Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com, has acquired file-sharing service Cloudup, which launched in beta in June. The acquisition will help Automattic improve two features of WordPress.com in particular: the media library used for uploading visual content and post editing to give multiple users the ability to edit at one time.
Cloudup is an offshoot of ed-tech company LearnBoost, which was founded in 2010, meaning it includes the same team and existing investors. LearnBoost co-founder and CTO Guillermo Rauch said the classroom management service will continue to operate under Automattic, as well.
Out of the gate, the Cloudup team will focus on revamping the post editor and replacing WordPress.com’s media library with Cloudup. Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg said that the service is much more advanced, elegant, and intuitive than WordPress.com’s current media uploader. ”Not many people say their favorite [WordPress.com] feature is the media library,” he noted.
It was an understatement. Cloudup’s technology will enable multiple parties to edit and write at the same time, meaning a writer could be drafting the text while a photographer uploads images to the same post. The service also allows for sharing a file before it is done uploading, meaning that a second party can begin viewing the file before it is complete.
Mullenweg said that he sees WordPress.com’s forthcoming co-editing capabilities as different from services like Google Docs. The latter fundamentally treats documents as documents, he said, whereas a blog post or page is a much richer experience due to its video, image, and gallery features.
Mullenweg did not give an estimate on when users will see the fruits of the integration, but he said their intention is to have it up as soon as possible.
According to Rauch, the Cloudup beta is a complete product, as some of the open-source technology that powers the system has been in development for years. Still, Mullenweg said there will likely be significant work to be done in scaling the Cloudup infrastructure and integrating it with WordPress.com and with Jetpack by WordPress.com.
Cloudup, which has accumulated around 10,000 active users since June, will continue to be available independently of WordPress.com. Automattic will continue running it and adding new features, and the service will soon be open to the public.
Although it would be an easy source of revenue, Mullenweg said that there are currently no plans to monetize on the service.
“We think Cloudup is something intrinsically useful to have in the world, and Automattic’s core businesses in WordPress.com, VIP, VaultPress, and Akismet are doing more than well enough for us as a company,” he said.
Mullenweg has said before that his goal is to see WordPress.com power the majority of all sites on the Internet — they are currently at just over 20 percent market share — and that the first step toward that end is simply improving WordPress.com as a platform. Cloudup helps accomplish that. For sites like TechCrunch, which uses the platform, the ability to co-edit a post and upload photos faster would certainly be an improvement in the flow of using WordPress.
Mullenweg said the acquisition was for both talent and technology, as he had been aware of LearnBoost’s open source ethos and had followed Rauch’s work for a number of years.
This acquisition brings Automattic’s total employee count to just over 200 people. While the majority of Cloudup employees are San Francisco based, three are international. One will be Automattic’s first Brazil-based employee, which extends the company’s reach to 29 countries.
Growing the Automattic team to the intended thousands of employees will be 95 percent hiring, Mullenweg said, with only a small percentage coming from acquisitions like this.
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