5 Business Lessons from Matthew Mullenweg- wordpress founder

5 Business Lessons from Matthew Mullenweg

#1  Occupy the Space Left Open by Competition

Mullenweg would have never started WordPress if another platform hadn’t disappeared overnight. Back in 2003, Mullenweg was a teenager volunteering some of his time coding for B2/cafelog — an open source blogging platform that was employed on about 2,000 blogs [wikipedia].

One day the leader developer disappeared, leaving Mullenweg and the rest of the volunteer programmers without a project. Matt decided to step up to fill the void. He wrote a blog post to the community, rallying them to join him in starting a new open source blogging platform. Mike Little commented on the post, “You serious about this? Let’s work on it together.” The two had never met. Mike was in the UK and Matt was in Houston, Texas. But the partnership worked. “We just started collaborating over the Internet,” Mullenweg explained. WordPress was born.

WordPress caught it’s big break the following year, when one of its leading competitors — Movable Type — decided to start charging its users. Hordes of thrifty bloggers abandoned Movable Type for the best free content management system available:  WordPress.


#2  Seek to Better Understand Your Users

“It’s my responsibility to meet as many users as possible and direct the software project in a way that reflects their interests. Last year, I probably met 2,000 or 3,000 people who make their living from WordPress.”

Matt Mullenweg

Knowing your end user is the first step to being able to give them what they want. Mullenweg is one of most well-informed founders in the world when it comes to understanding his audience. His robust travel schedule brings him to scores of WordPress conferences every year.


#3  Know Your Creed

“If you’re building a startup or any sort of organization, take a few moments to reflect on the qualities that the people you most enjoy working with embody and the user experience of new people joining your organization, from the offer letter to their first day.”

Matt Mullenweg, from ‘Why Your Company Should Have a Creed’

According to Mullenweg, a creed is “basically a statement of things important to us, written in the first person.” And Matt’s such a big believer in creeds and their influence on company culture that he’s put Automattic’s creed above the signature on every new employee’s contract. He described the move as “an easy change that had a big impact on the company.”

In case you’re curious, I’ve included the entire Automattic creed at the bottom of the page.


#4  There’s Always Room to Grow

“There’s 6.999 billion people who don’t have a blog yet, don’t have a website yet, don’t have WordPress yet.”

Matthew Mullenweg, from Unreasonable.is

Matt is a mild-mannered Texas native, but his ambition is anything but mild. When asked how he felt about his platform serving 17% of the web, he said, “I obsess over that other 83% of the web that we don’t have yet.” Matt said in an interview, “There’s a much longer road ahead of us than what we’ve done so far.”


#5  Eat, Breathe, and Sleep Your Business

“WordPress is a part of who I am. Like eating, breathing, music, I can’t not work on WordPress.”

Matthew Mullenweg, from Ma.tt

We work best on the projects that are aligned with the core of who we are. That’s what Mullenweg has with WordPress. He has said, “I go to sleep and I wake up thinking about WordPress,” and “I consider myself very lucky to be able to work on something I love so much.”


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