Medium's Layoff and Strategy Post

Medium logoMedium CEO Evan Williams, also co-founder of Twitter, posted news about the blogging site's new direction, including 50 layoffs. His blog post is a good example of communicating bad news in a respectful, sensitive way.

In this post, Williams takes responsibility for past decisions that haven't panned out: Medium post image

Our vision, when we started in 2012, was ambitious: To build a platform that defined a new model for media on the internet. The problem, as we saw it, was that the incentives driving the creation and spread of content were not serving the people consuming it or creating it - or society as a whole. As I wrote at the time, "The current system causes increasing amounts of misinformation…and pressure to put out more content more cheaply - depth, originality, or quality be damned. It's unsustainable and unsatisfying for producers and consumers alike….We need a new model."

He also used plenty of emotional language to refer to people (e.g., "Obviously, this is a tough thing to do, made tougher by the immense respect and love we have for these people who have helped make Medium what it is today") and to refer to the business (e.g., "broken system").

Fortune reviews Williams' plan to change the business model, particularly focusing more on serving people, but the author is skeptical: "It is unclear how the company will approach the new goal."


  • What examples of emotional language do you identify in Williams' post?
  • How do you think employees reacted to the message? Consider employees both leaving and staying.
  • He's quite open about the decision and plans for the business considering this is a public blog post. Why would he take this approach?