Six Apart buys LiveJournal and its parent, Danga Interactive

Six Apart, TypePad Buy Danga Interactive: “San Francisco-based Six Apart, developer of the popular Movable Type software and a blogging service called TypePad, is buying Portland, Ore.-based Danga Interactive Inc., which operates LiveJournal, a youthful blogging community.”

That’s what Associated Press business and technology writer Michael Liedtke writes in his latest article for the world’s largest wire news service. The news began percolating in the blogosphere even before the biggest news in the blogging world since Google bought Blogger was announced. Brad Fitzpatrick, the founder, president, and CEO of Danga Interactive, Inc., wrote that not all that much is changing, LiveJournal will remain forever, a scalable implementation of TrackBack will be implemented into the LiveJournal code base, and because Six Apart is known for prettiness, new themes (or layouts) will be coming to LiveJournal. Fitzpatrick goes on to write, in response to a question, “Why is Danga selling LiveJournal?”

“I love technology and designing the LiveJournal architecture but I hate running a business. While I’ve been learning a lot of business stuff over the past 5 years and it’s been kinda interesting, I just don’t love it and I’m not great at it. Plus it just keeps getting harder as LiveJournal grows, sucking away more of my time and youth. I’m ready to pass off what I see as “the boring stuff” to somebody else that I trust and focus on the fun stuff.

“Also, Six Apart has a lot of staff that we don’t… marketing, designers, usability people, etc. It’s been frustrating the past few years knowing that in a number of ways LiveJournal is technically the best but because we weren’t the prettiest and didn’t give good quote, we were often overlooked. I want that to change … we’ll continue to focus on technology and they’ll help us make our stuff pretty and usable. They want LiveJournal to stay LiveJournal and that’s why I picked Six Apart.”

What will change, for starters, is the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy will be made to agree with what Six Apart lawyers want. He also said that the LiveJournal technology will remain separate and continue to be developed, which isn’t a good idea in my opinion. While LiveJournal has more features and is much more scalable, it lacks good features like true permalinks, true trackbacks, and superior comment/post editing capabilities. I wish they’d create a modified installation of MovableType and use it on LiveJournal as a sort of technology experiment to promote its paid and professionally-supported versions.

When asked if LiveJournal would remain open source, Fitzpatrick hedged and said infrastructure components such as “memcached” and “BML” would as will the existing LiveJournal code base. He made no committment that future versions of LiveJournal would be open source.

I think it’s primarily a good move for both companies. Six Apart needed a free social networking, community-building, and blogging product which it could use to promote its subscription-based and professional offerings — even if LiveJournal is an entirely different architecture and platform. It still allows for some cross-branding and marketing opportunities, akin to that of discount ISP operator United Online, Inc., which owns NetZero, Juno, and BlueLight Internet, buying Renton, Wash.-based Classmates.com, Inc. in December and Orem, Utah-based About Web Services, which owns popular free Web hosting sites FreeServers and 50megs among other properties, in April of last year. United Online has used those buys for placing prominent NetZero and United Online branding on their respecting home pages. I predict that’s (part of) how Six Apart plans to use LiveJournal.

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