KnowNow and WordPress Partner on RSS/Blogging

Automattic, the business end of blogging software WordPress, and enterprise RSS vendor KnowNow have announced a partnership that’s all the talk of the blogosphere. The two companies will offer a joint product that blogs and reads feeds both public facing and behind the fire wall. This is a good move that could make a big difference in the rate of adoption of social software in the business world as few things go together like blogging and RSS.

KnowNow is a Sunnyvale, California company that’s been around since before RSS was on the stage but has recently relaunched with a new emphasis on syndication technology. In its initial iteration it utilized adapters similar to what it and other companies now use to transform and deliver information via RSS from various sources that don’t publish native feeds. Those types of adapters, pulling information from various databases inside the enterprise and from around the web and making it available for feed readers, are now a common practice in enterprise RSS.

The company is headed by Todd Rulon-Miller, a former Senior VP at Netscape in the 1990’s. KnowNow has a long and impressive customer list, though when I last spoke to them only about 12 of those companies had yet deployed their new enterprise RSS server. Wells Fargo Bank is the company’s flagship RSS customer. They have raised a number of rounds of funding, the most recent was announced at the end of last month and was for $13 million. That round included money from RSS Investors, Presidio Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Levensohn Venture Partners and Palomar Ventures.

The new KnowNow WordPress Enterprise Edition will be sold and supported by KnowNow, who previously offered only a blog-like notes feature for publishing. Customers should be able to use KnowNow’s technology for intake of information from external news feeds to internal database queries and corporate communication. The blogging platform will then be used for either public facing blogs, internal communication behind the firewall or probably in most cases both.

Blogging software was a revolution in and of itself, but it’s always needed RSS to serve as its foundation. RSS feeds are what allow an ecosystem of blogs to flourish by allowing readers to easily consume a large number of blogs. Feeds also nourish publishers by making a steady flow of information easy to consume and then share by posting.

The new joint product will no doubt go head to head with SixApart’s MovableType, the leading enterprise blogging product on the market. SixApart ‘s Anil Dash tells me that MT will not be directly integrating blogging software with its recently acquired technology from Rojo, but rather will focus on integrating the RSS and blogging via its partnership with Newsgator in the Intel backed Suite Two product.

Another leading player in the field, MyST Technolgy has probably integrated inbound RSS and blogging for longer than anyone. MyST emphasizes search engine optimization but has a less social feel to it than the products with consumer facing background.

Enterprise RSS vendor Attensa tells me that their feed reader works well with almost all blogging and wiki platforms but that they have not found a compelling reason to bundle with any particular blogging product. They believe that RSS and blogging software purchases tend to be made by different departments (IT and marketing, respectively) and a unified platform is not what customers are looking for. Attensa’s product emphasizes attention data, or personalization based on use patterns.

It’s a fascinating field and though many bloggers are rightly excited about today’s announcement of a partnership between KnowNow and Automattic’s WordPress – the sector is already a very competitive one. I love RSS and I love blogging, so I’m very excited to watch further developments in integration move forward in the business world.