While the idea of being able to build a social network is certainly not new (Ning has found some considerable success here) the ability to do it around existing WordPress sites certainly deserves notice. With millions of blogs and sites using WordPress the impact could be significant.
Matt Mullenweg of Automattic lays it out in his blog saying
“There’s been a dearth of Open Source tools that enable the social web. I don’t think BuddyPress will be something you use instead of your existing social networks… but if you wanted to start something new maybe with more control, friendlier terms of service, or just something customized and tweaked to fit into your existing site, then BuddyPress is a great framework.”
Pretty smart approach considering that while there are a lot of social networks there are more to come as users get more sophisticated and want more opportunity. With the existing user base for WordPress the opportunity exists to make a substantial impact in the marketplace in short order.
This latest addition follows other purchases by Automattic which includes PollDaddy. That, coupled with $30 million in investment, makes Automattic a real force. Mullenweg continues in his blog saying
In WordPress we have a robust and extensible base that can scale to many millions of users, and BuddyPress is essentially a set of plugins on top of WordPress that add private messaging, profiles, friends, groups, activity streams, and everything else you’ve come to expect from your favorite social network, like a Facebook-in-a-box.
While building a social network is not quite as easy as “if you build it they will come” having a tool like this could move the idea along in many peoples’ minds more quickly than they might have imagined.