The Kassan of it all

We all deserve a “special expenses” budget

On this week’s episode of People vs Algorithms, we discussed platform shifts, including the Reddit IPO, X’s apparent pivot to video and the pressure on ByteDance to sell TikTok. In the second half, Medium CEO Tony Stubblebine joined us to discuss how Medium is nearing profitability with 1 million paying subscribers. Other topics we cover:

  • Medium’s role in the Information Space as the place for expert content as opposed to journalism.
  • How Medium’s approach differs from Substack’s.
  • The misalignment of incentives inherent to advertising models.

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“Special expenses”

Reading through the accusations and counter-accusations in what is sure to be a messy battle between UTA and Michael Kassan I can’t say I felt much surprise. Like anyone in the media industry, I know Michael and Medialink, although I never quite understood the aura either carried. I’ve found the media and advertising worlds, particularly the legacy parts, run on opacity.

Michael is a creature of the media industry and that murkiness. He doesn’t exist in more rational industries. I do not believe there is a Michael Kassan of the pipe-fitting industry. The positive spin is MediaLink serves a critical role in connecting brands that still largely fund the business with the dizzying array of agencies, tech platforms and media companies. And there are parties too, with big-name celebrities that serve as Michael’s flex that yes, this is how he “rolls.” The key to the hyper-connector business is projecting an image of not just knowing everyone but having influence over them.