Tumblr cofounder and CTO Marco Arment is stepping down from his full-time role within the company to focus on “independent” projects, he announced this morning. He’ll continue as a consultant to Tumblr.Marco is a sharp coder with a keen eye for design and usability, so watch what he ends up doing — it’s probably going to be impressive.
For now, that probably means he’ll be focusing on Instapaper, his popular “read later” service for the web, iOS devices, and Kindles. (If you’re not familiar with Instapaper, the basic idea is that it lets you save things to read later — web pages, magazine articles, etc. It’s very handy, and free to start using.)
What’s less clear is whether Instapaper will take any investment. Many investor-types drool over the idea of investing in Marco’s project, but so far, he hasn’t wanted any outside help.
“Investors have been asking about Instapaper for a while, but I have no plans to accept any investment at this time,” he told us last night by email, without letting today’s announcement slip. “It’s a nice business that’s serving me well, and I plan to continue to grow it the old-fashioned way.” (Instapaper generates revenue from iOS app sales and ad revenue.)
We’ve emailed Marco to see if he has any updates to that in light of his career announcement, but our hunch is that, for now, maybe not.
The idea that investors want to throw money at Instapaper may seem tempting, but the site also has some potential legal issues. It’s basically scraping entire articles from news sites, and seems to have avoided copyright confrontation with publishers based on the fact that it’s just one guy in his home office. If Instapaper were to all of a sudden have angel or venture investment money, it could be an attractive target for desperate publishers and their lawyers. Sort of how Muxtape became for the music industry.
Arment joined Tumblr four years ago as its lead developer, and was named cofounder and CTO earlier this year.
“After four years of my serving as Tumblr’s lead developer, Tumblr’s technical management needs have evolved to require types of experience that I don’t have, and my independent career has offered a lot of opportunities that I haven’t had the time to take full advantage of,” Arment wrote in a blog post.
“While Tumblr’s engineering team continues to grow, instead of continuing full-time, I’ll serve an active consulting role. It has been an invaluable experience to develop a product from just two users to one of the top 50 sites in the U.S., and I’m looking forward to staying close to this incredible team.”