Instagram Co-Founders Discontinue Artifact News App Amid Competitive Pressures


Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launched Artifact in January 2023 as an AI-powered news aggregation app. The app was designed to offer a unique blend of news reading, curation, and discovery, leveraging artificial intelligence to enhance user experience. Initially focused on simple news aggregation, Artifact evolved to allow users to become content curators and engage in discussions, akin to a social network platform.

Key Highlights:

  • Artifact, an AI-based news app, founded by Instagram co-founders, closes after one year.
  • Faced market challenges against established news apps and social platforms.
  • Systrom emphasizes the importance of recognizing market realities for startups.
  • Artifact maintained unique features but struggled to find a distinct market position.
  • Closure serves as a learning experience in the highly competitive digital news arena.

Instagram Co-Founders Conclude Artifact’s Brief Journey

  • Artifact, the AI-driven news app from Instagram co-founders, shuts down after a year.
  • The app faced challenges in a competitive market with insufficient market opportunities.
  • Features like AI news summarization, clickbait headline rewriting, and user curation were notable.
  • The app will maintain core news reading features until the end of February.


Struggle in a Competitive Market

Despite its innovative approach and the pedigree of its founders, Artifact struggled to find its footing in a saturated market. The app’s transition from a news reader to a more social platform placed it in direct competition with established players like Twitter, and even Instagram’s Threads. This shift may have diluted Artifact’s original appeal as a straightforward news app. Additionally, the broader market for news aggregators has seen challenges, with competitors like SmartNews experiencing declines in user engagement and downloads.

The Decision to Shut Down

In a blog post, Systrom highlighted the tough decision to wind down operations, stating that acknowledging market realities is crucial for startups.

He emphasized the importance of making difficult decisions early and the opportunity cost of not pursuing more viable projects. Systrom remains optimistic about the future of AI and its role in innovating new ideas. As part of the shutdown process, Artifact will gradually disable features such as commenting and posting to ease the transition for users, while keeping its core news capabilities active until the end of February.

Key Challenges and Lessons Learned

Artifact’s journey illustrates the difficulties of entering and innovating within the competitive news app market. The challenges faced by Artifact included:

  • Balancing the app’s original purpose with the need to evolve and stay relevant.
  • Competing against well-established platforms in a crowded space.
  • Managing user expectations and retaining engagement amidst significant product changes.

Reflecting on Artifact’s Closure and the Future of News Apps

Artifact’s closure, while a setback for its founders, offers insights into the dynamic nature of the tech startup landscape. It underscores the need for clear market positioning and the ability to adapt without losing core value propositions. Systrom’s reflections hint at a continued interest in exploring the potentials of AI in new ventures. The closure of Artifact is not just an end but also a stepping stone for future innovations in the digital news space.


About the author


Joshua Bartholomew

A casual guy with no definite plans for the day, he enjoys life to the fullest. A tech geek and coder, he also likes to hack apart hardware. He has a big passion for Linux, open source, gaming and blogging. He believes that the world is an awesome place and we're here to enjoy it! He's currently the youngest member of the team. You can contact him at