Evan “Ev” Williams, co-founder of Twitter Inc. and co-founder and chief executive officer of Medium.com, adjusts his glasses during a Bloomberg West Television interview in San Francisco, California, U.S. (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

Medium’s Ev Williams Discusses Buying New York Magazine

(Bloomberg) -- Medium, the publishing website run by Twitter Inc. co-founder Ev Williams, expressed interest in buying New York Magazine and other media properties, according to people familiar with the situation.

Williams discussed the topic with Pam Wasserstein, chief executive officer of the magazine’s parent company, New York Media, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The talks were preliminary and unlikely to progress, one of the people said.

Medium’s Ev Williams Discusses Buying New York Magazine

Even if the discussions ultimately lead nowhere, the conversation is another sign that Medium is serious about beefing up its content. Started in 2012 as a blogging platform, Medium switched to a subscription model last year and cut about a third of its staff. At the time, Williams called the ad-supported model for publishing “broken” because it served the goals of corporations and not readers.

He’s now on a hunt for material to serve Medium’s paying subscribers.

“We are going to significantly increase our investment in original editorial in the next year,” Williams, 46, said in a statement.

Forming Union

New York Media, meanwhile, has been exploring its options. The company -- owner of websites such as the Cut, Vulture and Grub Street, in addition to its flagship magazine -- has been contemplating a sale, the Wall Street Journal reported in August. The turbulence has weighed on the staff, which is forming a union.

Williams isn’t the only tech heavyweight sizing up print media. In September, Salesforce.com Inc. CEO Marc Benioff and wife Lynne agreed to buy Time magazine from Meredith Corp. for $190 million in cash. Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos acquired the Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million. And Laurene Powell Jobs, the billionaire widow of Steve Jobs, bought majority ownership of the Atlantic magazine last year through her firm, Emerson Collective LLC.

Medium, which now has no advertising on the site, charges $5 a month or $50 a year for subscriptions. Williams said in April that -- after some struggles -- the number of subscribers has been accelerating.

The key to attracting subscribers, he said at the time, was offering lots of high-quality, non-newsy content and putting it behind a metered paywall. The site publishes large amounts of user-generated content from freelance contributors through its “partner program.”

At the same time, Medium has also been building up an in-house editorial team that commissions long-form, narrative-driven stories and essays from professional journalists on topics ranging from technology to culture to design. Among its job listings, the company is currently looking to hire additional full-time editors in politics and business.

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