Artifact entered a sector full of stiff competition last year, amid a rush of sites being hailed as potential alternatives to Twitter – now known as X.
Artifact – the news-sharing platform that was named an essential app of the year by the Google Play Store – is shutting down after being around for less than one year.
The team said the site is removing some of its features but will continue to operate its “core news reading capability” until the end of February. The app’s complexity and operations have been “slimmed down” as a result of the decision, as users can no longer add new comments or posts.
The service was announced last year by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of Instagram. This marked their first public venture since they left Meta in 2018 – after selling Instagram to the company for $1bn in 2012.
The site was initially described as a TikTok for news, letting users read articles from big and small publishers and suggesting news stories to users based on their interests. This personalised news feed was supported by AI and machine learning.
What went wrong?
The biggest issue appears to be market competition, based on a post by Systrom announcing the decision. He said that the team managed to build something that is loved by “a core group of users”, but concluded that there isn’t a big enough market opportunity to “warrant continued investment in this way”.
“It’s easy for start-ups to ignore this reality, but often making the tough call earlier is better for everyone involved,” Systrom said in a blogpost. “The biggest opportunity cost is time working on newer, bigger and better things that have the ability to reach many millions of people.
“I am personally excited to continue building new things, though only time will tell what that might be. We live in an exciting time where artificial intelligence is changing just about everything we touch, and the opportunities for new ideas seem limitless.”
Artifact entered the scene after Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter – now known as X – which shook up the social media scene. Concerns over how Musk would change the popular platform led to the spotlight shining on various alternative sites, which has created a period of heavy competition.
For example, Meta’s Instagram-linked app Threads was seen as a potential challenger to X, but the app’s meteoric rise was followed by a plummet in user activity.
Artifact also faced stiff competition from apps offering similar experiences. News-based apps such as Flipboard, Newsbreak and SmartNews all offered varying degrees of personalisation and social features at the time of Artifact’s launch.
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