Six Apart and Automattic: Overview

I’ve been doing some thinking and scribbling recently about Six Apart and Automattic, which I regard as the two leading indie blogging tool firms (Blogger being a subsidiary of Google these days). This table provides an overview comparison.

Six Apart Automattic
Founded July 2002 December 2005
First release available for download Movable Type 1.0, in October 2001 WordPress 1.0, in January 2004
Free at first? No charge, but donations welcome Free/open source under GPL
Hosted service(s) TypePad, LiveJournal (acquired), Vox

In each case, the initial software release preceded the founding of the company by some time. WordPress was free/open source at release. It is a fork of b2/cafelog, which was under the GPL, so WordPress was in effect GPL’d before it existed.

Movable Type was in a sense free at first release. When it ceased to be free, with the release of MT3, there was an exodus from MT to WP. It may turn out that MT3 is the most significant release ever, for MT/Six Apart and for WP/Automattic.

Each firm has a hosted service, as well as a downloadable product. In fact, Six Apart has three such services. Automattic has one, and it has the WordPress name/brand. In one sense, then, Automattic is the more focused of the two firms.

On the other hand, Automattic is less strictly focused on tools used directly by bloggers. WordPress Multi-User enables the building of hosted services based on WordPress, and so is used by blog system administrators. Akismet is a spam detection service, not limited to WordPress or even to blogs in terms of the software that can use it.

I have some more stuff along the same lines, including a table comparing timelines for the two firms. Let me know if you’d like me to tidy it up and post it here.

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