Evan Williams, the serial tech entrepreneur who co-founded Twitter, said in a post Tuesday that he was stepping down as CEO of Medium, the company he founded that was seeking to reinvent internet publishing.
Mr. Williams, known as “Ev” in tech circles, said in the post that he planned to form a new company that would allow him to “spend the next few months (or years) learning as much as I can about things I don’t know much about.” of.
Medium declined to make Mr. Williams available for an interview. He said in his post that he was leaving Medium because “change and renewal are healthy,” noting that August will be his 10th anniversary as CEO.
“To be clear, the Medium story is far from over,” Williams wrote.
Medium said Mr. Williams would be replaced as CEO by Tony Stubblebine, who is currently the CEO of online coaching company Coach.me. Mr. Williams will become chairman of the board of directors for Medium, a new position.
Mr. Williams had big ambitions for Medium when he founded the company a decade ago. In a 2014 interview with The New York Times, Williams said he hoped to create a company that would reward writers for producing quality content, a counterweight to the Internet’s trend toward speed and quantity.
While Medium was successful in creating a slick online canvas for independent publishing, it never achieved the mainstream popularity of Mr. Williams’ biggest hit, Twitter. Medium has taken different strategic paths, sometimes annoying writers with its sudden shifts in focus.
In 2017, for example, Medium was one of the first online publishers to move away from advertising, a move that resulted in around 50 firings and shocked publishers who relied on guaranteed funding from the company. That same year, the company focused more on subscriptions, starting a program that gave writers compensation determined by an algorithm that took into account the number of “claps” they received from readers. Reading time, not claps, is now the primary factor determining compensation.
Other upstarts, like Substack and Ghost, have been attracting writers online as independent digital publishing has moved from blogs to email newsletters. (Medium also offers an email newsletter tool.)
A spokeswoman for Medium, which is a private company, declined to provide detailed financial information for the company.
At Mr. Stubblebine, Medium has a CEO who is familiar with the company and its founder. Williams met Stubblebine at Odeo, the podcasting service that gave birth to Twitter and where Stubblebine ran engineering. Mr. Stubblebine is also the editor of Better Humans, a self-improvement publication that is among the most popular on Medium.
In his post, Mr. Williams said he was proud of the company’s decisions to “drive a healthier model for content that doesn’t hijack or sell people’s attention or data.” He added that he was still bullish on Medium and noted that he would continue to be involved with the company as an investor.
Now that he’s no longer in charge of the day-to-day, Mr. Williams said he also planned to do some writing on (where else?) Medium.
“As would be appropriate for Medium, I plan to write more about my learnings when I have time to reflect,” he wrote.