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Evan Williams’ Medium acquires long-form journalism site Matter

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Matter, the Kickstarter-backed, science and technology journalism startup cofounded by former GigaOM European correspondent Bobbie Johnson, has only been up and running for five months — but it’s already found a new home. Medium, the publishing platform founded by Twitter cofounder Evan Williams, has acquired Matter for an undisclosed sum, the companies plan to announce Wednesday.

Matter raised over $140,000 through Kickstarter, and Williams was one of its 2,566 backers. Matter, which publishes one story of at least 5,000 words every month and sells them for $0.99 apiece, will remain a standalone company following the acquisition. Johnson and his cofounder, Jim Giles, will work as part of Medium’s editorial team, which also includes former literary agent Kate Lee and former editor-in-chief Evan Hansen.

In a blog post scheduled to be released Wednesday, Johnson and his Matter cofounder Jim Giles explained what will and won’t change:

“If you already know what we do, don’t expect big changes yet. Our service is an ongoing experiment, but we have no immediate plans to alter the team, the places we publish (our website and the Kindle store), or how much we charge for each article. More importantly, we have no plans — at any time — to stop crafting hard-hitting narratives about big ideas. One of the things that made it easy to join Medium was the knowledge that the company believes in great storytelling as much as we do, and is prepared to support what we do.

But we will be rolling out some changes in the coming months. We’ve already started using Medium to expand on the ideas we cover — see, for example, Amputees & Wannabes, the recent series of commentaries around Do No Harm, our story about people who desire to amputate a healthy limb. We’ll also be introducing some exciting changes at the Matter website — changes that will make the site better for readers, and improve our mechanism for supporting long-form writing.”

Medium, which Williams and Biz Stone launched in 2012, is a collaborative publishing platform that aims to let users write, annotate, read and recommend content in a clutter-free interface. The platform isn’t open to everyone yet; for now, a select group of authors are contributing. Matter is Medium’s first acquisition.

Williams spoke about the importance of long-form content at GigaOM’s Roadmap conference last year. Watch the video here:

7 Responses to “Evan Williams’ Medium acquires long-form journalism site Matter”

  1. Abhijeet Mukherjee

    So, Matter, whose goal was to produce quality long-form paid journalism without a parent media house or ad firms to distract them gets acquired. Now, I don’t understand what made Matter go for it even though they already raised $140K from Kickstarter. No other reason other than temptation of money seems plausible to me. I find it hilarious actually, considering the basic premise of their offering was journalistic independence that would in turn produce truly quality stories. Shows that journalism without control doesn’t work. Even the journos wouldn’t want it. And journos don’t know how to market, because Matter hardly did anything to spread the word.

    • Bobbie Johnson

      Hi Abhijeet

      Bobbie from MATTER here. If you read our announcement properly you’ll hopefully get a better idea of what convinced us to do this deal: working with Medium gives us lots of power to do things we want to do but wouldn’t be able to otherwise. It makes the product better, and gives us a higher likelihood of achieving what we set to do when we started. That’s good news for us, and it’s good news for our readers, and if you think that conflicts with what we set out to do, then I think you’ve misunderstood what our goal actually was.

      And as to “did hardly anything to spread the word”, sure — if you ignore the partnerships with Pocket, the syndication deals we’ve had with The Guardian, The Atlantic and others, the work we’ve done with Kindle Singles, the marketing we’ve done at specialist events, etc, etc. Yup, marketing’s tough and we could be a lot better at it… but just because you haven’t seen it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

      Bottom line: we remain totally editorially independent, and have the same goals and ambitions. That might not fit your narrow definition of “control”, but that’s not my concern.

  2. Scott Bram

    So a content-delivery platform acquires a content-creation source, both in the hands of rich white Westerners. That’s news. (No, seriously…)

    If this were 1898.

    The more things change…