Here is Matt Mullenweg’s announcement:
Windows Live (formerly MSN) Spaces is shutting down and migrating their 30m+ users to WordPress.com. Four years ago I was fairly worried as every internet giant (Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, Google) had a hosted blogging service.
While I am delighted for Matt and his Automattic team, I am also slightly concerned as a blogger with 14 Boles Network Blogs hosted on WordPress.com.
What will become of WordPress.com with the infusion of 30 million blogs? Can Automattic handle that influx? Or is this transfer just the first, reflexive, step in a realignment of the power dyad between Microsoft and Automattic?
The signs for that impending subsumption are small, but clear.
The first clue was on September 9 when Matt Mullenweg announced on his blog that the WordPress Trademark was being moved away from Automattic and to the WordPress Foundation that he operates.
The second clue was in the same Mullenweg blog post. It struck me as strange then — but now, in the light of the Spaces merger/takeover with WordPress.com — it begins to make more familiar sense when Matt hinted he might not always be with Automattic. Here’s a screenshot with my highlighted concern:
Here’s the text of that expression for the record:
Automattic might not always be under my influence, so from the beginning I envisioned a structure where for-profit, non-profit, and not-just-for-profit could coexist and balance each other out.
Why would Matt even suggest he might not be long for Automattic — unless it was something actively in his mind or on the negotiating table? Matt is Automattic. Matt is Mr. WordPress. We love our Matt and we don’t want him to disappear or to not be involved or to abandon us all and our selfish wishes not to be under the Microsoft thumb.
Since the WordPress trademark has been transferred to the WordPress Foundation — what will WordPress.com eventually become if Automattic are sold to Microsoft? MicroPress.com? WordSoft.com? Why would Matt take his most valuable asset — that WordPress trademark he has doggedly protected and procured over the years — and remove it from the core of his business?
The Boles Blogs Network blog Celebrity Semiotic used to be hosted on Microsoft Live Spaces — and while we love and admire Microsoft from afar — we sure don’t want them ruining WordPress.com like they ran Spaces into the ground — for Spaces, up close, was a bunch of junk from the jump. You had to edit your blog “live” on your live page. You were limited to how much HTML you could insert into a widget. The URLs were incomprehensible. You could not moderate comments — we turned them off — and there was no easy way to export your content, so I ended up copying and pasting all my articles there for publication here on WordPress.com.
I admit I’m a little worried, and a lot wary, about this infusion of 30 million Microsoft blogs into WordPress.com and what will happen next — and yet I fully understand, and support, the human notion that people want to make money and do different things.
I also hope there will be great care and consideration as the transfer of power and influence change in this massive tidal wave of news that sort of invisibly and imperceptibly washed over the Blogosphere yesterday. Let’s hope we WordPress.com-ers all have something we can grab onto as we try to ride out the waves of change.