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HIC! – is innovative

November 2nd, 2009 by admin Leave a reply »

Last week I had the great pleasure of talking with Matt Mullenweg, of Automattic Inc.

mullenmattMatt is one of those young entrepreneurs who creates his businesses out of his love for the “game” – in this case the “game” being the blogosphere and the open source tools supporting the growth of the growing online news industry. Mullenweg is the founding “developer” of WordPress Inc.  WordPress, while not the first  technology innovator in the blog space, is certainly well-designed and refreshing in the way that it has paid close attention to the needs of its customers and has built life-long believers. Mullenweg was a big part of that.  But, Mullenweg’s mother ship, Automattic (formed in 2005) is something innovative in my mind based on the new types of tools that it is producing and spinning out each year.  In its 4 years of start-up existence, Automattic has launched many products for online writers including:

  • Akismet – open source tool for monitoring spam, that helps
  • bbPress – forum/discussion software to enable stickyness on the blog
  • IntenseDebate  (acquired)- open source add-on that super-charges reader/commentor feedback
  • PollDaddy (acquired) – an innovative online surveys/poll add-on
  • Gravitar (acquired) – portable avitars you can create/use as your persona on multiple web services
  • VideoPress – slick video encoder/player that can be used on WordPress and other blogs

All of these companies complement WordPress ….and all these entities come under the umbrella of wordpressimageAutomattic — thus, I view Automattic as the “IdeaLab” of the blogging and Opensource world (“thou shall not use the world “incubator” in 2009 in vain”).  Funded initially by angels, True Ventures (SF-based), Polaris Ventures and the NY Times are the dominant investors in this company-of-companies.  The last round of $30M in 2008 gives the company a development and acquisition war-chest…and Seems like a GREAT FEEDER of INNOVATION for the NY Times.

Recently,  Automattic announced the acquisition of  “After the Deadline“. Available under Opensource license, AtD uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing technology to find writers/bloggers’ errors.  It then offers suggestions for replacing words or gramattical errors.  What’s unique is that the technology makes use of the neuro-net to “learn” from mistakes others’ have made and so it gets SMARTER over time and the more it is used.AtD is a spell-checker. This is a spell-checker that plugs into the braincells of the Internet in a very new way…and it hints at the future of shared knowledge for writers and/or other artists over open-source.A high-level overview of AtD can be found here.

Packed with a lot of bright young net-savvy writers, programmers, and creatives – I pick as a HIC (highly-innovative company) that will be rewarded in the future by the market for its unique approach to harnessing Open Source and the broader neuro-network of the web.


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