Automattic Acquires Gravatar

by Karthik on October 19, 2007 · 2 comments

I am sure you have all seen some pretty avatars floating almost all over the web in countless blogs, forums etc… It was made possible thanks to efforts of Gravatar (Globally Recognized Avatars), but offlate Gravatar seemed to have scaling issues with its amazing rate of growth. This is when it became an automatic choice for Automattic to acquire. Automattic with its vast experience  with Server scaling and architecture thanks to Akismet and are going to be of tremendous help to Gravatar.


If you haven’t noticed here are some changes to Gravatar in the past few days since the acquisition :

  • Automattic transferred the Rails application and most of the avatar serving to infrastructure and servers.
  • Avatar serving is now more than three times as fast, and works every time.
  • All the Premium Services like Multiple email id’s and avatars are now free. Everyone who paid for a premium account in the past 60 days will be refunded.

Well things are moving pretty fast at Automattic and Gravatar and the current focus seems to be on getting the Gravatar’s to load extremely fast and improve the performance of the site. Well Matt has chalked out even the future plans for Gravatar and here they are quoted from the announcement he wrote :

  • 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.

Its nice to Open source world growing bigger and better. I would like to see what Matt and team can come up with for Gravatar, because it happens to be an extremely popular service and hopefully they won’t mess with it. Drop in your thoughts on this acquisition. Was it a good or a bad move by Automattic?

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Adam January 9, 2008 at 9:18 am

I’ve actually created a Gravatar class if you click the link in my name. Loosely coupled and works like a dream – it also has a cache with an expiration date for the avatar – to save on loading times. It can merely load the avatar in locally.

Adam @


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