Founded in 2009, Longreads has spent the past 5 years finding and linking to long news articles and columns. The small SF-based company has been linking to stories of more than 1,500 words, highlighting lengthy (but not necessarily good) articles from lesser-known websites as well as from more established publications. With links regularly shared via email, Twitter, and RSS feed, Longreads (along with its competitor Longform) is well-known in media circles.
Longreads is funded in part by sponsored posts (today's sponsor was Oyster) and by paid subscriptions ($3 a month). The paying subscribers get a daily email with links to stories; I as a nonpaying subscriber have been getting those links via RSS feed.
Much has been said in the past day about the work of the Longreads staff, but I think the real value for Automattic is the community that has grown around the service. Longreads has over 127 thousand followers on Twitter, and is supported by a far larger group of readers who share stories under the #longreads hastag.
According to Businessweek, Automattic has been trying to expand the company’s focus to reading and finding great nuggets on WordPress blogs, and the Longreads community should help there.