Blogging Site a Big Deal in Russia

Pioneering online community LiveJournal has been sold again. Blog software and services company Six Apart announced it’s selling LiveJournal to Russian media company SUP, which already had a licensing deal to manage LiveJournal in that country.

The deal sees LiveJournal’s ownership moving to a market where it holds a dominant position.

LiveJournal is “a force of nature in Russia, probably the fourth-biggest Web site in the country and used by 90 out of every 100 bloggers there,” Six Apart CEO Chris Alden told

Alden said SUP remains committed to supporting the U.S. market, while Six Apart will continue to sell ads on the site.

“For the foreseeable future, we’re invested in LJ’s success,” Alden said.

The deal also will allow his company to focus on its other core blog-related products: the Movable Type publishing platform; the TypePad hosted blogging service and Vox, a free blogging service for friends and families.

“When we looked ahead to 2008, we asked, ‘Where do we want to be great?'” Alden said. “We’re doing fine financially, but at some point, there’s a focus question. SUP has a real passion for LiveJournal and significant purse strings to invest in it.”

Six Apart made a splash in the blogging community when it bought LiveJournal in January 2005. At the time, the purchase vaulted Six Apart from one million users to a company with 6.5 million bloggers. In the three years since, the number of LiveJournal accounts has nearly tripled, from five million to more than 14 million.

During that time, many new features were added to LiveJournal, including LJTalk, an open source Jabber-based instant messaging platform; user-to-user messaging; simplified site design and navigation; a dedicated mobile client and what Six Apart said have been tremendous improvements in comment management and editing.

Terms of the deal with SUP weren’t disclosed. Alden did say the terms reflected the fact that LiveJournal’s value increased the past several years.

The sale may eventually result in some competition between Six Apart and SUP, but Alden said the larger issue is a recognition that business today often isn’t just about winners and losers.

p>”We’re in a world where it’s not a zero-sum game, but more about fluidity in services with each moving to what it’s great at,” he said. “You’re seeing this in other areas, a move to more openness, for example, from MySpace.”

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