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Google Buys Pyra: Maker of Blogger Software
The popular weblogging software Blogger will now be a part of Google

 6:54 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Weblogs are going Googling.

Google, which runs the Web's premier search site, has purchased Pyra Labs, a San Francisco company that created some of the earliest technology for writing weblogs, the increasingly popular personal and opinion journals.

The buyout is a huge boost to an enormously diverse genre of online publishing that has begun to change the equations of online news and information. Weblogs are frequently updated, with items appearing in reverse chronological order (the most recent postings appear first). Typically they include links to other pages on the Internet, and the topics range from technology to politics to just about anything you can name. Many weblogs invite feedback through discussion postings, and weblogs often point to other weblogs in an ecosystem of news, opinions and ideas.




 7:14 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Nice find estjohn,

I would have thought this looks more like saving a company needing extra cash, but providing necessary services for news on the net as Google needs it.

though I find it strange Google would provide preferential hosting to one party.

What will we see soon, a Blog tab?


 7:23 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

If its all true, then here is someone who invested just in time
Jeff Jarvis of Advance [guardian.co.uk]

and also from the article:

If recent rumours are to be believed, AOL is getting ready to add blogging to the homepage services it offers users in the next month or so..


 8:10 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

This is fantastic news! Google is on the cutting edge of providing real time information to people. They made a jump with Google News. This completes their landing.

Many people believe, myself included, that blogs are the new metaphor for communicating on the internet. Information is key. Google just cornered a big part of the market.

Congrats Google!


 9:03 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

So we have Lycos gone blogging [webmasterworld.com], AOL is rumoured to follow, and now Google.

Is that another major step to portalization?


 9:16 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Am I the only Internet user that finds blogs utterly inane and boring - with the possible exception of when the writer is a far away friend?


 9:21 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think if they are consistently topical, they are great. Today my cat climbed up a tree type blogs stink, but I think they are nice for a quick bit of info and a link to more in depth info. For getting info out on a mass scale, a network of bloggers reading and regurgetating each others stuff can bring massive attention to a given topic. That's cool to me.


 9:22 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Am I the only one who doesn't understand why google's aquisition of a company I've never heard of is good, bad, or indifferent?

I hope someone can clear that up.

(edit to remove extra instance of is)

[edited by: mat_bastian at 9:53 am (utc) on Feb. 16, 2003]


 9:33 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Many blogs are the equivalent of yesteryears geocities. Yawn.

However, the software underlying blogs is great stuff that can be utilized as a CMS.


 9:37 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm bemused by it as well Mat. fyi: Pyra is the parent company behind Blogger.


[keywords: portal, portaldom, google, ipo, diversification]


 9:48 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Maybe it's Google's way of ensuring they have content for their Google News / Search.

Imagine some day NY Times, CNN, etc... all got together and blocked Googlebot because it was "stealing content"... this way, Google will have the rights to show all this blogging news / content copyright-free if they add that somewher in their fine print.

Could that be their motive? To obtain cheap sources of online media copyright-free?


 10:28 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Some more possible reasons...

1. Diversification. The financial-types like a diversified business as opposed to a single product (search) business.
2. Personalized google site. Blogger CMS can be used like My Yahoo if they are trying to compete as a full service portal.
3. 1.1+ million registered user community.
4. Competitor was going to buy it or doing similar things (Tripod/AOL).
5. Software to sell. Blogger pro is non-advertising revenue. (not much vs. ad rev. though)
6. Ad inventory. Probably not a lot extra compared to google traffic but may be a consideration.
7. Brand name. Blogger is becoming a valuable brand name like people call tissues Kleenex even when they aren't Kleenex (or post-it notes).


 10:31 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

This is one of the very few cases where I don't get it at all what Google is up to. As has been said already, why would they want to buy what is essentially a hosting company?

In my eyes, Google is about pointing to information, not about providing it themselfes. Or does Pyra have other technology available that they're not talking about? The blogging software alone can't be rocket science, let alone the content of most of the actual blogs.


 10:56 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the link Brett.


astute observations and analysis estjohn. So I guess it could point to gearing up for public offering?


 10:57 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hmm, did you read the Scattered Notes ... Larry Page [j-bradford-delong.net] that were mentioned in this thread [webmasterworld.com]?

If find especially this quote very interesting:

Larry Page: "It wasn't that we intended to build a search engine. We built a ranking system to deal with annotations. We wanted to annotate the web--build a system so that after you'd viewed a page you could click and see what smart comments other people had about it.

Smells like LB and SB are going back to their roots, no? May be they'll include the blogger software into google to let the people comment websites ...?


 11:02 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

I find this supposed move by google to be - ah - unexpected.

As far as that notes page - I like this one the best:

"You see, Sergey would try to go out on dates. He would call up women. And to impress them he would say, 'I'm the president of a money-losing dot-com.' But in Palo Alto in 2000, a huge number of people were presidents of money-losing dot-coms. And so they would not call him back. And he thought, 'If only I were president of a money-making dot-com, things would be very different...'"

So there you have it women - if you want to know google secrets - go after Sergey...


 11:10 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Evan Williams, president/CEO of Pyra Labs, writes in his blog about the deal:

Holy crap. Note to self: When you get off this panel, you should probably comment on this. [evhead.com]



 11:16 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)


my feeling is 99% are inane

1% are absolutely brilliant and some of the most intelligent sites on the web

...sounds like the typical success/failure rate for most diaries/small publishing ventures.

98% start up and die soon after as the technology is simpler to use than the content and ideas necessary to provide the food.

Im still working out how this fits into what I thought was Google strategy, but some good ideas in this thread already.

That said,

1. i remember there was a rumour around that this was on the cards maybe 6 months back. Then it didnt happen and eveybody forgot it. So there has obviously some long term thought that went into it.

2. google already indexes some of the best blog driven news sites in news.google, though not many of these are blogger.com hosted.


 11:33 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

That is a very good list of reasons Estjohn.

It also works in well with Usenet.

What's next? Buying forum systems? With as many people that have approached me about buying WebmasterWorld, I know there is some very strong interest in the genra out there.


 11:51 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Of course I don't know what Google plans on doing with Blogger either, but here are some general thoughts:

The Blogger products themselves certainly aren't rocket science. In fact, they're nowadays considered the lower end of blogging services/software, from a features/capability/innovation standpoint.
Yet they almost single-handedly made 'blogging', which is certainly the most significant development on the (non-commercial) web of the past few years, popular.

Pyra surely wasn't a very expensive company to buy -- a few years ago, they had to rely on donations to buy a new server to keep the service running, and they only have - what? about 15? employees.
It's also pretty safe to say that Pyra don't have any other revolutionary software hidden up their sleeves.

It's not a company focused on profits to the degree 99% of WebmasterWorld members are.

Remember how Google bought the newsgroup archive from Deja and made it more user-friendly, accessible and better searchable, without for the longest time even including Adwords ads -- so don't expect Google to be motivated by huge impending profits to reap from blog hosting.

Blogs are incredibly vast, frequently updated and heavily interlinked resources of thousands of individuals' opinions, thoughts, feelings -- lives.
Thus it seems logical that Google, which experiments with making sense of, finding relevant parts of, and interconnecting huge amounts of data, would somehow get involved with weblogs... even if it does not pose an immediate opportunity for profit.

At least from their apparent company philosophy and the image users have of them, Google and Pyra are a perfect match, and I'm sure Great Things will come from this sooner or later.


 12:13 pm on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

--> "Am I the only Internet user that finds blogs utterly inane and boring - with the possible exception of when the writer is a far away friend?"

No, you are not alone.

Reality Check: 99 percent of the population does not care about what someone else writes in their journal. People only care about what they have to say, not someone else.

Blogs, I leave that for those seeking attention and cyber immoratality.


 12:15 pm on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Point of order: where does a community site stop and a blog start?


 12:48 pm on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

A community site is much more public than a blog, but with things like trackback, pingback, automatic referrer linking and comments functions (sets of) blogs might well be called decentralized, democratic communities/forums.

And Zapatista: Many blogs are much more than personal journals about everyday things, and are in fact often the best way to find new, interesting links on speciality topics (even better than Google) or find out public opinion on a variety of things. They can also offer an inside look that only certain persons can give you: Safari developer Dave Hyatt has a blog, W3C-CSS-member Tantek Celik blogs as well, many Mozilla developers do, Ovidiu Predescu has blogged from inside Google, etc.


 1:51 pm on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

>Maybe it's Google's way of ensuring they have content for >their Google News / Search.
>Imagine some day NY Times, CNN, etc... all got together >and blocked Googlebot because it was "stealing content"...

As more news sites move to subscriptions this will be an issue. However, It seems likely that news providers will create free headline and summary pages that Google can index and that Google will add pay-per-click so that they can make money from referrals.


 2:12 pm on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>Point of order: where does a community site stop and a blog start?<<

interesting. blogs do seem to attract a fair deal of narcissistic content but they do cover a whole range of types from personal diaries really just meant for close friends and family, to individualism gone bad teying to re-create shock value when it has already been done years ago, to highly useful docs. I know many professors for example that have blogs and there are several high profile journalists with them.

Some sites have multiple authors, some have one. Some have many comments, some have none. Some link heavily commebting on other blogs postings and linking to news (the "purer" form of blog as i understand it from what bloggers say). Its is just too hard to generalise. A blog can be a community, or it can be personal therapy, or it can be many other things.


 2:14 pm on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

maybe this is a branding exercise? a small change to the code and every new blog suddenly has "powered by google" at the bottom of every page. another small change and every blog can have a google search box. etc etc etc. this type of branding is invaluable to companies like google - they need it to survive. remember, google is way behind other search engines in terms of the services they provide - other engines have had news searches / web directories / shopping directories / paid listings etc etc for years ......


 2:21 pm on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>It seems likely that news providers will create free headline and summary pages that Google can index<<

Goog point crisscross. I think blog news in general still uses mainstream news items to comment on. As you know journalists have a lot of training in writing and they have to develop a network of credible sources, plus sophisticated information rertreival skills and feeds from the newsagencies. It takes a LONG time to write 500 words of perfectly grammar and spell checked original material which is based on facts rather than just opinion. I dont think blogs can ever replace journalists or mainstream news, but i think they are a very valid form of "new journalism" - a new form of journalism and news gathering that is just maturing as the cream struggles to the top.

Until we can pay blog writers, (and i dont think even Andrew Sullivan is making much from his blog yet after literally 100s or thousands of words - and remember he's moonlighting!) to be able to research and check sources etc. etc. the content available to Google is not so much inferior, but lets say "different". It cant replace well researched, sourced and well written professional content.


 2:30 pm on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

If you look at the Radio Userland blog client it has a XML/RSS news aggrigator on the backend, on your computer. This gives you two click posting of news headlines/summaries/links to your blog. Really easy. Very nice.

Now if Goggle did something like that with their news search -- send it out to bloggers in a RSS feed and every blogger has Goggle news on their computer and posting it to their blogs....hmm.


 4:09 pm on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

"Am I the only Internet user that finds blogs utterly inane and boring.."

I have yet to find one that could hold my interest for more than about 5 minutes.

Personally I am not sure what Google is doing here. I strongly suspect that blogging in a couple of years will become known as yet one more passing fad.


 4:39 pm on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

The quote from Larry Page was interesting about Google started out to annotate the web.

What if blogging technology was added to the Google index so that people could annotate their opinions on a website. There could be a link next to each site in the search results for "read user opinions about this site".

Could this be what they are up to?

As for blogging in general, I'm with MartiniBuster on this one... most blogs are today's geocities fad.

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