The SixApart Solution: Divesting TypePad II

The SixApart Solution: Divesting TypePad II

: Below, I laid out the inherent pickle vat into which SixApart has placed itself by trying to be both a software and a service company and competing with its own customers. I urged SixApart to divest Typepad, its service company, so it could go back to selling software without pissing off its customers. If I do say so myself, it’s pretty good (free) busienss advice; go read that first. Now some reaction to that:

: Fred Wilson, a VC who’s one helluva lot smarter and more successful at business than I am, agrees about the issue but suggests a different solution:

One approach that SixApart could take is to just come out and say that they aren’t going to license the MovableType software enhancements going forward (starting with 3.0) to blog hosting service providers.

I respond in Fred’s comments:

The problem is, in this nanoworld, who is a “hosting service provider”? If I host blogs for my grandma and aunt, am I a hosting service provider? Where’s the line? One blog? Two blogs? Two hundred blogs?

That is precisely the (unsolvable) problem SixApart has now created for itself. There is no clear line between “commercial” and “noncommercial,” between “personal” and “hosting.”

If SixApart does what you suggest and refuse to license improvements to hosting providers, who are they (the little guys or the big guys and how big is big?… the commercial guys or the noncommercial guys and if your ad strip starts raking in big bucks does that make you commercial?)? Thus, if they do what you suggest then they in essence take the other tack: They shut off the line of software licensing as a business to advantage their own hosting business.

: John Robb says:

This is a difficult decision to make (I’ve been there). However, the solution is to productize Typepad for large communities provided by leading hosting companies. Typepad needs to be sold as software. Treat the current instantiation of Typepad as a demo of its capabilities.

So, in essence (to unfairly summarize): Fred suggests getting out of the software licensing business (to any possible competitors) to be in the hosting business primarily. John suggests getting out of the hosting business to be in the software licensing business. And I suggest divesting to allow each business to grow on its own merits. But we all agree that there is a conflict here and that SixApart had better deal with it.

: I’m not piling on SixApart; I’m just making these suggestions (openly in this open world) in an effort to help a company and a product I very much like.

But I will add one more complaint: The one feature I have been dying to have for month’s is a page on which I can display all (or more than five) comments so I can deal with spam more effectively. “It’s coming,” I was told a few times. Problem is, it came in a new version that brings all kinds of headaches.

So can someone please write a plug-in to the current version to give me lots of comments on one page with some easy editing tools (i.e., I want to see quick excerpts and kill comments with a click and ideally, add IPs to the banned list at the same time)?

: I am having someone I respect give me a list of blog software alternatives with the pros and cons laid out. I’ll let you know what I find.

  • http://www.rluxemburg.com lux

    Currently the two top contenders as far as CMS software goes seem to be TextPattern and WordPress.
    I’d like to hear what your adviser has to say – will you be posting the pro/con list when you get it?

  • http://www.anildash.com/ Anil

    But I will add one more complaint: The one feature I have been dying to have for month’s is a page on which I can display all (or more than five) comments so I can deal with spam more effectively. “It’s coming,” I was told a few times. Problem is, it came in a new version that brings all kinds of headaches.
    We’ve got that in MT3, and it’d be free for your site. Is there a reason that doesn’t work for you?

  • http://www.anildash.com/ Anil

    Oh, and TypePad *is* licensable. We’ve already done it in Japan, Spain, Germany, France, and Italy. Feel free to get in touch. :)

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Anil:
    Comment spam has been an emergency that many have been trying to deal with and I personally think it should have been an earlier update.
    My plans would not be free.

  • http://www.inluminent.com/weblog/ john

    Here’s a good basic breakdown of server-side blogging software available:
    http://www.asymptomatic.net/blogbreakdown.htm

  • http://senshineko.com/weblog/ John Steven

    The ability to deal with more than five comments at a time is long overdue… it’s unfortunate that upgrading to MT3 for that functionality would cost me $70 just because I have a second author within my installation.
    I tend to agree with some of the speculation that this is a strategy by Six Apart to push personal bloggers toward using TypePad (and collecting monthly fees from them), and repositioning Movable Type as a commercial tool instead… leaving the poweruser/enthusiasts stuck somewhere in the middle – like you said, where is the line?

  • http://www.bennett.com/blog/ Richard Bennett

    MT played a very important part in the explosion of blogging post-9/11, but they really seem to have lost their way recently.
    A lot of the strength of MT has been its developer community, but given the choice between giving code away to a commercial product and giving it away to a GPL product like WordPress, it’s not too hard to figure out where the muscle is gonna go.
    You can exploit geeks up to a point, but when the game becomes too flagrant, they aren’t going to play with you any more.