Automattic is continuing its bet on content after it acquired Longreads. The digital publishing house behind the popular CMS WordPress is working to keep its stable of publishers on the platform as Medium and Thought Catalog continue to hone in on its stable of writers.
If you haven’t heard of Longreads, the name essentially gives it away. The service collates the long form content from the web and puts it into a single spot. You can search the site for pieces that start at a word count of 1500 words and up. Longreads also has a membership service that collects the best pieces and blasts out emails to subscribers. This service will be unaffected by the acquisition.
Terms of the purchase are not known, but both sides are excited by the partnership. Longreads founder Mark Armstrong wrote about the acquisition on the Longreads blog: “We see a huge opportunity to go deeper with our mission, both through Longreads and WordPress.com — to find undiscovered talent, to celebrate the work of writers and publishers you already love, and bring even more of the best storytelling onto the Internet. The WordPress.com editorial team is growing, and we’re excited to now be a part of it.”
Armstrong says the two companies have similar goals, which is why the acquisition made sense. I’m sure the check helped it make even more sense.
Automattic’s Raanan Bar-Cohen gave the company’s response on its blog: “We are entering a new era for independent writers and publishers to embrace depth and quality, and WordPress.com is committed to empowering these creators, … not just through tools and services that make the most of these evolving formats, but through community, distribution, and new ways to have your best work seen by millions of people across a wide range of diverse tastes and topics.”
Both sides are focusing on the independent writer in this acquisition. It is a subtle nod to the rise of Medium over the past year. WordPress does not want to bleed away talent to the upstart content service. So, it is giving its publishers yet another tool to focus on their best content.
The base word count helps to cull away short, irrelevant posts. It should shine the light on more in-depth pieces, or even short stories. Studios are finding writers for sitcoms through open submissions processes. Could Automatic plus Longreads find the next stable of writers?