Brad Fitzpatrick (bradfitz) wrote in news,
  • Mood: excited

Big news... Six Apart and LiveJournal!

Yes, the rumors are true!

I've been dying to post about this but I haven't been able to until now. We just had to finish up the legal stuff and make sure everything was signed before we could make it all official.

Six Apart bought LiveJournal!

We're all psyched about this, and I know you guys all have some questions, so I'll try to preemptively answer them. Based on the comments we get, we'll be posting more and more clarification posts until everybody understands what's up.

Who's Six Apart?
If you've never ventured outside of LiveJournal land, it's possible you haven't heard of Six Apart, but more than likely you have... They're the company responsible for Movable Type (their weblogging product) and TypePad (their service). They're also a small company, but a bit bigger than Danga (that's us), and with more direction.

What does this mean for LiveJournal?
Nothing earth-shattering. LiveJournal development and support will continue, and will probably even accelerate, as we grow the team. We'll continue to work on speed, reliability, and new features.

LiveJournal won't become paid-user-only or anything crazy like that. We're not going to raise prices. We're not going to cancel permanent accounts, etc, etc. And we're not going to spam or sell your information. You own your journals, not us. Really you shouldn't see any negative changes.

The most immediate changes will be that we'll start to get prettier... more styles, themes, etc. Six Apart is really good at that and we're not.

What happens to the Danga employees?
We're moving to San Francisco! *ding ding*

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.

Do you trust them?
I totally trust Six Apart.

Ever since LiveJournal got big and popular, a number of companies have been offering to buy LiveJournal. I suppose it was inevitable, but the more I talked to everybody, the less interested I became in selling. With a few exceptions, nobody seemed to "get it", and people's ideas for LiveJournal's future were generally lame. I started to realize that selling LiveJournal would mean killing LiveJournal, so I didn't. Then one day Six Apart contacts us, we start talking, and here we are. I know you may not necessarily trust me when I say they're a cool company, but I'd ask at least that you give them a chance before you start rioting in the streets. I have a lot of confidence that this union will produce cool things.

Ben and Mena, the founders of Six Apart, have built a great company and hand-picked a lot of great people. Over the past couple months I've come to know their executive team really well, and they're people I feel confident taking over control of my baby. They've already shown that they'll defer to me on issues of community, fearful of doing anything that'd upset people. As for the rest of the team, I've only started meeting them all, but my mouth hit the floor when I saw some of the latest stuff they have in the works.

If you want to run for the hills and backup your journal and move to another service, feel free, but hopefully you'll be back in 6 months when we've proven ourselves.

Why didn't you just grow LiveJournal more and/or hire your own management team?
Easier said than done. Finding a good management team is next to impossible... I couldn't find anybody I'd trust as much as Six Apart. Most people that approach you and say, "Hey, I'd like to manage your company" are really just in it for money. I wanted a group of people that understood what I'd built and appreciated it for what it was, not what it could be if it could only extract more money from its users.

So in the end I realized Six Apart was just what I was looking for. Plus having a bigger pool of co-workers is more fun and more productive.

Why is Six Apart buying LiveJournal?
Lots of reasons:
  • Our companies are more alike than different.
  • We both use Perl.
  • Together we form super robot that's stronger than the sum of its parts.
  • Super robots can fight super companies.
  • They respect us, we respect them.
  • We have a number of features they don't.
  • We have experience with making "inward-facing" community sites, whereas their sites/products tend to be "outward-facing". They want some of that inward-facing action.
  • Because we're awesome.
What would be more interesting is why they're NOT buying LiveJournal: they're not buying the site to spam you, screw you, destroy the community, or convert you en massé to their other paid services. They just want to double our efforts and have a part in all types of blogging.

Does this mean LiveJournal will finally get TrackBack support?
I just knew somebody would ask this!

Yes, LiveJournal will get TrackBack. Actually we'd been planning it anyway, and we've even done a partial implementation recently. This kinda bumps up its priority though. :-)

In all fairness, there have been a number of TrackBack patches written for the LiveJournal codebase in the past, but none that were usable or scalable enough to run on the main site. Our new version was designed from the beginning to scale.

Are prices changing?
Nope.

That'd be silly and anger people unnecessarily. We want you guys to keep using the site and remain happy.

Do I have to now use TypePad or Movable Type?
No. We're not migrating you or anything like that.

Why is the TOS and privacy policy changing?
Our old TOS and privacy policies apparently sucked, from a lawyer point-of-view. We never had lawyers create or really even review the old ones... they were just a hodge-podge of misc lawyer-sounding things people had collected over time. A lot of the things that were changed are actually now better for the users. We just needed to clean things up.

Our goal isn't to really change anything with the new documents... just make them legally correct.

We're putting up the new documents now so you have time to review them and compare them to the old ones. In a few days (to be determined) you'll be required to agree to the new Terms of Service before logging in or posting, etc. Sorry for the inconvenience ... it's a lawyer thing.

Why is social contract changing to guiding principles?
Lawyers didn't like "contract" in the name "social contract" because it does not have the structure of a contract. The principles are the same, though. Six Apart doesn't want to kill LiveJournal. Don't worry --- I thoroughly screened them to make sure they weren't evil.

Why do I have to agree to the new Terms of Service before I can post to my LiveJournal?
We just need to make sure everything is on the level. If you have questions about the changes, we'll answer them.

What happened to my account? It seems like it was suspended?
If LiveJournal has conflicting info about your age in your account (it appears different in two places) you need to authorize your account to prove you're over 13 or have your parents' permission to keep a LiveJournal. In the past we did not allow anyone under the age of 13 to have a LiveJournal. Now you can have one even if you are under 13 but because of Federal Law you must get your parents' permission.

Will my permanent account be honored?
Of course! Your permanent account is permanent.

What does this mean for the future business plans of LiveJournal?
We feel that there's a lot of synergy between our two companies and we both benefit from this relationship by bringing a lot of value-add to the table. By focusing on our core competencies we can continue to provide robust, turn-key, industry-leading solutions while also lowering Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) to our valued clients.

(P.S. The above is all gibberish. Any time I hear any of those words I completely fall asleep and attempt to eat off my own ears. Six Apart did not say any of those words to me.)

Does this mean I get free TypePad and MT?
Naah, no plans for that. They're seperate and isolated. Maybe down the road there will be some promo or something, but that's not what this deal was about.

Will LiveJournal become TypePad or TypePad become LiveJournal?
Nope. We have no plans of forceably merging the two sites and communities into one, either.... that just doesn't make sense.

Will LiveJournal stay open source?
The parts that are open source now will of course remain open source... And some new stuff that's infrastructure-related will probably also be released open source. We're all definitely pushing for it, and Six Apart "gets it" when it comes to open source. Of course there will be some closed parts... there are already some now. What I personally feel is important is making sure the infrastructure guts are available, so other people building new, creative websites will be able to focus on the fun stuff and not shelling out lots of money to commercial vendors for basic things like storage and load balancing.

What happens to LiveJournal support and the volunteers?
Volunteers can continue to help out on the site, and we'll continue our tradition of users helping users in open forums. The existing employee-only support categories (like payments) will remain employee-only and we might have to add more employees to abuse to help set standards for support, but the rest will be open. We understand that some percentage of the volunteers will be upset about this deal and quit volunteering, and that's regrettable, but we'll do our best to keep everybody happy.

What everybody should understand is that LiveJournal was never a non-profit volunteer organization. Danga has always been a for-profit company and that's what volunteers contributed to. We just weren't aggressively for-profit trying to squeeze every last penny out of people. You'll have to make up your own minds about Six Apart and how they behave, but from what I've seen so far, they're very similar in behavior to Danga.

So I read all this and don't get it --- what's changing?
Really, not much.

We help them, they help us.

I need more info!
Oh, it'll be flowing in for weeks. Ask away. We won't be able to read every comment, but we'll try.

Update #1: I'm not going anywhere! I'm gonna work for Six Apart now (in San Fran), still doing LiveJournal stuff and infrastructure stuff.... I'll be their "Chief Architect". Likewise with the rest of the Danga stuff. If you think my baby (LiveJournal) will be destroyed, you better think again... I'm there to make sure they keep doing the right thing, but I'm already pretty sure that's all they will do.

Update #2: Six Apart's announcements:
http://www.sixapart.com/corner/archives/2005/01/current_mood_op.shtml
http://www.sixapart.com/press/livejournal_acquisition_faq.shtml
http://www.sixapart.com/press/weblogging_software_leader_six_apar.shtml
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