At TechStars investor and demo day Tuesday, Tom Keller, CEO of IntenseDebate, went on stage and told the audience that he didn't have any slides, nor was he looking for money. But he did say he had a surprise for everyone. That surprise was Automattic CEO Toni Schneider. Automattic runs the Web blogging service WordPress. On stage, Toni and Tom announced that Automattic acquired IntenseDebate for an undisclosed amount. I heard IntenseDebate raised about $300,000.
It's quite good timing for both companies as WordPress is challenged by new comment platforms, such as its Disqus, Sezwho and CoComment, which are taking the conversations off publisher sites and on their own sites. It's a good deal for IntenseDebate as the space has gotten competitive.
In this video, Toni talks about why the deal was done. WordPress is used by 8 million bloggers. WordPress hosts 4 million blogs and they saw 200 million unique visitors last month. Those bloggers posted four million blog posts and eight million comments. But "blog commenting is a core feature of blogging, but it got stale," he said. "By building better commenting systems, you can increase the comment flow on the blog," he said.
"We started thinking about whether we should be building that or acquiring one of the teams," he added.
He met IntenseDebate through TechStars about nine months ago, he said. A lot of IntenseDebate's customers were using WordPress, and IntenseDebate uses PHP. "All of that together made it a no-brainer to make a deal happen," he said.
IntenseDebate will stay a separate service under its own brand but will be tightly integrated with WordPress. Tom Keller told me that he won't be staying with the new owner. He'll be heading back to Boulder and will be looking for his next adventure.