After denying rumors of a deal over the past several weeks, blogging platform Six Apart and advertising network VideoEgg have confirmed they are merging to create a new social-media company called SAY Media. Chris Alden, CEO of SixApart, is stepping down, and VideoEgg CEO Matt Sanchez will become the CEO of the combined company once the deal closes in several months. Although the two companies say Six Apart’s existing Moveable Type and Typepad businesses will continue, the deal effectively means the end of the company — one of the early pioneers of the blogging world — as a standalone entity.
In a phone interview with GigaOM, the two CEOs said that the combination of their companies would create “a modern digital-media company.” Sanchez said the new entity would reach more than 345 million unique visitors, and that its collection of properties — both advertising and blogging — made its collective audience larger than several other leading media players. “We’ve got north of 70 million techies, and that’s bigger than CNET, Wired, and IDG put together,” he said. “With about 25 million moms, we’re bigger than Nickelodeon Family, BabyCenter and the CafeMom Network combined.”
The VideoEgg CEO said that the new company would offer “content creators” of all kinds — individual bloggers, video creators, game developers and corporations — a single platform for their content and a way to build their brand through social media, but it’s clear that the point of the merger is to focus on corporations rather than the individual blogger, something Six Apart had been trying to do even before the deal was announced. SAY Media’s marketing presentation says “it’s not just about the amateurs anymore,” and that for brands, “engagement media is where your passionate customers are.”
For some early blogging fans, watching Six Apart get more or less absorbed by an advertising network is likely to be a painful sight. The company, led by husband-and-wife team Ben and Mena Trott, was one of the pioneers of blogging almost a decade ago (the name came from the six-day difference in age between the two founders). Along with Blogger, which was founded by Twitter CEO Ev Williams and later sold to Google, the two software platforms from Six Apart — Moveable Type and Typepad — were used by hundreds of thousands of early bloggers.
As it grew, Six Apart acquired other platforms as well, including LiveJournal (later sold to a Russian company), and started its own spinoffs such as Vox in an attempt to remain competitive with newer tools such as WordPress (see disclosure below), as well as Tumblr and Posterous. Vox was shut down earlier this year, and at the time, there were rumors of a merger with VideoEgg, which formed an advertising partnership with Six Apart last year. Over the past few years, Six Apart has tried to build its own advertising business around its network, which includes Blogs.com, but has not had a huge amount of success.
Matt Sanchez said that Moveable Type and Typepad will continue to be part of the combined company, because they are “viable platforms for a certain set of content creators.” Six Apart co-founder Mena Trott said in a prepared statement that the new company “continues Six Apart’s mission to make passionate creators successful,” and “marks a new beginning as we launch a modern media company centered on the creators, the content, and the audiences that are redefining media.” Perhaps it’s true that in a day when Huffington Post and other digital-media giants rule the web, blogging has to grow up. But for some, this deal is going to look like the end of an era.
Disclosure: Automattic, the maker of WordPress.com, is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.
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