Six Apart buys LiveJournal

So the rumors on the internets were true, Six Apart bought LiveJournal.

I heard this the other day but assumed it wasn’t true, mainly because I didn’t (and still don’t) see what 6A has to gain from it. As far as I know, LJ is still venture capital funded, with little income of its own. With over 98% of LJ accounts being free, it certainly isn’t breaking even. The FAQ posted by 6A talks a lot about LJ’s “great community” and “talented team” and such, but doesn’t actually give any concrete reasons for the acquisition, or what they hope to gain from it.

Not that I’m concerned about it myself. Even with 6A’s Movable Type licensing blunder a while back, they seem like a pretty cool company. The size of the LJ user base pretty much ensures that they won’t take the whole thing paid-only or plaster it with advertising. No one wants to risk pissing off this many people.

One thing I hope to get out of this is a decent way to back up our own posts. The current LJ export tool is broken in the extreme. LJ didn’t have any motivation for providing something reasonable in this area — after all, why make it easy for your users to move away from your service — but hopefully 6A will want to provide a simple way to migrate your LJ to a Movable Type-based site. MT is database-driven, so they’ll need to provide a good way to download your journal content in a reasonable format, a format that can easily be imported into a MySQL or similar database.

I have been toying with the idea of moving off of LJ onto a proper, self-hosted blogging application when I finish the new web site I’ve been working on, off and on, for the past year or so. I’ve actually been looking at WordPress for this, not Movable Type, but WP is also MySQL-based, so what’s good for MT should be good for it as well.

Comments

runwolf says:

Well, there are a few bonuses for Six Apart to buying LJ.

Google bought up Blogger, and Yahoo, MSN, and others are gearing up toward a Blogspace of their own. If 6A wants to keep playing, they need a serious expansion of users. They just bought something like 6 million.

As for your own site, have you looked at Mambo? It has the advantage of cost (being free). Just a thought. I’ve rather liked it.

kchrist says:

True, but what does this increase in users actually give them? It doesn’t bring them more income and, assuming they will continue to be run as separate entities (eg, LiveJournal won’t become SixApartJournal), it doesn’t even give them much more name recognition.

LJ is similar to Google’s Blogger and Microsoft’s MSN Spaces (or whatever it’s called) in that it’s hosted and controlled by the company that provides the service. Until now, 6A was catering to a different group of people with Movable Type: people who, for whatever reason, prefer to run their own web sites and manage their own content. I see it as two pretty different groups of people.

Mambo looks pretty decent, but it’s overkill for what I’m going to be doing with it. I don’t need a full-blown CMS, I just need something to simplify adding journal entries to one section of a site I’m writing myself. WordPress meets my requirements pretty well and is also free (in both senses of the word).

kscaldef says:

I agree that this doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. Unless diversification within the space is their goal. Anyway, it would be nice if LJ got a little more “with it” – supporting trackbacks, providing decent web service APIs, etc. Of course, it’s not like anything is really stopping that now, just that no one in the developer community has bothered.

For my other blog, I use Blosxom, which is pretty much the opposite of overkill. It fits my preferred working style, which is editing plain text files in the text editor of my choice. Also, it is pretty much infinitely hackable. On the other hand, if you want to write and submit via a web interface, there is a blosxom plugin, but that isn’t its strength.