$29 million invested in WordPress’ Automattic

Four investors, including the Times Company prove that open source software is the future of online publishing platforms.

Over here at Mequoda, we are one of WordPress‘ #1 fans. Open source software is becoming the new wave of the Internet, as proven by instances such as Google’s open source mobile phone platform, Google Android. We also have many blogging platforms that are heading in the direction of the open source WordPress by making their own platforms open source.

Incase you’re not familiar with the term “open source”, it generally refers to software that is released with source code that is available for modification by it’s users. Many paid content management systems are even built with the free source code, which is then modified and used to turn a profit.

In any case, we were happy to know that last week according to the New York Times, “Automattic, the commercial arm of the popular WordPress publishing platform for blogs, has received $29.5 million in financing from four companies, including a small portion from The New York Times Company.”

The New York Times reports, “Automattic received $1.1 million in financing about two years ago. Polaris Venture Partners, True Ventures and Radar Partners were joined by the Times Company in the second round of financing.

Toni Schneider, the chief executive of Automattic, said the additional funds would provide the profitable company with a buffer as it invests in other services, including an anti-spam filter and an online-identity product.

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The companies did not disclose the size of each firm’s investment, although the Times Company’s stake is the smallest.

The Times Company had previously maintained a business relationship with Automattic. The About.com guide site, which was purchased by the Times Company in 2005, is published using the WordPress platform. The New York Times has also produced more than 50 blogs using the platform.

Martin A. Nisenholtz, the senior vice president for digital operations of the Times Company, said the company hoped to improve the publishing technology at the foundation of WordPress and harness the platform’s ability to aggregate blog posts.

“As we’ve adopted blogging and started to treat it as a mainstream publishing platform, there are all sorts of things we might do going forward to improve our approach,” he said.

Citing a potential application of the technology, Mr. Schneider said blog posts from across the Internet could be featured alongside stories on The Times’s Web site.”

Steps like these can only validate the online future as an open source medium where everything is built on a Creative Commons type of open copyright license, information is truly free, and so is the platform it’s built on.

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