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Three-hit wonder | The Economist
For John Battelle of NewCo, a digital publisher that posts articles on Medium, the big question is whether the site’s focus on lengthier prose leaves it vulnerable to short attention spans. Elsewhere online, stories are increasingly told with images, emojis and videos. Mr Williams remains optimistic. Having trained people to express themselves in short, snappy quips, he believes they still have a “hunger for substance”. This may be true, but whether it makes for a thriving business is an entirely different question. Plenty of newspaper and magazine bosses can testify to that.
medium  evan_williams 
september 2016 by rufous
Why GitHub Finally Abandoned Its Bossless Workplace - Bloomberg
The mess highlighted that GitHub’s six-year experiment in self-government had come up short. Wanstrath told staff of the switch to bosses the month after his co-founder’s departure, and the software engineering department began assigning managers in the spring. The company hasn’t publicly discussed the change in detail until now. “We’re building a tool for software developers, but we’re also hacking on the future of work,” says Kakul Srivastava, GitHub’s vice president of product management. “That hacking has taken us down some pretty interesting paths, and we’re a better company because we went down those paths. But not all of those paths were the right paths.”

As GitHub has grown to about 600 employees, it says a flat organization compromised its ability to get things done. GitHub says coordination by the heads of the engineering, legal, marketing, sales, and other departments has been crucial to recent achievements, including the ability to open-source more projects than before, increase the frequency of some product updates to quarterly, and secure a major partnership this year with IBM.

Coders at Ford Motor Co., General Electric Co., John Deere, and Target Corp. are among the more than 16 million users that now rely on the startup’s services. GitHub is taking on increasingly ambitious tasks, such as organizing a two-day developer conference on Sept. 14 in San Francisco that’s expected to attract 1,500 attendees. The company,[valued](ªªhttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-15/github-said-to-seek-2-billion-valuation-in-latest-financing) atºº $2 billion by venture capitalists last year, declined to disclose revenue or other financials.

Julio Avalos, who was one of the first 100 hires when he joined in 2012, says the Preston-Warner episode helped demonstrate that some problems couldn’t be solved by the masses. While the old times created a strong sense of camaraderie, employees didn’t know who to direct questions to, either about uncomfortable confrontations with colleagues or about their own performance. “Without even a minimal layer of management, it was difficult to have some of those conversations and to get people feeling like they understood what was expected of them, and that they were getting the support that they needed in order to do the best work,” says Avalos, who’s since been promoted to chief business officer, the only C-level position besides CEO.

It was a big shift for a startup that long resisted a corporate hierarchy and prided itself on a communal culture reflecting the ethos of the open-source software it sells. Some employees were [concerned](ªªhttp://www.businessinsider.com/github-the-full-inside-story-2016-2) thatºº bosses would threaten the fun, casual work environment they had been sold on, Avalos says. “The risk in startup culture is that you fetishize that early culture and you get committed to a set of practices that eventually outlive their usefulness,” says Catherine Turco, an associate professor of work and organization at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Evan Williams, a founder of Twitter Inc., established his latest company Medium using the trendy self-management method Holacracy. The philosophy enabled employees to take initiative at an important early stage in the blogging service’s life, but it eventually became [unwieldy](https://blog.medium.com/management-and-organization-at-medium-2228cc9d93e9#.pxxjf0rfy), says Andy Doyle, head of operations. Coordinating between teams was more time-consuming, and newcomers were put off by the idea of working in such a radical corporate atmosphere. At least Medium’s experiment lasted longer than Google’s, which was abandoned after just a few months in 2002.

Several companies have managed to make it work. Zappos, the shoe retailer owned by Amazon.com Inc., has maintained its use of Holacracy despite protests from staff. In January, the company shrugged off criticism of its non-management methods, saying a [10 percent spike](ªªhttp://www.zappos.com/wow/super-cloud-teal-offer-faq) in turnover lastºº year was due mostly to the departure of longtime employees who wanted to pursue other things, not to Holacracy. While this method is the most [widely adopted](https://hbr.org/2016/07/beyond-the-holacracy-hype), according to the Harvard Business Review, several related approaches have emerged, including Podularity, where business units are organized into autonomous “pods,” or Teal, whereby workers can fill multiple, self-defined roles that best reflect their authentic self, or “inner rightness.”
github  kakul_srivastava  evan_williams  medium  holacracy  bossless  podularity  teal 
september 2016 by stoweboyd
A mile wide, an inch deep
I was recently quoted as saying, “I don’t give a shit” if Instagram has more users than Twitter. If you read the article you’ll note there’s a big “if” before my not giving of said shit. As quoted:
Evan_Williams  Instagram  Twitter  Business  StartUp_Information 
january 2015 by GameGamer43
A mile wide, an inch deep — Medium
I was recently quoted as saying, “I don’t give a shit” if Instagram has more users than Twitter…
analytics  metrics  twitter  instagram  medium  evan_williams 
january 2015 by alexmc
A mile wide, an inch deep — Medium
Evan Williams:

Most Internet companies would build better things and create more value if they paid more attention to depth than breadth. […]

If what you care about — or are trying to report on — is impact on the world, it all gets very slippery. You’re not measuring a rectangle, you’re measuring an multi-dimensional space. You have to accept that things are very imperfectly measured and just try to learn as much as you can from multiple metrics and anecdotes.

That’s why, internally, our top-line metric is “TTR,” which stands for total time reading. It’s an imperfect measure of time people spend on story pages. We think this is a better estimate of whether people are actually getting value out of Medium. By TTR, last week was still big, but we had 50% more TTR during a week in early October when we had 60% as many unique visitors (i.e., there was way more actual reading per visit).
via:daringfireball  evan_williams  metrics  growth_rates  twitter  instagram 
january 2015 by rufous
Twitter co-founder: 'I don't give a shit' if Instagram has more users - Fortune
It’s a question of breadth versus depth. Why is users the only thing we talk about? The crazy thing: Facebook has done an amazing job of establishing that as the metric for Wall Street. No one ever talks about, ‘What is a [monthly active user]?’ I believe it’s the case that if you use Facebook Connect—if you use an app that you logged into with Facebook Connect—you’re considered a Facebook user whether or not you ever launched the Facebook app or went to Facebook.com. So what does that mean? It’s become so abstract to be meaningless. Something you did caused some data in their servers to be recorded for the month. So I think we’re on the wrong path.
If you think about the impact Twitter has on the world versus Instagram, it’s pretty significant. It’s at least apples to oranges. Twitter is what we wanted it to be. It’s this realtime information network where everything in the world that happens on Twitter—important stuff breaks on Twitter and world leaders have conversations on Twitter. If that’s happening, I frankly don’t give a shit if Instagram has more people looking at pretty pictures.

To that end, Twitter is opening up its own definition of its user base. Last month Twitter CEO Dick Costolo revealed that content posted to Twitter actually reaches 500 million people each month when you take into account anyone who has seen a Tweet embedded in a webpage or another app. The takeaway? When it comes to the horse race for users, Costolo doesn’t give a…well, you know.
evan_williams  twitter  dau  fortune 
december 2014 by rufous
Ten Rules for Web Startups
Focus on the smallest possible problem you could solve that would potentially be useful. Most companies start out trying to do too many things, which makes life difficult and turns you into a me-too. Focusing on a small niche has so many advantages: With much less work, you can be the best at what you do. Small things, like a microscopic world, almost always turn out to be bigger than you think when you zoom in. You can much more easily position and market yourself when more focused. And when it comes to partnering, or being acquired, there's less chance for conflict. This is all so logical and, yet, there's a resistance to focusing. I think it comes from a fear of being trivial. Just remember: If you get to be #1 in your category, but your category is too small, then you can broaden your scope—and you can do so with leverage.
Evan_Williams  Business  StartUp_Information 
december 2014 by GameGamer43
Why the Company’s Success should be Your Focus — Inside Medium — Medium
While any company would want their people to act this way, startups are different. In a larger, established organization, it may actually be rational for an individual to put their own interests first — to compete with others internally for credit or status or control. That may work as a strategy to “get ahead,” and there is often little that one individual can do to measurably affect the success of the whole company. So, even though selfish behavior is bad for the organization, it has a minuscule effect globally. In a big organization, the net effect of putting one’s interests first could benefit the individual, especially in the short term.

But you work here. Which means: 1) You can affect the success of the whole company. 2) The most fundamental element that will impact your personal success — your career, your income, your (work) happiness — is the company’s success. On the downside, that means if we fail (yes, still possible) you have to find another job and your options aren’t worth anything and you have a non-impressive (if fondly remembered) chunk on your resume. Plus: You have to live with the grief of knowing what could have been. That will suck.
evan_williams  medium  startups 
november 2014 by rufous
The Job of Leadership — Inside Medium — Medium
The job of leadership is to foster alignment and enthusiasm toward the right goal.
This has three parts:

Alignment: A collection of good people does not make a good team if they’re not pushing in the same direction. Constant communication and adjustment is needed.
Enthusiasm: You’re doing something hard and against the odds. The only way to do this type of thing is to have a (realistic) positive attitude and inspire confidence.
The right goal: Where are we going? Is it big enough, but accomplishable? Is it still correct based on current data? How do we know if we’re making progress? These are questions you must constantly ask.
leadership  evan_williams  management 
november 2014 by rufous
Formula for Entrepreneurial Success — Medium
Failure of your company is not failure in life. Failure in your relationships is.
evan_williams  entrepreneurship 
november 2014 by rufous
Verrat und Feindschaft hinter 140 Zeichen
Kontakt zu Freunden halten - das ist eine der Ideen hinter Twitter. Doch einer der Gründer erreichte für sich persönlich das Gegenteil: Intrigen machten aus Kumpeln bittere Feinde. "New York Times"-Reporter Nick Bilton hat darüber jetzt ein Buch geschrieben.
twitter  2013  buch  nick_bilton  evan_williams  jack_dorsey  san_francisco  social_web  noah_glass 
november 2013 by paukner
Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams Lays Out His Plan For The Future Of Media
Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams has an ambitious new plan: to shift our daily reading habits away from consuming incremental news bites and towards engaging with enlightened ideas curated by an intelligent algorithm. Ordinarily, such a goal would seem utopian, were it not for the fact that Williams is among a handful of Internet pioneers who have disrupted the media industry multiple times.
2013  medium  evan_williams  medien  journalismus  twitter  social_web 
october 2013 by paukner
The Daily Routines of 7 Famous Entrepreneurs and How to Design Your Own Master Routine
Our daily routines can make a huge difference to how healthy, happy and productive we are. I’ve recently tried adjusting my own routine in the hopes of getting more done and wasting less time in-between tasks or activities.
Daily_Routines  Jack_Dorsey  SquareUp.com  Evan_Williams  Twitter  Tim_Ferriss  Habits 
september 2013 by GameGamer43
A Place for Sharing Ideas and Stories
There is plenty of media in the world already. And no matter what happens to traditional media economics, there’s nothing to stop the torrent of information rushing from smartphones, corporations, and new-fangled media startups onto the Internet, available for the world to see.
Medium  Evan_Williams 
june 2013 by GameGamer43
Evan Williams's Start-up Secret: Just Hang On
The co-founder of Twitter and Medium, perhaps best known as @Ev, explains the power of conviction when starting a company through tales of his ups and downs with Blogger and Odeo.
Evan_Williams  Medium  Twitter 
may 2013 by GameGamer43
Medium is well done, but is it the future of publishing?
Obvious Corp., the startup incubator that Evan Williams and Biz Stone put together after they left Twitter, launched an ambitious new effort on Tuesday called Medium — a lightweight publishing platform the company says is part of an attempt to rethink how (and presumably also why) we publish content on the web in an age of what our own Om Malik has called democratized distribution. The two previous offerings from Williams and Stone took aim at a similar goal: Blogger was one of the first blogging platforms, and Twitter was the first network to capitalize on the concept of real-time stream-based publishing, or what some like to call microblogging. Is Medium going to be as revolutionary? That seems unlikely — but it’s still interesting.

Williams says in his introductory blog post that Medium represents only “a sliver” of what he and his team have learned about publishing and how it needs to be reinvented. As he notes, the idea that anyone could publish their thoughts for free from anywhere and have people read them was seen as revolutionary when Blogger first started in 1999, but now that ability is taken for granted. So what comes next? Williams suggests in his post that collaboration and the crowdsourcing of quality content are two of the core principles that Medium is based on. As he puts it:

“Lots of services have successfully lowered the bar for sharing information, but there’s been less progress toward raising the quality of what’s produced. While it’s great that you can be a one-person media company, it’d be even better if there were more ways you could work with others.”

Pinterest-style collections, Digg-style voting

With all due respect, both of those concepts seem somewhat, well, obvious. What else is Pinterest but a collaboration platform that allows users to “pin,” or save, the things they like from around the web (primarily images)? The idea of crowdsourcing quality content through the votes of readers, meanwhile, was behind the rise of Digg and similar communities such as Reddit, and it also fuels much of the viral success of Tumblr. And while the Obvious founders say they want to make it easier for people to publish and share content, you could argue that Tumblr pretty much has a lock on that phenomenon.

There are other offerings based on the themes of curation and instant publishing as well: RebelMouse, which was launched recently by former Huffington Post technology whiz Paul Berry and his team, uses your social-networking activity to create a curated page of content that you can organize however you wish, while the Svbtle network arrived in March as a simplified blog platform with a stripped-down design.

Of course, both of the things Williams is famous for also looked either unnecessary or unimpressive, and in some cases both. Blogger was cool if you were a geek and wanted your own website, but it was far from obvious at the time that self-publishing was going to become something huge or crack open the media industry in a fundamental way. And Twitter looked so ephemeral (not to mention the ridiculous name) that many people dismissed it as a plaything for nerds that would never amount to anything. So as Aaron Levie of Box.net noted on Twitter, it doesn’t pay to underestimate Williams when it comes to this kind of thing.

When you look at Medium, which is still to some extent in invitation-only alpha mode (users can see content, but only a small group of invitees can create it), it looks a lot like a mashup of Pinterest and Tumblr. Like Pinterest, it focuses on the creation of collections that are based around certain topics or themes, such as “Been There. Loved That.” The design, which is clean and a lot easier on the eyes than most blogs or websites, works well with large photographs but not so well with submissions that are just text, which can look a little like a bad RSS reader.

Reinventing publishing for a stream-based world
As Josh Benton notes in a thoughtful post at the Nieman Journalism Lab, one of the things the platform does that is unlike both Blogger and Twitter is that it subverts the notion of the author as the most important thing about the content. While that personal aspect of publishing has been one of the core principles behind blogging — and Twitter has popularized the idea of a “personal brand” that journalists and content creators develop by connecting with their fans — Medium is focused more on the value of the content, regardless of who is producing it or voting on it.

Instead of a blog or collection showing whatever is the newest thing — the typical reverse-chronological format used by most blogs and publishing platforms — Medium sorts according to popularity, in much the same way that Digg does (in a similar way, tools like Prismatic sort items based in part on the social activity around that content). Is the combination of a topic focus and a voting system enough to make Medium something magical, in a way that will propel it beyond Pinterest and Tumblr and the growing cohort of other social-web tools and publishing platforms? I would hate to count it out, but I’m just not sure.

There’s no question that publishing needs to be reinvented for the social age, and in their own way services like BuzzFeed and the recently launched Branch (also incubated by Obvious Corp.) are trying to attack different aspects of that. Former Typepad executive and media theorist Anil Dash recently wrote on his blog about how much of the online publishing world is still stuck in the traditional “blog post” mindset, while all around us we are consuming content in streams — whether it’s our Twitter feed, Facebook updates or the curated feeds we get through tools like Flipboard.

Does Medium fit into that social-publishing, stream-based world? I suppose it does, although in some ways it feels like a mashup of all the other tools that are out there rather than something with a compelling feature of its own. It’s true that Twitter took a while to take shape — and even its own creators didn’t really know what they had until users started inventing new ways of using it. So is Medium the future of publishing? That’s hard to say, but it is certainly an interesting piece of an ongoing puzzle.

Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Flickr user Rosaura Ochoa
blogger  Dave_Winer  Evan_Williams  Future_of_Media  media  Medium  platform  publishing  Twitter  from google
august 2012 by davebriggs
Twitter Keynote Gets Thumbs-Down -- on Twitter - NYTimes.com
This time it wasn’t long before dozens began leaving their seats and streaming toward the back of the ballroom. “There’s a line to get OUT of the @ev keynote,” Conrad Lisco tweeted.

After the event, Mr. Williams took to perhaps a more comfortable platform to address those who were  dissatisfied. He posted a message on Twitter inviting people to fire questions at him:  “I heard on the backchannel that people want me to answer tougher questions. What’ya want to know? Will answer 10. Go.”
evan_williams  sxsw  interview  nytimes 
november 2011 by rufous

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