Twitter, which is known for its fast and short-form communication, is increasing its investments in the media industry and long-form journalism. The company revealed Tuesday that it is acquiring Scroll, a startup that charges a monthly fee for ad-free access to news sites.
Scroll, which launched in January, effectively provides web readers with an ad blocker that publishers consent to and profit from. The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, and BuzzFeed are among the participating publishers.
Scroll’s 13-person team is joining Twitter (TWTR), and new sign-ups to its product are being paused. The terms of the contract were not disclosed by the two firms.
“Those who create and consume news know that reading — and more broadly, journalism — deserve a better future,” Mike Park, Twitter’s vice president of product, wrote in a blog announcing the deal. “Scroll will help us build that future, solving one of the most frustrating parts about reading content online.”
Park wrote Twitter is planning to offer Scroll as “part of an upcoming subscription offering.”
In July 2020, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that the company was looking into paying goods. Twitter announced the acquisition of Revue, a newsletter company, in January. Twitter teased a feature named Super Follows in February, which allows platform developers to charge users for additional content.
“As a Twitter subscriber, picture getting access to premium features where you can easily read articles from your favorite news outlet or a writer’s newsletter from Revue, with a portion of your subscription going to the publishers and writers creating the content,” Park continued.
Twitter’s recent subscription efforts would help the company diversify its revenue streams beyond ads. It follows a trend in the media industry, where more publishers are erecting paywalls and charging subscription fees rather than relying solely on advertising revenue.
Scroll CEO Tony Haile announced the deal in a separate blog post, saying he was joining Twitter to support his company’s goal of providing quicker load times for news users while also helping publishers and journalists make more money.
“Every journalist that loses their job, every newsroom sold to unworthy owners diminishes the great conversation of which we are a part,” Haile wrote. “That is why, when Twitter approached us about accelerating our mission we began to get very, very excited.”
Haile also said that journalism and Twitter are “inextricably linked,” while other networks are less so. In response to proposed legislation that would force websites to pay publishers for news material, Facebook (FB) agreed to temporarily ban news from its website in Australia earlier this year. Only after the Australian government changed the legislation to enable websites to negotiate their own agreements with publishers did Facebook restore news pages. News organizations have been signing licensing agreements with both Facebook and Google.
“For every other platform, journalism is dispensable,” Haile wrote. “If journalism were to disappear tomorrow their business would carry on much as before. Twitter is the only large platform whose success is deeply intertwined with a sustainable journalism ecosystem.”