Why I Joined Automattic
I started with Automattic last week. I’ll be focusing my time on driving new user growth and existing user engagement and retention.
I’m beyond excited about this opportunity. (If I could do a silly walk to demonstrate just how excited I am, I would.)
As a representative form of the profound shift in agency and connection that has emerged around the world with the rise of the Web, blogging is a powerful and meaningful activity. One that has rapidly matured to encompass innumerable personal expressions and the social interactions that attend to them. In blogging, I see the progression and explication of many longtime human pursuits – exploration, storytelling, knowledge sharing, collaboration, among others – that ultimately benefit us all. And, coupled to this, a disruptive capability that is only just beginning to be felt as blogging has become widespread as a technology.
It should be no surprise, then, that I was a believer in WordPress (the product, the open source project, and the movement) for years before joining the team at Automattic. When I started talking to Matt and Toni about how I could help, I kept coming back to what I believe are three key drivers of success for WordPress.
1) Product is best in class and continually improves to meet user demands. WordPress has emerged to become the most widely used self-hosted blogging platform (powering several million blogs) because of its functionality, user experience, ease of installation and customizability. Add to the mix nine major releases since 0.70 and a relentless focus by the developers on making WordPress better. This foundation of product strength and improvement is a baseline requirement for user growth.
2) Free and open source from the roots up. “Open source” can be much more than a development methodology. For me, it also constitutes a world view that upends institutionalized notions of competitive advantage that saw their apex in the twentieth century. Many much more eloquent people have written about the benefits of open source software development – I encourage you to dig in if you are interested to the corpus of knowledge that is widely available.
For me there are two important factors that an open source orientation introduces to a commercial offering:
- moving the business up the value chain
- increasing the intelligence and creativity applied to developing, marketing and supporting the product.
For WordPress, the core product is freely available at wordpress.org. Automattic’s current business builds on top of the free and open WordPress software to deliver services at WordPress.com and through support contracts with a range of publishers. A snapshot of the breadth of the WordPress ecosystem: over 6,500 plug-ins, 970 themes, and 4,700 WordPress consultants.
3) Community. The network enables massive, widespread communication and action. The speed, reach and scale of the network is a major asset for the growth of a new breed of companies and products. In the case of WordPress, a passionate, active community has been working to spread the story for years, to great effect. Collaborating with this community, of which Automattic is just one part, can be a catalyst for growth – both in adoption and engagement – in the years ahead.
A network is a possibility factory.
- Kevin Kelly, New Rules for the New Economy
I feel lucky to be joining Automattic at this particular time. While serving tens of millions of bloggers on a regular basis, we’re also contributing to the innovations that will power the next stage of growth for the Web. From our support for RSS Cloud to the launch of an AI-powered editing tool, and more to come, Automattic is strongly positioned to rock the Web. In addition to providing the interaction of social networks and realtime communication tools, WordPress powers independence - of expression, thought and vision.
As I get underway with this new adventure, I’m mindful of how much I have to learn from the WordPress community. I hope to meet many of you at WordCamps and to brainstorm about ways to introduce the power of WordPress to as many bloggers-to-come as we can, working together.
I’m very happy to be a part of Automattic and to contribute to the ongoing success of WordPress.