Automattic Acquires Gravatar!

In a surprising move, Automattic has acquired Gravatar, which was announced this morning in Gravatar’s new WordPress installation. This breathes life into a quality idea that had floundered due to fast popularity and (I can only assume) poor funding.

For those of you that don’t know what Gravatar is:

A gravatar, or globally recognized avatar, is quite simply an 80×80 pixel avatar image that follows you from weblog to weblog appearing beside your name when you comment on gravatar enabled sites. Avatars help identify your posts on web forums, so why not on weblogs?

I became a fan of Gravatar during my first launch of the SexyComments WordPress Plugin and was saddened at the instability and slowness of the avatar service after a few months of usage. My frustration grew so much that I looked to MyBlogLog as an avatar service despite its lack of features. As of release 1.4 of SexyComments, I had almost entirely wiped my hands of Gravatar.

Until now. Gravatar once again serves up avatars in the comments of this site and am excited at the changes that have already taken place:

  • They have transferred the Rails application and most of the avatar serving to their infrastructure and servers.
  • Avatar serving is now more than three times as fast, and works every time.
  • They have moved the Gravatar blog from Mephisto to WordPress. :D

Additionally, I look forward to the features that Automattic is planning for Gravatar’s future:

  • They’re going to make all of the Premium features 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 that exist on and make them available through the Gravatar API, to compliment the 115k already hosted at Gravatar.
  • 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.

All in all, this made me pee my pants a little.