Twitter’s most recent acquisitions tour continues today as the company announces it has acquired the team of News Aggregator and Summary App Meager. The former Google engineering startup launched last year to offer a subscription-based news summary app that aimed to solve many of the problems of today’s news cycle, including information overload, burnout, media distortion, and algorithms that fueled engagement about news accuracy.
Twitter declined to share the terms of the contract.
Prior to founding Brief, Nick Hobbs was co-founder and CEO, a Google product manager who had worked on AR, Google Assistant, Google’s mobile app, and self-driving cars, among other things. Meanwhile, co-founder and CTO Andrea Huey was a senior software engineer at Google who worked on the Google iOS app and previously worked at Microsoft.
While Brief’s ambitious project to end news consumption showed promise, its growth may have been hampered by the subscription model that Brief adopted. The app required a $ 4.99 per month commitment, despite not having the brand name of a more traditional news agency. By comparison, the New York Times basic digital subscription currently costs just $ 4 per week thanks to a promotion in the first year of service.
According to Twitter, the startup’s team, which includes two other Brief employees, will join the Twitter group Experience.org, where they will be working on areas that encourage public conversation on Twitter, including Twitter Spaces and Explore.
While Twitter wouldn’t elaborate on what those tasks might involve, the company said it hopes to leverage the founders’ expertise with Brief to build and accelerate projects in these two areas.
Discover, is of course the “News” area of Twitter, in which top stories from all categories are aggregated alongside trending topics. What he currently lacks, however, is a comprehensive approach to reducing the news to the basic facts and taking stock, as the Brief’s app had provided. Instead, Twitter’s news features a headline and a brief description of the story, followed by notable tweets. There is certainly room for improvement.
It is also possible to think of some sort of news-oriented product built into Twitter’s own subscription service. Twitter blue – but that’s just speculation at the moment.
Twitter says it proactively reached out to Brief with its offer. As part of its current M&A strategy, the company is looking for talent to complement its existing teams and accelerate product development.
Last year, Twitter made similar acquisitions, including the distraction-free reading service Scroll, the social podcasting app Breaker, the social screen sharing app Squad, and the API integration platform Reshuffle. It also bought products like the Revue newsletter platform, which it integrated directly. The company even held acquisition talks with Clubhouse and India’s ShareChat, which would have been much larger M&A deals.
“We’re really glad we landed on Twitter,” Hobbs told ProWellTech.
“Andrea and I founded Brief to develop messages that fuel healthy discourse, and Twitter’s real commitment to improving public conversation is deeply inspiring,” he said. “While we cannot discuss details of future plans, we are confident that our experience at Brief will help accelerate the many exciting things that are happening on Twitter today,” he added.
Hobbs said the team is also optimistic about the future of paid journalism, as Brief showed that some customers would pay for a new and improved news experience.
“Brief has created a new vision for journalism that focuses on delivering only the news you need and not as much as you can take,” noted Ilya Kirnos, founding partner and CTO at SignalFire, of the letter supported in the seed phase. “This respect for its readers has made SignalFire proud to support founders Nick Hobbs and Andrea Huey, who are now bringing this philosophy to the top source for breaking news – Twitter.”
To date, Brief had raised a million seed capital from SignalFire and a handful of angel investors, including Sequoia scouts like David Lieb, Maia Bittner, and Matt Macinnis.
As a result of today’s deal, Brief will discontinue its subscription app on July 31. The company says it will notify its current user base today via notification of the impending shutdown, but the app will remain on the App Store and add new features that will allow users to browse its archives.