May 4, 2021 - Technology

Twitter acquires news tech startup Scroll

Photo: Scroll

Twitter on Tuesday announced it's acquiring Scroll, the venture-backed news upstart from former Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile.

Why it matters: It's Twitter's second acquisition this year that's meant to help people read more long-form on the platform. In January, Twitter bought the newsletter publishing platform Revue.

Catch up quick: Scroll launched last year to help publishers make more money while also giving users who hate ads a better internet experience.

  • Users to pay a monthly fee for access to websites they already use but are scrubbed of all ads. With that user revenue, Scroll sends its partner-publishers more money per user than they would make per user while serving them ads.
  • Haile said in a statement that while Scroll's business model is working well, the company needs to move faster to innovate, hence the deal.

Details: In the short-term, Scroll will temporarily pause new customer sign-ups so that it can integrate its product into Twitter. The service will go into private beta while it integrates into Twitter's subscription offerings later this year.

  • In the long-term, Twitter says Scroll will become a meaningful addition to its subscriptions products. Twitter users that subscribe to Scroll will be able to read articles ad-free from hundreds publishers that work with Scroll, including The Atlantic, The Verge, USA Today, The Sacramento Bee and more.
  • Scroll will wind down Nuzzel, the news intelligence product it acquired in 2019, but in the future, elements of Nuzzel will be embedded directly into Twitter.
  • Financial deal terms were not announced, but presumably the deal is relatively small. Twitter will bring on the entire Scroll team, which is just 13 people.

The big picture: The deal speaks to Twitter's new focus on long-term content efforts, and its commitment to helping publishers succeed. Unlike some of its tech rivals, Twitter almost never gets into public spats with media companies over distribution terms.

  • "Analysts joke that Twitter suffers in comparison to other platforms because the value realized by third parties from Twitter is far greater than the value it is able to capture for itself," Haile said in a statement. "They see this as a weakness. It is a strength."
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