The parent company behind WordPress, Automattic has been strategically scooping up hot web properties over the past couple years, from its acquiring Gravatar in 2007 to its purchasing Intense Debate, PollDaddy, and BuddyPress in 2008 and Blo.gs this year. Its latest buy is After the Deadline, a natural-language spell-checking plugin for WordPress and TinyMCE.
As Mullenweg wrote shortly after Automattic received nearly $30 million in series B funding, "Automattic is now positioned to execute on our vision of a better web not just in blogging, but expanding our investment in anti-spam, wikis, forums, and more - small, open source pieces, loosely joined with the same approach and philosophy that has brought us this far."
After the Deadline is precisely such a property and continues the Automattic tradition of finding - and sometimes buying - elegant, hard-won solutions to very complex problems. A spring 2009 Y-Combinator reject, the application was developed by newbie entrepreneur Raphael Mudge, who had experience working in the U.S. Air Force Research Lab. Both Mudge and Mullenweg noted that contact was initiated by the blog software magnate read a post and a comment Mudge submitted about After the Deadline to Hacker News.
Mudge plans to continue his natural language processing research and expand support to other languages. After the Deadline will remain free (as in beer) for non-commercial use, and, writes Mudge, "We hope to see others build on the service... We're planning to open source the After the Deadline engine and the rule-sets that go with it. This will be the most comprehensive proofreading suite available under an open source license"
The deal was done in July 2009, according to Mudge's post.