Acquired by Twitter, Summify Cofounder Shares Lessons Learned

February 17, 2012

9:42 am

We previously covered Summify in a piece on app fatigue, but Summify won’t be around long enough to fatigue you: the Vancouver-based startup was acquired by Twitter in late January.

Summify crafted a daily summary of news from your social networks, pulling out links to articles and serving up the most interesting. It prioritized links most shared among your friends, who were weighted by influence, and (to a lesser degree) those most shared in general. It also learned your preferences for links posted by particular users or on particular websites – say, links from your significant other or NYTimes.com articles.

It’s not clear what the Summify team will be doing at Twitter, but it might involve some curation of the stream – for example, in the new #Discover tab on Twitter’s web app. From their announcement:

“We are joining Twitter’s Growth team and will continue to explore ways to help people connect and engage with relevant, timely news…. We are going to focus our efforts on making Twitter even more engaging and useful for you.”

“Our long-term vision at Summify has always been to connect people with the most relevant news for them, in the most time efficient manner. As hundreds of millions of people worldwide are signing up and consuming Twitter, we realized it’s the best platform to execute our vision at a truly global scale. Since Twitter shared this vision with us, joining the company made perfect sense.”

For now, Summify will be removing features – public summaries, profile and influence pages, and autopublish – and eventually stopping email summaries. This has caused some disappointment among committed Summify users, who lament an acquisition that means the death of the product. (For alternatives, check out News.me, Percolate, and Strawberry Jam.) The Summify team will be moving to San Francisco to work in the Twitter office.

Cristian Strat, Summify Cofounder

Cristian Strat, Summify Cofounder

Cofounder Cristian Strat couldn’t answer my questions about the acquisition process; instead, he shares some general lessons on building a startup below.

Tech Cocktail: What have you learned from your experience with Summify? 

Cristian Strat: You need to focus on product and traction. Raising capital, recruiting, legal, and almost every other problem dissolves or becomes trivial when you have a great product and traction.

Consequently, if you have a sucky product that nobody wants to use, everything is infinitely harder.

Tech Cocktail: What has been most challenging? 

Strat: I think the most challenging part is managing yourself. It’s an emotional roller-coaster and it’s easy to get carried away, to consider yourself doomed, or to become oblivious to the obstacles you have to avoid.

Tech Cocktail: Were you aiming for an acquisition all along? 

Strat: We don’t think in terms of exiting vs. staying independent. We’re aiming to maximize our impact. Some companies are better off staying independent and scaling up but in our case it was better to go with Twitter. Here we can build our vision at a truly global scale and that’s something incredibly exciting and valuable for us!

Tech Cocktail: Anything else you want to add?

Strat: Did I mention product, traction? 🙂

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact [email protected]

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