff, blaming reliance on ads

Medium CEO and Twitter co-founder Ev Williams says a "broken system" of ad-driven media on the internet led to the pullback.

Medium CEO Ev Williams said the publishing platform will close its New York and Washington DC offices.
Mike Windle/Getty Images

Medium, the web-publishing site run by Twitter co-founder Ev Williams, is laying off a third of its staff because ad-supported digital media is a "broken system," Williams said in a blog post Wednesday.

The company's current trajectory risked turning it into an extension of that broken system, Williams said. As a result, the blogging platform will lay off 50 workers, mostly in sales, support and other business functions. Its offices in New York and Washington DC will close.

"Ad-driven media on the internet ... simply doesn't serve people. In fact, it's not designed to," he said, adding that "vast majority" of articles, videos and other content are paid for  by corporations to "advance their goals. As a result, we get ... well, what we get. And it's getting worse."

Designed as a simple blogging platform, Medium widened its business in the past year to become a publishing platform for news outlets, as it tested a revenue program based on ads. Liberal political site "ThinkProgress" moved onto Medium in July, and Bill Simmons' "The Ringer" launched there in February.