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The Tiny and Setka acquisition: CEO insights

Andrew Roberts

July 15th, 2021

Written by

Andrew Roberts


Tiny Sparks

Our mission at Tiny is to empower content creators, and I’m excited to announce that we’ve acquired the Setka content design platform, and their team has joined Tiny!

What is Setka?

Setka is a no-code content creation platform for businesses to build engaging, interactive content experiences. It is a story builder and design system manager that makes it easy to create compelling content. It’s not meant to replace your content management system — indeed, it integrates seamlessly with Drupal, WordPress, HubSpot, SharePoint, and more. 

Content creators — such as marketers, designers, or journalists — can build stories with a visual, drag-and-drop environment. The highly engaging long-form stories created with Setka are more than just text – they include audio, video, and animation effects triggered by scrolling the page. This format, sometimes called “scrollytelling”, first gained widespread attention in 2012, with the New York Times’ article, Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek.  

The market for experiential content creation includes other tools such as Ceros, Shorthand, Tiled, WebFlow, and Foleon. Shorthand describes how the scrollytelling format “provided novel opportunities for position-triggered multimedia events, such as video playing, animation, and image transitions. This enabled a dynamic interplay of text, imagery, and sound that gave the story an engaging rhythm and provided elements of unexpected surprise as components came to life.”

Many of these interactive stories have been hand-coded to date, and Setka and its brethren are trying to enable editors, writers, and designers to be able to create them without the need for a developer.

Just like every company is becoming a software company, every company is also becoming an online publication, and the reader engagement stats of this new format mean every content marketing team and online publication should be considering this format. 

Still unsure what sort of content we are talking about? Here’s an example of a story published by Miro on their blog, utilizing Setka.

Who is Setka?

I first met the CEO of Setka, Kate Bazilevskaya, in 2017 at the Pressnomics conference in Phoenix. Kate was warm, highly engaging and clearly passionate about the future of web content creation. We became friends and stayed in touch. When she gave me a call about the potential of merging I knew immediately that there would be a strong cultural fit.

After meeting Kate’s co-founders, Igor and Roman, and more of the Setka team, my first instincts have held out. Setka’s team is talented, passionate about content creation, and cares about building a values-first organization.

How is this different from TinyMCE?

TinyMCE has a word processor-style user experience focused on writing and is similar to Microsoft Word or Google Docs. This makes it easy to learn and can be adopted by large groups of people without much training. 

We start learning word processing in elementary school and there is strong muscle memory in almost all knowledge workers. A writing experience, however, can be difficult to achieve layout and animations of interactive content. 

By contrast, the creation of sophisticated and responsive layouts call for a building experience that enables the content to be built in blocks positioned side-by-side, using intuitive drag-and-drop functionality. This style of editing is sometimes called block-based editing. 

In short, the Setka Editor is a building and designing experience. TinyMCE is a writing experience.

Attempts to combine these two user experiences have been made – with varying degrees of success – in Notion, WordPress’s Gutenberg editor, and others. Tiny’s ambition is to successfully combine these two approaches in one platform – however for now, they remain separate and address different use cases.

Why did they start Setka?

The co-founders of Setka previously met at the online publisher Look At Media. While they were there, their sites attracted more than 6.5 million visitors a month, and there was significant pressure to build compelling stories that kept readers engaged and coming back for more. Unsatisfied with the solutions available at the time, the co-founders built an editor that they would eventually spin-off to become Setka.

What does Setka bring to Tiny?

A lot of content created in rich text editors is ephemeral – notes, emails, messages etc. that are whisked off in minutes. With Setka-like features, Tiny’s content creation platform increases its appeal to professional creators who are willing to spend hours or even days crafting one particular piece of content.

Through integrations, we plan to make our technology more easily accessible to businesses who have a CMS already in place, yet want more power in their editing tools. There are dozens of platforms we aim to integrate with, in time.

Finally, given the different modalities of writing vs. building, we hope that our more than 1,800 active customers and partners can white label this technology for their solutions, as some of them have already done with TinyMCE.

What’s next?

The acquisition closed on Jun 30, 2021, and the 25-person strong Setka team is now part of the Tiny Tribe! We’ve advised our customers of the transition and we’re all working together, as one company.

CEO ThinkingSetka
byAndrew Roberts

Co-founder and CEO of Tiny, the company behind TinyMCE and other great content creation products and services.

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