September 25, 2008
Fred Wilson has a typically thoughtful post today on 3d Party Comment Systems going mainstream. No doubt prompted in part by some speculating that Automattic’s acquisition of Intense Debate spelled doom for his portfolio company Disqus, Fred makes a couple broader points that I think are worth highlighting here.
The first is that social 3d Party Comment Systems will go mainstream. With the caveat that “mainstream” need be taken in proper context (as in, perhaps, mainstream for regular users of social media; I still don’t expect the average guy at the Red Sox game to use 3d Party Comment Systems), Fred is right. And, moreover, hats off to him for being *way* ahead of the curve in seeing this coming — Fred started playing with Disqus as its very first launch partner, and, in all candor, it was Fred’s early posts about commenting that raised it onto my radar as a social service to keep my eye on. Now, about a year later, after the early success of Disqus and Intense Deabate, and the arrival on the scene of Twitter and FriendFeed, it is pretty clear that the comment streams that follow an initial post are at least as valuable as the original post. So kudos to Fred for being a super early adopter and market prognosticator; and Kudos to Automattic for taking a strong step to make sure WordPress bloggers have access to a great comment service.
Fred’s second point is that Automattic’s acquisition is not a death knell for Disqus. He is right. While I have to imagine that Intense Debate’s service will have a huge advantage for WordPress bloggers, and my very biased bet is that WordPress will continue to gain share in the blog software market, even in my wildest dreams of world domination by WordPress, there will continue to be lots of market niches where other blogging services have a very strong presence. And for users of those services, Intense Debate will no doubt see Intense Competition from Disqus and others. I think they’ll have the advantage of having lots of infrastructure stuff handled by Automattic, but Fred has a great point in emphasizing that small companies that don’t have the safety net of a larger company behind them typically remain more intense competitors and innovators. So, my challenge to the guys at Automattic and Intense Debate is if they can keep raising the bar on themselves and be the scrappy innovators they were before the combination.