Six Apart (news, site), the blogging pioneer that hasn't garnered much attention in over a year, started making headlines again last week. Though executives are reportedly denying any goings-on, rumor has it that the company is looking to make a deal in the Japanese market.
Six Apart was one of the first to commercialize blogging when it hit the scene back in 2001. Today the company sells the Movable Type software and subscriptions to its hosted TypePad service, but isn't as close to the world of online publishing as it once was. Instead, Six Apart has moved closer to the advertising side of things, marketing itself as a social advertising network with an audience of 90 million monthly visitors.
Most recently, the company signed up both Whiskey Media and BettyConfidential.com as ad-sales clients, and acquired NaturalPath Media, a green-focused ad network.
In spite of a change in direction, Six Apart has remained Japan's dominant blogging platform since 2003, so a deal there would certainly make sense. The major rumor pot stirrer is Six Apart's hiring of GCA Savvian, a boutique investment banking firm with offices in both Tokyo and San Francisco.
What could that mean, exactly? One possibility was pointed out by Owen Thomas of VentureBeat, who said Six Apart could sell its blogging software to Nifty, "an Internet service provider with which it has long partnered to provide blogging services in that country."
Further, considering the amount of time that has passed since initial investment, Six Apart investors are likely growing anxious for a deal. August Capital, for example, took part in both a US$ 10 million round in 2004 and a US$ 12 million round in 2006. A deal could generate cash to buy out early investors or, alternatively, help fund Six Apart’s push into advertising.
There's not much else that suggests a deal is in the making (both GCA Savvian’s banker for Six Apart, Steve Fletcher, and Six Apart’s lead dealmaker, Andrew Anker, are currently on vacation) but it would definitely shake things up for the company.