Longform science journalism site Matter has been acquired by Medium, a collaborative online publishing platform. One interesting aspect of the acquisition is that both sites were founded in 2012.


Although Medium is the site doing the acquiring, it is actually younger than Matter by a few months. Medium launched in August 2012 while Matter began with a Kickstarter fundraising campaign in February 2012 and went live soon thereafter. Evan Williams, cofounder of the Twitter and Blogger platforms, was an original Kickstarter contributor to Matter, and after launching Medium last fall he decided adding Matter to the project could help Medium become “the best place on the internet to read and create high-quality content,” as stated in an FAQ post on the Matter site.

For his part, in a blog post on the Medium site Williams writes he wanted Matter and Medium to join forces because “I knew we were aligned in our mission, and I thought we’d be stronger together. I wanted them to continue what they were doing -- publishing great articles and defining a new model to support investigative journalism. (And I knew that cracking that second part would have huge implications.) In addition, they could use Medium to add new dimensions to what they do.” Williams also writes that Matter staff will “help” the Medium editorial group.

Matter will not shut down as a result of the acquisition and will still operate normally. The site publishes one long-form science-related article each month and sells it through the Matter site and via Amazon Kindle. Subscriptions to Matter cost US$ 0.99 per month. No changes in current staffing are planned and Kickstarter contributors who have not yet received promised rewards should still receive them. Terms of the deal have not been made public.

Medium and Matter – Making Each Other Better

According to an article on the site of the non-profit Poynter Institute -- which is dedicated to journalism -- Williams wants Medium to “create a better Twitter for longterm content.” In addition, Matter cofounder Jim Giles told Poynter.org that access to Medium’s editorial team lets Matter “have other smart journalists around us to bounce ideas around with” and Matter wants to experiment with “little tweaks,” presumably aided by Medium. Giles said there will be no short-term impact on Matter’s editorial mission.

Medium Steps Up

When Medium first launched in August 2012, CMSWire contributor Chris Knight noted that “if ever there was a recipe for success, the all-star firepower behind Medium, a new categorized and user-rated photo/blogging service could be it,” but also cautioned “the Internet is a fickle beast” where for every Pinterest there are numerous forgotten, failed online content platform efforts. 

Knight said his initial impression of Medium was “style over substance” but felt “there could be a lot more to this once it gets up and running.” It is still far too early to judge Medium a success or failure, but acquiring Matter shows that Medium is serious about trying to become a success.