Twitter ‘acquire-hire’ subscription news app team, Brief – TechCrunch

Recent from Twitter procurement spree continues today as the company announces that it has acquired the news aggregator team and summary app Brief. The startup of former Google engineers released last year to offer a subscription-based news digest application that aimed to address many of the problems with the current news cycle, including information overload, burnout, media bias, and algorithms that promoted engagement on the news accuracy.

Twitter declined to share the terms of the deal.

Before starting Brief, co-founder and CEO Nick Hobbs was a Google product manager who had worked on AR, Google Assistant, Google’s mobile app, and driverless cars, among other things. Meanwhile, co-founder and CTO Andrea Huey was a senior software engineer at Google, working on the Google iOS app and had previously worked at Microsoft.

Image credits: Brief

While Brief’s ambitious project to fix news consumption showed great promise, its growth may have been hampered by the subscription model it had adopted. The app required a commitment of $ 4.99 per month, despite not being branded for a more traditional media outlet. For comparison, The New York Times basic digital subscription is currently just $ 4 per week for the first year of service, thanks to a promotion.

Twitter says the startup team, which also includes two other Brief employees, will join Twitter’s group, where they will work in areas that support public conversation on Twitter, including Twitter Spaces and Explore.

While Twitter did not elaborate on what those tasks may involve, the company told TechCrunch that it hopes to leverage the founders’ experience with Brief to develop and accelerate projects in both areas.

To exploreOf course, it’s the “news” section of Twitter, where top news from all categories are added along with trending topics. But what it is currently lacking is a comprehensive approach to summarizing the news in the basic facts and presenting the balance, as the Brief app had offered. Instead, Twitter feed includes a headline and short description of the story, followed by notable tweets. There is certainly room for improvement there.

It is also possible to imagine some kind of news-centric product built into Twitter’s own subscription service, Blue twitter – but that’s just speculation at the moment.

Twitter says it proactively approached Brief with its offer. As part of its current M&A strategy, the company seeks to acquire talent to complement its existing teams and help accelerate product development.

Over the past year, Twitter has made similar acquisitions, including those of Distraction-free reading service Scroll, social breaker podcasting app, Squad social screen sharing app, Y API integration platform reorganization. He also bought products, such as Revue newsletter platform, which he directly integrated. The company even had acquisition talks. with clubhouse and from India ShareChat, which would have been much larger M&A deals.

“We are very happy to be done on Twitter,” Hobbs told TechCrunch.

“Andrea and I founded Brief to generate news that fostered healthy speech, and Twitter’s genuine commitment to improving public conversation is deeply inspiring,” he said. “While we cannot discuss specifics about future plans, we are confident that our experience at Brief will help accelerate the many exciting things happening today on Twitter,” he added.

Hobbs said the team also remains optimistic about the future of paid journalism, as Brief demonstrated that some clients would pay for a new and improved news experience.

“Brief pioneered a new vision of journalism, focused on bringing you only the news you need rather than everything you can handle,” said Ilya Kirnos, founding partner and CTO of SignalFire, who supported Brief in the early stages. “That respect for their readers made SignalFire proud to support founders Nick Hobbs and Andrea Huey, who are now taking that philosophy to the top source for breaking news: Twitter.”

To date, Brief had raised a million in seed funding 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 close its subscription app on July 31. The company says it will alert its current user base today via notification of its upcoming shutdown, but the app will remain on the App Store offering new features that allow users to browse their files.

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