When I launched Instapaper in 2008, it was a very basic web app. It quickly expanded to define the pillars of the read-later market: a one-click “read later” bookmarklet, a web sync service, an adjustable text view optimized for reading, and an iPhone app with offline saving. I did almost everything myself, which worked well for the first few years, but for the past year, I’ve had a lot of trouble keeping up with it.
Instapaper is much bigger today than I could have predicted in 2008, and it has simply grown far beyond what one person can do. To really shine, it needs a full-time staff of at least a few people. But I wouldn’t be very good at hiring and leading a staff, and after more than five years, I’d like an opportunity to try other apps and creative projects. 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.
A couple of months ago, at 1:30 AM, I suddenly realized who should take it over. I jumped out of bed, tiptoed downstairs (no parent wants to wake a sleeping baby), and sent an email. It didn’t take much convincing, because we both knew it was a great fit.
I’m happy to announce that I’ve sold a majority stake in Instapaper to Betaworks. We’ve structured the deal with Instapaper’s health and longevity as the top priority, with incentives to keep it going well into the future. I will continue advising the project indefinitely, while Betaworks will take over its operations, expand its staff, and develop it further.
I’ve known Betaworks for years, and I’ve spent a lot of lunches at their office. They have great engineering talent, great product direction, and plenty of experience running services at Instapaper’s scale. I wouldn’t put Instapaper in just anyone’s hands, and I know that they’ll do right by it.
With Betaworks’ drive and resources now behind it, I’m confident that Instapaper has a very bright future. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do.