Instapaper sold to Betaworks

Marco Arment:

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.

This is great news for Marco, Instapaper has been my “read later” service of choice for years but I’ve been wondering, maybe even a little concerned, about the future of Instapaper (and indeed, how long it would take before Marco would want to move away from it). With competition from the likes of Pocket, which is continually adding new features and sharing options, I feel that it’s been harder to recommend Instapaper over the other services available today and not a lot of the service has changed all that much in recent times1.

Marco has a lot going on at the moment, The Magazine is incredibly (and ever increasingly) popular, he co-hosts both Accidental Tech Podcast and the currently on haitus Neutral and he’s no doubt working on other things in the pipeline.

Matt Alexander makes some interesting points about the acquisition:

As a further note, it’s odd to witness the outpouring of enthusiasm and excitement for this acquisition from a community well-known for its apprehension toward such deals. Obviously this deal doesn’t have all the hallmarks of a Silicon Valley acquisition (or acqui-hire), but it is irrevocably an acquisition by a large firm with no focus upon revenue. That’s not to say that Instapaper won’t live on successfully, but there’s an unmistakable double-standard on display today that’s worth keeping in mind for the future.

It’s an interesting observation and one I partly agree with, but Instapaper’s businss model is revenue generating with an optional subscription. Unlike previous acquisitions such as Digg which had no business model as such, Instapaper isn’t in a whole and, with Marco remaining independent, certainly isn’t a talent acquisition. As a paid Instapaper subscriber, it will be interesting to see what Instapaper’s revenue stream becomes now it’s under the wing of Betaworks.

  1. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?