Automattic acquires Polldaddy to blend blogs with online polls

<a href =”http://answers.polldaddy.com/poll/999467/” >Is Automattic’s acquisition of PollDaddy a good move?</a> <br /> <span style=”font-size:9px;” mce_style=”font-size:9px;”> (<a href =”http://www.polldaddy.com”> surveys</a>)</span>

The folks at Automattic can’t spell. But they have figured out that reader polls are a good way to keep users engaged with a blog. And that’s why they’re acquiring PollDaddy today. Just in time for election season.

Polldaddy is a big player in the poll and survey service on the Internet. Users can create polls on just about any subject, from the economy to Sarah Palin, and watch the results roll in. They can embed the polls as a widget on a blog page. Hence, polls and blogging go together well.

Automattic, which owns the WordPress blogging platform, figured out that the polls are fun and engage the interests of readers. Matt Mullenweg, chief executive of Automattic, said in his own blog post that a polling plug-in is one of the top 10 WordPress plug-ins that bloggers use.

“As we started to look at building out our own service for this, it became more obvious that, while on the surface it’s a very simple problem, there’s a lot of hidden complexity and opportunities for some really powerful features under the hood,” he wrote. “There are probably a dozen companies addressing this space right now, but as we started to survey the space I was struck by how often I’d see this “PollDaddy” thing pop up.”

PollDaddy was started in 2006 by David Lenehan and Jonathan Hill in Sligo, Ireland. The Polldaddy service will now be integrated into 4.4 million blogs on WordPress.com.

PollDaddy said they would continue support for other blogging platforms and social networks such as MySpace, Ning, Blogger, Typepad, and others. Rivals such as BuzzDash or Sodahead will no doubt jump at the chance to steal business away from PollDaddy. David Gerken, CEO of BuzzDash, said polling companies are setting themselves apart by focusing on social features as well as editorial oversight (BuzzDash culls duplicate polls so that those left on the site can pack more punch).

“Polling is popular because it’s a simple way for readers to express themselves,” Gerken said.

Last month, Automattic bought IntenseDebate, makers of a popular third-party commentary plug-in. And last year, Automattic bought Gravatar, a service that lets you make comments across multiple blogs with the same avatar. Will there be more deals? Automattic raised a small war chest of $30 million for such purposes.