AI Acquisition: Yahoo Enters AI Era With Purchase Of News App Artifact

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Last year, we profiled Artifact, an AI-driven personalized news feed that intrigued us as a potential Twitter-alternative. 

“Its machine-learning systems will be primarily optimized to measure how long you spend reading about various subjects — as opposed to … what generates the most clicks and comments — in an effort to reward more deeply engaging material,” The Verge’s Casey Newton wrote at the time.

(Artifact’s homepage at launch last January)

Earlier this year, it appeared Artifact’s time was up before it had a real chance to flourish as the founders announced it was being shuttered. “My hope is that technology can find ways to preserve, support and grow these institutions and that these institutions find ways of leveraging the scale that things like AI can provide,” wrote CEO Kevin Systrom, who added that the market opportunities couldn’t justify further investment.

Cut to last week, when it was announced that Yahoo of all tech-players would be acquiring the company and providing that investment.

“Instagram’s co-founders built a powerful and useful tool for recommending news to readers — but could never quite get it to scale,” The Verge’s David Pierce writes. “Yahoo has hundreds of millions of readers — but could use a dose of tech-forward cool to separate it from all the internet’s other news aggregators.”

Systrom told The Verge that his shutdown post, which came before the founders had shopped the app around, prompted approximately 10 companies to contact him. “A lot of organizations care deeply about news and personalized content,” Systrom says, “and I think they’re looking around and saying ‘Wow, there’s this new wave of AI… maybe we should figure out what’s going on.’ Maybe that’s what I discounted originally.”



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