As part of the acquisition, Instapaper’s team would begin working on Pinterest’s core experience. But the company also said that the app would live on as a separate entity and continue to get updates from the Instapaper team at Pinterest. Now, under a larger umbrella with more resources, Instapaper could easily be running more as a user acquisition and stickiness play without absolutely having to monetize.
For Instapaper, this could actually be a boon in addition to operating within Pinterest. While the team may have much bigger tasks on its hands — like many of the acquisitions its made of previously-hot apps like Highlight and Shorts — it gives some wiggle room to simply focus on a user experience without needing to figure out a business model immediately. And for Pinterest, it can buy some time and leave it as a loss-leader until it figures out what it wants to do with it.
With its acquisition of Instapaper, Pinterest was continuing to throw resources behind one of its core three mechanics that it literally has painted on its walls — “saving” things from the Internet. As one of the original tools for logging content to be consumed later or in a more seamless experience, Instapaper set the bar for building alternative reading experiences for stories around the web. Pinterest right now focuses a lot on products — most of its content comes from businesses — but there are always new avenues to explore and new talent to pick up with expertise in those avenues.
In the end, all this is helpful for Pinterest, because Instapaper’s die-hard user base (which certainly still seems to exist based on its App Store rankings) may be more friendly to Pinterest and serve on its own as a kind of organic voice for the company’s efforts to bring in new apps and keep them running. Pinterest has been aggressively acquiring smaller companies as it looks to bolster its teams with talent outside that which it’s already been able to hire. A lot of these kinds of acquisitions can go totally south, but it looks for now that Pinterest wants to keep things rolling.
As Pinterest is able to not only attract new users but also bring them in through new user experiences, that offers more eyeballs for them to potentially drive toward converting to purchases further down the line. Pinterest said in October that it had hit 150 million monthly active users — and though that number had missed the mark on targets it set in early 2015, that still represents a large user base where it can generate revenue.
Existing Instapaper Premium users are going to get pro-rated refunds in the coming weeks, the company said.