Online publishing platform Medium has led a bit of a tumultuous life. Seeking to thread the needle as it tried to be both a publisher and a writing platform, the company tried several different business models (allowing individual publications on its platform to offer paywalls, building its own publications, and more), seeing varying levels of success in the process.
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Since 2017, though, the company has employed a subscription tier, which seems to have worked reasonably well. In fact, in a recent conversation on TechCrunch’s Equity podcast, the company’s CEO Tony Stubblebine told me that the company is finally heading toward profitability at a pace that will see it get into the black by the first half of 2024.
When Medium becomes profitable, it will finally be able to fund its own efforts. For a company that has been around for 11 years and raised nine figures of capital, that’s a big moment. And for an online writing platform, that’s downright impressive.
Media is a tough game, and wringing value out of words on the internet is a never-ending battle. Here’s an excerpt from my conversation with Stubblebine about how Medium got itself back on the right path:
TC: Through some different strategies over the years, the company has grown a very large subscriber base, and I don’t think everyone knows how big it is. But I do know that back in March of 2021, you guys said you had around 725,000 paid subscribers. And then in your  State of Medium keynote, you mentioned that you had seen some churn, but had brought the ship back around and were seeing pretty rapid growth. I’m curious how big is the subscriber base that powers Medium’s economic engine today?
TS: Are you fishing for transparency and numbers from me as CEO?
That was about as politely as I could say, “Tell me the damn number, Tony.”