The two entrepreneurs, who co-founded Twitter in 2006, each announced plans this week related to subscription options for their respective struggling ventures.
Twitter, where Dorsey is the current CEO, on Thursday confirmed that it is exploring a paid offering on its TweetDeck service that would provide its power users with more premium features. The service could charge users a reported $19.99 per month.
Meanwhile Medium, where Williams is the CEO, on Thursday debuted its membership program offering that gives users exclusive content in exchange for $5 per month. The Medium paid service will also give users access to new features before non-paying users.
Before ousting each other from Twitter, Dorsey and Williams could rarely agree on what exactly the service was for or in which direction it should be taken. It's ironic, then, that the pair seem to have landed on the same solution at the same time for their respective problems.
We don't have figures for Medium as the company is private, but its subscription strategy comes after the company tried making money using branded content (read: advertisements). The plan didn't work out, and in January, Medium laid off 50 people, about a third of its staff. Medium, which is an elegantly designed service where anyone can post their writings, is hoping the subscription model will finally create a fruitful revenue stream for the not-so-young, 6-year-old startup.
Twitter's advertising aches, on the other hand, are well-documented. Since Dorsey's return in mid-2015, Twitter has seen its advertising revenue growth vanish. In the second quarter of 2015, the company's ad business grew by a commendable 63 percent year-over-year. But since then, it's been on a steady decline, falling by 0.47 percent in the most recent quarter. This is not unrelated to Twitter's inability to attract new users as well as an increasingly competitive digital and social media marketing marketplace (read: Snapchat).
It remains to be seen just how well these subscription models will do. But as Dorsey and Williams each struggle to keep their companies afloat, perhaps the former pair of co-founders are not so different after all.