Longreads, which started with a Twitter hashtag and gradually evolved into a community of readers sharing longform fiction and journalism, said on Wednesday that it has been acquired by Automattic (see disclosure below), the for-profit company behind the WordPress.com blogging platform. WordPress founder and Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg said that Longreads’ commitment to longform reading fits perfectly with his company’s desire to promote good content and that all four of Longreads’ employees would be joining Automattic.
“The world cannot live on 140 characters alone,” Mullenweg told Bloomberg Businessweek. “Longreads embodies a lot of what we really value with Automattic and WordPress.” WordPress software — either the open-source or the paid-for version — is the publishing engine behind millions of websites and some major media entities, including Gigaom, and WordPress.com has also been trying to become more of a portal that points readers towards good content.
Automattic vice-president Raanan Bar-Cohen said in a post on the WordPress blog that the two companies made for a good fit because “we are entering a new era for independent writers and publishers to embrace depth and quality, and WordPress.com is committed to empowering these creators.”
— Mark Armstrong (@markarms) April 9, 2014
Mark Armstrong, founder of Longreads and a former journalist, said that the service would continue as it had before the acquisition, and that joining WordPress would allow the community to grow and expand. The site currently offers a free weekly email or a $3 membership that provides daily recommendations. In an email, Armstrong said that there’s a lot more that he wants to provide, and partnering with WordPress would allow him to do so:
“The Longreads community, and the appetite for great storytelling, has grown so much since I first started the service five years ago. That said, I knew there was more that we could be doing to both serve readers and keep building a thriving ecosystem for independent publishers and writers. I first met Matt Mullenweg four years ago, and I have always been a huge fan of the mission and principles of Automattic and WordPress. It seemed like a perfect fit for Longreads to join up and explore new opportunities for readers, writers and publishers.”
Disclosure: Automattic is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of Gigaom.