I haven't the foggiest, but it's funny that this same thing happened with Delicious, which was once bought by Yahoo and is now part of Pinboard. (I don't think it was ever open sourced, but then Pinboard isn't Automattic.)
I remember del.icio.us! It used to be a great place to look at crowdsourced bookmarks for a given topic/keyword. I used to use it almost daily, as did a whole lot of other people. Then at some point, it sort of fell off of my radar for one reason or another. I'm sad to see that it died a death of acquisition, being ultimately shuttered in favor of the new owner's commercial offering in a similar space.
While absolutely legal, there is something sad about seeing a going (and growing) concern that employs quite a few people be bought and shut down in this fashion. Sure, the founders/current owners get a nice payout, but the rank and file of dedicated employees often get the business equivalent of a "Dear John" letter, and perhaps some unemployment, or perhaps not. Legal, but not always fully ethical or moral, in my book. And here's why I think this way: You ask your rank and file to believe in you, believe in your brand, and give it their 110% every day. You do everything necessary to pump up the valuation of your company, both to make it attractive to investors and to ramp up what you can ask for it. Once the sale is made, all of the "believe in the brand" BS is gone from your mind, as are your employees you leave behind (who still do believe in the brand).
You care so little about them that you do not take the time/bargaining position to write into the contract of the sale some protections for them from the new ownership, such as business operations will continue as they are for at least six months, to give people some time to find other employment at comparable level/salary. Very few business owners share in the largesse received from the sale of a software/internet company in the form of a bonus or profit share, unless that employee is also an investor in their publicly traded company because, as always, shareholders are the only people who matter in this world.
It's time for me to step back down off of my virtual soapbox here in a comment chain on a post that is tangentially related in subject matter at best. I love the internet and all of the wonderful businesses that spring up around it with a new idea or a better way to do a thing that, while failing to cure cancer or bring about lasting world peace, do make our lives incrementally better every day, or bring us some measure of joy, happiness, or just plain old contentment. When done poorly, whether in concept or execution, they die a natural death in the business world, and their passing often goes unmourned. But when they are performing, and do provide the aforementioned services for us, especially when they do it for free or a very nominal fee, to see them be killed off suddenly due to a much larger competitor's ability to just purchase their smaller competitor outright seems to me to be unfair, and in some undefinable way slimy and shady.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
While I'm not familiar enough with the business details of Delicious, I don't disagree with much of what you said in the general case.
Automattic is retaining the Tumblr staff so let's see how it goes from there.
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