Topic 10 Posts

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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?

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me, by Sam Altman

Sam Altman from his persona blog

15.Compounding exponentials are magic. In particular, you really want to build a business that gets a compounding advantage with scale.

There are some insightful nuggets in this whole post, but this one really resonated with me. I think some often forget the true power of scale that zero-marginal cost internet technology has opened up in the last few decades.

We’re not building a web browser, The Browser Company

Apparently Arc is going to build "A New Computer." Curious to see what that means.

We’re not building a web browser, The Browser Company

The Browser Company told us the browser was broken, which it is, and they are trying like hell to make it not suck.

One thing I have enjoyed about using & following Arc over the last few years is that they ship shit. The put new things out into the world. They take creative swings at solving web browsing problems. They'll even preview working software to get feedback on.

It's why this video, to me, feels so out of place. The ambition is exciting to see, for sure. However, the hype they are trying to create feels desperate.

Anytime I see a hype video espousing future conceptual ideas, I think back to this Joe Spolsky post from (gulp) 20 years ago.

In my personal life, I have a policy lifted from Marlon Brando, playing a mob boss in The Freshman: “Every word I say, by definition, is a promise.” The best way to avoid breaking promises is not to make any, and that’s as good a reason as I need not to talk about future versions of our products. 

The Browser Company has been telling us for 4 years now that the browser is broken (it is). They rooted a real, tangible problem in a real tangible product. It's why I'm using it. Heck it's even written right on their site...

At the Browser Companywe're building a better way to use the internet. When we think about browsing the internet, we often ignore the browser itself.

Now the message is that they "don't want to build a browser" but that they "want to build a new computer" and that their reach could be "massive" and a "platform that is just as big as the internet." They want to "be a generational company."

Look, they aren't wrong. The SEO based internet is possibly going to die soon. Discovery on the web has been fairly stagnant for the last 20 years, and AI generated content is about to completely break it.

This isn't a critique on mission, vision and the ambition that they believe inside of The Browser Company. But, regardless of their specific intention, they just made a huge promise to the market. Before I watched this video, I had no expectations that they would build a new computer that would fundamentally change the internet. Now I do.

I hope they do deliver on the promises. I believe that companies don't sell promises. They sell tangible solutions to problems.

A Music Sampler for the Star Wars Universe

Teenage Engineering is back at it. This thing looks like it belongs in the cockpit of an X-Wing. I can't even tell you what I would do with this, but I want it. I want to waste hours playing with it. Maybe making music, but more likely pretending I'm taking down Storm Troopers.

EP–133 K.O. II
meet the next evolution of the world’s most sold sampler. based on the legendary PO-33 K.O!,the new EP–133 K.O.II adds more power, more sampling capabilities, a fully reworked sequencer and brand new punch-in 2.0™ effects. introducing a workflow that lets you go from idea to track faster than ever.…

Regulating AI by Executive Order is the Real AI Risk

Stephen Sinofsky, on his Hardcore Software Newsletter

This approach to regulation is not about innovation despite all the verbiage proclaiming it to be. This Order is about stifling innovation and turning the next platform over to incumbents in the US and far more likely new companies in other countries that did not see it as a priority to halt innovation before it even happens.

I am by no means certain if AI is the next technology platform the likes of which will make the smartphone revolution that has literally benefitted every human on earth look small. I don’t know sitting here today if the AI products just in market less than a year are the next biggest thing ever. They may turn out to be a way stop on the trajectory of innovation. They may turn out to be ingredients that everyone incorporates into existing products. There are so many things that we do not yet know.

What we do know is that we are at the very earliest stages. We simply have no in-market products, and that means no in-market problems, upon which to base such concerns of fear and need to “govern” regulation.

The uncertainty around AI is rightfully getting attention and causing concern, but the future is inevitable. The hubris in believing we can control the future doesn't really set us up for success.

211. Regulating AI by Executive Order is the Real AI Risk
The President’s Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence is a premature and pessimistic political solution to unknown technical problems and a clear case of regulatory capture.

Regulating AI by Executive Order is the Real AI Risk, by Stephen Sinofsky

TootBoost: As a startup founder..

As a startup founder, there are a ton of variables you can't control. Here's what you can control:

  1. The product category you choose (⚠️ important)
  2. How you differentiate your product competitively
  3. Efficiency and effectiveness of your marketing
  4. Your skills, network, resources, experiences
  5. How you control your company's costs
  6. How you evolve personally

This is a great reminder for anyone building anything, by Justin Jackson. You can't control the world, but you can control how you live in it.

Justin Jackson (@mijustin@mastodon.social)
As a startup founder, there are a ton of variables you can’t control. Here’s what you can control: 1. The product category you choose (⚠️ important) 2. How you differentiate your product competitively 3. Efficiency and effectiveness of your marketing 4. Your skills, network, resources, experiences…