One of the announcements that came out of the TechStars event today was that Automattic, the parent company of WordPress, has acquired the hosted blog-comment service Intense Debate for an undisclosed amount. You can read WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg’s thoughts about it, as well as those of Automattic CEO Toni Schneider and Intense Debate co-founder Jon Fox, and you can also read some comments from Daniel Ha, the founder of Disqus, the hosted blog-comment service that is probably Intense Debate’s single biggest competitor in the comment-o-sphere.
In his blog post and in comments made to Mashable’s Adam Ostrow about the deal, Daniel is very diplomatic about the acquisition, saying it was a good move for Automattic and Intense Debate, and that “I think Disqus (and others in the space) will continue to work harder on offerings for users of WordPress and the many other platforms.â€ One of the main financial backers behind Disqus — Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures — took the same line in comments to me via Twitter. “Its great for the 3rd party comment system market,” he said. “It validates the category.”
All that said, however, there’s little doubt that this is going to put some pressure on Disqus. WordPress is undoubtedly going to integrate Intense Debate into its platform in a pretty major way, and will also push it to all of the millions of bloggers who use either WordPress.com or hosted WordPress (as I do). That’s going to have an effect on adoption rates, there’s no question. Fred said in his message that he hopes there is a level playing field: “I hope WP doesn’t play favorites,” he said. “Bloggers need choice.”
For my part, I remain a satisfied user of Disqus.