Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

After years of focusing on producing content for the latest hot app, investors, tech leaders and newsrooms are starting to pay renewed attention to publishing on the open web, where independent publishers have more control over data and distribution.

The big picture: The open web — content that's accessible via any web browser, easily linked to, and doesn't require logging in to an account — is winning new attention even as "walled garden" apps like Facebook continue to dominate online distribution and the Google and Facebook duopoly controls most of the digital ad market.

Driving the news: WordPress VIP (WPVIP), the enterprise arm of WordPress.com, is acquiring Parse.ly, a content analytics platform that's used by thousands of digital publishers.

  • WordPress VIP and its sister company WordPress.com are both built on top of the open source WordPress software that has long been a mainstay for creating sites on the open web. Parse.ly provides tools to measure those sites' performance and traffic patterns.
  • The deal is the first large enterprise software acquisition for Automattic, the parent company to WordPress.com, WPVIP, Tumblr and other open web platforms. Automattic raised $300 million two years ago in a round led by Salesforce to invest in open web technologies and platforms.

Other tech visionaries are toying with ways to revitalize publishing on the open web as a means for content creators to retain independence and control and users to escape the drawbacks of today's giant platforms.

The Washington Post, inspired by its owner Jeff Bezos, has built a suite of advertising tools called Zeus Technology to help publishers and advertisers on the open web compete for ad dollars with big tech firms like Google and Facebook.

  • "Our mantra always been to build a new ecosystem on the open web," Jarrod Dicker, the Post's VP of commercial technology and development, told Axios last month. "This is the Amazon Web Services element to the product that makes it unique."

Twitter recently posted an update to its Bluesky project, which is aimed at developing open protocols for a decentralized, Twitter-like social network. In it, the company highlighted a list of existing open web technologies that it could potentially partner with or support.

Shopify's growth has exploded during the pandemic. The e-commerce platform is built so that anyone can set up on online store and sell their products on the open web.

Catch up quick: Today's "open web" is really just the original World Wide Web itself — conceived 30 years ago, popularized in the '90s, driver of both the dotcom-era boom and the Web 2.0 renaissance of the mid 2000s.

  • It's still alive and kicking, but it's been eclipsed in the mobile era by apps and platforms that operate as separate silos, hoard user data and don't often provide easy ways to link in and out.
  • Users access those services via smartphones whose software worlds are controlled by large companies (Apple and Google).

Yes, but: Every one of today's tech giants professes allegiance to the open web in different ways.

  • Google's original search business put the open web at the heart of its mission, and the company still views itself as the web's biggest champion.
  • Apple put its web browser on the iPhone from the very beginning.
  • Facebook built its social network on the foundation of the web, so much so that it was late to accept the mobile era's smartphone primacy.
  • Amazon's original bookstore and eventual "everything store" were built as websites, and even today, AWS, its growing cloud business, powers open web businesses as well as mobile apps.

What's next: Many open web projects today involve decentralization schemes based on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to route around big companies and fund publishing efforts in new ways.

The bottom line: Some developers and investors never gave up on what they view as the ideals of the open web, and they see an opening today as the social and political downsides of the mobile era's massive platforms have become more evident.

Go deeper

Feb 8, 2021 - Technology

WordPress VIP acquiring content analytics company Parse.ly

WordPress VIP and Parse.ly

WordPress VIP (WPVIP), the enterprise arm of WordPress.com, is acquiring Parse.ly, a content analytics platform that's used by thousands of digital publishers.

Why it matters: The deal is the first large enterprise software acquisition for Automattic, the parent company to WordPress.com, Tumblr and other tech platforms that enable people to publish content to the open web.

Fed chair says he isn't concerned by Delta surge

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell at the G20 finance ministers and central bankers meeting in Venice last month. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images

One of the country's most influential economic officials doesn't anticipate that surging coronavirus cases will knock the reopening recovery off course.

What he's saying: "There has tended to be less economic implications from each [coronavirus] wave. We'll see if that's the case for the Delta variety," Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters today.

Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Ubisoft workers demand company accountability in open letter

Photo: Frederic Brown / Getty Images

Close to 500 current and former employees of “Assassin’s Creed” publisher Ubisoft are standing in solidarity with protesting game developers at Activision Blizzard with a letter that criticizes their company's handling of sexual misconduct.

Why it matters: Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard workers are framing the actions as part of a bigger movement meant to have lasting change in the industry and its culture.