Yahoo buys MyBlogLog. So what?

It's confirmed: tech giant buys blogging social network.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
3 min read

You know, it's about time. It's been a while since one of Silicon Valley's big guys snapped up one of the Web's start-ups du jour--so long, in fact, that all sorts of wild and speculative rumors had started to swirl about which companies would inevitably be buying Digg and Facebook before 2006's end. Neither deal happened. But yesterday's uber-late-night reports from Forbes' Quentin Hardy and GigaOM's Om Malik have revealed that, as speculated, it looks likeYahoo has purchased the pseudo-social-networking service MyBlogLog for an undisclosed price, though it's rumored to be about $10 million.

True, MyBlogLog is no MySpace or YouTube, arguably the two highest-profile Web acquisitions of the latest online boom. (I am avoiding the tired old phrase "Web 2.0.") But this one is nevertheless going to have some reverberations in the blog community.

Here are the basics: it's a "distributed" social networking site, which builds communities centered around the blogs that its members visit. The MyBlogLog member blogs, in turn, get data on who's been visiting (out of MyBlogLog members) as well as a widget that displays the photo and username of recent visitors. There's a catch. In order to count in the "community," a blog has to actually be a member of MyBlogLog, and that isn't free. It's not pricey: $3/month, or $25/year, but there are some stingy blog owners who are probably turned off by the concept of any kind of paid service other than hosting--especially one that provides statistics primarily about an opt-in community. Being a standard member of MyBlogLog, on the other hand, is free, but it still has the potential to turn off a lot of Web users who might be a tad skeeved about the prospect of a site that tells other people what sites they've been visiting. (This may be dissipating, however, as services like Me.dium are getting some positive buzz.) Because of this, while MyBlogLog has spread like wildfire among tech blogs, it really hasn't spread into other niches of the blogging community. And it could have a tough time, considering some blog networks--like the female focused TeamSugar--already have built their own social networking services.

Consequently, an acquisition by a company like Yahoo is great for MyBlogLog's future. Now, the start-up has the potential to tap into a massive user base that's had a decade-plus to grow. And considering Yahoo also owns Flickr and del.icio.us, MyBlogLog could be a powerful addition to the company's social media and networking arsenal. Integrating del.icio.us tags and Flickr photostreams into MyBlogLog could really enhance its offerings and spread its appeal beyond the Silicon Valley blog set. And considering that MyBlogLog is being grouped into the Yahoo Developer Network, there is the potential for even more cool possibilities to be unlocked.

But perhaps the most interesting thing to note about the MyBlogLog acquisition is that this is a social networking site centered around widgets--the badges that blog operators can put on their sites to show which MyBlogLog members have been visiting them. Considering the fact that 2007 has been declared "Year of the Widget" by Newsweek (and scores of bloggers who agreed), this could be yet another sign that widgets are where the Web is going--and additionally, a sign that Yahoo's got its foot in the door for the next wave of webware.