Gravatar Has A New Home – WordPress

Gravatar Acquired By AutomatticI’m pretty happy to see that Gravatar has been picked up by the WordPress guys. Gravatar is a neat concept in that when you upload an avatar to their service, any website or forum that supports Gravatar would be able to display your image. It was a concept that if it would of taken off like it was supposed to, chances are, we would of had the ability to use one service for avatar management instead of relying on individual sites and forums.

Within the past three days, Automattic has moved the Gravatar Rails application into their own WordPress infrastructure. This has allowed Gravatars to display three times faster as well as making the site load each time you browse to it. This was a problem I was experiencing with Gravatar a week ago where the damn site wouldn’t load. Glad to see thats fixed. Last but not least, Gravatar was running on the Mephisto CMS and has since been moved over to WordPress. Imagine that!

The most exciting portion of this acquisition are the plans that Matt and company have for the service:

  • All of the Premium features will be free, and refund anyone who bought them in the last 60 days.
  • Move the gravatar serving to a Content Delivery Network so not only will they be fast, it’ll be low latency and not slow down a page load.
  • Take the million or so avatars we have on and make them available through the Gravatar API, to compliment the 115k already here.
  • From Gravatar, integrate them into all templates and bring features like multiple avatars over.
  • From, bring the bigger sizes (128px) over and make that available for any Gravatar. Currently Gravatars are only available up to 80px.
  • Allow Gravatar profile pages with Microformat support for things like XFN rel="me" and hCard.
  • Develop a new API that has cleaner URLs and allows Gravatars to be addressed by things like URL in addition to (or instead of) email addresses.
  • Rewrite the application itself ( to fit directly into our grid, for internet-scale performance and reliability.

I’m pretty excited to see the implementation of Gravatar into WordPress as a whole. The two services compliment each other and it’s only natural that they become ONE. I’ve used Gravatar for a few years now but it’s been awhile since I’ve messed with my account. Looks like I should blow the dust off as I’ll be using it again in the near future.

What do you think of this acquisition? Do you use Gravatar? Go ahead and leave some feedback.

By Invitation Only

Sam Harrelson has put together a nice post detailing the buzz surrounding the GrandCentral acquisition. Sam discusses the activity with GrandCentral before the acquisition and then after. Once GrandCentral was acquired, Google then locked down the system to new users by making it an invite only service. Because of the acquisition and the move to an invitation only service, the interest in GrandCentral has skyrocketed.

Sam makes an excellent analogy between GrandCentral and the recently launched service, Pownce. Pownce, Kevin Rose’s new startup has become the hot commodity to be invited to. Everyone and their mother is seemingly still trying to grab an invite to the service, although it is not necessarily brand new.

Whats the moral behind this story? If your a Web 2.0 startup, lock down your service. Invite a couple of big name web sites to review your service and give them the ability to hand out a number of invites. Those who read the reviews will then have an opportunity to sign up to your service and in return, invite their friends. You can see where this is going. Although the invitation only technique only works for a prolonged period of time, it is hard to argue against it’s effectiveness. I suppose being part of a locked down community gives users the impression that they are special, that they are among a group of elitists.

I asked my dad if he thought that perhaps there would be some sort of business opportunity surrounding invitations to these new services. Allow people to bid on an invite or pay a low price. My father responded by saying “people won’t pay for something that is free, or that they could obtain by some other means.”

Whatever the case may be, the strategy of being an invite only service in the beginning appears to be a winning one!