Instagram Co Founders Launch Artifact News App

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, former co-founders of Instagram, have started a new company. Their initial product, Artifact, is a customized news feed using AI to cater to your interests, with the added feature of being able to have discussions with friends.

Artifact is being described as a text-based version of TikTok

Artifact is being referred to as a text-based version of TikTok or a mobile version of Google Reader, and could also be seen as a challenge to Twitter. The app presents a feed of popular articles sourced from reputable news organizations and niche blogs. By tapping on articles that interest you, Artifact will show similar content in the future, adjusting its algorithm over time like TikTok’s “For You” page.

Idea behind Artifact

The idea for Artifact was discussed by Systrom and Krieger a couple of years ago. Systrom was initially sceptical about the ability of machine-learning systems to improve recommendations, but his experience at Instagram changed his views. He saw that every time machine learning was used to improve the consumer experience, things improved significantly.

According to Systrom, Artifact is committed to providing its readers with high-quality news and information. To achieve this, the company will only include publishers who adhere to editorial standards of quality, and will remove individual posts that promote falsehoods.

The machine-learning systems will be optimized to measure how long users spend reading about various subjects rather than what generates the most clicks and comments, in an effort to prioritize engaging material.

Systrom and Krieger are currently funding Artifact themselves, with a team of seven people including Robby Stein, a former top product executive at Instagram. It is expected that they will soon have investors seeking to invest in the company.

Artifact in beta testing

Users joining from the waitlist will initially only see the main ranked feed. However, Artifact beta users are testing two more features which will likely become a central part of the app.

These include a feed displaying articles and commentary posted by followed users (although it is not currently possible to post raw text without a link), and a direct messaging inbox to allow private discussions with friends about the posts being read.


Artifact is currently in a private beta phase. To join, users can enter their phone number and will receive a personal invite link via text when they are off the waitlist. You can sign up yourself here.

Announcing the project and app, Kevin Systrom, Artifact, said,

I think machine learning is undeniably the coolest thing to work on right now. Not because it’s hip, but because when it knows you’re into a certain topic, and it totally gets you, you’re like — how is it that just some numbers multiplied together did that? The CTO of OpenAI said that machine learning is basically many months of things not working, and then suddenly it works, and then it works scarily well. I resonate with that.