Interview with Matt Mullenweg, Co-Founder of WordPress

We would like to share with you an insightful interview by Hamed Farhadian with the WordPress co-founder, Matt Mullenweg.

During the interview, Matt shared his perception of WordPress, the top 5 apps he’s using on a daily basis, his hopes for WordPress in 5 years, and much more.

Transcript of Interview

Hamed: Hi everyone. This is Hamed from WebEntrepreneur.WS and today I am very, very happy to have Matt Mullenweg with us, the creator and founder of WordPress.

Matt: Co founder.

Hamed: Co founder. Alright. Actually, the audience who is interested in this video are usually entrepreneurs who are trying to launch a web startup, a web app or maybe a mobile app. Why is WordPress relevant to them and how does it help them to grow their ideas into a real business?

Matt: I think that one of the nice things about WordPress is that without any cost or even if they didn’t know a lot, you can piece together, even Prototypes, like something that can really fully functional. Example is that range from even the multi billion dollar companies, Groupon. The First Experiement. Andrew Basins started in WordPress. And of course, we need a custom platform and something on the line because what you’re doing doesn’t really look like blogging… but for testing an idea, because that’s really one of the hardest things. That’s sort of Zero to One. That’s one of my favorite entrepreneurship books by Peter Thiel.

You can go to zero to one which is WordPress with some plugins instead of spending hundreds of dollars and see if it catches and if it does, reinvest it.

Hamed: It’s amazing how easy nowadays with the power of WordPress just set up a site. And there’s payment modules, there’s gateways for everything.

Matt: Membership system.

Hamed: Exactly. There is a tendency nowadays in the industry or in the ecosystem of WordPress with all these premium themes and all these plugins, how do you perceive that? Is this something that annoys you or is this something that you’re happy about?

Matt: I think it’s great to see businesses is being built on top of WordPress. I do have a neutral way of seeing things. Some of them costs money but are arent nessararly better than some of the free ones and some of them are fantastic. To me the quality doesn’t have to do with whether it costs money or not and that’s one thing I ask people to remember as WordPress itself demonstrates. Sometimes, “The best things in life are free.”

Hamed: Exactly. And there is something also in my mind and maybe I am little bit too much in that business sphere instead of an open source, but I have to tell you that even myself changed a lot through WordPress in terms of how I think with quality and pricing and value and giving back to the community and it’s amazing. So the ideology is very important there. But my question here is, when you released WordPress in the first versions, what made you not think like me but rather like yourself? Why didn’t you sell it, but gave it out as an open source? What was the motivation there?

Matt: It never even occurred to me to sell it. It was just one of these things that… Oh, WordPress was, you have to remember was built on an existing open source software.

Hamed: What was the name?

Matt: B2/Cafelog. And so, the same thing that allowed us to build WordPress on top of that, I thought that we should pass along and pay it forward. Give other people the benefit to do the same on top of WordPress. Luckily with plugin and themes system, they’re able to do it on WordPress versus having to create something new like we did.

Hamed: If I will be asking Steve Jobs, rest in peace, why did you create the App Store? You could have done of maybe an open source or having the open system like Android. It’s more like the tradition of the existing framework.

Matt: The App store has lots of free apps in it. I don’t know what the breakdown is but it’s just have so many free ones vs paids.

Hamed: Yeah, that’s true.

Matt: So there’s nothing… I think that you can have that sort of an app store model but not necessarily needing to be commercial. In fact, my favorite apps are free. Think Google maps, Calm.com and all that and they’re free.

Hamed: Which leads me to my next question, what are your top 5 apps that you use on a daily basis?

Matt: Good question. Let me see.

Hamed: What do you have on your home screen?

Matt: Slack.The Company switched over Slack quite a bit. Google Voice. TripIt, because I travel all the time. I love the Path Social Network. SimpleNote… Telegram for messaging,  I’m wearing my upband.

Hamed: Me too.

Matt: Yeah. RunKeeper, I started running.TweetBuff for Twitter, WordPress, of course. Spotify, Google Chrome.

Hamed: Very similar, I like that. You didn’t mention any or you maybe you did,  Project Management tool. How do you keep your business with… How many employees you have in all?

Matt: 272.

Hamed: How do you manage that with your phone?

Matt: It’s a combination of Slack and WordPress. So we use P2 and we usually front it with WordPress theme and we use those extensively. We have hundreds of them actually for all our different projects and that’s how we do our communications. So we use that as an email.

Hamed: So you don’t have any tools like Asana or Basecamp.

Matt: We’re not using Asana or Basecamp. We use Bugtrackers of course. So we track Trellos or P2 ..  and we use all those different tools. We like the teams to choose on their own. Some might just have to choose P2 that has some unresolved post button some have tracks…

Hamed: Doesn’t that costs like too many different systems around and not being able to see the whole picture?

Matt: It does cause the systems to be running but it also allows teams to work however they think its best.

Hamed: I like that.

Matt: The only responsibility is the team to accept bugs from anywhere. Where they found them, it’s up to them. So it’s kind of a tree house thing. So I can drop a bug on the team with P2. They might not use P2 but they can move that into the system. So it kind of put the owner sometimes to whatever they think most efficient.

Hamed: I think you mentioned in the Q&A before something like, ‘Output is more important than input.”

Matt: Absolutely.

Hamed: Can you elaborate more on that a little bit like how do you implement this on your business?

Matt: I think that sometimes input is easy to imagine. It’s like what time of days and what shows up. Someone who dress well is someone who appears busy. But that doesn’t really matter to your business. Output matters.

Hamed: Let’s talk a little bit about WordPress as a framework. I already tried asking you the question yesterday and I know it’s very broad. But when you close your eyes and I know it’s very difficult, where do you think WordPress will be in 5 years and where do you want it to be?

Matt: In 5 years I want WordPress to be vigorous. So I’d love to power the majority with WordPress and I am pretty confident because that would mean the majority of websites will be running an open source software which I think enables a lot of interesting things if you build on top of WordPress platform. In terms of where I will be in 5 years I think, I have hope I’d  figured out the internalization better then we have today. I hope that the plugin directory are much more robust and glue a lot more and mobile with the creation, consumption, everything on mobile. Luckily this gets bigger every year.

Hamed: To be honest, the WordPress apps though it’s just beginning, I’m sure it’s going to improve a lot. And you also mentioned WordPress is not made for mobile yes.

Matt: Not yet.

Hamed: How do you work on this? What has to change in outlookers?

Matt: It’s a lot of outlookers but I’m thankful to them. When you think about it the mobile apps… If only what I’m doing is one of those… it’s actually perfectly fine. But WordPress is so much more than that. Exchanging themes, customizing themes, adding a movie, users, managing pages. All these stuffs you can’t do in mobile right now.  So right now, the mobile app store is like an accessory meaning that if you use your computer to run WordPress, mobile app is nice when you’re on the go. But we want it to be able to do everything from that including a blog from a mobile.

Hamed: That would be difficult but it’s also very valuable I guess. I just came from Tehran, I’m a Tehranian myself and I really love the entrepreneurial scene over there. And I was also trying to move this whole idea of using WordPress for developing the MVP , the Minimum Value Product. You mentioned the mobile aspect of it. Connections are very slow in Tehran still. A lot of people want to create a blog and they have this iPhone with a 3G connection. And we’re also developing a star in Iran which is basically the idea of using the slow connection in order to give the information they need. For example instead of actually going and searching for that, they are going to email that sort of information so that they can use the wireless and when they are on the go, they’re just going to read that information as an email created by WordPress. So what would you do to help people, for example in Iran, use the slow connections but still has all the features and all the benefits of WordPress?

Matt: So I mentioned Simple Note. Simple Note if you haven’t tried it out.. But the nice thing about it is that it synchronizing everything with all the notes.

Hamed: I am using Evernote.

Matt: It’s better than Evernote in terms of the synchronizing although sometimes you get complex. The nice thing about it is that it works perfectly offline. So when you’re offline, you can add, change, edit and when you go back online it get sync to that. So for example, the Notification and Android and iOS that’s coming up uses the Superium Technology. So what it allows is that when you are in Wifi or whenever you have the connection, it helps synchronize everything. So when you’re using this, it actually appears at an instant because it’s all just local operations.

Hamed: It’s like Google Docs that has an online, offline kind of thing that you can use. Write text and later it will sync?

Matt: I call it Opportunistic Syncing. So when like you approve a comment, it appears to have it instantly but what happened is that it’s cued in the background and then whenever you have the connection, it actually does it.

Hamed: When do you think this feature will be available?

Matt: Within the next month actually.

Hamed: So good news there.

Matt: Yeah. To both Android and iOS and it looks really good too.

Hamed: Can you show us something? The newest version sneak preview.

Matt: See this different notifications, it goes super-fast.

Hamed: Now you have the internet connection.

Matt: But it’s not a good one. I will find a comment. That is a comment. I can approve it.

Hamed: Nice. Cool. The last question that I would like to ask you, for people who are just starting out and are not very familiar with open source. How do you explain to them that going open source, I mean, most entrepreneurs are also driven to the idea that changing the world but also make some money on the side or maybe sometimes vice versa. But how can you explain to them that going source is actually the best  way to reach those 2 goals?

Matt: It’s tough because it might not always be the best way. I believe it’s the best way for most things.

Hamed: WordPress will also work with automatic with .com or org.

Matt: Yes but one thing to keep in mind is that most things fail whether its proprietary or open source. Regardless of red licensing sort of a … Most things don’t ever find the attraction. They don’t ever  find users, they don’t ever do something that’s interesting. So it’s really good to optimize because they can try lots of things and see what it sticks and then building up versus just putting all your eggs in just one basket. It’s very long time you do, it’s very expensive and very analytic because the chance is that it’s not going to be much.

Hamed: Yeah. We have in Germany the saying that successful are those who stands up once more than they fall in the ground. I don’t know if that reckon the same saying.

Matt: Yeah, we have a variation of that.

Hamed: So I think that what WordPress really helped me a lot is and I’ve got a lot of crazy ideas and 99 percent is crazy and finding out the 1 percent, that’s when WordPress comes in and it just allows me to implement it and show it and see the effects. So that’s really great. So I wanted to share that knowledge also and give back to the community. And I think one thing that I really have to say is to you again and I appreciate your efforts here. Building up this mindset and the software. I remember the son of my sister is 14 years old. And I remember when we were going to school and we got to build a presentation or write some essay. We don’t want to do it with some paper or if we’re very good, we do a PowerPoint presentation. Nowadays, they create websites and they use WordPress. 13 year old boys that  write about atomics and launch some topics and they use Worpress. That’s just wonderful. I think the mindset in here is so valuable. Again, thank you for giving this to the world.  

Matt: Appreciated.

Hamed: It was a pleasure. Wish you all the best. And hope to see you soon again. And hopefully in Germany, Hamburg.

Matt: Thank you.

Hamed: Goodbye everyone. We just met with Matt Mullenweg from WordPress and hopefully we’ll be seeing him in another episode. Thanks.

We hope you enjoyed the interview with WordPress co-founder, Matt Mullenweg.  What do you love about WordPress? Got questions to Matt?
Feel free to leave a comment or get a discussion going.

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Zisis

I am a 32 years old freelancer with over 8 years of experience in Search Engine Optimization. The topics that I am covering will include Content Production/Marketing, Conversion Optimization, Off-Page Backlink Strategies, Google Analytics/Webmaster Tools and full website SEO optimization.

5 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Great interview sir! WordPress is apparently ‘opening’ profitable businesses. The opportunity to customize themes (for better UI experience), and overall latest CMS changes have made entrepreneurs to take their online website businesses on to the next level. That being said, I love Asana as a project management tool and I cannot leave it just because other entrepreneurs are not using it :p

    • Thanks Farsab for your comment. I hope that we can do more interviews like this in the near future.

      Do you have any topic that you would be interested in?

      Best regards,
      Hamed

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