Six Apart has sold LiveJournal to Russian media group SUP for an undisclosed sum. SUP has established a U.S.-based company, LiveJournal Inc., which will manage the worldwide operations of the popular blogging and social networking brand.
SUP has essentially been running LiveJournal in Russia for the past year, since entering into a licensing agreement with Six Apart in October 2006 granting them management privileges in the country. And LiveJournal users will be happy to hear that SUP have been inordinately successful there: nearly doubling the amount of members in Russia, and making the 'LiveJournal' marque synonymous with 'blogging' there.
If 1.6% of Facebook was worth US$ 240 mil. in October (giving the social networking site a nominal value of US$ 15 bln.), it will be interesting indeed to see just how much 6A got for LiveJournal, which it bought from founder Brad Fitzpatrick back in January 2005.
Since then the number of users has almost trebled from 5 million to over 14 million, and it drew 3.9 mil. visitors in the US in October this year. But that's still small potatoes compared to the likes of Myspace (72m) and Facebook (32.9m)*.
Although the US remains LiveJournal's biggest market, Russia is catching up fast, and the recent runaway success of LiveJournal there suggests that the time may well have come for the platform to move into foreign hands, and concentrate on growth in international markets.
Chris Alden, Six Apart's chief executive, maintains that after the sale, Six Apart can concentrate on its remaining core products: “We have very ambitious and aggressive plans for TypePad, Movable Type and Vox. We have to focus on the areas where we really want to be great."
SUP's rise to prominence in the world of online publishing has been nothing short of meteoric. Founded in the summer of 2006 from Russian seed capital, the company has rapidly assembled a stellar list of digital media acquisitions, including top Russian sports news portal Championat.ru, online advertising firm +SOL, and Victory S.A., an online advertising agency. The talent running SUP includes Andrew Paulson, founder of SUP and formerly of Afisha Publishing; and Strategy Director Edward Shenderovich, former CEO of Quantum Art.
All you LiveJournal users should go here without delay to check out the new administration's vision for the future of the product (and to have your say on it). And if you want to have a moan about another technological jewel in America's crown falling into foreign ownership, then why not do it here? Rant away below. * Figures from comScore, Inc.