Artifact Shuts Down Just as I Was Getting Into It

Kevin Systrom, CEO and co-founder of Artifact, on its Medium blog:

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. It’s easy for startups to ignore this reality, but often making the tough call earlier is better for everyone involved.

Darn. This was one of the best link aggregators out there, and a really slick app to use. Although I didn’t open it daily, Artifact was establishing itself as the place where I went to learn about things happening outside my typical internet bubble.

There were a lot of details to the reading view that the Artifact team — led by the Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Kreiger — got right:

  • One-tap striped-down reader view
  • One-tap listening mode with high-quality voices
  • One-tap native share sheet
  • One-tap read later button
  • One-tap AI summaries

And I appreciated that by default it brought you to the website of publication, just as the Internet intended.

A smartphone screen displaying a message from the Artifact Team titled “Shutting down Artifact” about discontinuing their app due to insufficient market opportunities.
Artifact’s excellent reading view.

Even posting links was nice:

  • Ability to pull in images right from the link
  • You could include a description, again pulled automatically if you wanted, with the link (but you didn’t have to!)

I thought of Artifact as the spiritual successor to Nuzzle, the link aggregator built atop of old-Twitter. I think the team thought of it as a news-focused Twitter successor based around links. But I guess they couldn’t get a viable business going there. It doesn’t go unnoticed that they’re doing what appears to be the responsible thing by winding it down1 rather than burn more cash until it utterly fails.

I do wonder if it would have had a brighter future without the ability to add comments. I never engaged with that social aspect of the service, and I expect it contributed massively to its complexity and moderation costs. Either way, another new-Twitter bites the dust.

  1. Viewing posts and links will remain functional through the end of February, even though you can no longer post new links or comments. You can, and should, download the app and check out its design. And developers of news feeds and reading apps, please take notes.↩︎


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