Automattic Raises $29.5 Million Second Round, After Sale Talks; Includes NYT Investment

imageUpdated: Correction: Polaris (and not True Ventures) led this current round, having put in $20 million of the total $29 million raise. The VC firm also led the seed round earlier.

Om Malik reports that Matt Mullenweg’s Automattic has raised a $29.5 million second round led by True Ventures Polaris Venture Partners and including a strategic investment by the New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT). Previous investors True Ventures and Radar Ventures also took part. Automattic is the parent of WordPress,, Akismet and other projects. The company raised $1.1 million from Polaris, Radar, CNET (NSDQ: CNET) Networks and others back in April 2006.

On his blog, Mullenweg describes it as Act II for the company: “Automattic is now positioned to execute on our vision of a better web not just in blogging, but expanding our investment in anti-spam, wikis, forums, and more — small, open source pieces, loosely joined with the same approach and philosophy that has brought us this far.” He also mentions a few other numbers: 5,880,790 downloads of since Automattic started (3,852,554 in the last year); 1.8 million users joined in 2007 and created 25 million posts. He claims more than 100 million unique users.

We first reported last fall that WordPress was a sale candidate for the right price, roughly $300 million — more than potential buyers told us they wanted to pay (their valuation was more in the $150 million to $200 million range). At the time, Rafat also suggested the company had raised more than the publicly disclosed $1.1 million. We could have been off there — not sure when this round gelled — but clearly more funding was needed to match the company’s ambitions.

It will be interesting to see what comes next. Social networking appears to be on the map, more formal than what is already in place. raised its storage to 3 gigs just this week.

Update: WSJ says that the company’s valuation was around $150 million-$200 million with this round, and some of the $29 million will be used to help company founders and others cash out some of their holdings (looks like CNET might have cashed out…I asked the company for further details on who cashed out, but it is not commenting on it). Automattic, which has about 18 employees, also will use the new cash to add staff and possibly pursue acquisitions. NYT may use some of the blog posts from within WP’s arsenal of blogs, and Automattic may also help train more of its employees in blogging.