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Popular Read-Later App Instapaper Sold to Betaworks

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Developer Marco Arment announced in a blog post today that he has sold a majority stake of his read-later app Instapaper to Betaworks.

That company owns Bitly, Digg, Socialflow and a number of other products. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
I'm happy to announce that I've sold a majority stake in Instapaper to Betaworks. We've structured the deal with Instapaper's health and longevity as the top priority, with incentives to keep it going well into the future. I will continue advising the project indefinitely, while Betaworks will take over its operations, expand its staff, and develop it further.
Arment said he would like to work on other apps and creative projects, including The Magazine, his medium-form iPad magazine.

Instapaper is available for the iPhone and iPad for $3.99. [Direct Link]

Article Link: Popular Read-Later App Instapaper Sold to Betaworks
 

canyonblue737

macrumors 65816
Jan 10, 2005
1,397
1,200
Smart, I think he saw the writing on the wall and that excellent free apps like Pocket would dominate even if his app was a bit superior. It was time to get out.

He successfully found a new income stream with "The Magazine", got a large payday you can assume from the Instapaper sale, and has freed time and resources to persue more successful future app markets instead of plugging holes in a leaking one.
 
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nutmac

macrumors 601
Mar 30, 2004
4,966
3,890
Now we know how he was able to plunk down $100,000 for a decked out BMW M5. Congrats to Marco.
 
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akm3

macrumors 68020
Nov 15, 2007
2,252
279
King Marco. You've done it again.

Merlin will be proud.
 
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rdas7

macrumors regular
Nov 17, 2002
165
22
London, England
Smart, I think he saw the writing on the wall and that excellent free apps like Pocket would dominate even if his app was a bit superior. It was time to get out.

I wouldn't be surprised if Pocket completely nuked Instapaper's revenue stream. It's really much better suited to mobile reading than Instapaper was — Instapaper was always bare-bones, which was fine for in-browser use. But nowadays with readers like Pocket and Flipboard, a bare-bones app for $3.99 was not a very good value proposition. Ironically, you'd probably expect something like Instapaper to be free and Pocket/Flipboard to be $3.99 but there you go.

Congrats to Marco though. I know what it takes to create and maintain an app. Times they change though, gotta roll with it!
 
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accidental

macrumors newbie
Jun 3, 2011
19
0
Pretty sure the writing wasn't 'on the wall'. Nobody wouldn't have bought it if it was, and Marco wouldn't be holding a stake in it either. All signs point to it having a bright future with more weight behind it.
 
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S

syd430

Guest
Pretty sure the writing wasn't 'on the wall'. Nobody wouldn't have bought it if it was, and Marco wouldn't be holding a stake in it either. All signs point to it having a bright future with more weight behind it.

As a long-time Instapaper user that recently moved over to Pocket about 6 months ago, I strongly disagree with this.

Pocket is definitely the superior offering in almost every respect, back-end and front-end. Instapaper's iphone app still uses standard iOS elements from 2008, and the handling of articles are much more hit-and-miss compared to Pocket. Given that pocket is also free, I'd say it is a sinking ship.
 
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WPKnabe

macrumors newbie
Apr 26, 2013
1
0
Good

Actually, Good riddance.

Instapaper was unique when it came out and within about a year of my purchase it became useless with Safari's reader, and Reading list, evernote's clear, Evernote etc.

But what bugs me is I tried to unsubscribe to Instapaper three times and was ignored all three times. The only way I was able to accomplish unsubscribing was canceling my credit card.

Maybe the new owners should check out how many real customers it has during its due diligence.
 
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mono1980

macrumors 6502
Feb 15, 2005
392
138
Lansing, MI
As a long-time Instapaper user that recently moved over to Pocket about 6 months ago, I strongly disagree with this.

Pocket is definitely the superior offering in almost every respect, back-end and front-end. Instapaper's iphone app still uses standard iOS elements from 2008, and the handling of articles are much more hit-and-miss compared to Pocket. Given that pocket is also free, I'd say it is a sinking ship.

Instapaper does seem a bit crude, I have to admit. Heck, a lot of people are probably just using Safari's built in Reading List feature instead.
 
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724699

Cancelled
Aug 4, 2012
127
44
Instapaper was a piece of overpriced crap. Pretty sure the guy was able to sell based on his name (and the app's name) alone. There's no other reason I could see this thing being purchased...
 
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manu chao

macrumors 604
Jul 30, 2003
7,000
2,856
Instapaper was a piece of overpriced crap. Pretty sure the guy was able to sell based on his name (and the app's name) alone. There's no other reason I could see this thing being purchased...

How do you get a 'name' and an app's 'name' if your app is crap?

Is your working hypothesis that Instapaper got famous by accident and that freak event at the beginning kept it famous for all those years?
 
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724699

Cancelled
Aug 4, 2012
127
44
How do you get a 'name' and an app's 'name' if your app is crap?

Is your working hypothesis that Instapaper got famous by accident and that freak event at the beginning kept it famous for all those years?

Instapaper, the name itself is catchy and sounds bigger than the product actually is.

The idea is noble, but both the Instapaper website itself and the iPhone app are horribly put together. I have no idea how it could be taken seriously enough to be bought out other than for the name.
 
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manu chao

macrumors 604
Jul 30, 2003
7,000
2,856
Instapaper, the name itself is catchy and sounds bigger than the product actually is.

The idea is noble, but both the Instapaper website itself and the iPhone app are horribly put together. I have no idea how it could be taken seriously enough to be bought out other than for the name.

Wow, we can't get more superficial than this: Apps get popular mainly because of their names?
 
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reubs

macrumors 68000
Jun 22, 2006
1,761
64
For a guy who left Tumblr and built a corner of the app market almost himself (Remember, Apple's reading list is a response to read-later apps), good for Marco for building a product, nurturing it, and making some money off of it. His customers had a good run with it, and in a changing landscape how long can we really expect a smart and driven guy like him to stay with something on his own?

It's too bad that more great apps, like Sparrow, for ex, don't get to grow and mature like Instapaper did. I think Marco did it well and did it right. Good for him to go and get paid!
 
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japanime

macrumors 68020
Feb 27, 2006
2,183
2,472
Japan
I paid for the "premium" version of Instapaper a few years ago. Loved it at first, but then Marco removed the text-search feature when he released an update to the app — and offered text search as an in-app purchase.

Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky.
 
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dwsolberg

macrumors 6502a
Dec 17, 2003
741
563
Pretty sure the writing wasn't 'on the wall'. Nobody wouldn't have bought it if it was, and Marco wouldn't be holding a stake in it either. All signs point to it having a bright future with more weight behind it.

I don't think the writing's on the wall, exactly, but the list of software products with a bright future after being bought by a larger company is surprisingly short.
 
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jdechko

macrumors 601
Jul 1, 2004
4,140
258
I still use Instapaper, and will continue using it unless it turns into something like Pocket.

It may not have as many features as Pocket or as wide of a reach as Apple's Reading List, but it has a dedicated user base. There are a lot of geeks who would rather pay for a service to keep it going than use a free service and watch it die.

A couple of services that are "free" that aren't what they used to be:

Google Reader - Free, Ad-Supported, Dead (as of 7/1)
Twitter - Free, Ad-Supported, Killing off 3rd party clients that helped jumpstart the service, Hashtag wasteland


I don't think the writing's on the wall, exactly, but the list of software products with a bright future after being bought by a larger company is surprisingly short.

I would be surprised if it were killed off any time soon. The way Marco's announcement read, it seems like he thought long and hard about this decision. He's going to stay on to help with the service's direction, but he won't be writing the app. I think Marco would buy it back before he let it die.
 
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GeneralSpecial

macrumors member
Jun 18, 2010
35
0
Not quite the star it's made out to be

Instapaper is the app that I *wanted* to like more. Arment's intention was in the right place. But--hoo boy--the errors. Even the articles chosen by the editors would give repeated viewing glitches and errors.

Things seemed to get buggier as time wore on, and so I used it less and less. Finally last month, after trying to open three articles and getting three errors in a row, I just stopped.
 
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