Yahoo Has Acquired Artifact, The AI News App Developed by The Co-founders of Instagram

Yahoo Has Acquired Artifact, The AI News App Developed by The Co-founders of Instagram

Though they were never able to grow it, Instagram’s co-founders created a strong and practical platform for readers to receive news recommendations. Yahoo could use a little tech-forward cool to set it apart from the other news aggregators on the internet, even with its hundreds of millions of readers. Thus, the two are coming together: the firms declared on Tuesday that Yahoo would be purchasing Artifact.

Although neither party would disclose the purchase price, they both stated that Yahoo is buying Artifact’s technology, not its employees. Co-founders of Artifact Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom will serve as Yahoo “special advisors,” but they will not be joining the business. The remaining five employees of Artifact have either accepted offers from other companies or intend to take some time off.

The transaction occurs roughly three months after Systrom and Krieger declared Artifact’s demise and little over a year after the company’s founding. The co-founders said in January, “We have built something that a core group of users love, but we have concluded that the market opportunity isn’t big enough to warrant continued investment in this way.” They claimed that concentrating on “newer, bigger and better things that have the ability to reach many millions of people” was the main justification for the closure. The premise of Artifact was always that artificial intelligence (AI) might be a massive, game-changing technological advancement; perhaps there were just more fascinating projects to focus on than a news app with a small news readership.

Systrom and Krieger didn’t try to raise money or show the company to possible investors when they issued the notice. They felt as though they could just move on because they were the sole investors in Artifact and had operated the company rather sparingly. Then, though, businesses began to call. According to Systrom, he spoke with other businesses “on the order of ten” times following the shutdown notice. He states, “I think a lot of organizations are looking around and saying, ‘Wow, there’s this new wave of AI… maybe we should figure out what’s going on.'” “A lot of organizations care deeply about news and personalized content.” Perhaps that was what I first dismissed.

One of those calls was to Yahoo. After receiving the notice of shutdown, the business started looking at buying Artifact, according to Kat Downs Mulder, general manager of Yahoo News. She claims, “They put a ton of love and care into the way their recommendation systems and content taxonomy work.” “It’s extremely difficult to get the user experience (UX) of connecting the user with that content right, along with how the content is categorized, what signals feed into that content, and how to identify what’s really working and can connect and is relevant with you.” Although Yahoo has been working on recommendations and personalization for a while, Artifact created something unique.

That’s what Yahoo gains from Artifact. Other than the unknown purchasing fee, what does Yahoo offer Artifact? eyes. According to Downs Mulder, Yahoo News receives over 185 million monthly visitors, which exposes Artifact’s recommendation and personalization technology to a far wider audience than it probably would have on its own. That also means Systrom will get an opportunity to witness it in action. “Every month, we would chip away at growth,” Systrom says, “and we would get to the scale where some of the things we were promised in machine learning and AI would start working, because we had just enough scale to make them work. But it was really hard to move that needle.” Integrating with Yahoo will happen slowly, but it will move that needle in a big way.

The app, Artifact, will disappear after the acquisition is finalized. However, Yahoo News will soon begin to feature Artifact’s core technology for content classification, curation, and personalization; eventually, other Yahoo platforms will follow. According to Downs Mulder, “you’ll see that stuff flowing into our products in the coming months.” It appears likely that Yahoo’s applications will eventually gain some of Artifact’s efficiency and polish as well.

It will take time to integrate, according to Systrom and Downs Mulder, and you can’t just throw an Artifact algorithm into Yahoo News and call it a day. However, they see a chance to bring everyone a little closer to the future. Yahoo can create a customized content environment, similar to “TikTok for text,” which attracted users of Artifact. Furthermore, a future news service can be powered by Artifact.

Systrom said he has no idea what will happen next. He and Krieger are always brainstorming new ideas, and his main concern is ensuring that the Yahoo transfer occurs well. In a period driven by massive language models, he claims to be as optimistic as ever about AI and raises important issues about what the world needs. However, he asserts that “starting companies is not a seasonal business.” “Every fall, you don’t, like, start something new.” He’s now searching for the next big idea because the one for Artifact seemed too amazing to ignore.