Congrats to Dave Winer on the acquisition of his groundbreaking weblog ping service, Weblogs.com, by Verisign. This is a Really Big Deal, on a number of levels. Kottke articulates the value to Dave — or rather the liability that is avoided by having someone with deep pockets take on the task of keeping the infrastructure updated.
I think the value to Verisign is the more interesting story. First off, buying into Weblogs.com gives them an instant and important set of data about the blogosphere that includes growth rates, language usage, and a piece of the puzzle in fighting spam blogs. Second, though, there are a ton of services that are built on Weblogs.com and many more that might benefit from knowing which blogs are being updated. I can see (and Verisign acknowledges) that there is a business-to-business transaction model in which Verisign charges for access to things like changes.xml, or charges for aggregated data about participants in the blogosphere. Particularly important is the access that this gives to information about podcasters.
The real question is: is it too late? As I pointed out last year, services like Ping-o-matic have centralized access to the exploding multitude of ping services that are out there (up to 22, from 12 last July). I can see a scenario (particularly the one above) where Verisign makes the wrong move in charging for a formerly free service from Weblogs.com and people (and blogging platforms) stop pinging.
Note to anyone who is interested in the growth of weblogs in general: check my historical record, which spanned from 2001 to 2003. Unfortunately, a recent move of the Weblogs.com server (around August 22) seems to have blown away the historical data on that server for the high water marks.