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Artifact's Finale: Instagram Co-founders Shut Down News Aggregation Venture

  1. Artifact, the news aggregator and social network created by Instagram's founders, has announced the shutdown of its operations, citing an insufficient market opportunity for continued investment.

  2. Originally conceived as a news reading app, Artifact underwent rapid iterations, evolving into a curation and news discovery platform where users could create and share content found on the web.

  3. The changes introduced, including AI tools for summarizing news and rewriting headlines, may have diluted the app's original value, transforming it into a Twitter-like platform. However, this market is crowded, with competitors like Meta's Instagram Threads.

  4. Instagram and Artifact co-founder, Kevin Systrom, emphasized the importance of acknowledging market realities early, stating that the biggest opportunity cost is the time spent on newer and better ideas that can reach a broader audience.

  5. The shutdown will proceed with the gradual removal of features, starting with the ability to comment and make posts, aiming to reduce moderation efforts. Existing posts will remain visible, and the core news capability will be operational until the end of February.

  6. The decision to wind down operations comes amidst increased competition in the Twitter rival landscape and a broader slowdown in the usage of news aggregators, with SmartNews facing challenges in 2023, including layoffs and a CEO replacement.

  7. Artifact's struggle to define its identity, whether as a conversation and discovery platform, a Pinterest rival, or an AI-powered news engine, may have contributed to a missed opportunity to capture users' attention, as users were uncertain about how the app fit into their regular workflows.


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