Six Apart to buy Live Journal

Six Apart, the parent company behind hosted blogging service TypePad and publishing platform Movable Type, is about to acquire Live Journal for an undisclosed amount, reports Business 2.0 writer Om Malik.

If the deal goes through later this month, then Six Apart will become one of the largest weblog companies in the world, with nearly 6.5 million users. It also gives the company a very good fighting chance against Google’s Blogger and Microsoft’s MSN Spaces.

Om Malik | Six Apart to buy Live Journal

Interesting how Om comments on this news as “giving Six Apart a very good fighting chance against Blogger and MSN Spaces.” Those two blogging services are, to provide a level of differentiation, aimed primarily at the newbie ‘consumer blogger’ to get up and running in 10 minutes or so, where you need absolutely no tech knowledge in order to blog using these free services.

By comparison, TypePad (subscription service) and Live Journal (free/paid mixture) are targeted at the more tech-savvy and/or ‘committed blogger’ audience. Not only that, Six Apart’s Movable Type represents an excellent platform for strongly tackling the enterprise blogging market – which many, including me, are predicting will be a hot area in 2005.

The volume market is with Blogger and MSN Spaces, but the money and enterprise-push potential is with TypePad and Live Journal – all, no doubt, the same revenue-rich areas both Google and Microsoft want to be in sooner or later.

In any event, things are moving very fast indeed in the business of blogs.

4 thoughts on “Six Apart to buy Live Journal

  1. Hi Nev, thank you for the insightful posts you keep providing.
    You’re absolutely right when you say that MT “represents an excellent platform for strongly tackling the enterprise blogging market”. This is an element of the Six Apart strategy which I didn’t mention in my own post on this subject earlier today – see – and one which our company has been firmly focussed on for the past 2 years.
    However, I believe that in the short term Six Apart’s preference will be for consumer/mass market propositions purely because of its licensing model: a corporate license is comparatively less lucrative – and much harder to win – than potentially millions of individual licenses (I also believe that Six Apart’s investors have bought into a mass market proposition rather than an enterprise software firm).
    In addition, similarly to all other blog engine companies, Six Apart’s support infrastructure is not currently geared to the demands of corporate license holders. Add to this the service limitations imposed by US regulation on software firms, and you can see why blog companies need to partner with service companies which can combine deep knowledge of their products, strong technical implementation capabilities, and consulting skills in order to penetrate the enterprise market.
    The enterprise market is where Microsoft may well have the edge in the future because of its experience, existing relationships and support capabilities, although they too will need service partnerships, and the quality of their product remains a question at this stage.
    As for the rumoured acquisition, I believe that a confirmation or denial will come sooner than your readers may think…

  2. Thanks Livio. I saw the formal announcement yesterday morning and posted commentary about it.
    You’ve made some interesting points on Six Apart’s likely market preferences. I’ve not yet seen any meaningful commentary in this regard by any of the industry analysts who follow this sector, nor in regular media. What most people have been talking about so far is the more emotional-type comment on the cultural differences between the two companies and the different types of people who use each company’s products and services.
    Indeed, a challenge for Six Apart, as in any acquisition, is integrating the two businesses with the least pain to everyone, including customers and employees of both companies. Yes, the official announcements all speak about how Live Journal will continue as it is, with committed support to its further development by Six Apart. I’m sure we’ll see in the coming months what market realities mean to that promise (made, I’m equally sure, with the best of honest intentions).
    Re the enterprise market, I’d agree with you that a company like Microsoft should have a strong edge for the reasons you mention. As companies become more aware of blogs – one of the hot predictions for 2005 by many people including me – that presents a very interesting opportunity for companies that have enterprise blogging applications (to give it a name) such as Movable Type and its competitors like WordPress and Drupal.
    Might we expect to see Microsoft introduce such a product? Good question. I’ve not yet seen that speculation anywhere. Yet I could see such a database product (effectively) fitting well with the Microsoft Business Solutions portfolio of ERP and CRM applications. Or maybe, to lower the sights a bit, within Office. Perhaps linked with FrontPage. That’s already a pretty good website management system; I could imagine that product being extended to be the blog publishing front-end. At the back end, well, there’s already SQL Server. If so, when? Another good question. I wouldn’t have said in 2005, but maybe they’re already busy working away on something.
    The thing is, I doubt it would take much for Microsoft to produce a blog publishing tool that many of their corporate customers would find easier acceptance for than other products. As well as the reseller channel who would get a product that they can make some good money from.
    It’s like the old days when ‘nobody got fired for buying IBM.’ So Microsoft is the new IBM! I saw that comment the other day on a blog!
    It all adds up to a very interesting market space.

  3. Hi Neville, thanks for coming back to me on this. I think the Microsoft dimension, and Google’s intentions for Blogger’s future, are the two biggest unknown quantities in this market space. My colleague Lee Bryant has outlined many more thoughts on these issues in his post to our blog yesterday, which you may find interesting:
    Whatever the future may hold, I share your belief that businesses need to embrace social software tools and techniques in order to engage with their internal and external stakeholders in a way that is both meaningful and rewarding for the individuals involved. Many communication professionals in corporations have had negative experiences with the command and control nature of most enterprise software in the past, and I’m sure that the better informed among them are very aware of the possibilities offered by the alternative approach proposed by you and me.
    However, a kind of ‘wait and see’ attitude seems to prevail at present, with some notable exceptions, so the only way we will get corporations on side is by de-risking our proposition as far as possible. We’ve been very fortunate getting lots of people in the public sector to take the plunge, but it’s much harder to get into the corporate market. In a real turnaround from popular perception, our experience with the UK government sector is that they’ve been far more willing to innovate – perhaps because it’s part of their mandate – than many corporations have to date.
    I’ve been wondering about whether a shared resource containing ‘comfort’ materials – case studies, press articles, reports, perhaps even selected guest corporate bloggers – might be worth putting together? There’s lots of good stuff on blogs, newsreaders and hard drives everywhere…

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