Instapaper Acquired by Betaworks

In a surprising move (to me at least), Marco Arment has sold his majority stake in Instapaper to Betaworks.

“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.”

This seems like a bittersweet deal to me. While I don't doubt that Betaworks can do well with Instapaper, I've always enjoyed the fact that it was always a one-man operation that could go toe-to-toe with the big guys.

I was a fan of the service anyway, but I got a certain enjoyment from rooting for the underdog. And I only say 'underdog' because of the huge explosion in popularity for Pocket, which not only has a staff that outnumbers Marco 9-to-1, but also seems to have become the market dominator, if the anecdotes I've read all over the web are any indicator.

Still, I congratulate Marco on his years of success (4 or 5 of which I've been a customer for), and I'm thankful to him for making such a fantastic utility. Instapaper literally changed the way I interact with the web, and the ideas behind its text-formatter likely encouraged many websites to adopt a cleaner experience.

I think the web would be a very different place without Instapaper, and Marco should be proud of what he accomplished with it. I look forward to whatever he comes up with next.