Slashdot, the independent geek news source and community that has helped to coalesce the open-source movement, is independent no more. On Tuesday, Slashdot was officially sold, for an undisclosed amount, to Andover.net.
Slashdot, which was launched out of the bedroom of student Rob Malda in 1997 as a bulletin board for programmers, has evolved into one of the biggest online destinations for programmers, Linux fans and other clued-in geeks. The site currently boasts over half a million page views a day -- quite an astounding number for a site with only two employees, both of whom recently graduated from college.
Andover.net, a little-known network of techie sites -- including Davecentral and Slaughterhouse for software downloads, Techmailings for geek listservs, TechSightings for Web site reviews -- may not have been the most obvious of acquirers, but the fit is good. As Malda explains, "I chose Andover.net because they are sharp cookies, were willing to give me creative control and were willing to finance Slashdot's growth -- like hiring folks to do the mundane chores that distract me from the real job at hand."
Is Slashdot moving toward the lucrative realm of IPOs and stock options? If so, it would be surprising, considering Slashdot's fiercely independent voices and for-the-people community. Malda says he isn't concerning himself with those questions, saying his first interest is simply being able to pay his contributors; Andover.net will deal with the business questions.
Most importantly, the notoriously hard-to-please and anti-corporate Slashdot posters seem mostly happy with the purchase. "I was awake last night worrying if they would hate me, but so far almost everyone has been pleased," says Malda. "It's a major load off my chest. Now I've just got to get over this media hype and get back to work."