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Six Apart confirms $12M in venture capital -- may launch anti-spam legislation initiative

San Francisco blogging software company, Six Apart, has confirmed it has raised $12M in venture capital from Intel, Focus Ventures and existing investor August Capital.

Old news perhaps, but we got a chance to catch up with chief executive Barak Berkowitz.

We asked what he is going to do about the barrage spam comments hitting our blog (Full disclosure: We use Movable Type, one of Six Apart's blogging products). He had an encouraging answer:

He's going to get a group together to fight spammers. He's looking to press Washington to pass legislation to ban computer generated comments on blogs. Right now, computer generated spam is legal, and spammers just keep coming up with more sophisticated ways of getting around filters. "I䴜m going to start getting a group together to take this forward," he said. "There䴜s no real advocacy group for blogs, there䴜s no blogging association."

Here, here.

We also asked him why Santa Clara's big chip maker, Intel, had invested, when typically Intel has invested only in companies likely to drive its chips sales. Berkowitz responded that blogging is still in relative infancy, and that future growth with drive broadband usage, and thus chip sales. "Adoption is 20 percent. We know there䴜s huge adoption left to come...We have a belief that everyone will have a blog at some point,'' he said. Bloggers will post more videos and music -- and broadband usage will climb further, especially as bloggers go mobile. Mobile phones need chips. (Six Apart just bought SplashBlog, which lets you instantly publish photos from your camera phone to your blog.) And thus Intel sees blogging as a promising growth industry. Cisco does too, but more on that some other time.

In other remarks, Berkowitz said the new funding would allow the company to "continue to take advantage of opportunities as they come up...to improve products or expand into areas markets.'' That may include other acquisitions, though Berkowitz said there were no specific deals in the works.

Six Apart has made a big push into corporate sales, especially in Japan, where large firms use Movable Type as a knowledge management tool. The company is also selling "white labeled" versions of its hosted Typepad service to publishers (Knight Ridder, for example, uses Typepad as its blogging platform for its newspapers). Other blogging companies have focused mainly on the consumer market.

The company, which employs 125, is close to taking the wraps off Project Comet, its mainstream blogging tool for adults. Berkowitz said to expect that product sometime in the second quarter.

Main take away for us: This company, and evidently its backers, think the best of the blogging market growth is yet to come.

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I believe that the conclusion you make is right on the mark. I don't think, in spite of the huge growth of blogs in general, that we have come close to market saturation or of the creative and innovative things that haven't really been implemented yet.

The continuous growth of broadband will offer a lot more possibilities to a wider audience in the near future.

Gary Bourgeault on March 15, 2006 10:56 PM
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This is testing the populist waters for the government monkeying about with blog- and forum-specific laws. The net result will be opening the gates to all kinds of blog- and forum-specific legislation. All the foreign spammers wil keep on with their business. Back home, politicians will start looking for new ways to push their agenda on blogs, now that they know they're no longer a sacred target. Hell, five bucks says some other undesirable blog restriction ends up as a rider on any anti-blog-spam bill.

Blech. This is a problem that can't be solved with technology? Can't someone make a screening plug-in and a service that'll let Indians moderate comments for a penny apiece?

The last thing we need are laws specifically targeting blogs. When one comes, it lays the groundwork for many, many, many more to follow.

Brian Most on March 16, 2006 9:32 AM
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I have to agree completely with Brian. It is absurd to think US law will stop spam, much of which comes from Russia, the Ukraine and Romania, all of whom are completely unaffected by US laws. It is simply not within the power of US lawmakers to do anything about this and I think Barak (who I have met... he is a very nice man) is quite mistaken to take this approach. The solution is technology, not laws (though the idea of people suing spammers for damages is a rather good idea... and no new laws for that are needed, just a plausible notion of how you have been damaged (such as bandwidth theft and incurred costs of de-spamming)

Also as Brian noted, lets not give the regulatory junkies the idea that they can regulate blogs. They can not and should not even try.

Perry de Havilland on March 17, 2006 6:28 AM
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Ok, I hear you. But Indians at a penny a piece? That is an intriguing idea. Though what we're getting still are a string of seven or so spam comments in a row, hitting us, on different posts, carrying the words "poker" or "backgammon" in the author line. Those are red-flag words, and it seems to me that there's got to be an easy way to identify that that as spam. Sure, without laws.

While I'm not really sold on the "slippery slope" argument of blog regulaton, i.e., that you give Congress an inch, they take a mile, I agree that if we can avoid legislation, it is better.

Matt Marshall on March 18, 2006 12:12 PM
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