In a deal that’s small today but could have major long-term significance, Verisign announced it’s acquiring Weblogs.com from Dave Winer of Scripting News. Good for Dave, good for Verisign, and, I truly hope, good for the Net.
I wrote about Dave’s work on syndication and blogging technology six years ago in Release 1.0, and brought him to PC Forum, because he’s one of the Net’s true visionaries. (As an aside, it’s interesting that, from my perspective at least, the building blocks of what everyone is now calling Web 2.0 were introduced at the height of the Web 1.0 bubble. No one paid much attention to them at that point except us geeks — the mainstream was too busy feasting on dotcom mania.) Although he has a habit of alienating or turning on those close to him (including me), that shouldn’t obscure the importance of the contributions Dave has made, and continues to make. He set up Weblogs.com when the blogosphere was a small collection of hand-crafted geek sites, as a central aggregation point for update notifications. It has remained low-key and amateur as services like Technorati and Feedster have scaled up commercially, at least until now.
Verisign runs key aspects of the Internet’s domain name system, has a significant position in the telephone addressing world, and is the leading Internet security certificate vendor, as well as building a position in VOIP addressing, mobile ringtones and other markets. I’ve been saying for some time that they could be building a Microsoft-like position in Internet infrastructure, dominating key plumbing for next-generation services and applications. The markets Verigisn plays in generally aren’t sexy, but they are highly strategic, and potentially quite lucrative.
I don’t know entirely what Verisign intends to do with Weblogs.com. Probably Verisign itself isn’t certain. What’s clear is that Verisign correctly sees the blogsophere as a major emerging domain of online activity, superimposed on the traditional Web.