Pushing the boundaries of messaging – Texts, Beeper, and Automattic

How Automattic brought together the teams of messaging apps Texts and Beeper to join in on the unified mission to build world's best inbox.

It does not matter how many newsletters I am subscribed to, how many blogs and online magazines I read everyday, how many feeds I have within my RSS reader, or how often I check my social network timelines, there is still the chance I miss relevant-to-me tech news, like Automattic acquiring Texts, the app that gathers all your chats in a single inbox, last year. However, I did stumble across the news just recently, reporting about Automattic‘s newest acquisition, Beeper, another app (and a Texts competitor) that aggregates all your chats in a single inbox.

Although, I managed to convince most of my family and friends to switch to secure messaging with Signal, there are still quite some conversations I have scattered across iMessage, Telegram, WhatsApp, and even Instagram and LinkedIn. In order to have a healthier relationship with my phone, I decided to turn off most of my notifications, which ultimately led to the urge of checking all those apps on a regular basis in order to not miss any conversation. But then, I stumbled across Texts, an app that gives you the possibility to bring all your chats into one single inbox. The app created quite some buzz, and people were giving it all to skip the waitlist and get one of the prestigious invite codes. I did try my best to get an invite code too, as Texts sounded like an app that I was in desperate need for. After a couple of years of waiting, I did not succeed.

Luckily, I stumbled across another app called Beeper, which had the same goal as Texts, giving you a single inbox to stay on top of all your chats scattered across different apps. I immediately signed up to their waitlist, and to my surprise I did not have to wait years to get access to the app. After using Beeper for over a year, I had mixed feelings. An app that is in beta has bugs, sure, but Beeper at some point became unusable, mainly because their bridges for the different chat networks hardly ever worked. As of recently, the bridges became more stable and reliable, however while using Beeper for over a year, I found myself going back to the nattive chat apps multiple times, not because I wanted, but because Beeper kind of forced me to, as their app did simply not work. Besides that, I was not a huge fan of their UI design, so I kept eying with Texts, although at some point it felt impossible to get access to their app.

Which means, I stuck with Beeper. The overall idea to use a single app that gathers all my chats resonated with me, the execution on that idea was ok enough to keep using it.

Messaging has always been a complete mess. Since there was no interoperable format or platform, you always had to decide which kind of messaging app you are going to use, and since not everyone I am communicating with is using the same platform, I ended up with almost every single chat app on my phone and devices. Texts and Beeper saw an opportunity in building the world's best inbox and the single messaging app you need. As of now, they are joining forces on that mission, since Automattic first acquired Texts for $50m in October 2024, and in April 2024 Matt Mullenweg, Automattic's CEO, announced the acquisition of Beeper. This is the first time I am experiencing something like that, a company that acquires two companies who were competitors to each other, to join forces and work collaboratively on their mission instead of competitively. Automattic with is products WordPress.com, Tumblr, Pocket Casts, Day One, Simplenote, among others, has been mainly focusing on publishing and commerce. However, with the acquisition of Texts and Beeper, the company adds messaging as a third pillar.

I was excited finding out that Automattic acquired Beeper, and I was surprised when I found out that they acquired Texts already last year, that clearly passed my bubble. Finding out about those news led to me checking out Texts again, especially since I was not 100% satisfied with Beeper and I had tried to get access to Texts for a while. Once I landed on their website, I suddenly realized that Texts opened up their waitlist, people were able to download the app straightaway and use it for free for up to 10 accounts (which is more than enough for me). So, I downloaded the app and connected my chat networks. The UI of Texts immediately attracted me, it looks way more polished and intentional compared to Beeper. Nevertheless, just like Beeper, the app I experienced was full of bugs. I was not able to connect Signal at all after various tries, WhatsApp chats that I archived within Texts suddenly reappeared, notifications kept popping up although I marked them as read, names and profile images on Signal do sync on the macOS app but not on iOS, and sometimes I did not get a notification at all once I received a message. This was a bit of a bummer. I was hoping that Texts is more stable, more reliable, especially since I became such a fan of their design. However, overall it has been a quite frustrating experience.

I hope that things become better as both teams will now work on building the world's best inbox. In a blog post by Automattic, they wrote that Texts will merge with Beeper, and in another sentence they stated that Texts and Beeper will merge under the Beeper brand. At this point, it is unclear what will happen with the Texts app. I hope that they will keep most of its UI instead of Beeper's. Eric Migicovsky, Beeper's CEO, will be Automattic's head of messaging, going forward, and the team's first job will be to prepare the app for the 450.000 people on the Beeper waitlist, according to a recent report by The Verge. Matt Mullenweg pointed out in the same report, that Texts decided on the better security model, which relies on on-device encryption rather than storing a copy of all your messages in the cloud, compared to Beeper which actually requires to store and de-encrypt some of your messages. Anyway, Beeper rolled out some secruity upgrades that changed the way the app handles security and prevents Beeper itself from seeing unencrypted messages from Signal, WhatsApp, and other encrypted apps. There are definitely some discrepancies between Texts and Beeper. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how the merging will happen, and how Texts', Beeper's, and Automattic's vision of world's best inbox will look and feel like.

Where will this take us?

I once was a user of Simplenote and Pocket Casts is my preferred podcast app for years, both apps got acquired by Automattic in the past, and while in a lot of cases acquisitions have an unfruitful outcome, from my point of view, both apps are doing fine. I am no longer using Simplenote, but I am using Pocket Casts almost every single day, and since they joined Automattic it feels like the speed of development increased, also the yearly Pro subscription price increased, so that is that. Neverheless, in general I have the feeling that Automattic has been one of the few companies who managed user experience post-acquisition quite well, which gives me a positive feeling and vibe regarding the the recent Texts and Beeper acquisition. Given the emphasis on the differing security models between Texts and Beeper, it will be interesting to see how the merger will come into place regarding that kind of topic. Automattic and Matt Mullenweg both stated in the past that the overall company's focus on privacy and open source technologies. Based on that, I assume the same focus will apply to the Texts and Beeper merger.

Although, Automattic and especially WordPress.com have been on to rough start in 2024 as they set up a deal with OpenAI and Midjourney to sell Tumblr and WordPress.com user data, which did indeed put them in a bad light, I am still optimistic about this acquisition.

So, let us summarize:

The fragmentation of messaging across different app has been a source of frustration for me. As each app operates on its own platform and lacking interoperability, it became a cumbersome task to manage all those conversations across multiple apps. My home screen became cluttered, I got flooded with notifications, and always felt the urge to check multiple apps, which ultimately brought up the need for a unified solution to bring all chats under a roof. Apps like Texts and Beeper can significantly simplify and improve communication, and there is the chance to enhance user experience by having a single interface to manage chats. Automattic's acquisition of Texts and Beeper brought together two incredible teams joining forces on the mission to create and build that unified messaging solution. Combining resources and expertise of two platforms that feel actually quite established already could lead to improved features, interfaces, and overall user experience. As both, Texts and Beeper, claimed their privacy focus, the merger of the two of them may lead to innovative approaches to messaging security, ensuring that user data remains secure.

I am seeing exciting possibilities for the future of Texts and Beeper. I am looking forward to new features, improved stability, and an enhanced user interface. Automattic brought the two companies and teams together to commit to building world's best inbox. My hope is to experience a seamless and integrated messaging experience aligned with the vision Texts, Beeper, and Automattic stated.

Till next time! 👋‌‌‌‌

Support: Do you have a friend who is looking for inspiration, news about design, and useful tools and apps? Forward this newsletter to a friend or simply share this issue and show some support. You can also show some love by simply clicking the button down below and keep this newsletter a sustainable side-project by buying me a coffee. ☕️ 🥰