John Battelle Interviews Ev Williams, CEO/Founder of Medium
Talk about a meeting of the minds! John Battelle (Wired, Federated Media, NewCO) sat down on stage to interview Ev Williams (Blogger, Twitter, Medium) and let’s just say that he left no stone unturned. Their conversation ranged from the future revenue strategy for Medium and their plans for bringing brands into the picture (Marriot is one of few brands already publishing on Medium today), the “dark arts” of Facebook and their monopolization of content distribution, right down to Williams’ personal reflections on the state of Blogger and Twitter since his departure.
Williams beat around no bushes when it comes to the challenges publishers are facing and will continue to tackle as Facebook and other platforms (perhaps Medium is in that mix now?) further encrypt their secrets to discovery. But while some of his postures were bleak at best – see Forbes article titled “Medium’s Ev Williams to Publishers: Your Website is Toast” – he was optimistic about the potential for publishers to share their voice and ideas through online content.
Williams also had a strong reaction to questioning from Battelle about the current advertising ecosystem.
Williams: Native ads are the only thing that can work. Other stuff hasn’t been a win-win especially for users. It’s on its last legs. I’m not saying you’re done. It’s not tomorrow. But everybody knows the banner on the web page is not going to be paying your bills in five years. Not a video or a takeover either.
Battelle: Isn’t there some value in connecting the right advertiser with the right group of people?
Williams: But Facebook will do that. It’s just not going to be on your website.
And my personal favorite moment from the interview…
Battelle: What do you think of Blogger as it is today?
Williams: It kills me… Blogger was the first company Google ever bought. They didn’t kill it. In that era, thousands of small companies went to big companies.. and got shut down. I appreciate that, though I was frustrated the whole time. But there was a period of a year after I left when it didn’t even have a product manager… even though it was the biggest site on the Internet.
Battelle: What’s going on with Twitter? Will it be fine?
Williams: …Everything’s going to be fine.