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10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Medium’s New CEO Tony Stubblebine

  • 10 min read

About putting rumors to bed, the power of cookbooks and book deals, future Medium magic and so much more.

There have been a lot of little changes since Tony Stubblebine aka Coach Tony took over the reins on Medium.

Good ones (tipping feature, golden star icon for paying members) and not-so-good ones (an updated follow feed without the faces of your favorite writers).

However, what I really love the most is that Medium feels more transparent than ever.

I love the simple posts Tony and his product as well as the communications team share.

Although they feel like breadcrumbs that you have to pick, they explain what’s going on and the reasoning behind the decisions.

As someone who has written here frequently since 2020, I feel a lot more confident in the platform than I have in a long time.

One of the reasons is the interviews Tony has given within the past few weeks.

He has spelled what was important to him in YouTube interviews with Sinem Günel, Zulie Rane, and Amardeep Parmar.

As “The Medium Goddess” as some call me (which always makes me giggle), I watched ALL of them and took notes.

To save you time and energy here are 10 things you probably don’t know about Tony but definitely need to know.

10 — Tony thinks getting a hit takes time

In an interview with Amardeep Parmar, Tony describes himself as “late bloomer”. It took him a long time to become Medium’s next CEO.

Getting a hit on Medium can take a really long time on Medium.

In his view, Medium is an open platform where beginners learn to be public writers.

They can create a trajectory, have milestones to shoot for, can publish for themselves, then get into one of the publications.

Create more often and finally get that occasional hit.

S M Mamunur Rahman got this ONE hit after writing on Medium for 1.5 years:

9 — Tony is a writer himself and owns 3 Top Medium publications

In 2013, he cooperated with Medium and started the publication Better Humans (338K followers) and later its sister pubs Better Programming (207K) and Better Marketing(120K).

  • All three publications belong to the TOP 10 publications in 2022.
  • Better Humans is “the fasted growing pub that’s ever been here”. It went from “zero to 5 million views in 6 months”.
  • More than 1% of Medium traffic goes through Better Humans and the sister publications.

⇒ If you want to become a writer for one of his publications, learn how by clicking here.

8 — Tony believes in people’s potential

As the founder of the habit coaching company, he knows how much work it takes to reach one's potential.

Medium is an open platform.

  1. So novice writers can test the water.

Testing, testing, testing

2. Professionals/experts can share the expertise they already have, built an audience, trust, and become a credible source of information online.

⇒ In my opinion, we are all experts. Every one of us has gotten results in some area, made specific experiences, and learned from it which he/she can share:

7 — Tony recommends reading Mark Bittman to become a better writer

Pasta Fritatta, Brownies, Salsa Roja…

When working for O’Reillys, Tony once got the advice to try to let his writing be inspired by Mark Bittman.

Bittman is a famous cookbook writer who is sharing great instructions that the readers can follow precisely. Mark is very specific. He tells the reader what “a pinch” means for him.

…to take advice is hard because you’re filled with a lot of doubt the whole way through and there’s a way to write in which you can give people confidence that you can achieve it…

⇒ To become a better online writer, I share my lessons learned from publishing more than 900 stories on Medium:

6 — Tony thinks Medium does NOT pay you.

Often people complain that Medium isn’t paying them what they're worth.

Tony has a clear opinion on that.

I don't want to be the one to tell you what you’re worth. (…)

We’re distributing money from the subscription for the benefits of the reader. (…)

We have an audience for you that sustains you or not.

What is Tony meaning by this?

He says that Medium manages the subscriber's money (your and my monthly or annual subscription fee). Medium’s goal is “to make the subscribers happy”.

Medium is not an employer.

It’s a social media platform. So Medium does not pay us. The readers pay us with their reading time. Reading time is the actual time people spend reading your story.

Tony’s advice:

Try to serve the readers.

(…) You can write about whatever you want as long as you’re adding value to people.

⇒ To dig deeper into how Medium calculates your earnings, read this:

5 — Tony’s philosophy around Medium is different but clear

Tony has spelled that Medium is an “open platform” and “a place to find great ideas and great information”. It’s a platform where they “ try to give great publishing tools” and they “have systems in place to promote the best stuff”.

Plus, “we have something for everyone”

If you come here and you don’t have an audience and you write great stuff then we want to be able to make sure your story gets read.

However, he adds:

It’s not an easy place to make money, even those that do earn money thinking they don’t think they making that much money because they are thinking too small.

⇒ I recommend my popular story How I Jumped from $0.17 to $500 in my first year on Medium :

4 — The big payoffs aren’t going to come from Medium

In the interview with Zulie Rane, Tony and Zulie agree that the big payoffs aren’t going to come from Medium.

Medium’s audience will pay you (based on paying member reading time = people actually reading your work), you can build credibility and trust, for instance as an expert in your field, and then other opportunities might show up.

For instance, “a book publisher is going to come”.

He’s going to give you a book deal and then other opportunities are going to come your way.

Tony, for instance, closed business deals because people had one of his books on their shelves.

Tony wrote two books:

⇒ In fact, I know of three Medium writers who wrote viral hits (back in the goldrush days on Medium where people could earn thousands of dollars with one story and could go viral more often) and then got a book deal:

Do you know others who got a book deal?

Here’s more on self-publishing:

3— For most of his life Tony tried to avoid the “golden handcuffs”

Tony started his career “in a boring way”: He always has been passionate about programming, so in his younger years he studied computer science at Grinnel College and then worked for Mastercard as Web Consultant.

Then for O’Reilly as Lead Engineer. He became the VP of Engineering at Odeo where he met Ev Williams.

All those “boring, comfortable jobs” were “unsatisfying”, so he started his own company CrowdVine, then Lift Worldwide which led to the first habit tracking company called

Plus, in 2013 he started the Medium publication Better Humans and then its sister publications.

So Tony has a long career in the tech world, having worked for multiple companies AND being an entrepreneur since 2007.

Once he entered the entrepreneurial world he tried to avoid the cozy-but-crushing grips of the “golden handcuffs”.

His recommendation:

Don't go into debt. (…)

I never had to go back to work for other people.

⇒ However, now he has a “boss” again — the Medium Board.

But of course, it’s different. He did not HAVE to take the job because of financial reasons.

2 — Tony has the confidence to play to his strengths and to test himself

He shared that during the years he has become more comfortable being himself.

He learned to get out of his own way and have the confidence to play to his strengths.

I’m just in awe what Medium is already and what it could become.

While carrying a lot of responsibility, he wants to test himself.

As CEO of Medium he wants to “make magic happen”.

1 — Tony wants to raise the bar

In his latest interview with Amar, he emphasized that he wants to prep us for a big change that is coming:

We should all be prepared for the bar to get raised for who makes any money at all and when we raise the bar then the people who clear the bar will make more money.

But how can we become better writers on Medium?

According to Tony it…

  • takes work
  • research has to be better
  • more in-depth
  • life experience

Final Takeaways

I love that Tony Stubblebine gave those interviews on YouTube.

I like that he’s sharing what Medium can and can’t.

These 10 things you probably might not know about Tony are just 10 things I took away from so many interesting insights and thoughts you might find useful.

I’ll soon share more!

If you can’t wait for my next stories, feel free to watch the videos for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

I hope you get as much out of it as I did.


I’m curious. What do you think about Medium’s new CEO?

© Kristina God

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