Digg owner Betaworks acquires reader app Instapaper
Betaworks has acquired a majority stake in read-it-later application Instapaper. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The Instapaper app, available for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, saves Web content in text-only mode, stripping away original layouts to optimize articles for smartphone and tablet screens. Users may download as many as 500 articles to their mobile device and store unlimited articles on the Instapaper website; additional features include adjustable fonts, line spacing and margins, brightness control for night reading, folders for organization and browser-enabled sharing.
Instapaper first launched on the Web in early 2008, expanding to iOS that summer. The app is now enshrined in Apple's iPhone and iPad Hall of Fame. "Instapaper is much bigger today than I could have predicted in 2008, and it has simply grown far beyond what one person can do," Instapaper creator Marco Arment wrote in a blog post confirming the Betaworks deal. "To really shine, it needs a full-time staff of at least a few people. But I wouldn't be very good at hiring and leading a staff, and after more than five years, I'd like an opportunity to try other apps and creative projects. Instapaper needs a new home where it can be staffed and grown, but I didn't want to give it to a big company that would probably just shut it down in six months."
Arment added that the Betaworks agreement is structured "with Instapaper's health and longevity as the top priority, [and] 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."
Betaworks acquired social news aggregator Digg in mid-2012 for a reported $500,000. Betaworks recently said it also will create a service to fill the void left by the demise of Google Reader, which will shut down July 1. In an email to TechCrunch, founder and CEO John Borthwick said the Instapaper acquisition clarifies Betaworks' future as a firm that builds and operates multiple products, as opposed to an incubator that serves as a launching pad for ideas that are ultimately spun out.
Instapaper also will help Betaworks monetize its business model. The iOS version is $3.99 to download, while the Android release is $2.99.