, Artifact and Substack Creating Next-Gen Social Platforms Around Text

Rising next-gen social engagement platforms are not on the metaverse or Web3 but rather simplified and streamlined text-based apps that draw together like-minded users and drive commerce through true interest and engagement, relying less on algorithmic feeds.

Among those leading the way is, the social platform co-founded in 2019 by music industry executive Guy Oseary, actor-producer-venture capitalist Ashton Kutcher, and Josh Rosenheck, founder of now-defunct social app Tag. Originally seen as a Twitter competitor without the political baggage, is now moving more mainstream.

On Monday (April 24), announced a $25 million fundraise with participation from Salesforce Ventures, Morgan Stanley Next Level Fund, HubSpot, Pier 70 Ventures, Verizon Ventures, GSW Ventures and Backstage Capital, among others.

After moving into social commerce in 2021, drew major brands, including HBOYelp, and Williams-Sonoma, which began launching campaigns on the platform that turned down the volume on ads and served content to followers organized in groups based on interest.

In the announcement, Guillaume Huin, social media director at McDonald’s said, “Community is the next level of trust, connection and fun for our customers. It’s the friend to friend text that makes you feel like you are building an authentic and unique relationship with someone, or in this case, with your favorite brand. Community empowers our brand to be the friend that we want to be with our fans, taking social media engagement one step further.”

Diankha Linear, CEO and President of Community, said, “The impact that Community’s platform can have on the way brands, businesses, and public figures engage with their audience is next level. Our customers have the ability to hyper-personalize conversations with their audiences in a way that is authentic and efficient. Audiences feel like they are being listened to for the first time — and that’s because they are. This is the value we add to the engagement landscape.”

The New York Times reported on April 22 that Robert Wolf, a former chairman of UBS Group Americas, is the new chairman of, saying, “He started helping to sign up large corporate customers over the past year, bringing the total clients to over 8,000.”

New Outlets for Subscriptions and Creators is hardly alone in trying to create new social media ecosystems that break out of the familiar realms of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and others that some feel have become saturated with ads and feeds that often fail to accurately reflect users’ true interests.

Proving the point, earlier this year Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launched Artifact, billed as “a personalized newsfeed” using artificial intelligence (AI) to match users with the content they’re most interested in engaging with.

As The Verge reported in January when Artifact was released in beta with a wait list, “Like most startups at this stage, Artifact has yet to commit to a business model. Advertising would be an obvious fit, Systrom said. He’s also interested in thinking about revenue-sharing deals with publishers. If Artifact gets big, it could help readers find new publications and encourage them to subscribe to them; it may make sense for Artifact to try to take a cut.”

Platforms like Mastodon and BlueSky are also tapping into demand for social interactions, including commerce, that are not centrally controlled as is the case with the major social platforms. In a March blog post, BlueSky — which is waitlisting new members — said, “Due to the backlash against the perceived algorithmic manipulation of people’s timelines, some people say they really just want a chronological feed of who they follow. A feed of content from the people you follow ordered only by time is also an algorithm (albeit a very simple one).”

Also capitalizing on the current momentum in text-based social media platforms and the creator economy is Substack, the digital publishing platform favored by many independent creators. On April 11, the platform released Substack Notes, a new tool for text-based content creators.

In a February blog post foreshadowing the Notes announcement and titled “A new economic engine for culture,” Substack said, “Great work is valuable and deserves to be rewarded with money. That means that publishers should have a way to make a living, or even a fortune, from doing the work they believe in. Money is the fuel that makes the entire engine work, and it’s a healthier, more honest metric than ‘eyeballs’ or engagement.”

The pivot to text-based engagement is not going unnoticed by the social media giants. In March, news site MoneyControl broke the story that “Meta, the parent firm of Facebook and Instagram, is hashing out a plan to build a standalone text-based content app that will support ActivityPub, the decentralized social networking protocol powering Twitter rival Mastodon and other federated apps,” citing “people familiar with the matter.” It’s known simply as P92 as of now.

Meta later responded to that story, saying, “We’re exploring a standalone decentralized social network for sharing text updates. We believe there’s an opportunity for a separate space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests.”