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AI-powered news aggregator app, Artifact, shuts down after one year of operation

Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have announced that their AI-powered news aggregator app, Artifact, will be shutting down. The app was launched over a year ago and had rapidly iterated on its product from a SmartNews-like news reading app to a social network where individual users could find interesting gems from around the web that others could like. It also employed several AI tools to surface the best content. However, the slate of changes had perhaps diluted the original value of the product, which was a simple news app that could take on the likes of built-in offerings on users’ phones, like Apple News. The end result was something more akin to a Twitter replacement — but that’s a market with numerous competitors, including, in fact, Meta’s Instagram, which has launched a similar feature.

AI-powered news aggregator app, Artifact, shuts down after one year of operation

In a blog post, penned by Instagram and Artifact co-founder Kevin Systrom, he writes that acknowledging the market reality is something startups often fail to do, but “making the tough call earlier is better for everyone involved.” “The biggest opportunity cost is time working on newer, bigger and better things that have the ability to reach many millions of people,” Systrom writes. “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,” he said.

To give users time to transition, the app will begin by shutting down various features, like the ability to comment and make posts. This will help reduce the moderation efforts. Existing posts will remain visible for the time being, and Artifact will continue to operate its “core news capability” through the end of February.

The shutdown comes amid increased competition in the Twitter rival landscape but also a slowdown in the usage of other news aggregators, like SmartNews. The latter had a rough 2023, with layoffs and the replacement of its CEO, while its app has been criticized for spreading misinformation. In part, the way users are finding news and information is changing with the arrival of AI. At the same time, publishers are finding their content has been wrapped up in AI training data, which is then queried by users of bots like OpenAI ChatGPT — leading to fake news in some cases, and in others, a lack of diversity in the news that is surfaced.

Despite the shutdown, Systrom says that news and information “remain critical areas for startup investment,” and that he believes other “bright minds” are working on ideas in this area. There is a lot new startups can learn from the demise of Artifact, one of which is knowing your market competition. Others include, understanding the demand for your value proposition and creating a sustainable minimum viable product. It is fair to conclude that Artifact founders tried to do too much, too fast, and in a short space of time, without truly understanding their market competition.


(1) Instagram co-founders' news aggregation startup Artifact to shut down.

(2) Instagram co-founders shut down their Artifact news app [details].

(4) Instagram co-founders’ news aggregation startup Artifact to shut down.


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