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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.




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