The future of Artifact

We’re announcing a $5M raise from GV (Google Ventures) and Spark Capital, enabling Artifact to build a world-class home for family stories.

Artifact co-founders
Our co-founders. That’s me in the top right. Clockwise from there: Moncef Biaz, George Quraishi, Martin Gouy.

Today I’m excited to make two big announcements about Artifact.

First, we’ve raised $5M from GV (Google Ventures) and Spark Capital.

This includes a pre-seed led by Spark Capital and a new seed round led by GV (Google Ventures). Offline Ventures, Goodwater Capital, Atento Capital, and a group of incredible angels also participated. As co-founder and CEO, I cannot express how excited I am about the opportunity to work with some of the world’s best investors to build a world-class product for the more than 10 thousand families (and counting) who entrust their stories to Artifact.

Those who have followed our company from the early days know that Artifact was born out of loss. My relationship with my grandfather was like one continuous conversation, but there were certain parts of his life, significant parts, that we never spoke about. And when he died, those stories went with him.

Here at Artifact, we dream of a world in which no one will have to experience that same sense of loss. It’s why, from day one, our mission has been to capture life, one story at a time. We make this happen by setting up friends and family with professional interviewers — mostly moonlighting journalists — and we edit those stories into heirloom-quality episodes that live in your family’s private account. Once there, it’s easy to add photos, share your Artifacts securely with the people you love, and keep those family stories safe so that future generations can learn where they come from.

Every family we serve is different, but they all have one thing in common: They yearn to find a home for their family stories. With this investment, we’re going to build it.

Today, there is no “place” where family stories really live. No library, no Wikipedia. The large genealogy platforms do incredible work, helping families trace their lineage and build family trees. Cloud photo and print apps make experiencing family photos easy and fun. Across these services, consumers spend $30 bn/year in the US alone. But while full family trees and beautiful photo albums are wonderful products, we believe that Artifact fills a need that remains unaddressed. It’s one thing to trace your family’s history; it’s another entirely to record it in the voices of your family members themselves. It’s one thing to compile photos of our family members; it’s another to capture the stories behind those photos.

Our customers tell us that the magic of Artifact lies in the conversations our professional interviewers host with their family members — the intonations of voice, the laughter, and the emotion that can make it feel like the person we’re listening to is sitting right there in the room with us. And our interviews remain the foundation of the home we’re building for your family stories.

This leads me to the second big announcement:

Introducing ‘Family Spaces’

Over the coming months we’ll introduce Family Spaces within your Artifact account, where you’ll be able to add family members, from your grandfather to your newborn daughter to Great Aunt Irene. In your Family Space it will be clear which stories we’ve recorded for every member of your family and which stories remain to be captured. To be specific…

Let’s say your grandfather recorded the first chapter of his life story — ‘Childhood’ — last year. In your Family Space, you’ll be able to help him continue with his next Life Story chapter, like ‘Coming of Age’.

For your toddler, this might mean setting up monthly, seasonal, or annual sessions with an Artifact interviewer to talk about who she is and who she’s becoming as she grows.

There’s one more thing I want to mention: Our sitback experience, aka ‘Artifact Videos,’ has landed.

We’ve always said that we make personal podcasts, but then you started asking to add photos to your Artifacts and even highlight your favorite parts from each Artifact episode. We heard you, and now we’re taking the next step: Fully automating your Artifact listening and viewing experience.

No longer will you need to click around to see the images attached to the audio; now, you’ll click play, sit back, and listen to people you love telling stories while imagery and video play across the screen… like a movie, or a Ken Burns documentary about your family. For me, this is the first time that Artifacts will truly “look like they sound,” visually representing the intimate and storybook feel that is an Artifact hallmark.

This holiday season, I’m so grateful that you’ve allowed Artifact to help document the stuff that matters most to you, and as we look ahead to 2023, I’m excited for you to begin using your Family Space to create a true home for your family stories. In my house, we’ll be using Artifact to talk about our daughter as she turns five; to capture my aunt’s life story; to give my best friend and his fiancé a chance to record the story of how they met and fell in love; and for me and my brother to let our mom know how much she means to us for Mother’s Day.

As always, if you have any questions or ideas please email us at [email protected]. I can assure you that we read every email. And if you are reading this and feel compelled by our mission, we are hiring.

—Ross Chanin, CEO, Artifact