Medium has raised a new round of funding, bringing in $50 million in a deal led by Spark Capital. The company sought the investment as a way to “bolster our resources … given the demand we’ve seen for the vision we are building toward.” Existing investor Andreessen Horowitz returned to put in a “significant amount,” as did GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Medium chief executive Ev Williams.
Coinciding with the funding announcement, Medium also added Ben Horowitz (yes, that Horowitz) and Judy Estrin, JLabs CEO and a pioneer who played a role in developing the foundation of the Internet today, to its board, while parting ways with Greylock Ventures’ managing partner David Sze. Greylock’s other partner on the board, Josh Elman, will remain.
In a Medium post (where else?), Williams explained that his team is focused on creating a platform where great ideas and stories can “be launched into the world — and for people to find those stories and ideas that matter to them.” A major part of this effort revolves around the Medium for Publishers tool, where publications and bloggers can access branded tools to customize the look and feel, as well as the layout, navigation, and color scheme of their site on Medium. Williams wrote that hundreds of publishers are now on the platform, including The Awl, Pacific Standard, and The Ringer.
The latest fundraising reunites Williams with Spark Capital. The firm was a major investor in his previous company Twitter, and the lead partner in today’s round, Kevin Thau, was a former coworker.
At an event in San Francisco in October, Medium’s CEO sought to explain what he pictured the platform becoming. Would it be the next Blogger, which Williams sold to Google? The next WordPress, where everyone can customize it as they see fit? Or something greater? He realized that this notion of open, free publishing was “potentially important.”
“Today, putting stuff out on the Internet today is easy. Our devices are constantly connected and we have a variety of apps to put content out there,” Williams explained. “It’s easy to trivialize all this stuff, but the fact that billions of people have the power of the printing press at their fingertips is a huge idea. It’s a huge advance for society.”
Raising $50 million is a proactive move by Medium in its drive to change the way we discuss ideas, but it’s also just $7 million less than what it raised in September.