Automattic Acquires Gravatar

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AutomatticWordPress’ parent Automattic, founded by blogging god Matt Mullenweg, announced the acquisition of global avatar startup Gravatar today. For an undisclosed price, this is one of the few startup-eats-startup acquisitions that we’ve seen to date. And I think the most appropriate one too.

As Matt describes in a blog post on the Gravatar blog, everything went from a simple master plan of ‘Love what you guys are doing’ to ‘lots of potential integrations’ to ‘let’s combine forces.’ They bought out the code and the service from founder Tom Werner, and within no time, they’ve transferred the Gravatar Rails application to WordPress.com’s super scalable infrastructure and got the avatar serving infrastructure to work three times as fast.

They’re planning on making all the Premium features free, moving the avatars to an even faster CDN (content delivery network), and integrating the million of avatars WordPress.com has going for it. They’re also making some changes on the technical/API side, including rewriting the application itself.

If there’s ever been an appropriate, meant-for-each-other acquisition, I think this is it. All buyouts should be simple, smart and brilliant like this. Gravatar has been a fairly growing service, though not to the extent of WordPress.com and Automattic’s other products, and it’s going to be in great hands with the Automattic folks taking it to greater extents.

In all obviousness, it’s great news for WordPress.com users, fantastic for both the parties, and even better for the Web 2.0 development community in general. Simple ideas executed well work, and well-executed ideas have a place in the mark. Both parties should take a bow.


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