Artifact News App Shuts Down

Kevin Systrom, CEO of Artifact

We’ve made the decision to wind down operations of the Artifact app. We launched a year ago and since then we’ve been working tirelessly to build a great product. We have built something that a core group of users love, but we have concluded that the market opportunity isn’t big enough to warrant continued investment in this way.

Finding great content on the web is harder than it's ever been. There is an abundance of content created, but the means of discovery haven't really kept up. The entire experience of reading content on the web is clunky and disconnected.

When Artifact launched a year ago I was excited that someone was trying to tackle this problem. I was even more excited that it was folks who had success building a delightful mobile app a decade ago.

The app itself was delightful to use. It was unsurprisingly well built: fast, slick & had a number of fun elements baked into it.

Then I used the app daily. It largely failed that expectation. The discovery experience was actually quite great. For the last year they focused a lot on the discovery experience. The suggested articles seemed to get better & better as I used it. They experimented with social features to encourage people to share links. Those social features never did it for me, but I appreciated the approach.

The reading experience, though, just highlighted then current state we are in on the web. Most links you would click through were met with hostile reading experiences trying to sell you something. Ads for this, that and the other. Paywalls to view the article. Subscribe buttons for newsletters et al. It sucked just like the rest of the web these days.

At the end of the day, Artifact was just a mobile content aggregator. Like all content aggregators these days, from Google to Apple News to Flipboard, they all fail to solve the real problem: reading content on the internet in 2024 sucks.

Everyone who attacks this space will fail unless they solve the real problem. It doesn't matter if you are a trillion dollar market cap behemoth, a fledgeling startup or a client in an open ecosystem like the fediverse, you will fail. If people can't find great content AND the core reading experience sucks, there is no market people will be willing spend any time on.

Then the question still remains: is there even a product someone would pay for?