LiveJournal announced yesterday that it has been purchased by Six Apart. Six Apart is best known for being the creators of the Movable Type content management/blogging system and the TypePad blog service.
As many of you are aware, I recently spent a lot of time converting this website from Six Apart’s Movable Type system to the open-sourcecontent management system. Part of why I made the switch was that Mambo is more flexible and can do more, but the biggest reason was that Six Apart locked me out of upgrades.
You see, when Six Apart came out with Movable Type 3.0 (my site was running 2.66), they introduced a new licensing scheme which required me to pay $70 to get something that has been offered for free for personal websites. In other words, I had to either pay $70 to upgrade to 3.0, stick with an outdated version of the system, or switch to a new system entirely.
I don’t want to be unfairly judgmental of Six Apart or of their decision to purchase LiveJournal, and I don’t want to scare LiveJournal users. For all I know, this could work out wonderfully. But the unexpected change in Movable Type’s licensing and pricing scheme (after promising that there would be no significant changes) makes me wary of what Six Apart will do to LiveJournal’s licensing and pricing scheme (which they’ve also promised will undergo no significant changes). Six Apart has screwed its loyal users before, and a company that does it once is likely to do it again. Companies that value excessive profit over customer satisfaction eventually lose both their customers and their profit.
For some reason, I keep remembering a spate of takeovers that have affected me over the years.
I was a Hotmail user when Microsoft bought it out—promising no significant changes—and within two months the free email system got harder to navigate, laden with pop-up ads, much more spammy, and much less reliable.
I was a LinkExchange user when Microsoft bought it out—promising no significant changes—and they discontinued the service entirely less than six months later.
I was a Hypermart web hosting customer when they got bought out by Infospace (if I remember correctly)—promising no significant changes—and they promptly corrupted my Movable Type install and broke all my server-side includes, effectively shutting down my website until I could cancel my account and set up shop somewhere else.
So watch this closely, LiveJournal users . . . don’t do anything rash at this point, but I would start researching the competition (Blogger in particular), just in case.