Most of you are probably familiar with MetaFilter. Founded by San Franciscan Matt Haughey in 1999, about 6 months before K5, it has grown to over 13,000 members, who post links and comments daily about anything and everything online. It's like the MLP section on steroids, and has become one of the most widely hailed sites for its consistently interesting, funny, and innovative content, and its strong community feel.
In San Francisco, chance (or possibly fate?) had it that I ended up in an apartment only two blocks away from Matt's. We became friends, and have remained in touch since I moved. So naturally when SXSW rolled around earlier this month, we got together to catch up. He has been working on many things besides MeFi, and bemoaned the fact that it took him so much time and energy to maintain. He said that if only he could get a decent offer, he'd sell it in a heartbeat.
It just so happened that in the same group was a representative from our anonymous backer-to-be, who was scoping out the conference for the next big thing online. He'd heard of both K5 and MeFi as emerging giants in the post-dotcom-crash internet, and saw an opportunity. He came right up to us and described who he was, and what he, and his company, were looking for, and we both immediately saw the opportunity he was offering. It was a solid, established company with a long tradition of recognizing the value in online community, and we were offered funding, along with complete freedom and independence to develop a new internet powerhouse, starting with this merger.
Well, needless to say, it's been a long month since then, but everyone was committed to making this happen, and we worked out all the details in probably record time. Matt has a lot of other projects he's involved with, including co-writing a book, some great contracting projects, and other things, so we eventually decided that K5 would take the lead as the cornerstone of the new organization, and buy MeFi outright. We all have the highest respect for Matt's vision and community leadership skills, so we'll be keeping him on as a "community leadership consultant" for the M4 site for as long as he wants to do it.
If you visit M4 today, you'll see a new design commemorating the event. The design will probably evolve somewhat, as will K5's, to more tightly integrate the new partner sites, and we have already started the groundwork for converting M4 over to Scoop, which should vastly increase both the maintainability and usability of the site. The old Metafilter.com URL will probably continue to work, since it would be confusing to let it become some other site, but will redirect to the new URL from now on, and we encourage everyone to update their bookmarks and use the new location when passing along links.
Here on K5, there will likely be a few small changes. The first is, I'm sure to the relief of many of you, we will be doing away with the MLP section. M4 is such a better interface and venue for that kind of thing, I think K5 will try to stick to what we do best, which is in-depth, original articles. You may have already noticed the new K5CN navbar on top of the page, so you can easily move between the different K5CN sites, and, as I said above, we'll be looking to acquire other internet properties that fit in with the mission of the network. We will also be introducing expanded cross-site text advertising.
It's been incredibly difficult keeping this to ourselves all month; we've been so excited about it we felt like we were going to burst. I want to thank Matt Haughey for his vision and friendship, and also thank our silent partner for their unwavering belief that community is the future of the net. And of course, I have to thank all of you for making K5 the best damn community online, and making this all possible.
So, questions? Comments? As always, I can't wait to hear what you all think. :-)
Update [2002-4-1 10:28:16 by rusty]: Ahh, for just a few brief hours, it was 1998 all over again. Mergers! Investors! Money! But no, there is no money. This is 2002. K5 and MeFi are both still poor and unmerged. And we're not getting rid of MLP. And, umm, anything else I may have said in the comments to this story should be entirely disbelieved.
Community site owners only get one day a year that we don't have to be nice to everyone, and extremely patient, forgiving, and understanding, so please, do not grudge us our small fun. ;-)