Longreads announced on Wednesday that they were being acquired by Automattic. The financial details have not bee disclosed, but Longreads founder Mark Armstrong did say that the service will continue, and that the staff will be joining the WordPress.com editorial staff.
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.