Matter raises $7 million from Series A to build a better reading app (2023)

A startup calledObject, which aims to create a better reading app for today's web, launches from private beta testing and announces the completion of its $7M Series A led by GV (formerly Google Ventures). . The app enters a realm where technologies used to save articles to read later, like Instapaper and Pocket, have lagged behind the way people consume reading online today, for example, through newsletters, personalized recommendations on other apps, or through suggestions from like-minded people. on social platforms. And people don't just want to consume reading material as text, they want to listen to articles as audio, highlight key points, and discuss them with other readers.

Frustrations with current reading apps prompted Matter co-foundersgood spring waterYRoberto Mackenzie— who met while working at Nextdoor — to take on the challenge of developing a new online reading tool.

"There were all these pain points and sticking points with online reading, and the media ecosystem was changing: you've got the rise of newsletters, you've got the rise of individual creators, alternative media, and also that there was all this potential around you E-Read could do. It's still just words on a screen, but there's so much more you can do and layer on," Springwater explains. "It became increasingly clear to us that there was a way to create a better reading product," she says.

The co-founders began developing Matter in early 2020 after creating a fishing pool and then participated in the summer 2020 batch of startup accelerator Y Combinator.

In the beginning, one of Matter's biggest goals was to help people make better decisions about what to read.

Today, there are many places where people discover new material, from headlines on Twitter and other social apps to newsletters in your inbox and more. But there's no app that works to create what Matter calls a "recommendation box," where the best stuff is filtered, selected, and prioritized.

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that is whatObjecthe really wants to do. On the app's home page, you'll discover featured content drawn from a series of articles recommended by a group of "public thinkers" on Twitter, who often share interesting news and links. From your tweets, the Matter team further curates your recommendations to curate the best articles to share on the app. Matter users can also enter their recommendations into the app, which the team then curates and sends a subset of those suggestions to the home page as well.

Like other Read Later apps like those offered by Pocket or Instapaper, Matter users can install a Chrome extension to create their reading list in the app, or they can make a recommendation directly in the mobile app itself. User reading lists are private by default, but you can choose which list items you want to make public in the Matter community.

This sharing feature makes Matter a social network because, in addition to privately highlighting, users can also highlight articles while sharing them.


"Think of it as a light way to get the word out about what you're reading," Springwater says of the highlighting feature.

If someone follows you on Matter, they'll see your highlights and annotations superimposed on the article when they read the same article. That sounds similar to a digital publishing platform.HalfHe offers through his own website and app. But Matter makes the option available for all reading material that is shared. These highlights are also stored in users' profiles, so you can visit someone you follow and see what they've annotated and shared.

Matter raises $7 million from Series A to build a better reading app (2)

Author of the photo:subject (a user's private queue)

Matter users can follow others, similar to social networks like Twitter. This allows you to track the actions of people whose suggestions you usually like. The feature is reminiscent of the recently closed Nuzzle app,acquired by Twitter when it bought Scrollat the beginning of this year. Nuzzel had a small but loyal following for his Twitter-based reading recommendations. While not entirely based on Twitter, Matter's idea of ​​following people and what they read and share feels similar.

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A comments feature allows for discussions on shared articles, but the amount of action you see here may depend on who you follow. During Matter's private beta, moderation was not an issue. But it's one the company must address as it scales to a broader audience.

The app also addresses a number of other vulnerabilities related to online reading and current reading applications.

It gives you tools to, for example, get your newsletters on Matter in various ways, either by setting filters to forward emails or using a dedicated email address just for Matter.

It offers a way to listen to individual articles as audio, but with a much less robotic voice than other reading apps. This allows you to sync other accounts where you collect reading material, such as Twitter, Notion, and Readwise. Allows you to view and save the entire paywall content if you are a paid subscriber to a news or newsletter site. And it offers weekly roundups with Staff Picks for those times you've been too busy to keep up.

Matter raises $7 million from Series A to build a better reading app (3)

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Author of the photo:Matter (listen to audio)

Over time, Matter also wants to further customize its service, which will mean investing in back-end semantic technology to understand the topics of shared articles. But the startup is weighing how exactly to incorporate that.

"There's a limit to how much we want to lean into personalization, because you have to find a balance between limiting someone's interests and giving more than they have through the signals they've been giving you," he said, presenting enough news. and randomly,” Springwater explains. "People's interests evolve and you can never fully focus on them," she adds.

When Matter comes out of private beta, the app will be open to anyone who decides to download it from the App Store.

In addition to the GV investment led by M.G. Siegler, Matter's investors include Outliers Venture Capital, Shrug, James Beshara, Calvin French-Owen, and many other angels. And of his $2 million seed capital, co-founder and CEO of Stripepatrick colison; former Stripe product manager turned investor Lachy Groom; ANDCo-Founder of EventbriteKevin and Julia Hartz invested.

It will also use its Series A funding to invest in continuing to grow Matter's expertise and scale, recruit engineers and designers, and build Android and web clients.

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“The first generation of Read-it-later services was amazing, and perhaps no one was a bigger user than me. But they were also built at a different time,” says Siegler of the GV investment. "The content that we now consume in different ways and on different devices required an updated ship that was specifically designed from the ground up," he continued.

“Plus, there's more content to read than ever, and more great than ever. But we need an effective way to bring that content to the surface. This was the original premise of Matter and it was great to see Ben and Rob build this from the ground up to today's robust app, developed by a growing team. So we took the opportunity to give them more resources so they can keep going without slowing down. I'm excited to see how others will use Matter and how the service will grow as more people power it,” he added.

affairsiOS appit is currently free, with plans to monetize through a consumer subscription model in the future. The app starts in public beta today, which means it's no longer invite-only to try it out.


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