Instagram co-founders’ AI-powered news app Artifact may not be shutting down after all

Artifact, the well-received AI-powered news app from Instagram’s co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, may not be shutting down as planned. The company announced in January the award-winning app would be winding down operations as the market opportunity wasn’t “big enough to warrant continued investment.” However, despite an end-of-life date of February 2024, the app has continued to function in the many weeks since.

As it turns out, that’s not by mistake.

Systrom tells us that he and Krieger are continuing to keep Artifact alive for the time being and have not yet given up on a plan to maintain the app in the future — news that will likely give fans of the news discovery app a bit of hope.

“It takes a lot less to run it than we had imagined,” Systrom confirmed to TechCrunch, adding that it’s just himself and Krieger running Artifact right now. “It will still likely go away, but we’re exploring all possible routes for it going forward.” (Perhaps an exit deal is at hand?)

Artifact made a splash at launch, not only because it was the first major effort at a new social app from Instagram’s co-founders, but also because of its clever use of AI. The personalized news reading app leveraged AI to help users discover the news they were most interested in from a variety of pre-vetted sources, and offered up features to summarize news in various styles (like “Gen Z” or “Explain Like I’m Five”). It could also rewrite clickbait headlines for better clarity, among other things.

Following Artifact’s announcement of its impending closure, interest in using AI to summarize the news has heated up.

Browser startup Arc implemented an AI-powered “pinch to summarize” feature ahead of its $50 million fundraise. Other startups have also turned to AI to improve the news reading experience, like RSS reader Feeeed, AI-powered news reader Bulletin and Particle, an AI news reader built by former Twitter engineers, including the senior director of Product Management at Twitter, Sara Beykpour, and former senior engineer at both Twitter and Tesla, Marcel Molina. The latter recently raised $4.4 million in seed funding, indicating investor interest in this space is growing, too.

Artifact, meanwhile, had been self-funded by the founders to the tune of “single-digit millions,” and it seems they have the funds to continue to run the app — at least in the near term.

Unfortunately for Artifact’s early adopters, the app has been stripped of its social features, like commenting and posting, but it continues to offer news reading and AI summarization features in the version that remains live today.



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