Stand down, Instapaper fanatics: Betaworks has no plans to shut the service down. That was the first question out of Alexia Tsotsis’s mouth this morning at Disrupt, when she took the stage to interview CEO John Borthwick.
Wearing his ubiquitous brown corduroy jacket, Mr. Borthwick told her no, followed by an awful lot of throat-clearing.
“It’s a wonderful product, it’s a wonderful brand,” he said. “It is an important part of what I see as an emerging ecosystem of products, some of which we’re building at Betaworks and some of which we see invested in, that relate to the future of news and the future of media. And so we’re going to build.”
That Instapaper acquisition, by the way, started with a 2 a.m. email from an anxious Marco Arment, which was trying to figure out how to juggle Instapaper with his other commitments. He wanted to grow the service, but he didn’t want to, you know, manage people and raise the money. Then came the late-night bolt from the blue: Betaworks!
Mr. Borthwick declined to divulge the terms of the deal, other than to say that Betaworks has a majority stake and there’s some revenue share involved. Apparently that app was making a million bucks a year, though, which explains how Marco’s paying for all that fancy coffee.
Elsewhere in the Chelsea-based collective, a team is readying a new product due to launch mid-week, and Mr. Borthwick let slip that it’s some sort of game. Sadly it’s not Digg’s much-anticipated (by bloggers, anyway) Google Reader replacement, which “we’re dashing to get done in time.”
“We were blindsided a little bit by the timing of the announcement” from Google, he added, though a reader product was already on their roadmap at the time. “It’s an important part of the puzzle.”
Mr. Borthwick sure likes that image. He refused to pick a favorite Betaworks production, too, telling Ms. Tsotsis, “All these products are related in my mind, and so it all fits together in that puzzle. It’s the puzzle that fascinates.” What schemes are brewing under all that hair, John?