Today, Marco Arment announced he’s sold “a majority stake” in Instapaper, his read-later service, to Betaworks. From his personal blog:
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.
I’ve known Betaworks for years, and I’ve spent a lot of lunches at their office. They have great engineering talent, great product direction, and plenty of experience running services at Instapaper’s scale. I wouldn’t put Instapaper in just anyone’s hands, and I know that they’ll do right by it.
Marco says that Instapaper will live on at Betaworks, and I believe him. I know Marco wouldn’t have sold Instapaper if he didn’t know its new owners would be a great fit. I look forward to the future of Instapaper, but still – the first chapter of Instapaper’s life is closing today.
I could say many things about Instapaper. I could write about the design decisions behind it. I could give you a summary of Instapaper’s updates and why Marco’s vision always struck me as clear, honest, and solid.
Instead, I’ll just link you to my review of Instapaper 4.0 from October 2011. And, in particular, the very first sentence:
Since I started using Instapaper in 2008, this app has changed the way I read.
It may be overused and obvious, but for me Instapaper was the embodiment of the “design is how it works” philosophy: instead of fancy features, Instapaper focused on one thing – text. The reading experience itself was the basis of Instapaper’s design.
I used Instapaper every day, but there’s one episode that I remember in particular. Last summer, I was stuck in a hospital bed for 22 days. I was too tired to work from my iPad, and I didn’t have my MacBook with me. One day when I couldn’t sleep, I launched Instapaper and started reading. Later, I switched to the Friends tab, and saw that some people I followed were saving and sharing old articles of mine. It was a simple thing, but it reminded me of this: in the age of Twitter and real-time trends, Instapaper empowered its users to read at their own pace, with a different experience.
I wrote a quick article that night, and then went back to reading – like many other nights before.
Thank you, Marco, for making Instapaper. Here’s to its next chapter.