By Jeffro on November 16, 2011
The big news over the past 24 hours is that Automattic has made their second investment, this time in a WordPress hosting company called WP Engine. WP Engine is a relatively new hosting company that manages WordPress.org installs for roughly 30,000 clients. The other side of the news is that a new partner program by Automattic called VIP Support For Webhosts which aims to provide VIP Support for Web Hosts including advanced systems and developer support for infrastructure-wide issues and improvements; annual review of the client’s entire stack as it relates to WordPress hosting; annual security audit and review of best practices and more.
Pretty cool to see Automattic making investments in WordPress centric companies. But what I want to know is, who can afford $50.00 a month for webhosting? By the way, the usual price is $100.00 per month. Congrats to WP Engine though for landing the funding and becoming the first partner program company for VIP support.
By Jeffro on November 11, 2011
Matt Mullenweg announced on Twitter this morning that Automattic has now reached 100 employees. By Monday, November 14th the company will reach 102. If you would like to be part of the next 100 employees at Automattic, check out their jobs page.
By the way, a new position has opened up that doesn’t really require coding experience but rather being in the San Francisco area to be Toni Schneiders right hand man in managing the new Automattic Lounge. The most interesting aspect of this job posting is that no one knows where exactly the new Automattic Lounge is located. While @beaulebens is responsible for publishing the job posting link on Twitter, even Otto42 doesn’t know where the new lounge is located.
The previous lounge for Automattic which was located within Pier38 in San Francisco was shut down due to safety and building code violations.
By Jeffro on October 21, 2011
Philip Arthur Moore who previously worked for WordPress themeing company Graph Paper Press is now under employment by Automattic as a theme wrangler. Arthur has published a great story on how he’s been able to reach this point in his life.
The first projects I completed for Automattic as a trial Theme Wrangler were .org to .com conversions of the WordPress themes Nishita and Bold Life5. The responses to them made me feel wonderful and I hope that a year from now I have many more theme conversions, as well as theme creations, under my belt at Automattic.
Congrats Philip, you’ve joined one heck of a company. By the way, if you’re reading this and thinking about applying for a job at Automattic, the good news is that they’re hiring. Just ignore the pictures of the Pier 38 Automattic Lounge as it’s no longer in existence.
By Jeffro on October 20, 2011
Automattic which is the company behind WordPress.com and is usually the one being invested in has made an investment themselves in a company called OwnLocal based out of Austin, Texas. The company has existed since 2007 and is built around publications by providing the tools necessary for newspapers to own their local market, hence the name. Liz Gannes of AllThingsD was the first to break the story and managed to get this quote out of Matt regarding the investment.
Their approach is highly complementary to our own goals of making it easy for anyone in the world to have a beautiful Web site
It’s an interesting investment considering local newspapers appear to be dying by the day. But OwnLocal is doing so well that despite the total amount of 2 million dollars thus far in funding, they are currently supporting their staff of 20 based on the revenue they are generating.
Related But Not Required Reading:
OwnLocal nabs new funding from Automattic to resurrect newspaper revenues
Ownlocal scores funds to get small firms online
By Jeffro on September 27, 2011
A few days ago, I was linked to an article on ITProportal.com by Desire Athow who asked the question, When Will Microsoft Buy Automattic & WordPress?. The article is confusing to follow because the author failed to delineate between WordPress the open-source project and WordPress.com. However, the usual suspects cleared things up within the comments of the post. For everyone else, here is a reminder.
WordPress.com is a service that is owned and operated by Automattic, a privately funded company. WordPress.org which is also known as self-hosted software is an open source project that is owned by no one. WordPress is a trademark that is controlled by the WordPress Foundation. Therefor, the open-source project can never be acquired while WordPress.com and or Automattic could be.
Personally, I hope Automattic is never acquired but seeing as how they are spending someone else’s money to run the business (investors) and I don’t have any specific information with regards to company ownership, there might be a time in the future where acquisition becomes the exit strategy. When talking about who would or could acquire Automattic, Microsoft seems to pop up all the time. I think this would be a huge waste of cash by Microsoft and a terrible acquisition. Windows Live Spaces was Microsoft’s attempt at hosting a blogging service which after 4 years, ended up being migrated over to WordPress.com. So in a way, Automattic acquired Windows Live Spaces without spending any cash. But if Microsoft were to ever offer a billion or two for Automattic, who knows what could happen.
When we talk about acquisition, it’s important to note that at one time during the history of Automattic, the company was ALMOST acquired. Matt Mullenweg pulled the trigger but thanks to the lengthy time period during negotiations, doubts took over his mind. He eventually decided that it was best to stay independent and go for it. Thank goodness he did because Automattic has grown into a very healthy company. However, the question that I have is, would Matt be willing to pull the trigger again?
I don’t think so, not unless it was the nuclear option. Since 2007, Matt has shown glimpses that money is not the end all be all. It’s not his number one priority in life to be wealthy. Instead, it goes way beyond the materials of life. If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend reading the Automattic creed which is tied to the company but it works for the open source WordPress project as well.
I will never stop learning. I won’t just work on things that are assigned to me. I know there’s no such thing as a status quo. I will build our business sustainably through passionate and loyal customers. I will never pass up an opportunity to help out a colleague, and I’ll remember the days before I knew everything. I am more motivated by impact than money, and I know that Open Source is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation. I will communicate as much as possible, because it’s the oxygen of a distributed company. I am in a marathon, not a sprint, and no matter how far away the goal is, the only way to get there is by putting one foot in front of another every day. Given time, there is no problem that’s insurmountable.
The most obvious thing to point out in this creed is the line I am more motivated by impact than money, and I know that Open Source is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation. Between WordPress.com and the open source project, the impact those two things have had has been tremendous stretching from the world of publishing, to giving people a voice in which they might not have had one otherwise. When it comes to money, it’s easy to see from the initial rounds of VC funding that money is not the main priority. The first round was $1.2 million dollars which was secured in 2006 that lasted through 2008. On January 23rd, 2008 Automattic secured $29.5 million dollars. Compared to other rounds of funding for many other companies, this is pocket change. That money has been spent on service acquisitions, hiring more Auttomaticians, and generally making WordPress.com a better service which at the same time, helps to increase that IMPACT that was mentioned earlier.
Over the past four years, it’s become obvious to me that Matt and Automattic have lived by the company creed and take it very seriously. Automattic is what helps Matt pay the bills while at the same time, satisfy his passion for open source software through WordPress. Up to this point, Matt has done a great job of being able to balance the two and if you were to remove him thanks to an acquisition, I feel we would have one screwed up situation on our hands with that balance being ruined.
Despite my wishes for Automattic to never be acquired with Matt at the helm, I realize that everything has a price. I just hope that price is something very few people or companies can pay.
By Jeffro on March 15, 2011
The short answer is yes, it’s still free for personal use. However, over the past few weeks, it seems as though many people believe that the free use of Akismet has disappeared and it’s now only a paid service. So in order to understand where this line of thought is coming from, I decided to erase my Akismet key and start the process over as if it were just installed. When my API key was cleared, I clicked on the Get Your Key link from within the Akismet configuration editor. This redirects to http://akismet.com/wordpress/ where on that page, I can read information concerning how cool it will be to use Akismet. One of the first things that are pointed out is that it’s free for personal use while being a bargain for businesses with the following quote afterward:
We’re not trying to make a killing, but we still need to pay our bills.
This is where things get dicey. On the Akismet key signup page, I get to see three specific plans for the service. One for $5.00 a month, $50.00 a month and $100 per month. Below the three plans is the personal site option.
After clicking the personal site option, you’ll need to fill in your details such as a First name, last name, etc. What’s interesting is on this page, there is a slider that asks, What Is Akismet Worth To You? By default, it’s set to $3.00 per month equaling $36.00 per year. The slider can be set to $0.00 as well but then you’ll have to contend with the fact that you made the emoticon show a sad face. By the way, this is a nice touch as I can see some people willing to create a custom price point to match how they feel about Akismet on their site.
After going through the checkout process, the API key was sent to me via email and I was able to use Akismet for free thanks to the personal plan.
I’m happy to report that Akismet can still be used for free but it’s meant for personal sites. One of the biggest changes from a few years ago is that to get access to Akismet, you needed to sign up to WordPress.com, obtain an API key from them, place that API key within Akismet and enjoy the benefits of the service. Now, you must go through a checkout process while choosing a specific plan before you get access to an API key. While Akismet has always been Software as a Service while charging large sites money for anti spam protection, the recent changes have transformed the site and the service into more of a revenue stream for Automattic by opening up lower price points for individuals.
It’s not as if the free or personal option is hidden away on some unknown page within the sitemap which has me confused on why so many people are convinced that you must pay $5.00 to use the service. If anyone else can suggest to me why this line of thought has taken place, I’m interested in reading it in the comments.
By Jeffro on March 11, 2011
Just a few days ago, Automattic launched a new plugin pack called Jetpack which takes some of the best features of WordPress.com and puts them into plugin form to be used on self hosted WordPress sites. Today, Automattic announced that they are now offering a Guided Transfer service which will enable WordPress.com users to easily migrate to a self hosted WordPress install on a WordPress.org recommend host.
When I first saw the news, I didn’t think any people would be buying such a service considering most of what needs to be transferred between the two is content and that is easily done via the WordPress XML file. However, after giving it some thought, I realized that the user base on WordPress.com is mostly made up of people who either don’t want the hassle of maintaining their site or do not have the technical skills to do so. So after spending some time on WordPress.com and feeling comfortable with the software, I can see how someone would pay $99.00 for the convenience and satisfaction of having their hand held for two weeks so they can keep on publishing content without worrying about all the technical fuss to get things situated.
I’m not quite sure why GoDaddy and Network Solutions are among the list of recommended webhosts considering I hear nothing but bad things about GoDaddys setup. Meanwhile, Network Solutions definitely didn’t have the best of years as it relates to WordPress. I know webhosting companies make mistakes but the mistakes that were made by some of the webhosts that are being recommend were rookie mistakes at best dealing with permission issues. One has to think if some of the webhosts being recommended are purely because of they payout based on affiliate or referrals. The reputation of WordPress is on the line so to speak if those webhosts don’t deliver. Then again, some of the hosts have been recommended by WordPress for years as they’ve gone through a series of problems.
It’s too bad HostGator was not added to the list. Ever since I switched to them early in 2010, I’ve had nothing but good experiences with the company ranging from up time to their support. They are big fans of WordPress and do a good job of keeping their customers informed as to what’s going on within the company. So while HostGator doesn’t make their list, I can say that I fully recommend them for your hosting needs.
By Jeffro on March 5, 2011
Automattic has partnered with Federated Media Publishing who has partnered with GE as the content partner and interactive marketing agency Bebby Clark+Meyler to launch a new site on WordPress.com called EcoPressed. Similar in design and function to FoodPress, EcoPressed focuses on clean tech, eco-friendly items and more. Hand picked content from some of the top WordPress.com bloggers will be highlighted on the site along with home grown content.
EcoPressed signals a first-of-its-kind opportunity for a corporate partner to highlight hand-picked content from WordPress.com’s top users blended with Federated Media’s premium professional blog talent. It also gives independent content producers far greater exposure and the ability to join the eco conversation alongside millions of passionate readers.
The EcoPressed experience will source material from over 30 million content producers and informational resources highlighting the most relevant conversations taking place on the independent web. It will also incorporate content from GE’s ecomagination initiative, making EcoPressed the one-stop destination for consumers to get the latest news, topics and trends on innovation, sustainability and energy initiatives.
This is the second in what will likely become a series of Press sites on WordPress.com. Personally, I think what Automattic is doing with partners such as Federated media is really leveraging their audience/writers is brilliant. Instead of subscribing to hundreds or thousands of feeds of people writing great things on a specific topic, these special Press sites act as great content curators giving some no name bloggers a chance to shine. Sure, Automattic is making money through these partnerships but it’s their business and I don’t see anything wrong with what they’re doing. Do you?
Can anyone guess what topic will be next to be pressed?
By Jeffro on March 1, 2011
Hugo Baeta who has become one of the newest members of the Automattic team has showcased his love for WordPress by getting two tattoos on his body. The first tattoo which shows the WordPress W with what seems like vines around the circle. All in all, it looks pretty good, especially the straight lines in the W.
The second tattoo is the motto of WordPress spread across the forearm. Once again, the detail is pretty good as it looks like a stencil was used. Congrats to Hugo on his new job, I just hope his feelings for WordPress are for life and not just a spur of the moment thing. Also, I wonder if the WordPress Foundation gave him permission to put the trademark onto his body? I ask that question jokingly.