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Instapaper is joining Pinterest (instapaper.com)
373 points by ropiku on Aug 23, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 208 comments



Bummer. I love and use instapaper, gathering articles for a few weeks to read at altitude. It's a great product, and I paid for a subscription these last years in the hopes that I could therefore continue to enjoy it.

Now it's sold to Pinterest, one of the two sites I don't bother with links to—because I know Pinterest and Quora will require me to sign in rather than show me what they showed a search engine.

What else operates in this space? Pocket, I remember. ReadItLater used to exist, maybe still? Does Pinboard do this somehow, maybe with an RSS reader? Or do I have to pay for Paperback?


Wallabag (https://www.wallabag.org/) if you want self-hosted.

Pinboard (https://pinboard.in) offers archiving for (I believe) $25 a year.

Or Pocket (https://getpocket.com/) which used to be Read-It-Later.


Thanks for the link to Wallabag, I had never heard of it. Looks very interesting.

I use Pinboard, and pay for the archiving option. I even periodically request a tarball of the archive for my own backup. Pinboard archives the entire page, not just a readable version of the content. For archival and reference purposes, I like this. It would be nice if Pinboard also provided a readable option. In fact, a number of the apps that work with Pinboard add support for readable versions.

I will look into adding Wallabag into my workflow.


I'm cool with the idea of providing a readable option in Pinboard, since I already do something similar to get the text out of the page for indexing. Any library for this you particularly like?


Readability (https://github.com/luin/readability) is a classic, and included as part of Firefox (I think, maybe that's been discontinued). It's essentially a bag of hand-written heuristics but they're pretty good heuristics.

Some interesting reading is Christian Kohlschütter's thesis on this problem, which is framed in academia as "how do we assemble good text corpuses from webpages for data analysis, which means removing junk (boilerplate) from our HTML crawls" (https://code.google.com/archive/p/boilerpipe/wikis/WSDM2010P...). Boilerpipe would probably be the right way to go, but if you're not using Java it could be harder to integrate.


I second Readability, it works great for article heavy webpages. I used it to build a reading time estimator for chrome https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/read-time/nccohhim... and its open source https://github.com/usergit/read-time bonus, you can click on the extension to show only the main content of the page


Thank you and the parent both for these links!


It works great! I used the Pinboard API to download my bookmarks and used readability to crawl the original text from the source url.


Firefox maintains a fork of Readability for Firefox's reader mode here:

https://github.com/mozilla/readability


This would be great! A while back I signed up for Paperback (https://readpaperback.com/) to handle this for my Pinboard account, and then wrote my own using the Ruby Readability library.


Instaparser, when it was originally released, was priced competitively with Diffbot: https://www.diffbot.com/products/automatic/#article

Which is a nice API for extracting metadata from a web page, although I understand it might not be worth the cost.


Hopefully you see this. The biggest reason I stick with Pocket (despite the privacy implications) is because of its text-to-speech functionality. AFAIK, Pinboard is a website only, so TTS is out of the question. However, might this change in the future?


There is a great app called Voice Dream reader on iOS that takes text from a variety of sources and can do TTS. I think I paid $9.99 for it and bought an Inova voice for $4.99. I love it. I use it to have custom study guides read to me, ePubs, PDFs, text documents and my Instapaper queue.


Thanks, I'll check them out. Although from what I can tell of Voice Dream it's a big extra step in the workflow.


I would very much like to see this.

I don't know what is the state of the art for a general content extractor. (I have done a fair amount of one off web scrapers, for data collection, but nothing this generic)


Paperback offers a reasonably good reading experience for Pinboard links.

https://readpaperback.com


Paperback looks interesting. I don't see it mentioned, but does it support highlighting & notes?

The demo seems to be broken for me.


One option is to have a browser that can render webpages in reading mode like safari on iOS. Hopefully chrome and Firefox have extensions as well.


On Android FF has this functionality built in. I use it all the time.


They do


It's funny how even after all those years, people still feel the need to mention "formerly Read It Later" when they talk about Pocket.


Well, given that the parent to the comment you replied to said

>Pocket, I remember. ReadItLater used to exist, maybe still?

there was an obvious reason to name Pocket as "formerly Read It Later"


If you're on macOS / iOS, you can use the reading list. When you add items to your reading list from Safari, they get synced to your iOS device so you can read them offline from any of your devices.

It does require iCloud but nothing beyond that.


I use Mobile Safari on iOS but Chrome on macOS. This means that, as much as I love Safari's Reading List, it's basically "unavailable" to me on the desktop. To put something in the Reading List from Chrome, I have to focus the URL bar, copy the URL, open Safari, paste and go to the URL, and then ⌘⇧D to put it in the list. (I can also right-click on the URL bar in Chrome and use the "Add to Reading List" OS Service, but the mousing involved is actually nearly as much work as the series of keyboard-gestures in the above.)

The fact that there's no way to get anything to actively sync between Chrome and iCloud is maddening. Why has nobody reverse-engineered the iCloud API and made a Chrome extension to talk to it?


I've recently switched my primary browsing back to Safari on my 2012-era MacBook Air. Battery life is noticeably better.

I still launch Chrome and FF regularly for development, but my tab-hell lives in Safari now.


Oh man other browsers kill the battery compared to Safari. It's not even a comparison.


Plug: OneTab for Chrome or Pinboard > Save tab set (in Chrome/Safari) are my best routes out of tab hell.

I find Safari often becomes unusable with 30–50 tabs.


If you use Alfred, you can setup a workflow (edit, this is the one I've used in the past and works currently: http://www.alfredforum.com/topic/4524-safari-reading-list/ ) to do this with a key combo


I go the other way, sending pages from Safari to Chrome when I need Flash content, using a TextExpander snippet. It's not a perfect solution for you, but it might help.

Here's the code, which I have tied to "stc " (send to Chrome). [Ha! In typing the snippet shortcut, of course, I sent this very page to Chrome. :-)]

  property theURL : ""
  tell application "Safari"
  	set theURL to URL of current tab of window 1
  end tell
  if appIsRunning("Google Chrome") then
  	tell application "Google Chrome"
  		make new window
  		set URL of active tab of window 0 to theURL
  		activate
  	end tell
  else
  	tell application "Google Chrome"
  		do shell script "open -a \"Google Chrome\""
  		set URL of active tab of window 0 to theURL
  		activate
  	end tell
  end if
  
  on appIsRunning(appName)
  	tell application "System Events" to (name of processes) contains appName
  end appIsRunning


Slightly easier — click and hold in the URL bar and drag to the Safari icon.

I also wrote a short AppleScript called Tab Transporter to move tabs between browsers. It's configured to go from Safari to Chrome but you could reverse that easily. I activate it via Alfred.

https://github.com/tedmiston/tab-transporter


I only use Safari, so I can't test if this still works, but have a look at this Stack Exchange thread on sending a non-Safari tab to Safari Reading List

http://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/51534/reading-list-...


> Why has nobody reverse-engineered the iCloud API and made a Chrome extension to talk to it?

If you can reverse engineer iCloud and bypass its security there are a lot more lucrative pursuits than making a Chrome extension for your reading list.


Who said anything about bypassing security? I was presuming the extension would just "walk in the front door" by getting the user to log into it with their iCloud credentials, and then passing those to the server. Or are you saying that the iCloud protocols are obfuscated/DRMed above-and-beyond just having regular AAA constraints applied to them?


iCloud is not a free for all, it's meant to share data within your app or within your org's group of apps (e.g. all Google apps). The Reading List data is within Apple's own container and you would not have access to it through conventional tools.

This is typically a good thing because syncing is hard enough when you control both ends, having arbitrary programs messing with your data is a recipe for disaster.


Ah, this is what had me confused: I was assuming that the parts of "iCloud" that preceded the creation of the Ubiquity sync protocol (e.g. Safari bookmark sync, Notes and Reminders, Calendars, etc.) just stayed WebDAV-based with their CoreData databases being purely local+ephemeral, rather than migrating over into using full-on Ubiquity-synced CoreData stores. (I swear you can still export e.g. CalDAV calendar URLs from Calendars.app for iCloud calendars, and these CalDAV resources are writable if you want them to be. Or am I misremembering?)

Still, even with the way iCloud works, you don't need to directly prod the data. If you want to manipulate Safari's container, you can prod Safari itself into doing so. OSA is no COM, but it works just fine for this sort of thing. (And if you can't manage to make it do so, you can write a Safari plug-in presenting a locally-bound HTTP API that the Chrome extension can talk to.)

Now, the real challenge would be doing this syncing as part of some "syncing service" running on a cloud VM somewhere, that doesn't actually want to run thousands of headless copies of Safari. That's what I really want: the ability to sync Chrome with iCloud even if I currently have no active iCloud-attached devices. Probably the simplest way to do this is to write your own Ubiquity+CoreData client libraries and present yourself as another device that wants to sync against the iCloud account. It'd be up to you from there to safely munge the CoreData object hierarchy in a way resembling the official clients, but at least you'd be able to linearize those updates against iCloud messages.


Reading List is fine, though I wish it offered highlighting or note taking features.

I also tend to stuff my Instapaper full of hundreds of links which it handles no problem, but Reading List really crumbles adding a bunch at once when it tries to download everything.


The iOS reading list frequently fails to sync offline content to my device, stranding me contentless on airplanes. It's incredibly annoying, and is specifically why I began using Instapaper.


I wish the reading list was available via the browser so I could access it on my Linux desktop at work. That's the only reason I don't use it :/


Pinboard has a read-it-later feature. It works for me, and I know it won't change suddenly out from under me (unless idlewords gets hit by a bus, but eh).

"It works, it's nice and fast, and will continue to work the same way for the foreseeable future" is pretty much the highest praise I can give a service like this, and Pinboard nails that aspect.


Is there any iOS app that supports offline reading of bookmarks? I already have pinner, which has a decent parser, but afaik redownloads and reparses on access.


Do you have a mobile client you like? I remember being frustrated by what I could find for Pinboard, as far as replacing Instapaper.


I enjoy Pinner for iOS - http://pinnerapp.net/.


I very happily second that recommendation. For OS X, Spillo is quite wonderful.


I also recommend both those apps. I use them daily.


http://thesweetsetup.com/apps/best-pinboard-app-ios/

It might be helpful for you to have a look through there and see if any of them have a stand out 'read it later' experience.


I use PinDroid on Android. I mostly bookmark things on mobile to read on a bigger screen though, so I can't comment on how it works the other direction.


I mean, kinda. The bookmark is marked unread, but Pinboard does not have anything like a text stripper / really nice interface for reading articles. Though I'm sure you could combine it with Readability's bookmarklets to make a workflow without notes / highlights.


The post says that, at least for the time being, nothing is going to change for their users. Hopefully you wont be forced to sign into Pinterest to use Instapaper.


> The post says that, at least for the time being, nothing is going to change for their users.

Except a new third party (Pinterest) will sooner or later have access to my Instapaper data. I trusted Instapaper because they had a sustainable business model not based around ads. I do not trust Pinterest because their business model is based around selling my personal information and activity to advertisers.

Basically it's time to stop using Instapaper :(


But no one on this thread believes it. It certainly says something, and not a good thing, about the startup ecosystem when "in the know" people like us automatically treat news of an acquisition as a death sentence for the product, even if the team claims otherwise.


That will not be the case, Jeff.


I really like http://raindrop.io - its pretty, easy, and has a mobile app / chrome extension.


They have hidden their pricing well: https://raindrop.io/pages/pricing

Anyway, I'm probably going to replace my Instapaper with a self-hosted alternative instead of hoping yet another company stays in business long enough.


I second raindrop.io.

I have been using it for three months now, and it works flawlessly. I was using Pocket, but sometimes after I would save links with their iPhone app, I would go into their web interface to view them at a later time, and those links would be gone.

But I have not had one single link disappear from raindrop.io since I have been using it.


This looks interesting. Will give it a shot!


It's fairly early stage but I've been actively building an alternative to Instapaper called Filltray (https://filltray.com/guest). Please feel free to follow @filltray to keep up to date with my progress.


Your product sounds interesting, especially the longterm roadmap. If you can replace Feedly as an bucket of RSS feeds to scan + Instapaper for reading & note taking, that'd be pretty sweet.

The pricing page is blank for me.


What would this offer to differentiate itself from Wallabag?


There's a long term roadmap for saving links into conceptual "trays" which will be programmable (via a custom lambda type system which would allow for you to have a lot of flexibility). Alongside this, I'm passionate about ensuring Filltray works to surface your links that are still relevant in your life (and forgetting links you've forgotten about). There's a huge amount of room for improvement in this space especially with simple wins like using waybackmachine for permanent archives of webpages (built) and giving users the ability to retrieve contextual information about their links. Where were you, what device were you using, what time was it. Its simple to save something for later. Getting you back to _why_ is the important bit!


Evernote is a surprisingly good alternative. I switched to it from Instapaper (which I really liked) because I could save article along with notes, file them with other notes and stuff, etc. With Instapaper I felt like I was saving things that I'd read in one silo (my RSS reader) into another. For how I work, web articles are just one set of things I want to sort together (actually I mostly use tags instead of notebooks)

Unfortunately the "read at altitude" is a paid feature, at least for tablets and phones (maybe windows/mac too, I don't know). So that might make it not work for you.


Usually I use PushToKindle ... much prefer reading on my kindle to a screen.


Agree. This happened to two other services I like this week as well.

It's been puzzling me for a while though: doesn't Google punish the behaviour you mention?



I think it was already the case that the content shown in the search result had to be viewable on the site. This link seems to be more about annoyances?


Another player is BeeLine Reader. It offers an article-saving feature on iOS and can also pull from Pocket/Instapaper/Readability. And unlike some competitors, it does not track reading habits or sell personal data. [discl: I am the founder]


Use tampermoneky/greasemonkey browser extension, and add a user script to disable that "please log in" shit. It works for me.


Readability.


The press release does specifically say:

> For you, the Instapaper end user and customer, nothing changes. The Instapaper team will be moving from betaworks in New York City to Pinterest’s headquarters in San Francisco, and we’ll continue to make Instapaper a great place to save and read articles.


True, but that's what they always say. See: https://ourincrediblejourney.tumblr.com/


I really like Pocket myself. Good support across mobile and desktop.


ReadItLater became Pocket, I think.


Readability and Pocket.


Feedly


Hi all,

Brian from Instapaper here. There seem to be a number of comments expressing concerns about the acquisition, and I wanted to just jump in and offer to answer any questions you have about the acquisition.

Based on the comments I've read below the main concerns seem to be that Instapaper will either be shutdown or materially changed in a way that effects the end-user experience. I can tell you that neither of those are the plan for the short-term or long-term of the product, and I am personally looking forward to providing you with the same great service under a new owner.

Brian Donohue Instapaper CEO


> Based on the comments I've read below the main concerns seem to be that Instapaper will either be shutdown or materially changed in a way that effects the end-user experience. I can tell you that neither of those are the plan for the short-term or long-term of the product, and I am personally looking forward to providing you with the same great service under a new owner.

As a person who has been part of a small company / start-up acquisition 2 times now this is literally the line every single CEO says when they're bought. Now I'm not saying you're lying but plans change and except for very, very few exceptions this is always wrong.

Congratulations either way and I wish you luck!


Just came here to say that too. There's a fair amount of hubris in the founder/ceo promising things they cannot promise. I realize bthdonohue is doing it for the sake of employees and their enthusiasm to continue with the acquisition, but making claims like this undermines your credibility when you EOL the product in two years.

(I was part of one of these acquisitions and thankfully our founder made no such promises, and instead told us "nothing is going to change right now, but I can't tell you what the future holds for us")


Yeah it gives me a moment of 'the feels' to see him still referring to himself as Instapaper CEO.

It's like man, you're VP of the Instapaper division now. And you're going to keep your head above the water a lot better if you know it, compared to imagining you're someone you are not.


Considering they are forcing the team to move to SF, there is no way Instapaper will exist in one year.


This is my takeaway as well.

One of the most dangerous things about acquisitions is losing the "magic touch" that the original team had... requiring a cross-country move is not the best way to retain your talent.


The "original team", i.e. Marco Arment, moved on years ago anyway.


I appreciate the congratulations. I do understand that plans change, and all I can say is that I will be doing everything to make sure we offer the same great product and service at Pinterest.




Not every single time! Apple acquisitions generally don't even acknowledge that they've been acquired, let alone what that means for anyone or anything.


Delighted competitor here. How do you force your entire staff to relocate across the country without "materially changing the end-user experience"?


Hi Maciej,

2/3 of the staff members are moving to San Francisco. We all agreed to it before making the decision, no hands were forced.

Also, big fan of your writing. Want to grab a coffee or beer now that I'm in SF?

Brian


I'm honestly flattered that you like my writing, but what would be the goal of meeting up? It seems like it would be awkward, given that I've treated your acquisition like a piñata full of new customers. In any case, feel free to message me directly.


what about the other 1/3? Are they remaining in NY?


Can we join you guys?


That's not a good sign. Most of the time when a tech company or app fails they're based in SF.


Also when they start. Which might be the most likely reason for your observation.


That's the ...


May I hijack this thread and ask why moving to SF at all? Was it part of the deal? Would you have moved despite the acquisition? Is there any specific things Instapaper was missing out by not being in bay area?


The core engineering team for Pinterest is out of SF and the team was open to moving to SF as part of the acquisition. Given that the company was majority-owned by betaworks (based out of NYC), it's unlikely we would've moved outside of the acquisition.


I've got two questions:

- Has there been any consulting with Marco about this acquisition? It being his brainchild.

- The blog post mentions some concrete ways on how your Instapaper mad skills can/will be used to make Pinterest more useful. In what concrete ways will Instapaper be made more useful and/or stable because of Pinterest?

Myself, I'm concerned. I've found Pinterest to be user-hostile in a way that seems opposite to the Instapaper philosophy: it's naggy (notification-wise for starters) and aimed at hooking me into their ecosystem. It's in-your-face instead of hands-off.

Edit: added a question, and also I'd be remiss not to use this opportunity to thank you for the great service! It's the only 'bookmarking' service I use, after many years of trying many sorts.


I use Instapaper daily to have the playlist read articles to me while I'm in transit. I love this, oddly exclusive, feature and would pay to see improvements in that direction.

However, I do not care for Pinterest at all. I have created and later deleted several accounts just to give it a fair shake, but it doesn't hold a candle to Tumblr. Also the forced sign up is user antagonistic, and the source of much enmity from people who I've heard speak about it. So fine, clearly me and people like me are not the intended audience, but what does this mean for Instapaper?

I have a hard time seeing how these two services are in any way related; not by content, audience, business model, or features. I do not see the missing part of one in the other. I see two communities that appear to a casual observer to be oil and water, and I am concerned that Instapaper will move towards it's opposite.

Can you speak to these concerns, or suggest some ideas on how Pinterest might improve Instapaper for users?

Thanks


Firstly, I built text-to-speech playlists so I'm glad that you're enjoying that feature and making good use of it. It's kind of a weird one but good for driving commutes, etc.

I'll reiterate here that Instapaper will remain as a separate app, with separate functionality, and a focus on the reader. There are no short-term or long-term plans to modify the user experience of Instapaper.

In the blog post we detail that "Instapaper provides a compelling source for news-based content" for Pinterest, and that portions of the parser technology will be used throughout Pinterest.

For Instapaper, it means leveraging the technical expertise, support, and resources at Pinterest.


Have you heard of Voice Dream reader? I use it on iOS to have loads of content read to me, including my Instapaper/Pocket queues. I will type up 30 page study guides and study while driving. I use it to have books and articles read to me. I have found it to be invaluable for grad school.

https://appsto.re/us/kiXKD.i


I hope they don't merge the 2. I'd hate my article privacy to be compromised and be auto published into some pins.


> I love this, oddly exclusive, feature

For what it's worth, Pocket also has text-to-speech article reading.


Hey Brian,

First off congratulations on making a huge business decision like this - I'm sure it's not easy. And secondly thank you for putting yourself out here like this for us to talk to.

I rely on Instapaper every day to keep track of the reading that fuels my writing. I love that it's an awesome reading experience, that it syncs so well between devices, that it's keeping an archive of what I've read, and that it's so easy to share out to other apps and services.

I suppose I'm most worried that the experience that I - and many other users - have come to know and love will change, even in small ways. I'm imagining a reading UI with a little "save to pinterest" logo at the top and shuddering. Or some frankensteins' monster of a pinterest-board for my reading queue. Or being unable to share links or quotes to apps other than Pinterest.

I know you've said the team has no plans to make those sorts of changes to the product and user-experience, but how do you as a team know that you'll have that choice under the new ownership?

Either way, I'll be sticking around as a premium user for as long as I can. The app has brought me a lot of joy over the years, and I'm not feeling eager at the thought of potentially leaving it.

Cheers.


Thanks for your thoughtful comment Ristretto!

The product, engineering, and design folks at Pinterest are very smart and I think we all know that forcing integrations into Pinterest like the ones you're describing would really damage the user experience for end-users.

I've already built Pinterest integration for Instapaper, which you can link like other social accounts at http://instapaper.com/user. You can see how this integration looks on my Pinterest account: https://www.pinterest.com/bthdonohue/instapaper/

I will be a strong advocate against integrations that I would perceive to damage the user experience for Instapaper.

Lastly, thanks for your support over the years. I'm looking forward to continue bringing you the same great service at Pinterest.


I think that most of the concern comes from the fact that Pinterest has had no problem doing this in the past [1]. While it may not be the plan at this moment, things can change quickly, and with any change in a system like this, people are going to naturally worry since they've seen it happen countless times in the past.

Congratulations on the acquisition, and I wish you the best going forward.

[1] - https://medium.com/@pdavison/math-camp-is-joining-pinterest-...


I hate when apps I like shut down.

David was pretty open in the post you linked to: "Though the team will live on, we’ll be focused on building within the core Pinterest product."


Obviously the Math Camp acquisition was before my time, but my understanding is that acquisition was explicitly for the team and not the technology.


Isn't the technology of Instapaper separate from Instapaper as a product, though, to some extent? (at least the parser bit. I get that the information about reading habits is inseparable from a running Instapaper service)


Contrary to a lot of others here, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and believe that Instapaper is going to be kept as a standalone product.

It's not without precedent for an established platform with an active user base, either. Facebook was smart enough to keep Instagram and Whatsapp separate, so I'm hoping that Pinterest is thinking the same.


How do I get my data out of instapaper, if I don't want Pinterest using my reading history for targeting me or sharing with their data brokers?


You can export your articles at instapaper.com/user as always, however, we will not be using Instapaper users' personal data for any type of targeting or sharing off-service.


Isn't that the kind of question you should have an answer to before signing up for a service, knowing that it could be sold to whoever down the road?


Basic Internet hygiene should have instilled in most users that any data put online is immediately out of the user's control. If it's on a self-hosted site, the contents are long gone the minute you hit post. If they're on a third-party site, it'll eventually be sold to the highest bidder when the site is either acquired, or goes defunct and the scraps sold off. There is no sanitation online.


There's an API, but I'd rather not have to write my own script to export the data. Which I'll be doing lickety split.

Not a fan of Pinterest (the company), not one bit.


Maybe. Better late than never, though?


Isn't that the kind of question everybody already knows the answer to?


While we all would like to remain optimistic, the reality of the situation, is that Instapaper will eventually be wound down. Likely within the next year. The "our incredible journey" speech has become a meme in itself.

With that said, thanks for taking the time to respond, and congratulations on the acquisition.


Since you've told us what you believe are NOT part of the short-term or long-term plans, why don't you tell us what you think the short-term or (preferably) long-term plans include?


Hi Natan!

Here's from the blog post: "Instapaper provides a compelling source for news-based content, and we’re excited to take those learnings to Pinterest’s discovery products. We’ll also be experimenting with using our parsing technology for certain Rich Pin types."

Outside of operating Instapaper normally, those are the things we'll be working on with the Pinterest team.

Brian


> As we focus on the future of the user experience, we’ll be sunsetting our developer product, Instaparser. Starting today, we will cease signups for Instaparser and halt billing for existing customers. In order to ensure a smooth transition for current users, we will keep Instaparser running until November 1, 2016.

Is this suggesting the Instapaper API will close or become more restricted as well?


No plans to change the Instapaper API.


Congrats on the acquisition. Been a fan/user from the early days when Marco ran it. Best "read it later" product hands down.

Should Pinterest kill Instapaper would you folks be willing to open source it like FB/Parse?


There are no plans to kill the product so we haven't had those discussions.


You no longer control your destiny, so making promises you can't control is just rude to your users.

I am closing my account today. Thanks for the service to date.


Ah, no material changes to the end-user experience, just a shitload of backend personal-data shuttling.

Abhorrent.


We will be using the signals from Instapaper to power some news-based discovery within Pinterest, however, those signals will be used in aggregate in a manner similar to which we use them for the Instapaper Daily and Instapaper Weekly offerings.


Worth re-reading Marco Arment's blog post about selling Instapaper 3 years ago: https://marco.org/2013/04/25/instapaper-next-generation

"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."

Oof.


He "sold a majority stake", which means he still owned part of Instapaper. I assume Pinterest bought the whole thing and therefore gave Marco a large chunk of money? Nice for him.


Even in 2016 Marco is still selling things. Never change Marco, never change.


The value could have been less than what Marco sold it for originally.


In all fairness, it's been many times longer than six months.


It wasn't shut down, it was sold to a big company. The six month clock starts now!



Based on your username, for a minute there I thought you might be Marco Arment, which would've made this comment even more hilariously cynical.


Been using the overcast username since 1994. Also, I'm much better looking. :)


Haha, yes - a link to Tumblr with a comment 'Up next' by the username 'overcast' in a discussion about Instapaper.


At least they are all consistent in their "excitement."


> The Instapaper team will be moving from betaworks in New York City to Pinterest’s headquarters in San Francisco

I wonder how the instapaper team feels about that (and/or how much say they had in it).


The "must be willing to relocate to San Francisco" meme now even applies to companies with no presence in San Francisco.


Yep.

LinkedIn now needs a pre-canned "No thanks, I'm not interested in moving to Silicon Valley" response.


The team was open to moving to SF as part of the acquisition. Also, there are only three of us so it wasn't as if many people were uprooted.


Are people who choose to not participate in the move denied unemployment?

Because that would really suck if you're loyal to where you live. Company has a "successful" exit, but you effectively get let go and denied unemployment.


According to the CEO of Instapaper on Twitter today there are only 3 people.

> Pinboard ‏@Pinboard: I love the assumption that a small-scale bookmarking business has to lose money. Maybe don’t employ 32 people in a NYC office?

> Brian Donohue ‏@bthdonohue: @Pinboard there were three of us, Maciej. We weren't losing money.

https://twitter.com/bthdonohue/status/768196096451416064


I used Instapaper for a long time before I switched to a Pocket.

There were issues with their parser they never fixed, has been consistently slow, articles would often be lost even though they were "saved" according to the apps that used the Instapaper API(or its browser extensions), it would take forever to download content over 3G ( maybe the client was downloading it? ). It just never got better for me.

They did introduce a killer feature(narration) and I switched to Instapaper from Pocket again for that feature alone (2 hours or commute time). Still annoying to use and as soon as Pocket implemented the same feature, I jumped ship again.

Pocket seems to be fast(at downloading content, and the iOS app is very responsive), their parser is improving and it's now by far my most used app on my phone.

I hope they get the resources they need to really improve their service though. They have lots of happy users and that must mean they are still doing something right.


Well, they didn't use the word "journey", which is a plus.

But I'm worried. I find that increasingly my interests do not align with the interests of large companies looking for quick growth and large-scale "monetization". I would like to see more sustainable business models, where the goal isn't mad growth and sale to a larger entity, but long-term steady business.


Ahahahahaha!


Now you can get support requests for instapaper too.


Mediocrity triumphs again!


And laziness! This kind of thing reinforces my worst instincts.


If it's really going to be run as a separate property why does the team need to move to SF?


Because it's not.


Instapaper is one of my favorite apps and I hope it doesn't change and that I can always access all my stored articles forever and ever.


I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.


Good opportunity to build an OSS alternative? Or even a side-project... in the possible event Instapaper gets sidelined. That always seems to happen. With the exception of maybe Reddit.


Can you summarize what their features are?

From a quick web search, it seems to be:

- Parsing a page for main body content, removing cruft, and reflowing it into an aesthetically pleasing layout

- Cloud bookmarking these artifacts

So how does this not run up against anti-scraping TOS provisions? Does money change hands between the publisher and the content-reflower?


For me the ability to have articles read to me on my phone while on the go is the key feature. I pay because of that feature alone, and would pay a LOT more to see general improvements in that direction.

Without that it's just another in a long series of fresh buckets to put under the leaky pipe of bookmarks.

Oh and...

Fuck you Pinterest and the wedding planners you rode in on!


I know that traditionally Instapaper basically required you to load the page at least once first so you'd get all the ads then. But since then there's APIs that bookmark directly to it. My guess is that it isn't used enough for Web sites to bother.

I view it as a specialized browser view, although the cloud bookmarking doesn't fit with that. I use Safari's reading view on pages all the time as they're too visually busy for the screen on my iPhone 5.


For the most part, it does not scrape around paywalls (though I have seen it work in some cases). I'm not sure how they pull that off, perhaps sending the source from the client instead of the URL and re-rendering it on the server.


Wallabag seems to be the best-known/best-supported open-source option in this space.

If you don't want/need open source, but just a sustainable business that is not part of a data-harvesting company, then pinboard.in is probably your best bet.


We'll read about it here soon:

https://ourincrediblejourney.tumblr.com/


Is Readability the corporation still solvent? They haven't had any app updates in over a year.


No idea but it's been driving me nuts. I can't read offline bedbugs their Android app is broken.

How are you currently using Readability?


I got an email to this effect today. I don't remember signing up to get emails, though presumably it was years ago if I did. I unsubscribed and marked as spam, but why is this something that required emailing people about?


So what kind of value does Instapaper adds/will add to Pinterest? Will there be a pin it later functionality? I fail to see how Pinterest gains from such an acquisition.


Hmm... there are at least five possible acquisition benefits I can think of, beyond just the product and any specific product to product synergies. I'm speaking generally here, not about this specific acquisition.

1. Aquihiring may be cheaper then new hires overall, considering externalities. 2. The underlying tech may be useful. 3. The user base may be acquired. 4. the business relationships may be retained if they are beneficial. 5. Potentially less competition in a market.


I would say mostly #1, though it's unglamourous; and a bit of #2 for Instaparser.

Pinterest is burning through enormous amounts of VC money.[0]

Betaworks seems to just be selling its Instapaper product, together with the Instapaper team.

Thus I'm guessing Pinterest needed a crew that could do what the Instapaper crew can do, and was willing to pay a lot more for it than it was worth to Betaworks.

I can totally see where that could be worth it to Pinterest. Talent is in short supply. Their revenue per engineer is probably not a good (nor available) metric but I bet their burn rate per engineer matters, and their "VCs are Impressed By That" per engineer is probably a huge deal for them.

Hopefully that crew is getting proper relocation packages.

(Or, of course, I'm totally wrong about everything. I don't actually use Pinterest, because it's too visitor-hostile.)

Oh and too bad about Instaparser, I thought that was the most interesting thing Instapaper had done yet. I'm sure somebody at Pinterest came up with a number for what it would cost to build that internally, and that number was probably close to the purchase price.

[0]: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/pinterest


They also get to see what people go out of their way to read. Not a bad score for a site that is based on that sort of thing.



They probably wanted the founder.


The founder (Marco Arment) sold Instapaper to Betaworks years ago.


It's say they wanted https://getpocket.com/, but with $14.5m funding it was too expensive.


Seems fairly unlikely they'll get him.


Is anybody else mildly annoyed by this trend of announcing acquisitions as 'x is joining y'? What's wrong with saying that y has bought x?


"Joining" makes it ambiguous whether "y has bought x" or "x was sold to y".

It also seems to be used sometimes as a mask for acquihires (but I don't think that applies here).


The cynic in me is seeing it as an ass cover - "The product you like is joining us" vs "The product you like has sold out (also we bought data about what you like to read for use in our thing we don't really care about the product itself)"


Don't they imply slightly different things? To me "joining" says merging teams and product goals, whereas "bought" could mean the smaller entity will still be freestanding.


Perhaps. To me it sounds like a bit of a weasely and vague term. But of course different people use words differently.


I pay for premium today... I wonder if this line will disappear from the product page:

                                              Free  Premium
      
    ...
    Support Instapaper's continued operation           √

https://www.instapaper.com/premium


This is offtopic but am I the only one who keeps confusing Pinterest and Pinboard?


No, and I think that's part of the joke for Pinboard.


It's even better because in a bit of a dick move, they tried to buy pinboard.com back in 2009 or 2010. I say "dick move" because Pinboard predates Pinterest and they were aware of me.


Does this mean they're now guilty of trademark infringement (Apple Computers vs Apple Records style) and you can take all their VC money? "Instapaper By Pinterest™" seems pretty similar to Pinboard.


Yes, Pinboard with his massive legal team.


The only way to get back at them is to create Instatrest.


Odd. Pinboard (I am a subscriber -- hi!) is not on pinboard.com either.


Oh! I didn't realize that.


I use Instapaper to highlight research sources from the web. Then export my notes to markdown using the iOS app. I hope to God they don't ruin Instapaper. I really need it.


Sad panda. I had amazing time with this app. Now I have to find alternative that will work well on iOS and macOS. :(


Instapaper to me is the epitome of doing something that "doesn't scale", and yet it did.


How does it not scale? It's an automated service.


Ever tried to write a web scraper that works on every website on the internet?


What do people use for the type of content extraction that the Instaparser API provides?



Pinstapaperist?


Too bad. It was nice while it lasted.


Instapaper'd the link!


:(


[Edited to be deleted by user since I can't delete this]


> we will keep Instaparser running until November 1, 2016.


Its really not "joining" if you are cancelling a service as part of the announcement. What is so wrong with actually saying "we were acquired" and the new owner does not value some / all of our existing customers?


You should read the post.

> For you, the Instapaper end user and customer, nothing changes. The Instapaper team will be moving from betaworks in New York City to Pinterest’s headquarters in San Francisco, and we’ll continue to make Instapaper a great place to save and read articles.

They are shutting down a developer product Instaparser that I don't think had much traction (first I've heard of it actually) and is less than six months old.


you should read the post

> As we focus on the future of the user experience, we’ll be sunsetting our developer product, Instaparser. Starting today, we will cease signups for Instaparser and halt billing for existing customers. In order to ensure a smooth transition for current users, we will keep Instaparser running until November 1, 2016.

[edit: parent added another sentence after my reply]


Yes, the API that no one uses and was announced in April. The product Instapaper that is in the headline and is what everyone knows about is not going anywhere.


[Edited to be deleted by user since I can't delete this]


Pedantry aside, if you're as big as Instapaper and you launch a product that 50 people use for side projects, you can safely say that nobody uses it.


[Edited to be deleted by user since I can't delete this]


My point was that in the broader scheme of things, a trivial number of people have even heard of Instaparser, let alone those who have heard about it, care about it, have signed up for an account, used it for anything beyond a side project, and are actually paying money for it.


It was announced in April and is being shut down in August. Do the math.


> you should read the post

>> As we focus on the future of the user experience, we’ll be sunsetting our developer product, Instaparser.

This seems to be about Instaparser, not the core product Instapaper?


As I said, Pinterest has cancelled one product (Instaparser) as part of the acquisition which had some customers. They are currently keeping the main product (Instapaper), but we will have to see if that is a long term thing. Pinterest picked some customers to keep and some to cancel.




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