One of the oldest and most influential online communities is being put up for sale by its owners.
The WELL was set up by Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant in 1985 as an extension of their Whole Earth Review, a bible of 1960's counter-culture. The WELL (Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link) began life as a bulletin board and many members of the itinerant aristocracy were members, including Mitch Kapor and John Perry Barlow who set up the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
It was bought in 1999 by Salon Magazine, but the organisation is now up for sale. Salon says it makes $500,000 per year in subscription and advertising revenues from the community's 4,000 members.
"The WELL's longevity has to be a testament to the durability, resiliency and flywheel effect of the community's early personal relationships, formed in times of stress and promise," said Cliff Figallo, director of the site during the 1980s.
"The WELL's early social and technical difficulties challenged its members to hang in there and ride it into the future, where it continues to hum along at the ancient computer age of 20."
Although a buyer has not yet been found, there are discussions going on between WELL members about the chances for a community buy-out. Salon paid £5 million for the site, but has not named a guide price.
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