WordPress Parent Buys Scroll Kit, Shuts It Down

scroll kitWe have more business news for you here at ThemeSquirrel. This time, the parent company of WordPress.com, Automattic, has acquired Scroll Kit, according to a statement posted on the latter’s website. When you visit ScrollKit.com now, you’ll see a giant WordPress.com logo and a five-paragraph message bidding farewell.

The statement read in part, “Our objective was to create a process for making the web that was more like drawing on a piece of paper. A visual tool that was easy for most people to pick up, but could take them to a place that was uniquely their own. And over the years, the work we saw became a window into the minds of creative people from all over the world. We learned from you and thank you.” It’s very poetic.

Scroll Kit will be shut down, according to the statement, and the site’s staff will join the product team at WordPress.com. If you regularly use Scroll Kit, you’re in for an upheaval of sorts, as “the editor will shut down in three months. You’ll be able to download all of your work in the next six months and, after that, scrolls will continue to be online but the site will become read only.” The button to log into your account is in the upper right in case you can’t find it.

According to a site called Venture Beat, Scroll Kit gained popularity courtesy of the New York Times: “Scroll Kit got attention when one of its cofounders created a tutorial showing how folks could make their own version of the New York Times’ acclaimed Snow Fall piece, which won a Pulitzer and a Webby and was hailed as the ‘future of online journalism.'”

If you’re not familiar with it, Snow Fall contains a visually stunning theme-scape with multiple images, paragraphs of text, and even a slide show. The Times issued a cease and desist letter to the Scroll Kit team, which responded with a statement to readers that said in part, “They demanded that we take down our replica, and we complied, but I ask them to change their mind. We are admirers of the piece, and others are, too; making a replica only makes the piece more iconic and celebrated.”

According to TechCrunch, the latest purchase by Automattic, the parent company of WordPress, is the company’s 14th acquisition. If you’re a regular reader of ThemeSquirrel, you’ll know that Automattic recently bought Longreads. In addition, it is seeking a $1 billion valuation in preparation for another round of funding. Automattic is a giant any way you slice it.

snow fallAt the heart of Scroll Kit was the tool’s ease of use. After all, the brains behind it claimed they could recreate Snow Fall (pictured), which reportedly took the Times months to complete, in a matter of an hour. In essence, according to one site, almost anyone could build a sharp-looking, award-winning site without having to be a whiz kid.

TechCrunch relayed what significance Scroll Kit could have for Automattic: “Scroll Kit will give [Automattic] some technology that can be used to enhance ways that people can use WordPress to create websites. While today there are thousands of ready-made themes that you can use for a WordPress-powered site, what Scroll Kit will do is give users the ability to add even more creativity to the process, if they so choose.”

Users must export their scrolls by October 31 and only support e-mails related to the export process will be responded to from now on.

The financial terms of the purchase were not disclosed. TechCrunch and several other sites pointed out that Scroll Kit received a little over $200,000 in seed money to start the site in 2010. Given Automattic’s recent spending spree, we can only assume that another purchase is in the offing. We’ll keep you posted on the latest.