Six Apart is the leading provider of blogging tools to the “professional” blogging community.
While Blogger (owned by Google) and AOL offer free tools to the consumer market, the bulk of the “serious” blogs you read are probably developed using either TypePad or Movable Type, both products of Six Apart. Movable Type is a comprehensive platform designed for the enterprise, while TypePad is a hosted solution licensed on an annual fee (author's note: Content Matters is built on TypePad). Earlier this year, Six Apart acquired LiveJournal, a (mostly) free, open source personal blogging environment catering to individuals.
Six Apart introduced the concept of trackbacks, enabling bloggers to easily find others who have linked to their blog. This concept, as much as anything, has helped develop communities of like-minded bloggers and is a de-facto standard in all blogs today.
Though many people think the Six Apart name is derived from the community aspects of blogging (“six degrees of separation”), the Company reports that the name is based upon husband and wife Ben and Mena Trott’s birthdays – six days apart from one another.
The blogging space is competitive, and will get even more competitive as Yahoo, MSN and others focus more efforts there. Open source solutions such as Drupal have a loyal and devoted user base. Meanwhile, today, it’s estimated that Six Apart has more than 10 million users across their three product lines. The Company has done an effective job localizing their software and has struck partnerships with key distribution channels in the U.S. and abroad. Six Apart's 50+ employees span three continents today.
Six Apart continues to innovate. They've recently added a “tip jar”, another way for bloggers to potentially monetize their content beyond running Google ads. While few blogs tip jars will cover the daily coffee, it's a creative method to generate revenue and can also be used for fundraising, as Michael Parekh is doing on his blog.
Six Apart has just announced that their new platform, code named Project Comet, early in 2006, which promises to integrate the community aspects of LiveJournal with multimedia and the robust capabilities of Movable Type and TypePad.
The challenge for Six Apart will be to fend off the competition in a market where there is a low barrier to entry. While an eventual acquisition may be inevitable, according to Staci at PaidContent, Six Apart is well poised to continue seeing sustained growth in the professional blogging market in the near-term. And, as the leader in a key segment of one of the fastest growing content technologies, Six Apart is clearly one of the 50 Content Companies that Matter.