Summary:

Storify, the social-media curation company started by former journalist Burt Herman, is being acquired by Livefyre, a comment-hosting service that has been expanding rapidly into other aspects of social content for businesses.

Livefyre, a provider of comment-hosting tools for online publishers that has been expanding into other areas of social content, has agreed to acquire Storify — a service that allows users to curate conversations from Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. The price of the acquisition wasn’t announced because both companies are privately held, but in an interview with Gigaom prior to the sale, Storify founder Burt Herman said the entire Storify team will be moving over to Livefyre and the social-curation service will remain unchanged.

Livefyre, which like Storify is based in San Francisco, supplies a variety of social tools to over 400 enterprise customers such as AOL, Dow Jones, CBS and Time Inc. — including comment plugins, live-blogging, live chat and other features. In a statement released on Monday, founder and CEO Jordan Kretchmer said that Storify will now be added to this suite of tools, known as StreamHub.

“Acquiring Storify made perfect sense. Livefyre powers social media and user engagement on the largest media properties and brands on the web. Storify also delivers a unique and vital curation tool for journalists and editors at many of those same companies. With the addition of Storify, StreamHub is now the only real-time platform that enables both editorial and automated content curation from all the major social networks including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.”

Pulling stories from the stream

Herman, a former foreign correspondent with Associated Press, founded Storify with partner Xavier Damman after completing a Knight fellowship in journalism at Stanford. In an interview in 2010 after it launched at the Disrupt conference, Herman said that his goal was to give journalists and publishers of all kinds a tool that would make it easier for them to pull “user-generated content” into their stories from Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and other services.

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Storify has become popular not just with journalists and bloggers but also with brands as a way of curating content and discussions from social networks. Herman said in an interview prior to the sale announcement that the company had been trying to expand this aspect of the business — offering more corporate-focused features such as its recently launched VIP or premium account — and that being acquired by Livefyre will make accomplishing this goal a lot easier, because it is a larger company with an established sales staff.

“They have a sales force already that is doing quite well selling contracts to major publishers, they have a VP of native advertising and they are doing deals where they are selling experiences, getting publishers on board and then getting brands on board — stuff that we had wanted to eventually do but haven’t had the resources.”

Building a broader curation platform

Livefyre was also founded in 2009 as a comment platform similar to Disqus, but has grown much more quickly than Storify — it has raised a total of $21 million in funding and has a staff of about 80, while Storify has raised $2 million from Khosla Ventures and has only half a dozen employees. And as the two companies have expanded their offerings, Herman said it became increasingly clear that their businesses were converging.

The Storify founder said his customers had started asking for auomated curation tools and other features similar to what Livefyre offers, and Livefyre had been getting requests from customers about adding the ability to curate tweets the way Storify does. Herman also said the merger was made easier by the fact that he and Damman know Livefyre founder Jordan Kretchmer well and liked what he and his team were building.

“They obviously started with commenting, but now they’re doing all sorts of things like social-media walls and widgets and native advertising, and some of the things they’re doing are things that people have asked us to do, and people have asked them to do what we do — so it just makes sense, not just from a product fit but a business fit point of view.”

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