Automattic Acquires Gravatar

The ever popular blogging service Gravatar started by Tom Werner has been acquired by Automattic.

For those that aren’t aware what a gravatar is, it’s a globally recognised avatar. I can hear the question already, what is an avatar and stop speaking Greek. An avatar is a little image or animated icon that people often have displayed beside their names in online forums. A gravatar is generally meant to unique to a user and is used with the intention that it’s easier of recognise a user by glancing at an image rather than by having to read their name.

Automattic acquiring Gravatar is an excellent move for the community in my opinion. In the last year or so, the Gravatar service has been failing after having a solid adoption rate throughout the blogging community. It was a vicious cycle really, as the more exposure they received the more users signed up and the more the service struggled to manage that load. The Automattic crew have quite a bit of experience scaling web sites and services out, after successfully delivering services such as Akismet for fighting spam and the massively popular hosted blogging platform.

A quick message by the founder of Automattic, Matt Mullenweg, points out that since migrating the services into the Automattic infrastructure, that it’s already three times faster. It seems they’ve got some pretty cool plans for the Gravatar service in the future as well:

  • Rewrite the service in PHP, the programming language of choice for Automattic
  • Move the image delivery into a Content Delivery Network, reduces their load and lowers end user latency as well
  • Push the 1,000,000 plus avatars currently in into the Gravatar platform so they are available everywhere
  • Integrate the newly rebuilt Gravatar services back into
  • Implement cleaner URL’s for each gravatar

There are a bunch of other features that are coming but those are the ones that I thought were most interesting. Congratulations has to go to Tom Werner for developing a great specialist product to start with that was worth an acquisition. I’m excited to see how that all unfolds now under the management and guidance of the Automattic team.