The WELL owns The WELL

I came to the Internet via the The WELL, an online community that started as a bulletin board system in 1985. I read about The WELL in the Whole Earth publications: CoEvolution Quarterly/Whole Earth Review. An avid follower of Whole Earth in its various published forms, I was eager to get closer to the community of people who wrote for, read, and published the catalogs and quarterlies. I got a loan, bought a PCs Limited 8086 computer and 300 baud modem so that I could dial in, and spent months winning my wife over to the idea of a huge long distance bill to dial into Sausalito from Austin, Texas. Later the WELL and I both connected to the Internet, so I could use telnet to log in. I invested more and more time and conversation in the community. My membership in the WELL led me to a new career, a set of friends I never would have found otherwise, and various paths to venues for writing and cultural foo.

Salon has owned the WELL for quite a few years, allowing it to be its own thing and sustain its vibrant community of conversations. Now the WELL has been sold – to a coalition of its members.

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 20, 2012 — Salon Media Group (SLNM.PK) and The Well Group, Inc. today jointly announced that The WELL is now under the ownership of The Well Group, Inc., a private investment group composed of long-time WELL members.

The Well Group, Inc. consists entirely of long-time WELL users with an average tenure exceeding 20 years. The purchase marks the first major online business taken private by users of the business itself.

The WELL represents one of the earliest platforms for online dialogue, supporting lively debates and conversations since its founding in 1985. The Well Group, Inc. is excited to take over the management of The WELL, and continue offering the valuable products and services that subscribers have come to expect over the years.

“The WELL welcomes the opportunity to support its existing base and extends an invitation to like-minded individuals looking for a social network that puts the free exchange of ideas at the forefront,” explained Earl Crabb, CEO of The Well Group, Inc. “We are extremely grateful to Salon Media Group for working with us to make this transition a success.”

“In a world where online platforms come and go, this is a testament to the dedication of a truly remarkable community,” explained Cindy Jeffers, CEO of Salon Media Group. “As a true pioneer of the digital age, and a forerunner of today’s ubiquitous social networks, The WELL has played a central role in the origin of countless creative endeavors and cultural movements. We wish The WELL countless more under their new management.”

Author: Jon Lebkowsky

Co-wrangler of Plutopia News Network, cohost Radio Free Plutopia. Podcaster, writer, dharma observer, enzyme. Former editor/publisher, FringeWare Review; associate editor at bOING bOING and Factsheet Five; writer at Mondo 2000, 21C, Wired, Whole Earth Review, Austin Chronicle; sub-editor at Millennium Whole Earth Catalog; blogger at Worldchanging. Digital culture maven, podcaster, writer, dharma observer, enzyme. On The WELL, Cohost of VC (virtual communities), Media, and Civil War (.ind) conferences.