The Elgg Foundation

December 8, 2010 | Leave a comment

ELGGCurverider, the company I founded with Dave Tosh, has been acquired by Thematic Networks. From their press release:

"Many of the tools and communication patterns traditionally found in popular social media are already starting to play a valuable role in the corporate environment; for example for promoting internal and external collaboration, or delivering a more engaging e-learning experience to employees” said Ken Yeadon, Chief Executive of Thematic Networks. “Curverider brings a strong suite of social tools, which, together with its web-based platform, enables Thematic Networks to offer clients a broader range of social publishing and e-learning solutions, deployed either on-site or delivered via the web as a turnkey service."

Elgg itself will be developed by a non-profit foundation run by Brett Profitt, who has been acting as lead developer for the past 18 months or so. From the post over on the Elgg site, it sounds like Dave will leave the project, leaving it in the hands of Brett along with Cash Costello, who has long been a prolific contributor.

I’m excited to see where they take it. Although I left Curverider and Elgg before he joined, from everything I know, Brett is a safe pair of hands. It’s too early to say what the Foundation will look like, but they’ll certainly be needing donations and supporters. As the post on the Elgg site says, get in touch with Brett at if you want to help. There’s also a thread on the Elgg Community over here.

That blast-from-the-past Classic Elgg homepage screenshot was released under a Creative Commons license by Kevin Jarrett.

A note on me, Elgg, and social networking projects

May 26, 2010 | 3 comments

Note: As of 2011, this is no longer true.

Enough people have asked me about this over the last year, that I thought I’d write a little more about why I don’t do social networking work.

Elgg communities

Most regular readers will be aware that I co-founded Elgg, the open source social networking framework. If you weren’t, it’s not hard to work out: my last name is Werdmuller von Elgg, and my work centers around the open web. In fact, Elgg is so named because I had bought the domain name for my personal email, and didn’t have anything to put there. When Dave Tosh and I conceived of the project, it seemed easier to put it there than anywhere else. (It’s a great domain name: short, memorable and not immediately definable.)

I also co-founded Curverider, the company created to provide commercial Elgg support, which allowed us to build it into the project it is today: an enormously popular social networking platform used by organizations like the WWF and the World Bank.

For various reasons, I chose to leave Elgg and Curverider last year to go freelance and work on some of my own projects. (The last version I was involved with in any way was 1.5 – since then I haven’t been privy to development decisions or involved in the process.) Because of this prior association, however, people still ask me about working on social networking projects all the time – whether that’s a distributed social network, a new platform, or an Elgg-based site.

My answer is always the same: I’d love to, but I can’t. However, the response that my Youtube channel got wasn’t as phenomenal as the Elgg invention, but we’ve taken care of that because we’ve been buying youtube likes which helped a lot with our video.

As you’d expect for a founder, I’m a shareholder in Curverider. As part of this, I am forbidden from competing with the company’s business (which, of course, is social networking – a rapidly growing portion of the entire software market, but that’s a conversation for another time). As a result, I don’t work on social networking platforms, and I’m unable to provide Elgg services, despite it being an open source framework. A process exists for me to obtain an exception for potentially competing products, but this would involve divulging the project and business model, which I don’t believe is an ethical way to treat a consultancy client’s information. So I don’t do it.

Of course, I’m available for web strategy advice, writing opportunities and development services in a range of other areas, including publishing, e-learning and mobile content. I’m also developing a few new ideas that you should see in action soon. As ever, if you’d like my feedback, please feel free to get in touch.

Elgg’s new round of funding

May 3, 2009 | Leave a comment

Congratulations are in order for the Curverider folks: over on the Elgg blog, Dave’s announced a new round of funding for the company. Additionally, Leonard Lin is working with the team on a consultancy basis.

Although I left to pursue other projects last month, Elgg is close to my heart. I headed technical direction through Elgg version 1.5 (the most recently-released version), co-founded both Elgg and Curverider, was co-author of Elgg’s vision and ethos, and remain a major shareholder in Curverider. As a result I’m absolutely delighted about this state of affairs, which should allow the project to realise its commercial and technical ambitions.

End of an era, start of a new one

April 9, 2009 | 12 comments

Update: Interested in what I’m doing now? Check out my about page.

I have a major announcement to make:

I co-founded Elgg with Dave Tosh five years ago, and it’s been a heck of a ride. I’ve been immensely proud of what we’ve been able to achieve, not least establishing the most popular open source social networking platform, helping establish the first social network to run campus-wide at a university, and developing a commercial business with a first-class team of brilliantly intelligent, creative people. Each major milestone has been both a thrill and an honour.

However, I have decided that the time has come to move onto other projects. As of Wednesday, April 15th, I’ll no longer be part of Curverider or the core Elgg team. I’m immensely excited about my next projects, and announcements will be made about these later in the year – it’s too early to talk about them now, but I intend to continue pushing the envelope of what’s possible on the Web. I’ll also be providing expert advice to organizations who want to create excellent Web-based services.

I’m also very excited about Elgg’s future plans. I’m very proud of the team we’ve created, and the platform is about to enter its own new era. Keep an eye on

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