We just heard an outlandish rumor: That San Francisco-based blogging company Six Apart, whose software powers many of the world's most popular blogs, considered splitting in two earlier this year, under former CEO Barak Berkowitz. But the company recently upgraded its CEO, replacing Berkowitz with executive Chris Alden, and a spinoff or sale is no longer on the table. By shedding its LiveJournal and Vox consumer blogging sites, Six Apart would have left behind enterprise blog service TypePad and the Movable Type software product — exactly the businesses new CEO Chris Alden ran before his promotion, which is likely why this old rumor is gaining fresh circulation.
A spinoff would have had financial appeal, of course, given the fad for social networks these days and Facebook's lofty mooted valuation. That is, of course, assuming Six Apart could have come to terms with a deep-pocketed buyer. But taking money off the table is the only aspect of this rumored deal that would have made sense.
First, there's technology. Six Apart executives have long maintained that the company's enterprise and consumer blog businesses complement each other, and share a lot of their core software. (An upcoming version of TypePad, the Web-based blog software popular with small businesses, will have new community features based largely on Vox, we hear.)
Then there's the founders' pride. Would Ben and Mena Trott have supported Movable Type and TypePad, the businesses they built up from scratch? Or would they have thrown their attentions to LiveJournal, the fractious personal-blogging service Six Apart acquired a couple of years ago, and Vox, the newer blog-cum-social network that's especially close to Mena's heart?
And then there's the IPO factor. With its combined businesses, Six Apart's revenue streams are nicely diversified between subscription fees, software licenses, and advertising. And even so, the company is barely big enough to draw investment banks' interest. Separately, its consumer and enterprise arms would have been more acquisition bait than anything.
So for now, a spinoff, having been considered and apparently dismissed some months ago, seems unlikely. But we do know that at least one member of the board is meeting with Alden, the new CEO, tomorrow. We can only wonder what they'll chat about. Anyone heard anything else? Please share. (Illustration by Tim Faulkner)