Facebook made an acquisition that signals its growing ambitions in online publishing

Facebook wants to control publishing on the web because every second you spend on another website reading an article is one fewer second you’re spending looking at ads.

To further its expansionist ambitions in that regard, Facebook has snapped up Tugboat Yards, a Half Moon Bay, California-based startup that provides tools for small and medium-sized web publishers to accept payments from their readers.

“It is with lots of excitement and a dash of melancholy that we announce that Tugboat will be shutting down on June 30, 2015 and we will be joining the Facebook product team to work on media products such as news and video,” writes Tugboat CEO and co-founder Andrew Anker in a blog post.

Tugboat Yards, founded in 2012, was the brainchild of Anker and co-founder Brad Whittaker, both of whom used to work at Six Apart — the company that used to own LiveJournal and is now best known as the developer of the popular TypePad blog hosting service.

Accepting payments from readers is a growing business — it enables independent content creators (corporate-speak for writers and video producers) to turn their passions or interests into a career, or at least a lucrative side-job.

Integrating that technology into Facebook’s growing news platform would just open the doors wider and make it a more attractive place for people to host their writing and videos, outside of those mainstream media institutions like the New York Times and Buzzfeed that have already signed deals with Facebook.

Tugboat Yards is shutting down on July 15th (with user signup disabled on July 1st), but Anker’s blog post recommends that users try alternatives like Patreon, MemberFull, and TinyPass if they’re looking to monetise their content.

We’ve reached out to Facebook for comment about their plans for Tugboat and will update if we hear back.

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