Demand Media’s Got Pluck

As the Web becomes an ever chattier place, providing the technology to make sites more social has become a growth industry.

The landscape of that industry changed significantly today, with the announcement that Demand Media has acquired Pluck. Both companies trade on widgets and APIs to add social features like chatting and blogs to Web sites, and the combined enterprise will create a powerful player in the emerging market.

“Every single Web site is going to need social media as an integral part of what they do,” Demand CEO Richard Rosenblatt told

Rosenblatt served as chairman of MySpace from February 2003 until October 2005, when it was acquired by News Corp. “I sold the company to Rupert,” he said.

After leaving MySpace, he co-founded Demand Media in May 2006, which he described as “a big leap of faith” at the time. After all, people were only beginning to take social networks seriously, let alone socializing on the rest of the Web.

Since then, Demand has made more than 60 acquisitions of smaller Web properties that have given it an impressive array of niche sites, covering topics ranging from golf to paintball. Through two of its acquisitions — domain name registrars eNum and Bulk Register — Demand Media became the second-largest registrar on the Web.

Demand has largely spread its widgets through the niche vertical sites that it has acquired. Now, with the acquisition of Pluck, it is poised to move beyond that proprietary network to expand its platform, Rosenblatt said.

Where Demand has targeted the Internet’s “long tail,” Pluck has scored licensing agreements with some of the nation’s largest media companies, powering the social applications on the Web sites of The Washington Post, Gannett and Hearst Corporation.

In November, Pluck announced that it was linking the social applications on the sites it powered with Facebook, MySpace and other social networks.

Pluck and Demand do the same thing. Their basic selling proposition is simple and applies to large and small sites alike: Web sites can drive engagement by turning themselves into a community where users with common interests can interact with each other.

The combined enterprise will offer businesses á la carte access to a library of chat features and other widgets that they can incorporate into their sites. The idea is to help generate more user engagement, more time spent on the site, more clicks and return rates – all music to the ears of advertisers, while the social dimension also helps publishers monetize their content.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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