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Saturday
Feb272016

A New New Medium Company

[Reposted from Medium.]


It’s tasteless to brag, but I need to set up the Dramatic Twist that comes about halfway through this post. So I beg indulgence.

Here’s the brag: betaworks, my professional home since 2012, has been just killing it (in the positive, non-ironic, Silicon Valley sense) lately. Launching new companies, like Dexter and Scale Model. Shipping new products, like the Poncho iOS appInstapaper’s Instaparser, and Bloglovin’s Shop app. Growing like crazy, building new things, and winning the confidence of investors, as GIPHYDigg, and Chartbeat have all done. Reaching profitability, like Bitly. Just plain winning, like DOTS. Getting acquired, likeBlend by the music innovator ROLI. Creating a serialized podcast, The Intern. Publishing fascinating data science on everything from the network science of product launches to the effects of media coverage on 2016 election campaigns. And, not least, investing in terrific startups like AnchorUnmute,SlashSochatHowdyFutureflyVrideoGrapeGimlet MediaProduct HuntParlio, and Medium, just to name a recent few.

The betaworks studio companies I’ve worked on most directly have been shipping new features at a blistering pace: Digg’s upgraded web and mobile interfaces, a StoreDigg Dialogs, and many excellent Originals, Explainers, Roundups, and Digests; Instapaper’s webiOS and Android updates, notes and highlights, multitasking, picture-in-picture video playback, iPad redesign, InstaRank 2.0, Instaparser, Apple Watch app, speed reading, instant sync, tweet shots, and so on.

And on a personal note, betaworks is awesome. I’ve never been in a better, more enjoyable, more energizing, more functional professional environment. Excellent people, A+ talent, a culture that valorizes building and risk-taking, and a unifying mission to reinvent media.

Now comes the Dramatic Twist: I’m leaving betaworks.

Wut? you may be wondering. What, in light of that shameless set-up, could possibly drag me away from a dream job at betaworks?

Medium.

As of this week, I’ve joined Medium, where I’ll be leading its content organization, developing new business opportunities, and growing Medium’s NYC presence.

In a sense, it’s a move within the family — betaworks is an investor in Medium, and Ev Williams is an investor in betaworks. But more importantly,John Borthwick and my other betaworks partners gave the move their blessing because they recognized that Medium is an incredible match for me, my interests, and my ambitions, as well as the operating muscles I’ve been working to build over the past few years.

I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of Medium. I’ve been an active Medium user since it first launched and have become increasingly fascinated/obsessed with it. Medium’s become the Internet’s best place for great writing and thoughtful conversation. It’s growing fast, scaling quickly, adding new capabilities briskly, and attracting an unmatched network of creators, thinkers, publishers, and the people who love them. And Medium is committed to things I care about, like freedom of expression, an open Internet, meaningful discourse, and excellence in product and infrastructure.I’ve known Ev Williams since we first worked together at Google, and have long thought it’d be fun to do something more directly with him. As I’ve gotten to know the Medium team, I’ve been hugely impressed with the level and diversity of talent, the sense of common purpose, and the bright culture of the company.

So: Medium(Woo-hoo!)

Happily, I’ll continue to be affiliated with betaworks as a venture partner, and will continue to serve on the boards of Digg and Chartbeat. I want to say a very heartfelt thank-you to everyone at betaworks, particularly John Borthwick, whose faith, friendship, and mentorship have been invaluable to me, Joshua AuerbachSam MandelPaul MurphyBrian DonohueGilad LotanSuman Deb RoyMatt HartmanPeter RojasAna RosensteinJames CooperDominic ButchelloMaya ProhovnikSaumya Manoharjonchin,Lisa Zhang, Nicole Ranucci, Erin GlennKuan Huang, Kyra Reppen,Giordano ContestabilMattias Bloglovin'Dan CarlbergPatrick Moberg,Christian CalderonPatrick Montague, Peter Margulies, Frank JaniaAaron KaporChristian RochaDaniel Ilkovich, Michelle Monteleone, along with the Digg and Instapaper teams and their alumni, and everyone else I’ve had the good fortune to work with across the betaworks studio.

When I first arrived in 2012, betaworks’s website described the organization as “A New Medium Company,” which struck me as both clever and accurate. And it harmonizes well with the full legal name of my new home: A Medium Corporation.

— andrew

PS — Hiring! Download on iOS or Android!


[A cartoon of my family that Cindy won't let me hang on the wall at home.]

Saturday
Sep222012

On CNN: YouTube, Egypt, Pakistan; free speech vs. national censorship

 

Friday
Sep142012

On NPR: What Anti-Islam Film Says About Free Speech And The 'Hecklers Veto'

So I made an appearance on NPR's Morning Edition today, talking about YouTube, Egypt, free speech, divergent national and religious sensitivities, and the danger of the heckler's veto. (BTW, I can now report that NRP's Steve Henn either is or works with a Miracle Editor capable of snipping longwinded sentences into a semblance of pithiness).

Friday
Sep072012

The Fight for the Future: The Internet, Censorship, Surveillance, and You

Here's the keynote talk I did at the Portland Digital eXperience (PDX) event, in which I talk about the North African revolutions, the onslaught of Syria's pro-Assad hacker army, the new dynamics created by China's Weibo platforms, and the success of the anti-SOPA/PIPA movement in the United States, what ties those things together, how they reveal much about the world we are now actively building, and what all that counsels for policymakers and entrepreneurs alike.  Thanks to Mark Zusman and Rick Turoczy for the invite and the warm Portland hospitality, and to the Rich Report for recording & posting the video!

Best fringe benefit of the excursion, besides hanging out with my awesome sister Meg, was seeing Beirut play "Santa Fe" as the sun set over Portland.

 

Friday
Aug172012

betaworks!

A very exciting bit of personal news:  I've joined betaworks as entrepreneur-in-residence. Led by the incredibly gifted John Borthwick, betaworks is forging a new, ambitious, wildly interesting model for creating and scaling innovative tech companies. It's become a real center of gravity for the start-up scene in New York, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it. 

To get a sense of betaworks, check out the amazing list of companies it has invested in -- for example, Twitter, TumblrAirbnb, BranchEverlane, ideeliGroupMe, Groupon, Kickstarter, Path, Tweetdeck. Its studio companies include Digg, Bit.ly, Chartbeat, SocialFlow, and Findings, with others under construction. (I'll have more to say about what I'm actually working on in the not-too-distant future.)

Huge thanks and a fond farewell to Tumblr, David Karp, and all my former colleagues there.  I'm really proud of what my teams -- international, outreach, communications, community, editorial, user support, marketing -- pulled off since I joined last year. Personal highlights: the amazing Storyboard blog, the Brazil launch, the human-friendly terms of service and policy docs, new policies on self-harm, SxSW, the fight against SOPA, and the vast global cohort of new Tumblr blogs and partners we brought onboard. I'm especially grateful to everyone who joined those teams on my watch. Tumblr's a terrific company, and an important platform for creativity, free speech, and community.

Thursday
Jun072012

Organizing Lessons from SOPA and PIPA

 

Video of my panel at Netroots Nation 2012, on "Organizing Lessons from SOPA and PIPA." Excellent moderator: Art Brodsky.  Great co-panelists:  David Moon, Stephen DeMaura, and Steven Renderos.
Thursday
May242012

A Conversation with Slate's Jacob Weisberg, Part 4

In which Jacob and I discuss Tumblr vs. Pinterest, Facebook vs. privacy, the case for baseline rules to protect consumer Internet privacy in the US, the horrible implications of the French push to create a "right to be forgotten", and why it would nevertheless be a catastrophe if the Internet comes to serve as an inescapable Permanent Record.
Wednesday
May232012

A Conversation with Slate's Jacob Weisberg, Part 3

In which Jacob and I discuss Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, copyright, and the challenge (and imperative) of making money for social networks, content creators, and publishers.

Tuesday
May222012

A Conversation with Slate's Jacob Weisberg, Part 2

In which Jacob and I talk about Google's (and my) experience in China, why foreign tech companies will almost certainly fail there, and why China's government is slowly losing its grip over information.

Monday
May212012

A conversation with Slate's Jacob Weisberg, Part 1

Here's the first part of a recent conversation with Slate’s Jacob Weisberg. This bit is on Tumblr’s founder, the ethos and juju of the platform he created, and how Tumblr’s approach to identity translates into positivity, creativity, and anti-trollery.

Sunday
Mar252012

Fight for the Future: Libraries, Tech Policy, and the Fate of Human Knowledge

Librarians + technology = a personal nirvana.  There is no more awesome set of people doing more important work than the librarians and their nerd allies at the bleeding edge of library tech -- they are engaged in an underappreciated struggle to work out how mankind is going to preserve, extend, share, and democratize the sum of human knowledge in our increasingly digital age.  So I was really psyched to go a do a talk at the 2012 Library Technology Conference about the technological forces driving the great policy issues of our age, along with an argument about why and where the library community should be engaged.  Bonus for me: The event was at Macalester College, where I spent my high school summers taking Russian while trying to look like something other than the huge dork I was.

Here's my keynote, "Fight for the Future: Libraries, Tech Policy, and the Fate of Human Knowledge."

 

Andrew McLaughlin @ Library Technology Conference 2012 from Library Technology Conference on Vimeo.

 The Prezi is here.

Monday
Oct312011

Betaworks Brown Bag: My Days in the White House: The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat

Here's a lunchtime talk I did at betaworks on my experience working in the White House, why it was awesome, why it was, um, frustrating, why it's hard to achieve large-scale change in the U.S. federal bureaucracy, and more.

Monday
Oct102011

Beyond Conventions: A Ford Foundation Forum on Human Rights

The Ford Foundation has posted the video of a panel I recently joined on "[t]he possibilities and pitfalls of technology in the pursuit of human freedom."  The other panelists were (the legendary and eloquent) Sir Tim Berners-Lee, (the brilliant and soon-to-be-book-launchingRebecca MacKinnon, (the worldly and effective) Elisa Massimino, and (the multi-disciplinary and polymathical) Danny O’Brien.  The moderator was (the charming and prolific) Sewell Chan, deputy editor for The New York Times. For me, the most interesting part of the panel was an exchange primarily with Elisa about the pressing need for mainstream/mainline human rights advocates and organizations to view seemingly-specialized tech issues like net neutrality, competition policy, intermediary liability, encryption policy, and user data control as core human rights issues.

Let's go to the tape.

Beyond Conventions: Technology - The Next Frontier from Ford Foundation on Vimeo.

 

Wednesday
Jun082011

PdF Talk: Building a Civic Commons

Here's a talk on Civic Commons I did this morning at the (awesome, truly) 2011 Personal Democracy Forum in New York City:

 

Tuesday
Feb012011

Marketplace Interview on Egypt's Communications Shutdown

This morning, I did an interview on the public radio show Marketplace on the techniques, effects, and implications of the Egyptian government's decision to shut down the Internet and mobile phone networks.  As the write-up of the segment says:

In the wake of massive protests in Egypt, other countries have been paying attention and sometimes covering things up. The government of China is suppressing mentions of the uprising. Iran is blocking access to news sites, perhaps fearing renewed protests in their country.

That's not all that surprising. They've been filtering the Internet for a long time. What Egypt did -- yanking the Internet almost entirely offline -- that's new.

On today's show, we look at the precedent set by Egypt's decision to block most Internet and cell phone access in that country. Jonathan Zittrain joins us. He's co-founder and co-director of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society and a frequent guest on our show. Jonathan says that while Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, and other countries have means to filter the Internet, Egypt's online system has always been pretty open so when they wanted to block it, they had to go all the way.

Andrew McLaughlin also joins us. He's a former director of global public policy at Google and former deputy chief technology officer for the Obama administration. He says while it was incredibly difficult to get online within Egypt's borders, neighboring countries had no issues at all, even though in many cases, their traffic goes through Egyptian territory.

Andrew tells us that Egypt has worked hard to position itself as a trustworthy hub for underwater cable that goes through the Red Sea, connecting to nearby countries. That service has not been disrupted.

As for what this means for other countries facing similar protests, we just don't know yet since Egypt's actions were unprecedented. But as protests begin to gather in other countries (and keep in mind that Egypt's protests were fueled by the overthrow in Tunisia), it's likely more governments will need to decide what to do about the Internet.

Here's a link to the full interview.  Here's the .mp3 of the show.