While some will inevitably see this as Six Apart offloading its aging blogging platform and original social network, LiveJournal (which the company acquired less than three years ago), the deal makes a whole lot of sense, and serves as a reminder that the Web is a world wide business not confined to the United States.
Similar to Orkut's prominence in Brazil, LiveJournal's second biggest userbase, after the U.S., is in Russia, representing 28% of the site's monthly audience according to new owners SUP. Prior to today's acquisition, Six Apart and SUP had been in partnership (formed in October 06) whereby SUP was operating the Russian version of LiveJournal's community. At the time the original agreement was announced, SUP's Andrew Paulson said in a statement: "LiveJournal is a very important Russian social and cultural phenomenon; our first duty is to ‘do no harm,’ LiveJournal is the ‘blogosphere’ in Russia, and being the caretaker of this service is a great privilege and a huge responsibility."
"Do no harm" is the message that SUP is keen to put out this time round too, now that it has fully acquired LiveJournal. The LiveJournal community may not be the cash cow of say Facebook or MySpace, but they are passionate none the less, and are likely to be sensitive to new owners.
To that end, SUP has announced a 100 day plan, giving details of how it will develop the service, as well as setting up a LiveJournal "community" dedicated to communicating any changes and soliciting feedback. In addition, LiveJournal, Inc (the new U.S. company created by SUP to manage the site) has announced the formation of the LiveJournal Advisory Board.
...comprised of both industry experts and members of the LiveJournal community. One of the key members of the Advisory Board will be LiveJournal’s founder, Brad Fitzpatrick, who recently left Six Apart for Google. Positions will also be reserved for two members of the LiveJournal community on a rotating basis via an open online election process.
Now that's how you manage a user community after an acquisition.