This is not a new strategy.
In April 2012, I wrote an internal document titled “What is Medium?” Here are some quotes from it:
It should be clear by now that Medium will be a publishing platform that is also a network. It will serve both producers and consumers of content by linking things together in useful ways and making the whole greater than the sum of the parts.
I also talked about people working together, which was one of the early goals:
This doesn’t necessarily mean collaborating on the same document (though it could). It means building in mechanisms that enable and encourage people to build off each other’s efforts, so the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
And, at that time, I laid out the strategy of focusing on “tool value” first:
So, how do we build this massive, networked, content platform where the best ideas [win]?
The way you build a successful content platform is to focus on serving content creators first.
By the way, it was also never meant to be long form. On the “casual to serious” spectrum, I said this:
While it will be less casual than Facebook, because you’re not just talking to your friends, and less casual than Twitter, because you have to expand upon your thoughts, it will be more approachable than a blog because you don’t have to commit to being a publisher (a one-off post is fine in Medium).
In another document from 2012, titled “Networked Publishing,” I wrote:
Central to the idea of Medium is that it’s not just a publishing platform, it’s a “networked” publishing platform.
Compared to the blogging world:
What early blogging tools failed to do was to create a networked platform that made the whole greater than the sum of the parts. Every blog stood on its own in the vast ocean of the web. They were linked together manually and, if lucky, they’d get visitors to come by via word or mouth or because they’d been there before and liked what they saw.
And finally: How does this compare to other networks?
Facebook is great for connecting with people you know. Twitter is the real-time newswire. YouTube is the place for video. Tumblr is the place for viral, poppy, easy-to-digest nuggets…
Medium will be the first and best network for reading and writing words of substance.
We’ve tweaked the wording and the mechanisms over time. But the core idea has remained the same. It’s fun to see it all coming together.