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March 14, 2008

ReadBurner to Return With New Ownership

Alexander Marktl's debut of ReadBurner in January had rapidly propelled him and his service to a short-list of new Web tech All-Stars. In days, the Google Reader shared items tracker rocketed to popularity, gaining praise from all corners of the Web, many of whom, including me, had long begged for a universal directory of shared links and most popular items - seeing the ranking of such shared items as a democratized, transparent, version of TechMeme.

But, like fellow All-Stars Barry Sanders and Michael Jordan in their respective sports, Alexander prematurely retired, and left us wanting more - in this case, saying real life had gotten in the way. But as with Jordan, this early retirement has not been the true end - setting the stage for a dramatic re-entrance, this time, with a little help from some powerful friends, including Adam Ostrow of Mashable, Drew Olanoff, and Eric Kerr. (See: I’ve Acquired ReadBurner: Attention Data is the Future of Social News

As of this morning, ReadBurner is no longer a gaping hole in the Web 2.0 sphere, but has returned with a splash page promising big things. The plan is to relaunch the site in a couple weeks with a more scalable back-end, improved design, and even more features requested by ReadBurner's demanding fan base - myself included.

And this development is tremendous. Many ReadBurner fans were up in arms over seeing one of the best sites to debut in 2008 get shuttered. Steven Hodson of WinExtra wrote, "ReadBurner - Please reconsider", and ReadWriteWeb simply lamented, "ReadBurner is Gone". The loss of ReadBurner left us with RSSMeme, a strong alternative on the Web, and Feedheads, ReadBurner's Facebook counterpart, and the original innovator in this space.

ReadBurner hasn't just found new friends. In fact, the site's found a new owner. Adam Ostrow isn't just bringing the site back. He bought it, for an undisclosed sum, from Alexander, in partnership with Drew and Eric. Now, the threesome, with Alexander acting as an advisor, will move forward and help ReadBurner achieve the amazing potential it always promised.

The excitement I had when I first uncovered ReadBurner and exposed the fledgeling site to the world is back.

When I found ReadBurner, after midnight on January 7th, I knew this little site had the power to change how we share and discover new sites and gauge momentum. In days it had its share of copycat sites (including RSSMeme on February 6th), and had gained media buzz from Mashable, LifeHacker, WebWare, the Download Squad and many others. It was fun to see Alexander's project grow to a full-fledged service, one too big and too successful to be held down by my little blog. Now, I feel like I've seen the baby grow up... and it's ready to set out on its own.

Welcome back, ReadBurner.