$29.5m for Wordpress.com and Automattic

automattic financingTwo million bloggers reaching more than 114million unique visitors and now, $29.5m in cash.  That’s the amount of money software company Automattic, the developer behind the popular open source blogging platform and the wordpress.com hosted community has raised in a Series B financing.

The round was led by existing investors Polaris Venture Partners, True Ventures and Radar Partners.  The New York Times, which runs a number of blogs on the software, also invested.

Automattic is best known for developing the Wordpress publishing platform Click to Read More

Selling Images: Getty Images on the Auction Block

getty saleWith acquisitions and a good sense of timing Getty Images grew from a small photo licensing business in 1995 to the world’s largest supplier of stock photos and videos.  Monday, the company confirmed it is now for sale in an auction to close at the end of the month.  Fueled initially by the digital world’s growing appetite for images, Getty Images has become a casualty of the same technological advancements and efficiencies that fueled its growth.

When Getty started out, it was the early days of the Internet boom. Click to Read More

Library of Congress 2.0: Yahoo’s Flickr to Host Photo Collection

flickr libraryIt’s hard to think of a two hundred year old institution as forward thinking but in many ways that’s what the Library of Congress is and (set out to be).   It’s not just the Library for Congress and the government; it’s the repository for copyright protections, an archive of 30 million books, hundreds of years of newspapers, enough shelf space to span 530 miles. 

It’s no small job keeping 130 million items organized and accessible.  It takes a staff of more than 5,000 on  a budget of more than $300m to keep the gears turning.  To keep it efficient, it takes all the technological resources possible.   Wednesday, the library’s staff announced they’d decided those resources should include Yahoo’s online photo sharing community: Flickr. They also decided that it would be a good idea to let “the crowd” help out with the process. A library of the people, for the people and now … by the people.

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Zell Takes Control of Tribune

trib soldAfter 8 months, Sam Zell is finally in control of the Chicago Tribune and the rest of the Tribune companies. The $8.2b buyout of the newspaper and media conglomerate that operates the LA Times, Chicago Tribune, and twenty three TV stations around the country closed Thursday without a hitch. Shares ceased trading at the close of market.

The second cash installment for the leveraged buyout was provided by JP Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Citibank and Bank of America.

Including the assumption and repayment of existing debt, the LBO will have a value in excess of $14b.

In consideration of the substantial debt load, Standard and Poors and Fitch both lowered the corporate credit rating. Click to Read More

LA Times Links with Mixx for Web 2.0

mixxLots of people know of news aggregator services like Digg.  Fewer are familiar with Mixx, a competitor launched in October.  That may soon begin to change.  Today, the LA Times Media Group struck a content and marketing partnership with the Web 2.0 news site.  The Times also made a small equity investment, the size of which was not disclosed.

Mixx is based in McLean Virginia and owned by Recommended Reading, Inc.  Like social news sites Digg, Propeller or Thoof, Mixx is built around users submitting links to web content and voting on those links.  It is entirely “crowd sourced.”  There are no editors. More popular submissions get higher profile displays.

The strength of Mixx is their user interface. Compared to other sites, there is a greater opportunity and more intuitive tools to customize the look and feel of your landing page as a subscriber.   It’s more a cross with a personalized home page and a news aggregator than competitors.

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Amazon Kindle: Quick Take

kindleWith a front page letter on Amazon’s site from Jeff Bezos and a New York press conference, Amazon officially debuted Kindle today. With the launch, they are putting answer to some of the questions that hovered ahead of the e-book reader’s launch. Opinions are now flying about the quality of the interface, about the depth of available content, and even, Amazon’s long term goals. A few quick takes:

More PC than Mac, more Zune than iPod, the Kindle is an ergonomic and functional offering but it doesn’t look slick. It’s small and light. The display from E Ink is easy to read but monochrome. Taken as a whole, Kindle doesn’t have the magical kind of design that draws second looks or makes it iconic. For version 1.0, this is not a device destined for beauty pageants. But then, Click to Read More

Amazons Surprise: Kindle eBook To Unveil Monday

kindle launchIt was supposedly due in October.  That deadline came and went.  Now, still in time for the holidays, here comes Kindle.

Amazon’s much speculated digital book reader will debut Monday at an event to be held at the Union Square W Hotel in New York City.

Jeff Bezos will be on hand to introduce the product.  A few celebrity endorsements are likely on track as well.  Kindle will be Amazon’s first foray into an in-house brand of consumer electronics. 

Vaunted as a competitor to Sony’s Reader, the Kindle portable book reader was built with similar easy-on-the-eyes display technology from E Ink.  Like the new iPod Touch, it will be equipped with WiFi access to directly buy and download books from Amazon’s digital store.   The image from early FCC filings suggests it will also have an onboard keyboard and a possible backlight for nighttime viewing. Expectations are Kindle will retail for around $399.

The question is: will Kindle, or e-Books in general, catch on with consumers.  Today, the market for e-Books is conservatively estimated at less than $30m.  Click to Read More

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