A small team of high-profile developers are unveiling its new service for hosting customizable but automatically maintained WordPress publishing software installs tonight. WP Engine seeks to serve what they believe is a large market: businesses that need more customizability than WordPress.com hosted accounts offer at low-end prices but more ease of use and scalability support than the millions of WordPress.org users get running open source installs on their own or rented servers.

For $50 a month, the service will offer premium support, automatic security upgrades, recommended plug-in curation and some original software. Scalability durring traffic spikes is one of the company's biggest sales propositions.

The WP Engine team includes Jason Cohen, co-host of the excellant startup resource site Answers.OnStartups, Austin-based journeyman developer Cullen Wilson and Aaron Brazell (Technosailor), author of the WordPress Bible and a geek with PHP under his nails. The company is working with Ben Metcalfe, a former BBC engineer well-known in Silicon Valley for being sharp-whited and plainspoken, as an advisor.

The service begins sending out invites tonight. Whether there is in fact such a large potential market ready to pay $50 per month that an invite system is needed remains to be seen. There may very well be. The company says that hip, load sensitive startups InfoChimps and Balsamiq are already using its service to host their blogs.

Metcalfe says he believes there is a world full of real estate and law firm offices that use WordPress for their small company sites but are not sufficiently served by WordPress.com or by expensive contractors hired to do spot programming jobs as necessary. See also competitor Page.ly.