Back 'round the end of June, news broke Salon was selling OG social network The WELL. Things looked bleak, and the Internet was very sad. But this tragic tale has a happy ending after all. Keeping with the site's original spirit, it's been sold to its community.
The Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link, aka the WELL, was founded in 1985, predating the Web as we know it, and is often credited as one of the first discussion boards and communities on the Internet. When Salon announced it laid off the WELL's management and was putting the property up for sale in June, things looked bleak for the old Internet dinosaur. Most thought Salon would simply shut it down if they couldn't find a buyer. Mike Barthel wrote a history of the WELL and internet politics for the The Awl, and our Rebecca Greenfield wrote about what cues Facebook could take from what's undeniably an early influence.
When the WELL first began, its users came together over a sense of community leftover from a previous era. They were mostly Grateful Dead fans. "The site's ethos was one of open access and general personal freedom mixed with more than a slight whiff of hippiedom: it was a meeting place for Deadheads, and was titularly and organizationally linked to the Whole Earth Catalog," Barthel wrote.
So it's only fitting the WELL was sold to the Well Group, "a private investment group consisting of longtime members of the community," reports the New York Times' Nick Wingfield. Salon's official statement says each member of the Well Group have all been long-time WELL users for over 20 years. It's nice to see one of the last active outposts of Ye' Olde Internet staying alive.