Twitter scoops up news subscription start-up Scroll

4 May 2021

Image: © charnsitr/Stock.adobe.com

The social media firm is rapidly developing a new subscription-based business model around premium content and newsletters.

Twitter is bulking up its subscription strategy with the acquisition of New York start-up Scroll.

Scroll partners up with news sites to offer their content ad-free to users for a $5 per month subscription. Some of its partner sites include The Atlantic, The Verge and several regional newspaper titles in the US.

Scroll is akin to an ad-blocker of sorts but with a revenue model for publishers. Scroll customers are served versions of publishers’ websites with no ads. A slice of their monthly subscription fees go to those sites.

It not fully clear how exactly Scroll will be integrated into Twitter but it fits in with the company’s forthcoming subscription services.

It appears that the standalone Scroll service is being wound up. With this deal, it is no longer accepting new sign-ups and Nuzzel, a separate feature from the start-up which sends out curated emails to users, is being shut down.

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“We want to reimagine what [Scroll has] built to deliver a seamless reading experience to our hyper-engaged audiences and allow publishers to deliver cleaner content that can make them more money than today’s business models,” Mike Park, vice-president of product at Twitter, said.

“To do this, we plan to include Scroll as part of an upcoming subscription offering we’re currently exploring,” Park said.

No financial terms for the acquisition have been disclosed. The start-up has previously raised $10m from several large media and publishing companies including the New York Times, Axel Springer and Gannett.

The acquisition comes hot on the heels of Twitter expanding Spaces, its live audio sharing platform. It also comes just a few months after it acquired Revue, a newsletter start-up that competes with the likes of Substack, and podcast app Breaker.

The company is betting on subscription services and paid content to reduce its reliance on advertising revenue by providing premium features.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin

editorial@siliconrepublic.com