Automattic Acquires Longreads

automattic logoWe have a major acquisition to announce in the WordPress industry, as Automattic has acquired Longreads. According to Business Week, the financial terms of the purchase were not disclosed, but what we can probably deduce is that one of the most powerful names in the world of WordPress is getting bigger. Let’s take a look at the big news and see who will benefit from it.

According to Business Week, “Matthew Mullenweg, the Chief Executive of Automattic, says he’ll add the Longreads staff of four to WordPress’ editorial team, which highlights new material on WordPress.com and the company’s mobile app.”

Mullenweg was quoted as saying about the longwinded site, “The world cannot live on 140 characters alone. Longreads embodies a lot of what we really value with Automattic and WordPress.”

We wrote an article here on ThemeSquirrel in recent weeks that recapped an interview between Mullenweg, who if you’re not familiar is the co-founder of WordPress, and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman. The interview, which you can read more about by clicking here, alluded to Mullenweg’s love of long prose, as the Automattic executive said, “I am a strong believer in long form and book and written content.” Maybe the acquisition of Longreads is simply a match made in Heaven.

longreads logoBeing a member of Longreads will set you back $3 per month, but as outlined by founder Mark Armstrong, the content on the site will not change with new brass. “The idea has been to provide the best collection of reading material on the internet, both from well-known writers as well as [from] undiscovered writers and publishers,” he told Business Week. “It’s all about the mix of writers and topics, and that is part of our DNA.”

When we hit up Longreads to see what the site was buzzing about shortly after the acquisition, the lead story was entitled “The Private Lives of Public Bathrooms” from The Atlantic. Yes, you read that headline right. It’s a pretty interesting read and even includes a discussion of whether we need separate men’s and women’s bathrooms or if we should all just parade into one and do our business. No wonder Longreads is successful.

The story’s length, by the way, checked in at a healthy 4,520 words.

Topics on Longreads are broken out by category, including Steve Jobs, London, TV, Sports, and Obama, so there’s a little bit of everything. The 300-penny monthly membership includes early access to future site features and support for the site’s continued growth. There’s also an annual subscription for 30 bucks. Whether the pricing will change with Automattic’s leadership remains to be seen.

Matt MullenwegBusiness Week noted that Longreads jives well with Mullenweg’s (pictured) vision for content: “Mullenweg says he’s been trying to expand the company’s focus to reading and finding great nuggets on WordPress blogs.”

It seems to us that Longreads almost goes against the general fabric of online content nowadays. Whereas terse Tweets and Facebook posts rule the day, Longreads feels nostalgic, harkening back to a time when wordiness and in-depth analysis were king.

As a press release on WordPress’ website praised, “As consumption has moved to mobile devices, there has been a growing hunger for longform content: phones and tablets are perfect for enjoying in-depth articles and there are more moments than ever for readers to dig into a story – on a commute, on the couch, or just waiting in line at the store.”

Perhaps mobile devices and the on-the-go mentality that many of us have actually fit with what Longreads has to offer.

Business Week described Longreads’ financial state as “fledgling” and “bootstrapped,” so perhaps an acquisition is just what the doctor ordered.

WordPress exists on a number of the top websites in the world, including Time.com, CNN.com, NYPost.com, and TechCrunch.