Big news broke recently in a surprise announcement that Automattic had bought Tumblr from Verizon at the fire sale price of $3 million. This looks like it can be nothing but good for Tumblr, but how does it fit into Automattic’s plans. And perhaps the bigger question, what could it mean for WordPress?
- Automattic Acquires Zero BS CRM, Considers Rebranding it as Jetpack CRM
- Automattic acquires subscription payment company Prospress
- Automattic Valued at $1.16 Billion, Says It Doesn’t Need IPO
- The Difference: WordPress Foundation and Automattic, Inc.
- Exclusive: Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg on what’s next for Tumblr
- I Visited 47 Sites. Hundreds of Trackers Followed Me
- A History of Automattic’s Acquisitions (From Gravatar to WooThemes)
- Right to be Forgotten | Radiolab
- The WordPress Governance Project
The following is a machine-generated transcript of this episode. It will contain errors until it has been reviewed and edited, and we apologize for the difficulty that may cause for screen readers. Do you want to help us speed up our transcribing process? Consider sponsoring an episode.
Hey everybody, I’m glad you could join us this week on the drunken UX podcast. This is episode number 44. And we’re going to be talking about automatic WordPress, tumblr and what the hell it all means. I am your host, Michael Fienen. I’m your other host there and he’ll How you doing Michael? I’m doing the spot of all right. This episode of the drunken UX podcast is brought to you by our friends over at pork, but if you head over pork bun.com you can get a free year of a dot design domain name for your website. Just use coupon code drunken UX at checkout. Wait, what? free stuff like a domain registration, a whole domain registration for a full year for free.
that’s called SSL certs and email hosting and all that kind of stuff. They’re got a good little good little gig gone. I literally didn’t know about that until now.
So that’s, that’s pretty awesome.
Because I handle all the business side of stuff, my friend. It’s actually pretty slick. If, if you go check them out at you can look it up pork bun design, or they’ve got some others like you can look up Airbnb dot design, Facebook got design and several of these. And it’s like, it’s actually a really nice domain name to use to like show your design system or pattern library. As like, that’s actually a really great it’s kinda like, you know,
it really is not
Dev. I like cuz I’ve got my dev site and I use it for all my dev work and sharing code and things like that. So oh my gosh, yeah. I mean, obviously you can put whatever you want on it, but it’s the novelty of the deal. So cool. What are you drinking over there, my friend.
I have A cracking and ginger beer. It’s like it’s almost a dark and stormy except I don’t have any limes. The ginger beer though is sentiments which I got at the ethical Coffee Company. It was recommended to me by the barista there. It’s quite good. Very nice of her.
I’ve got a guy that bought a bottle of wine to have a bottle of milk drinking the whole bottle because that would be insane glass of MacAllan 12 the nice simple Highland scotch I’ve had it before. Many people have it’s it’s actually for a Highland they agent and Sherry cask so it’s all right. super rich, very sweet. flavor to it that usually like I generally associate Highlands scotches with more of a grassy kind of lighter note but MacAllan goes the other direction. It’s like it’s almost like MacAllan is like a Highland scotch that wants to be a Speyside scotch is kind of
think about it. I’m not drinking it tonight. But I did pick up a bottle of Lagavulin. 16. The celebrate pants and
it was it was pretty good. Ron Swanson would be proud of you.
My girlfriend says that it that it tastes like smokey bandaids.
That that is a fair fair assessment. Yeah,
it’s not she’s not wrong. I tried it. I tried it both neat. And then also on the rocks. And I think that like with like one or maybe two ice cubes like it. It does, like you said open up, open up the flavor. Yeah, it gives it it does give it a bit more space. So it’s good. I mean, it’s different. And very potent. Unknown Speaker Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Very different from the balcony.
It is distinct. That Yes. Yeah. I tell folks like never don’t ever make an island scotch the first experience. Because that’s, that’s why a lot of people are just like, oh, why would you drink scotch? Well, if that’s your first experience, yeah, it’s kind of coffee. You know, you started on coffee going to Dunkin Donuts and McDonald’s and crap. And then as I get older, you learn like to appreciate more robust, flavorful coffee and your palate becomes more attuned to it. But if you just like jump into that, like civic coffee or something like that would be the wonder if you think it tastes like ass.
If you don’t know, if you don’t get the joke there, go look up civet coffee CIVT I’ll wave the surprise for you to look it up.
My my joke is less funny now because you explained it.
Well, I think that more people can appreciate your joke now because that was that was a very good joke. But if you don’t know what civic coffee is, you won’t get it.
Folks, if you like our jokes, and you want more of that, or advice or help or just want to stalk us a little bit, be sure to check us out anywhere that you are online, you can go to Twitter or Facebook slash trucking UX. We are also on Instagram at slash drunken UX podcast. Otherwise, let’s Okay, let’s get started. I want to get into our normal topic. But I want to start first because I’ve read there’s a piece over at New York Times that was pretty neat. What last week, week before last, one of their journalists put a project together was approached about a project that they said, Hey, we want you to use this special version of Firefox. And we’re going to track every like all of this stuff, all of the activity. We’re going to see what you know, the sites you go to what cookies are being put out what people are identifying about you, and all of this. And so if any Facebook. Well, the company was them. But Facebook was involved, whether they like it or not. So then this article has been put together now the project is over. And they took the snapshot of everything that was going on. And the title of the pieces I visited in 47 sites, hundreds of trackers followed me. And it’s it’s all about this idea, like what do you when you’re just doing your day to day work, you know, it’s easy to not pay attention to just how much is happening about you.
I will say that on the article. He does a really cool database thing where he’s like showing the different trackers. And it’s like a series of bubbles that are all like connected as it goes throughout his day. It’s really neat. You
as the bubbles progress, you’re going through his day to the sites that he visited. Then each the size is related to how many trackers and and snip Oh,
And then there’s a line that then hops bubble, the bubble that hits on individual trackers that are sharing information about you like a Facebook
right? So kind of even though you’re visiting a site six hours later, it’s a completely unrelated, you can see how the first side of the day that you visited, share that data clear over so you know, people there’s, you’ve heard this, I’m sure someone’s like, I was just thinking something. And Facebook showed me an ad for it. And I think oh, well, clearly they’re listening to my phone or doing whatever. No, you just are really bad hiding what you’re thinking about?
I don’t know they aren’t listening if you have the app installed. They don’t have to that’s Yeah, that’s they don’t have to certainly. But there’s there’s been a lot of weird coincidences were like, I remember one time I was talking with someone about like macaroni and cheese or something. And then, you know, 20 minutes later, they’re looking at their phone and they’re seeing ads for like Velveeta or something. It was just really, like really coincidental.
And it may be and it may be that they forgot an hour earlier, they were looking up a mac and cheese possible like this. There are that’s the thing is we like to think that there’s all this nefarious stuff. And there is it’s just not the nefarious stuff you think it is most of
right? Well, I mean, they don’t like even if, even if they could, and I’m assuming they can track our like, what we’re listening to what we’re talking about, and use that to inform their heads. I don’t think they have to, because they can track it. So well, just through like a regular web browser. Right?
So that goes into some of this where he talks about like the IDs, you know, they they don’t necessarily know who you are like your name is not necessarily a known quantity. But they can basically ID you when you hit that site, assign you and I the metaphor he uses that I thought was both funny and terrifying is like a prisoner ID. This is this is who you are to the system, you are a number and you have no other personality or value besides this number.
Imagine Imagine if you got you know, get those loyalty cards, go to the supermarket loyalty card with a barcode. So imagine you walk into a mall, remember those things, malls, walk around the stores. Yeah. So it’s let’s say it’s 1998 1985. And you go to a mall, and it’s happened. Lots of people there lots of stores. And you walk in and they give you a card. And then the card used to get into any of the stores and you just like they just boop it like they just scan the barcode, you walk into the store, they scan it, and then you just do you look around, buy something, don’t buy something, whatever. But the store now has a track. It has a record of you attending visiting that store, they don’t know your name. They don’t know what you look like or anything else about you. All they know is that you visited like gap. Barros pizza and then like, electronics boutique, for example.
But the the comparison to that, right is something like, I don’t know, if you use it, I’ve got it installed, because of course, I get tracked, like honey, yeah, honey. Yeah, I don’t, but I know of it. Like these, these sort of online versions of reward systems or loyalty. So that, you know, if you use your example, like whether it’s a mall or the supermarkets or whatever, you get that special little card, then, you know, imagine a system like that, that just shared the same card everywhere. So
you’re basically you’re, they’re able to spend their marketing budget on your discounts, because it gives them information about your buying habits. Like it puts all of your purchases into one profile. And so that informs their marketing people. So that’s that’s the value add for them.
The ironic part about that is we have one of those things, and every one of us has it in our wallet or purse is credit cards. And oh yeah. It kind of astonishes me actually that companies visa discover MasterCard, these folks aren’t leveraging the data, they have more. How do we know the art? I mean, if if they’re hiding it that well, I feel like it’s not effective. You know, like, I just it just feels like there are a lot of opportunities out there. Yeah, that would play into that kind of integrated marketing, at any rate between the IDs. And then the other thing he talks about is fingerprinting and fingerprinting is the one that actually gets it to me significantly more scary, because fingerprinting is all about. I don’t know who you are. So I’m going to tell your browser to tell me as much information as the right hand. And I’m going to generate a profile for you. So it’s doing things like what browser are you using? What you Unknown Speaker know, what else you on? Yeah, what?
What, what is your screen size, screen size is actually an incredibly revealing piece of information. Because a, you’re either running your screen maximized, or you’re one of those folks who puts things in Windows, and in here, windowed, you’re not necessarily doing something real straightforward, like x, Jose or whatever, where you just, you know, make it be a quarter of your screen, your resizing, whatever. So it’s some unique shape, and size. Right? And so when you start putting all of these little bits and pieces together, you know, individually, it’s like, well, yeah, everybody’s, you know, not everybody, but a ton of people are running Windows 10 with Chrome. But then you get the chrome build number and the windows 10 update that you’ve got, and this the screen size, the viewport size, all of that stuff gets to be there was there was something
it becomes counted, we finite, like it becomes a very, like, it might be 100, or even a couple thousand users with that exact fingerprint. But it’s very much smaller than the millions of people that visit big sites.
It’s a DNA test basic. Yeah. Like, yeah, yeah. When they when you sit down in court, and they say, well, it’s a billion to one odds that this is your DNA. They’re not saying it’s impossible that the test was wrong. They’re just saying that the likelihood is so low, that it’s meaningless. I think it was tour that did some research on it. Yes,
Yeah, that yeah, that being able to reveal who you are, even without tracking is actually right. Very, like you should maximize your screen and stuff, if you’re actually afraid of that. Because everybody you know, the year, you know, to K 4k, whatever screen, the viewport size on that is very set, then so you’re getting dumped into a very big bucket with all the other people who do things like right, so there are those little tricks that you can do to get around it. But that fingerprinting is where things start to get kind of spooky,
I read a book or listen to an audiobook about being both private and anonymous on the internet. And private meaning your traffic is secret, and anonymous, meaning your identity is secret. So the two different things. And it’s if you want to actually be truly invisible on the internet, it takes a lot of work. You have to use like, like the tales OS, which like wipes it session after every time, you have to not use the same Wi Fi access point more than once is you do all your transactions using cryptocurrency that you’ve purchased with cash from never the same place twice. But you have to be super, super paranoid. And even with that, like it’s still not a sure thing. Because of fingerprinting and things like this.
Yeah, it’s, well, the comparison would be like that ad, you know, you go look up trying to think of a good example of something I was researching recently. So I’m a very stupid man. And I decided that I wanted to buy an electric skateboard recently. I was reading searching electric skateboards to figure out which one is right for an idiot. My age,
I think, the one with wheels
at the start. But as a consequence, I started getting a lot of ads, because all these companies are doing remarketing. So when you go to Instagram, you’re seeing ads for electric skateboards. When you go to Facebook, you’re seeing ads. They don’t have to know me personally who I am. Yeah, do that. They just have to know my traffic patterns. And so that’s sort of that difference between the the privacy and the anonymity piece, like who I am is unimportant. They just care that I am somebody who is clearly visiting a lot of these sites and wants to buy escape board.
So ever since I started working for the company that I worked for now, I get ads for every other meal kit preparation delivery service. Every other one, I can’t answer all of them on Instagram, Facebook, on Twitter, but Google ads? Yeah, everywhere.
That speaking of Google is funny because they have them pointed out in the article. And this was obvious once you stop and think about it, but it was funny to see it kind of in practice, which was that all of Google’s bubbles are super small. Because Google isn’t including anybody’s tracking on their sites, because they don’t have to now they are in everybody’s site. So you see all of these connecting dots between right. But on their individual properties, Google because Google doesn’t have to advertise, right, you know, when you right, Google is the advertiser. Interesting, sort of output of that process to see that and go go is the one who knocks Yeah. Okay, so check that out. So we’re New York Times will have it linked in the show notes, it’s a cool article, it gets you thinking a little bit about data privacy tracking, you know, think about this in terms of GDPR in terms of California Privacy Act that’s coming up, you know, these things that deal with how we restrict tracking, and and the tracking you may be employing on your own sites, and maybe unintentionally, you know, linking people to other accounts and things like that. That’s all something to think about. I’m
really quickly I’m gonna put this in the show notes. There was an episode of radio lab that I listened to recently about the right to be forgotten, which talks about GDPR and other things related to that was really fascinating. And if this is a topic that interests you, I highly recommend listening to it. So that’s all I’m gonna say about it.
I check it out. If you I will be on that list, because I like radio lab, but I have not listened to that yet.
So this is a good episode.
So some of you have probably heard this new news. And I know everybody talks about WordPress a lot. We like talking about WordPress, because it’s an important piece of the puzzle in our careers and in our industry. And so the news that just came out, by the time you listen to this episode, it was about I don’t know a week and a half two weeks ago, automatic bought Tumblr.
Yeah, it’s crazy.
I thought it would wait who do they who didn’t someone else buy Tumblr previously?
Yeah, so Tumblr was owned by Verizon That’s right. Verizon got it. Well
rising bought up for a huge chunk of change oath and automatic wanna for less Yeah,
oh, technically owned it oath is a subsidiary of Verizon, and Verizon acquired all of that property along with things like flicker when they purchased yahoo yahoo is the one who back in 2013 dropped a 1.1 billion with a be dollars to get it Yeah, they’re lot of money a lot of big names big players in a lot of companies Harrison’s also to you know, other other industries and other products. Yeah, the thing and let’s let’s start at the start with this because a lot of people I think maybe don’t even understand how big automatic is.
I have to say when we were doing our pre show chat I didn’t realize how big automatic was Yeah, I’ve been following automatic and WordPress for over a decade. But I was even surprised by this
Yeah, it’s a very quiet and I’ll explain how they’ve managed this a little bit but they were formed Matt Millen wake set up automatic 2005 this was two years after WordPress officially launched WordPress launched in oh three,
we should clarify like Matt mo awake was the original, like WordPress developer, right? Or on the original? Yeah, yeah, he’s the originator of the WordPress product, both open source and commercial.
Right. And Matt AE was in an interview recently and the the phrase he said about automatic is they are a subscription and upgrade company that is the way automatic makes money automatic is a for profit company. What is upgrade company? Unknown Speaker So
like, if you look at say wordpress.com Hmm, part of what they do is a they are both of those things, right? You can sign up for a subscription to it to get a print, you know, get premium features and accounts. And if you look at things like jetpack, jetpack is owned by automatic and jetpack is all about some free stuff in it. But all it’s freemium, right? It’s it’s the way where you can use basic stuff easily. But then if you want to use a full blown Kismet, or whatever, you’re going to upgrade that. And, you know, I think what jetpacks, $39 or something for personal account.
So upgrade, like upgrading your service tier, not upgrade, like upgrading your version of WordPress upgrade features. Got it. feature sets? Yeah,
they do know like, autumn automatic is not what’s the Drupal Aqua? And they are they’re not like an aqua sort of organization. They don’t provide support. They aren’t there to help you with your WordPress install, which is ironic, I think, way. I mean, the kinda used to sort of, like with through wordpress.org. Well, and wordpress.org. And so this is where, let’s talk about the size first. Yeah, in 10 years, between 2005 and 2015, they had raised approximately $300 million in venture capital. And that’s at a valuation of over a billion dollars, their valuation right now is roughly between 1.2 and 1.6 billion, depending on what you’re reading. Yeah, we’re not talking, chump change. And this isn’t like the weird imaginary time 1.1 billion, this is revenue generating company that has, you know, good value, they employ over 900 people now,
I actually know a couple people that work there.
I think every if you’re a web developer, you probably probably don’t know it at this point. I mean, that’s and the funny part is like, That’s big. There’s a a little widget on the automatic homepage, that’s kind of funny if you go look at it. And on the on the panel, they’ve got a comparison to like, the amount of traffic WordPress com does, like their, you know, their monthly unique and everything and how many employees that they have to support all of that, compared to other organizations and their actual company size. They do this roughly the same amount of monthly unique says Twitter, we should really a quarter of the staff Twitter’s got almost 4000 employees. So you know, Amazon, and this is they’ll suck. This is company wide. But Amazon is 647,000 Facebook’s 39,000 I’m just reading straight from their little widget here. Here. Here’s the one that’ll that’ll break you as a comparison, eBay. eBay serves 105 million unique a month, their workforce is 14,000. So 14 times,
that’s only surprising because I had forgotten that eBay existed. So you just mentioned it.
still out there. They’re still good for occasional things. So at any rate, there, they are not. I mean, there may be tiny compared to others, but they are not small by any stretch of the imagination. And I mean, they’re there. If we’re going to sit here and say a billion dollar valuation as a small company, then I don’t know what we’re doing. Right. That’s that’s big time. Big League money. So yeah. This needs to not get confused, though. And this is where this is part of where we wanted to kind of talk about this because automatic is not WordPress. Automatic, right is wordpress. com. Automatic is not wordpress.org. Right? WordPress as a product as an open source platform is owned by the WordPress Foundation. The WordPress foundation owns the brand. This was like a
this was like a pleasant schism that happened 10 some years ago, right? Yeah, yeah, this it’s like I mean, WordPress did technically come from automatic kind of,
well, automatic. They just exist when WordPress was birth.
Right. But like the people that are in automatic McMillan bike and the rest of them, they created WordPress, and then they intentionally split the two thing. Yes, yeah. Okay. This is just a weird coincidence. Yeah.
That is involved in all this, these things. Keep in mind, right, he’s got a very firm hand, shall we say, on the direction of these things. And the best I think comparison that I can give to this is thinking about something like Wikipedia. Now, right, where Wikipedia is not for profit, there are 501 c three. But it is a similar relationship in that Wikipedia is built on a platform called media wiki.
Right? And you can anyone can download and install that and have a nearly identical experience to Wikipedia, right for their own wiki. Yes. And so
from there, the direction of media wiki and Wikipedia, kind of overseen by the Wikipedia Foundation, right? So there’s like this oversight model, you’ve got oversight, you’ve got a tool, you’ve got a website that relies on all of these things, they are interconnected in complex ways. But right, they are always so each have their own thing in their own way. And that’s kind of the the main difference being you know, Wikipedia is nonprofit, whereas automatic is absolutely for profit. So
you would asked in Slack, if there was like a Ruby world comparison. Yeah, and I would say that rails, so rails was built by DHH for base camp specifically. And then he released it into the wild as its own product, but he still has a he’s still on the core team, he still has a very heavy hand in its development, and its steering, even though other people do as well. And base camp, you know, is built still runs on rails course. I mean, it’s like, it’s different because I don’t know it’s slightly different. But it’s the same kind of thing where like, the person who is doing a for profit instance of the product is also still involved in the open source, direction and and maintenance of it.
Yeah. So there’s one other piece of this puzzle to automatic and it’s a company that a lot of folks have never heard of.
I hadn’t heard of this. It’s
not a company they are an angel investment firm called Audrey capital. And Audrey capital is an investment firm. It happens to be an investment firm founded by Matt mon leg and they were the principal investor and getting automatic created they if you go look at the websites, Audrey dot CEO, they are their very first investment was automatic. So, and Audrey, the one place some people might have heard of them is we’ve course talked about WP Tavern several times on the show. The WP Tavern was bought several years ago. Not by automatic, but by Matt, through Audrey.
Okay, looks like six, six staff members total looks like maybe,
yeah, I’m looking at this, right. Yeah, it’s an investment firm. So you know, it’s an angel firm. They just divvy out money for the most part. But there’s just this this thing where? Yes, WordPress is it is an open source platform, it does its own thing. Yes, automatic is its own thing. But Matt is very much sitting atop the chain on all of these pieces. And we’re going to talk about that a little bit later. But wanted to give some of that background. So folks kind of understood, like, automatic exists to make money. And not to put too fine a point on the automatic exists to make money. And I’m not saying that in with any negative connotation at all. That’s what companies do. And that’s what you want your company to do if you’re running it. So
it would be it’d be no different than saying that, like Amazon exists to make Jeff Bezos Yeah, right.
That’s just the way it is. He owns them, and he wants to make money. So yeah, that is something just keep in mind those we talked about the future of WordPress. So with that said, getting into some of the history of automatic just in general, automatic started up as just this. This means to monetize WordPress, basically. And their idea was, well, let’s take the the WordPress code base, and deploy it on a site where anybody can just sign up and get an account. And that became wordpress.com. Okay, I mean, outside of like, say live journal, you know, like, We’re going back to 2005 at this point in alive journal was out before that are like, old MySpace thing about old MySpace and the blogging tools that they had. Don’t laugh. It’s an important part of our history.
No, I’m laughing because I remembering that rupert murdoch paid a lot of money for my space. And it totally,
right. There are there are a lot of comparisons here, when we start talking about these big companies buying up properties that they don’t understand. Yeah, and Tumblr definitely falls into this. So automatic steps in and says, we’re going to make a site, we’re going to monetize WordPress. I had a wordpress.com blog. Early on, I had a MySpace blog way, way early on, I think that was probably the first site that I wrote at, like actively. As things progressed, though, automatic did what companies do, and they started looking for value adds the first value add the automatic targeted was a site called gravity or
gravity, or if you have ever used WordPress is the service that associates an avatar with your email address. And it will, and a lot of sites use it not just WordPress, yeah.
So when you go to a new site, or something and login to their comment system, and it already has your picture there, that’s because you’ve probably set up a gravity at some point or through, you know, did it and didn’t even know you did it through WordPress. And as a consequence, when you enter your email address to make that comment, they can look you up and say, Oh, yeah, here’s your picture, boom. And you don’t even have to be using WordPress, there’s a Ruby gem for gravity hours of use used it on a couple sites. You can even just like hit the API directly.
Yeah, it’s it’s really like it’s very open ended, which explains the next number that you’re going to drop here.
So the Yeah, and I had to double check this because this is the daily number, the daily number of avatars that avatar serves up to websites daily is 8 billion with that’s,
I look like, we’ll get that twice though. Same double, 8 billion.
Yeah, 8 million Sure. 800 million. Yeah. Okay. But 8 billion, that’s, that’s a lot of avatars. They’re dishing out every day. This service, though, played into automatic really well, because of the wordpress.com platform. It allowed them to help bind identities to comments on user blog. Right, but made it absolutely made sense. I didn’t, I think it made the tool better. And, you know, put some resources behind that system. In fact, I was in just the other day updating my avatar, and they’ve got like the history of all the past ones I’ve used over the years, which are just different iterations of me screaming into a camera lens.
I mean, I love the server side, like I said, I’ve used it with some Ruby apps and things I just like that you can have an avatar that’s instantly available that the user will recognize and you don’t have to do any of the file storage for it. Yeah, it’s just right there.
2008 they got busy though. 2008 was their first big community acquisition where they bit and though the phrasing on this as is generally funny, they didn’t so much by buddy press as it was they bought the developers of buddy press. Right? Oh, buddy press is generally considered an automatic project. Even though like if you go to buddy press.org I don’t think there’s any automatic branding anywhere there or anything like but Unknown Speaker buddy press is like the the social feed,
turning turning WordPress into a social platform. Okay, our community like site
for like forums or something? Yeah,
well, that’s kind of a separate deal that gets in the BB press and that but also right, they have sort of gotten their claws into that was in March, by September, they picked up intense debate. intense debate was a competitor to discuss, okay, the, you know, third party commenting system,
right? They both intense, intense debate is the same kind of thing. Like it’s Yeah,
same basic system that it’s basically an embedded commenting system that they they handle letting people login and maintaining continuity. They’ve all got like built in anti spam things and guys like that, like, if you’ve ever used the built in WordPress commenting system, it it leaves a lot to be desired. Yes, it’s like a whole lot. So. And these tools generally have a lot of other features. Like they’ll recommend other content, you know, in in the bread, they usually have some added features for things like embedding video or media or code or stuff like that. I’ve used both I use discuss still. And I know there’s a there’s some questions about tracking, go back to the start of the show. You know, the way these commenting systems are used to track people between sites, that’s their brain use that a lot of them. Then October of 08 came and they also picked up poll, Daddy,
what is that? I thought heard of
a social survey? You know, okay, do you think I should buy a new hat? Yes or no? Does this happen? If good on me? Yes or no? So it’s like
a plugin for your WordPress blog?
Well, yeah, and I don’t know that like, these are things one of the things that I’m going to mention is, like many places, automatic has purchased a lot of technology, that right no longer exists. Okay? Or has been folded into the company in different ways. And I am not gonna be able to tell you off the top my head like all of these in this list, like this is not the complete list, trust me, if you you can go, go check out was it crunchbase or whatever. And you look at all the acquisitions that they’ve had. And so some of these obviously, are a little fuzzy, and we’re going back 11 years for Paul daddy. By 2011, they had launched jet pack. I have heard of that everybody’s heard of jet pack jet pack is there when you install WordPress and jet pack ruffling a lot of feathers up to today, whether that’s debates about the performance impacts on WordPress, by enabling it, the way they’re infiltrating things like the plugin repo and trying to, you know, give themselves prime positioning. Something else we’ll talk about, but jetpack is to go back to that quote that I mentioned, automatic is a subscription and upgrade company jet pack is part of the way automatic makes money because all of jet packs, premium features are right option not gated. So you pay that 39 bucks a year or whatever to get access to, you know, install vault press, or use Kismet or all these things. So that’s sort of that that pipeline, and that was that first real big push outside of just wordpress.com jetpack was how do we monetize? wordpress.org? And that’s, that was their approach.
jetpacks not? It’s, it’s a decent product. I think I don’t use it much. But
it’s something that would be worth maybe digging into all on its own, I think to go through the feature set and the pros and cons with somebody. What I will say is I use it as little as humanly possible.
as theirs. But I think as a developer, you reach a point where you look at the things jetpack does, and you just don’t need it to do those things. Right. I think that’s sort of the real,
it offers a lot of stuff that is geared towards people who don’t want people who aren’t developers exactly, but still need some of those power feature, right. So like, it’s a good product, I’ve just not ever needed it myself.
Everything is pointing click with it based rightly. things slow down from this point, there were there’s there are a few acquisitions between then and now. They picked up a UK based firm code for the people. Unknown Speaker That what is that?
They were a like a premium UK support company like they, they were a small company. And in fact, a lot of these, one of the things that’s worth noting is like a lot of the companies that automatic was picked up are all relatively young companies that weren’t well known. And so like this, in this case, code for the people, they’ve been around for about three years, they dealt with support for like a lot of high end companies using WordPress in the UK. And so what automatic did was they came in, they didn’t so much they weren’t like buying the company for the company, they were buying the talent. So that, okay, they basically, you know, when you if you go to WordPress, com, and you’re looking for like a layout for your site, and you go into the theme repo, you’ve got all those premium themes and everything, you’ve got to have people building those things. And so my guess is that they got integrated into that ecosystem to help bolster all of those premium offerings that WordPress tries to upsell you on. Okay, so that was 2014 2015 is the watershed moment. 2015 is the Holy shit. Automatic is a player time is 2015 is where the purchase of woo themes comes into play for the first time, but we don’t know necessarily like I can’t tell you how much automatic spent to get intense debate. My guest not very much. Woo themes, they dumped 30 million on that got a movie themes that got them woo commerce, that got them a whole ecosystem of users that are paying recurring revenue for extensions, and plugins, and all of the stuff in between. So this was the big, like, sort of, you know, wow moment for automatic when they plunk down that 30 million to pick up the the new franchise that was like, you know, everything up to this point had been like all these little players, you know, little things, bringing in some talent bringing in, you know, these little bits of pieces, but they were always small, it was always quiet, and not particularly, you know, earth shattering. But this was earth shattering. For him, this was the big deal. And it was when people kind of stepped up and took notice, I guess that you know, automatic is interested in being a bigger player in the WordPress space beyond just you know, being satisfied with what they can do through wordpress. com.
Woo commerce was huge. I mean, that’s like I’m that can generate revenue directly for how it’s being used at everything. And also was, if anyone wanted to run any kind of shop or commerce solutions on WordPress, that was what they had to use.
Yeah, there were, you know, there, there have been others that have come and gone, but they really sort of cornered the market in terms of packaging everything together, making it all work nicely, giving you you know, basic functionality for free. But again, with that idea of up selling to the SIR higher end stuff, something that wordpress.com was already well versed in. And with the woo themes component, you got access to this whole library of fantastic design themes, powerful themes that were ready to go out of the gates with integration into woo commerce. Hmm. And so yeah, that was huge. I mean, I would almost argue that even in 20 1530 million probably was almost a steal.
Yeah. I’d be curious how much revenue that generates for them now.
Why don’t you shoot them an email and ask them? And, and let’s see what answer comes back.
Who were interviewing you for a school newspaper.
So between that, and now things kind of went quiet again, largely because of if I was to speculate, there’s been a lot of work behind the scenes, particularly on integration, the new franchise into the business, that’s a big acquisition, a lot of big business, a lot of people a lot of resources and property. So it’s reasonable that they probably were focusing a lot of their efforts there. This year, they’ve gotten incredibly busy again, though, in May, they announced that they were picking up pros press, which is a subscription model service designed to, you know, take payments and things on a recurring basis, you know, thinking ahead towards things like premium content, maybe this was something this came up even early on with Gutenberg. And there were some comments that had been made about content models and access and stuff was alluded to then. And this, of course, was a few months after that, that it kind of felt like the stuff people were reading into late in 2018, about what they thought Gutenberg might empower seeing this pickup press kind of confirmed some of those suspicions. And we haven’t seen anything with that yet. But at least from a, you know, the bellwether tends to point to that, this month, or I shouldn’t say this month, because it’s not this month anymore. Up in August, there were two relative relatively big acquisitions. And I say that right. One of them was the zero bs CRM. Zero bs is a customer relations package that you could plug in that was generally small, like I don’t think a lot of people knew what zero BS was. I’ve never used them. So I can’t speak personally to their their Feature Pack or anything. But they were generally well regarded from a service standpoint that even though they were small, they were doing a lot of things, right. If you needed a system to manage, you know, leads and inbound tracking and things like that reliance and these things. So automatic fairly quietly, quite frankly, picked up the CRM, they’re saying that it will probably be rebranded as something like jet pack CRM, which makes sense, and I think implies exactly what they’re kind of going after with jet pack. And I also see it as something that you’re very likely going to see direct integration into woo commerce with. So now talking about Oh, that would make sense. Yeah, yeah, it would make a ton of sense because what are they doing? They’re solidifying this whole corner of the E. com world as far as WordPress goes, and there, you think about, are you familiar with like, Zoho, Zoho, Zoho, or you know, Zoho is kind of like a small Salesforce. Okay, vaguely. So like they offer CRM functionality, bulk mailing, in saying product management, accounting, all of these things, you know, a lot of stuff like Salesforce does, because what, ideally, the subscription based SAS models go for is, they want to sell you a suite of tools. And that’s what I am smelling all over this is automatic wants to get you into jet pack and get you into a suite of tools. If you’re a small business, you get your your annual subscription to jet pack, and you’ve got woo commerce with premium themes. You get zero vs. CRM, you get subscription payments, you get all of these features, and they get you bound into their ecosystem. Right. I may be wrong on that. But I don’t think I am.
That seems like a direction that could be going in. Like it would make sense if they went that direction.
It’s certainly you know, there’s value to say the least. I’m, I’m curious to see like how that kind of packages together. And we’ll talk a little bit more about econ here in a few minutes. But the big one, yeah, the one that like literally like TechCrunch, and CNET, and all of the big blogs was the announcement that automatic bought Tumblr. That’s crazy. It’s kind of wild to think about, you know, and to you made that comment earlier about News Corp buying MySpace. And there was this trend there for a while. It’s like these, you know, the big money making purchases of some of these older social platforms, by companies that just don’t get the technology and everybody balked at a lot of this stuff early on, you know, like you think about what was it 300 million that they saw that News Corp Bob bore about my space for
something like that. It was a it was a it was a lot of money. But News Corp lost money on Oh, remember totally.
Yeah. Because I mean, Justin Timberlake isn’t? Didn’t he end up buying it? For? I mean, nothing. Basically, the thing about Tumblr is so Yahoo was the one who came then they Tumblr launched in Oh, seven, Yahoo came in four years later and said, Let us give you $1.1 billion for it. I don’t know about you. But I’m not turning that money. That’s that’s a that’s not Minecraft money.
Right? Yeah, for real.
So that is Yahoo buys it. Yahoo says we’re going to integrate it, Yahoo has no clue what to do with it. Yahoo. By 2011, Yahoo itself was kind of it had no identity, right? Like they just they didn’t know what they wanted to be. And this was part of this time, when they were picking up all of these properties. flicker was one that Yahoo picked up. And everybody watched because and I’m a flicker pro user, I love flicker. I’ve loved flicker, since I signed up for it, I still love flicker. And there were a couple moments where a lot of us kind of were watching the trends. And it’s like the it was clear that they had no idea what they were going to do with the service. And they didn’t know how to monetize it. They didn’t know how to grow it. They didn’t know how to serve the community.
If I recall, didn’t after the Yahoo acquisition, didn’t Tumblr become like they restricted content you could post or something. I remember there being a lot of complaining about that. That
all happened fairly recently, like what was in in just the last year? Yeah, they changed they restricted adult content on the platform, which was a big deal, because there is a lot of adult content there. And adult content, raise money, whether people like it or not, you know, there’s a reason why smart sells people people pay. And there’s a matt did an interview where he was talking about that, actually. And it’s it’s a really interesting topic to dig into not so much from the content management standpoint, or the speech restriction standpoint, a lot of the rationale behind that has to do with getting your application listed in app stores.
If If you can get adult content through your app, Google and Apple are very disinclined to list your app in their app store. And so right keeping Tumblr available there that it was partly viewed as one of the reasons why that restriction came into place. And there’s some questions that because he’s already been asked, you know, well, are you going to restore, you know, our ability to do some of that
I heard the answer was, uh, no, it’s, but it’s
not so much know, as it was just it’s complicated. Because there are, there are consequences from that, and, and losing your listing in the app store has has Fallout in it, and it has to, it’s something that has to be considered, when you look at that, and I don’t blame them. And I’m sure you know, WordPress has the same problems. And there are arguments about well, why does Reddit and Twitter get away with it? And nobody knows the answer. You know, Google and Apple don’t have to tell you, they don’t have to explain themselves, but they know it’s a risk. So it’s something that’s that’s going on there. I like flicker though, as as a comparison for this. Because what ended up happening, Verizon bought Yahoo. As a result, acquired all their properties rise and didn’t buy flicker. Verizon didn’t buy Tumblr, they bought Yahoo. And so they took all of this stuff, they didn’t know what to do with it, and they put it under the oath banner, they set up this little subsidiary that was responsible for overseeing all this stuff. But it was just another case of they bought a company that didn’t care anymore, and got a lot of property that they didn’t care about as a consequence, and put a group in charge of it that consequentially had no stake in any of it. So, okay, it was bad for everything, as far as I’m concerned. And and I think most folks would agree with that, too, that, you know, all of these properties really suffered as a consequence. so smug mug comes into the picture for flicker and smug mug starts talking with oath and, and they say, you know, what, we have been in this game as, as long as anybody we’ve been there, as long as flicker, we see the value in the tool. And we care about pictures. And so we would like to take flicker off your hands, you don’t want it you don’t know what to do with it, let us have it cheap and will we will take care of it. And boom, done deal is over. smug mug gets it and it was almost immediately viewed as a positive. That now flicker is being steward by somebody. So when Yahoo bought liquor, they paid like 35 to 40 million for it somewhere in there. smug mug comes in and buys it for, you know, pennies on the dollar by comparison. And right as a consequence, flicker has a model. It’s being stewarded by people who care about imagery and care about the community and they get it. And I don’t, I think you would be hard pressed to find anybody that feels bad about that move. The move of WordPress or Tumblr to WordPress feels incredibly similar to me.
Yeah, yeah. Well, WordPress definitely understands that kind of content like self content publishing model, right. self publishing
content. Little WordPress was always about blogging. When it started, it was always about creating content and sharing content. And so now WordPress comes in, buys it. for pennies. I say I say flicker got bought for pennies on the dollar. I mean,
3 billion. Well, it takes what 1000 million to make a billion, and they’re paying 3 million for something that was like 1.1 billion originally.
It’s It’s ridiculous. Like how I don’t want to say undervalued, it’s, it’s weird. It’s almost like a bizarre price. And I think the one of the comments Matt had made was that Verizon looked to automatic as, like the right place for it. And right, that one of the things automatic is doing is they aren’t changing anything from a business standpoint, like they are buying Tumblr and keeping all of the workforce in place.
Whereas it’s interesting that like, blogging used to be a huge part of the internet in general. And it seems like it’s kind of fallen out of favor, like with the rise of social media and everything. So it’s kind of neat to see, well, neat, or maybe weird to see like this consolidation of blogging platforms. That’s kind of happening here. And I wonder, like, if there will, like, I don’t know, if live journal is still around. But it’d be interesting if WordPress acquired that one. Also. They are and they’re owned by Russians.
Oh, yeah. On fact, for now, the the thing about that with with automatic taking over Tumblr too, because Tumblr, I mean, yeah, it’s, it is a it’s a blog, sort of, but it is also more than that. It’s, you know, it’s it’s a media sharing platform. Yeah. And, yeah, and I think Matt has ideas for it. I think he’s got some goals from a social media standpoint, from a content creation standpoint, from a monetization standpoint. And I think all of those are relatively good things. Uh, he one thing that Matt said he was on an episode of verge cast recently, and we’ll have that linked in the show notes. It’s absolutely worth listening to. And it really, if you have any trepidation about automatic buying Tumblr, it’ll actually I think it’ll make you feel very good about the deal. He pointed out, he said that they Tumblr have more daily active users than wordpress.com. Has. Like, that’s incredibly we not,
not just more daily active users, but more daily active users than wordpress. com has monthly active user. Yeah.
Yeah. Like, yeah, like, it’s, it’s a huge gap in terms of the monthly unique to compare to the daily unique. So that’s why that’s Yeah, it just goes to show and when I said, when I said that, I think Tumblr was being undervalued, like at $3 million. For those kind of numbers. That’s incredible. You know, you’re talking into a very engaged market, you know, they don’t want to necessarily be sold to. But I think, again, that there’s some there’s some options there. It could just be passive income for automatic now, like, I mean, tumblr generates revenue, whether it’s enough for a big company like Verizon remains to be seen, but for automatic, they didn’t have it before. It’s not enough for Tumblr right now that the thing about Tumblr is, it’s big, it’s very busy, but they aren’t a moneymaker. They they are. But they just they’re one of those companies that burns money, basically, you know, they’ve relied on VC, they’ve relied on the fact that they got bought by a big company to write the checks. I think that’s another reason why Verizon was willing to dump it. Because when you figure what the bottom line on that is, they can look at that as a huge loss on their write offs. So it makes them like, yeah, it makes some some sense there. I think what we’re going to see, and this is you can write this down as a prediction, I think what’s going to happen is, so, form of subscription model is going to come to Tumblr. And I that may include something like premium content, I think it might actually be more Do you remember, there’s a tool and I think it may still be around? I don’t think it works the same. Now readability do remember readability? I don’t know, I don’t remember that one, you know, Insta paper, though? vaguely? Yeah, Insta paper pocket Evernote, these tools that would save articles to read later. Okay, sure readability had this model where you could the tool is free, but you could pay. And you could pay, say $5 a month. And what they would do is if, as you read articles, if you were paying money, they would distribute the money that you were paying to the websites that you read.
yeah, so there was sort of this crowdsource payment method that was available, if I may get the details on this wrong, because it’s been a long time. But it’s like, if you paid five bucks, and you visited 500 sites, then each of them would get a pit. Yeah. If you read write two articles that month, then they would each get two and a half dollars. That’s simplified. But that was the model they were over it was not very successful was not widely used. But
neither did their idea.
And that idea has taken hold elsewhere with success. If you watch a lot of YouTube streamers that take donations now, twitch and their bit system, being able to go in and tip you know, somebody who’s playing a video game that you’re watching or whatever, you know, you can donate to them. And so you’re helping pay for the content creation and their time. I think that model has a lot of merit. And even like thinking about what is it brave, right is the browser that Yeah, they were going into like the cryptocurrency sort of model of figuring out a way to block ads, but still make sure websites could get revenue, same kind of thing. And I think something like that is right possible and would actually do really well on a Tumblr style platform where you’ve got people creating lots of very simple, cheap content, fund your account with $1. And make it be like the first hundred things I look at get a penny. Yeah, and go that route. It may also be something where they decide now that they’ve got pros press involved. Maybe they want to take on Patreon as a way of using Tumblr to create, you know, crowd sourced gated content.
I think I can see that too.
I think any of that, you know, the sky’s the limit. And it still maintains that standard freemium model that Tumblr is known for that you want to get in, you want to use the system and feel like you’ve got access to it, you can do that without spending money.
It also relieves that nice, we said earlier about how automatic views itself as a subscription and upgrade company, not as an advertiser, they advertising not where their strength is. So this idea that they’re going to milk Tumblr for advertising revenue probably isn’t true, because it’s not what they’re good at.
They’ll offer like a freemium service or something. Right. So yeah,
I’ll be interested to see what what it all means. I think it’s going to take a long time. You know, these deals take time to actually close out they take time to integrate, you know, things have been thrown around like It Will you know, maybe they’ll open source the Tumblr platform in general. We don’t know. We know they’re keeping the team intact. We know they want to keep it you know what it is kind of like what smug mug has done will flicker smug mug is not trying to make flicker, a pipeline for smug mug. And right, I think it would be a much different Sir, I think it’d be a mistake for automatic to try to turn to tumbler into like a pipeline for jet pack, for instance. I don’t. Right. I don’t think that Yeah, I would agree with the audience, you know, isn’t right for that. But I think they know that. But it all sets up a very interesting picture, right? You’ve got automatic, which historically was snatching up little tiny young companies that weren’t doing much to here in the last few years dropping, I would say a lot of money, but between woo and Tumblr, they’ve actually got a huge amount of revenue potential for nothing. Man, if I thought I could have bought Tumblr for $3 million, I might have been out on the pavement trying night. I’ve got some contacts, I got some people some money we could have made that happen. But I mean, the there’s a lot in store. And I think this paints a very weird picture for the future of WordPress. And it’s, yeah, it’s where I think if you’re in this field, and if you do site development, if you work with clients who do WordPress to element of any kind, I think this is an important thing to watch. Because,
well, yeah, it’s it’s weird, because it’s there, they’re going down the path that many other companies have gone with acquisition of property, like various IPS and things like Google has been doing that for ages. You know, they acquired YouTube that way, YouTube is hugely popular and revenue generating. So like WordPress appears to be doing that now, too. And I think it will be interesting to see what direction they take this, you know, are they going to be ultimately corrupted by their greed of acquiring everyone ever? Or will they do like smug mug and like, just acquire things, but ultimately let them be themselves still? Like, what’s what’s there? What’s their endgame? I guess is the question. Is it avarice? Or is it like storage?
Yeah. And it’s, it’s weird, right? Because I’ve kind of always looked at automatic as a company that has a lot of identity problems. And, you know, they’re I think they’re trying to unify some of that under the jetpack, blag. But at the same time, like, if you go look at a lot of the products, you look at a Kismet, if you look at vault press, if you look at long reads and some of these other resources that they own and put out there, even buddy press and those even though they’re not strictly speaking, automatic properties, there’s the individual products are still marketed, branded and presented very much as individual things. And right, that feels very strange. And I wonder like I, I think what’s going to be worth watching is what happens in the next few acquisitions like so we have vault press right? If you’re a jetpack user, you may be familiar with vault press. Have you used it for backups and things? And it also has some security features, but I wouldn’t mess Sara Lee cobalt press, the end all be all of security. In fact, I would say security is one of the big blind spots in WordPress. There are good tools, though. You know, think of look at like I theme security. And specifically I would look at a company like defiant, if you’re not familiar with defiant defined is the company that makes word fence. Okay. And if you told me that, in three months automatic analysis that they’ve bought, defiant, to bring word fence and make it jet pack security, I would not blink an eye at that announcement. Yeah, that wouldn’t be surprised. It feels very in tune with kind of what’s happening in this idea that, like you say, exactly, they’re, they’re kind of bringing in ground and creating a kingdom. And I mean, they should I think that’s, you know, I think that’s where their strength would lie in that case. But how they start labeling all this branding it and other companies do this right? Like WP Engine bought flywheel, and one of the first things they said is what we’re not changing flywheel flywheel is still flywheel, and, right. That’s confusing, and
it’s, well, it’s confusing to not have the branding be consolidated. But also, like, think of how, I mean, just thinking about this, this broadcast itself, there’s a lot of things about automatic that I didn’t know, like, I didn’t know how big or how much they owned, or like all the things they had acquired, because they don’t put their branding on those things. Yeah. So like, directly. And so maybe it’s just that they’re trying to maintain this kind of veneer of being like, Oh, good ol automatic, you know, the small company kind of thing. Rather than, like, you know, Google but for blogging, or Microsoft, but for blogging,
think about any time that you you know, sit down and you find out some companies doing something hanging that you don’t want to have any part in, and you’re like, I’m not gonna, I’m not going to shop there anymore. I’m not going to support them. And then right, you find out that they literally own 20 other completely different products that you use and get cut out of your life at this point. Like, it’s like,
like via Viacom’s holdings. Like when you look at all the holdings of Viacom or Time Warner is the look
at look at everything Disney owns. Yeah. Oh, my gosh. And what like if you said, I don’t support Disney, I hate the way they treat their employees that no at their super fun lands and all this stuff. So I’m just not going to consume Disney properties. Seriously, sit down and look at what that means. Because there there’s a lot of stuff that does not get the Disney stamp put on it that they own. And I sometimes I feel like that just happens, because it’s hard. As much as then Yeah. Like figuring out how to consolidate that stuff is difficult. When brands like you look at something like woo commerce, woo commerce, has availed itself of that branding for years now. And that’s not the right word availed? That, that’s how they’re known. That’s that’s where all of their investment is. And all their time is in So chain. Right that
I, I didn’t know that automatic owner commerce till tonight. I didn’t know there were a separate app, or I didn’t know there were the same entity,
or years ago. So and, and I don’t think that that’s like, because automatic is trying to be covert or trick people into it. Because I don’t think there’s any need to do that, quite frankly. I think it’s just because well, people know, woo commerce, but it does make this whole ecosystem kind of weird. Yeah, as a consequence, how they decided to consolidate, I think we’ll say a lot about what automatic views itself as in the future. Sure. I also wonder about other completely different spheres, like one thing they haven’t gone into is the managed hosting environment, you know, we’re looking at places like WP Engine, Pantheon, page, Lee North stack, and then those folks and of course, you can get your WordPress, com subscription. But automatic has stayed very hands off and out of the realm of hosting for WordPress, which is interesting. And I don’t know they want to but then you look at somebody like ghost CMS. And go, CMS has kind of gone into that where they’ve got an open source product, and you’re welcome to download and use it. But they also encourage you to buy your hosting from them.
I don’t I don’t think WordPress would go the hosting route because they have wordpress. com. And it seems like they want to keep everything under that umbrella. If you want to use their like
fee. So yes, it certainly feels like it would confuse the waters quite a bit. I also don’t necessarily think I see their strength there. Since one thing that is not in their portfolio is hosting quite frankly, you know, I don’t I don’t view wordpress.com as a hosting tool. It’s I just view it as a service. So yeah, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Except for him the money standpoint, like you pull in somebody or I don’t know that you could they get by with WP engine but you know, the recurring revenue that they generate by itself could you know sometimes make sense. But what that does is sort of get into that same problem of Yahoo buying Tumblr. Yeah, Yahoo and Tumblr both in the internet business but Yahoo didn’t understand tumblers business. This is sir, just because these companies may do managed WordPress hosting. They doesn’t mean automatic is good at that because WordPress is in the name. Yeah. The econ stack is where I think the difference maker is going to be right. We said this already woo commerce pros press CRM. They are looking at Shopify, they are looking at Magneto. You mean magenta Magneto cuz he pulls the card along the carts made of metal? He makes sure that he that’s not right, that that incorrect.
That’s actually I know, I liked your explanation better. I’m, I’m pretty sure it’s magenta, though. But I definitely read it the first time is Megan ido as well, Magneto in my heart.
They are, I think now with with this sort of, again, the sweet to they’re building this suite of econ platforms. And I think they are looking at Shopify and these folks and saying, you know what, we can steal that market, we can give people an end to end service that gives them all of these features, does it easier and maybe cheaper? And I saw the reason I believe that that is what’s going to happen is because I see that exactly in the descriptions of Gutenberg. Oh, yeah. With medium? Yeah. When when they came out and said that, you know, they need a new authoring experience. And places like medium were thrown around and you look at Gutenberg, and you look at places using block editors. They were absolutely taking a bull’s eye and putting it on medium and saying, you know what, you’re not going to steal our wordpress.com users?
Yeah, they don’t have to aim high. Medium has gotten really annoying with all the subscription articles and everything because you get a link to one. And it doesn’t even say that it’s like a premium article and you try to go to read it.
Yeah, medium has lost itself.
Yeah, I used to really use it a lot. And I don’t use it nearly as much anymore, if at all.
And that’s another one that like I don’t I definitely don’t think it would happen, at least not now. But if automatic announced that they’ve entered into a deal to acquire medium. Again, I wouldn’t like I wouldn’t be shocked. You know, there’s a certain amount of sense there. And when you start talking about these user bases and distributed offering and stuff like, man, I could see why that would make sense.
Oh, I could absolutely see medium being snatched up and then replaced with like, a,
I don’t know, like an extension of WordPress. Yeah. And that’s the thing like I, I think the outcome of that would be very different from the outcome of buying Tumblr, Tumblr, I don’t think you’re going to see change, not in any meaningful ways. Medium, I would could 100% CJ basically becoming a, like a neutral Gutenberg front end, because that’s one thing about medium, right, is that it’s always been about just plain bland content without a bunch of design in the way.
I mean, it wouldn’t be that it wouldn’t be that challenging. Technically, to have Tumblr or medium become like front ends that just communicate with a WordPress API. And so all the all the content is ultimately stored in like WordPress services or WordPress databases. But it’s displayed with a interface that’s familiar to the users who have used it already. Yeah, I could see that happening. And that would like that would streamline their back end costs, though, because Tumblr is all block based to
is it? It’s, it has literally been so long since I’ve used it. I don’t remember what the editor looks like.
They they, I mean, it’s not block based, like how medium is, but like, each post is basically one block type. Yeah, so like you make you make a post, and it’s just one block. So it would be like, you know, sending a post to the WordPress thing. It’s just the single block type for that. And like kind of like an aside are having, whereas medium would have a more traditional interface. But yeah, I could see that just being like, as far as the bat, as far as a friend is concerned, it’s different, completely the same. But on the back end, all the data is like Marshall by WordPress, I can see that
every few years, people throw around the idea like is automatic prime for an IPO. Thus far, I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think it’s going to happen. There’s no way
no way that that would involve Matt would have to turn over so much control for that. And he doesn’t seem like the type of person who would want to do that is I like I
think nail on the head.
No disrespect to matter at all. But like, his actions so far have seemed to imply that he very much likes being able to steer the WordPress ship as much as possible. It’s,
it’s Yeah, it’s this weird balance between, you know, a respect for understanding the community at large and the value of things like open source and those phrases, but at the same time, he’s still very much more wants his vision to be reflected in WordPress. And that’s a tough thing to let go of, I think as a founder and creator, author, a wall street journal article, and that covers this. It’s old, it’s from five years ago. But I think it still hits the high points of why you’re not going to see it go public. Yeah,
I think it’d be a disservice to WordPress as well, too, if they because you have all kinds of different concerns, financial and fiduciary and everything that would, that would come up. If that happened that don’t have right now.
Well, and I think automatic has to go back to what I was, I said a few minutes ago about them lacking a certain amount of identity. Like to to have a public offering, I feel like automatic needs to understand itself better. Like when you look at Salesforce, let’s say and the myriad of features and tools and platforms, Salesforce has everything in that ecosystem is Salesforce branded. And
that’s just not the Roku. So source branded, Roku is owned by Salesforce, but I don’t see the Salesforce signage on the Roku.
Roku might still qualify like as a subsidiary type. Okay, I don’t know on that. But, but certainly like with all of these tools and stuff, like when I say, you know, this idea of changing zero bs CRM to jetpack CRM, that is the sort of thing like, you know, make, you know, make vault vault, why is vault press not being called jet pack security or jet pack backup or something like, there’s this opportunity to start up a whole ism approach? Could
it could be an image thing that I mean, maybe maybe they don’t want to be seen as like this hungry monster that’s eating up all these services? And I don’t know, I
that’s something I don’t have insight into. I’d love to ask Matt, that question. so mad if you’re listening, feel free to come on and chat. This all comes down to though to one like this is this is sort of the the tent stake for this conversation. Because all of this, yeah, comes down to one thing. And it’s the importance of governance in not just the WordPress community, but in open source in general. Right, a lot of open source projects, you know, and even let’s, let’s take your stuff, Aaron, like diaper base, you know, striper base is a large tool for its niche. It’s not by any means what you would call probably a huge platform at all or anything like that. And it’s no, it’s basically ran by a couple of you, right? Like,
yeah, there’s our core team is probably like, maybe about half dozen people, you
guys make the calls and decisions, you’re not answering, you know, to enough people to feel like there’s probably a lot of pressure, I’m guessing.
All the people that that make requests of us are the US like the people who use the product. So yeah,
but when you look at a product like WordPress that’s ran on, but 30 to 70% of websites, the 10s of millions of people that rely on it, it’s not always right, for that strategy to not be understood by the group at large, you know, by the community at large, right. And, you know, WordPress, the way I wrote it in my notes, WordPress has to build what’s right for the internet, not what’s right for automatic. And right up until now, that’s really how it’s been.
Yeah. So this would be kind of like steering the, or maybe getting like a first mate for automatic to like, sort of have a little bit more, say in the steering of the ship, so to speak. To go back to the analogy from
Roman, you look at something like Gutenberg. Right. One of the biggest complaints about Gutenberg that you heard from the community, especially leading up to its really least at the end of last year was that it was coming, you know, come hell or high water. And it was happening because Matt was willing to be so that, you know, because of the strength of his voice on in automatic, in wordpress.org, with the WordPress Foundation, you know, through Audrey capital in the purse strings, like he gets to the side. And there was a lot of the community that felt like that was not the right course. Yeah. And that’s the thing that sort of needs to be answered. Right? Because in think back before Gutenberg, this isn’t the first time this has come up. Because automatic has wordpress.com. wordpress. com is the WordPress code base heavily modified specifically for prayer needs. And as a result, that’s where you got a lot of like, remember WordPress MU? Yes, that’s, that’s where all this WordPress MU stuff came from, and the WordPress network code and all of this that came into play. And they ended up in there not so much because the community needed multi user WordPress hosting, but because WordPress, com needed it. And so they just included it in the.org code base. Okay, that, you know, at the time, I, you know, I don’t think people cared as much, because again, it’s something like, if you weren’t doing that, then you just didn’t care. But it still was a feature that was built because of automatic not because of the community. Right, so I want to take a second to tip my hat over to our friend, Rachel cherry. And if you’re familiar with Morton, Rand Hendrickson, who has been involved with wordpress.org, forever, and has done a lot of accessibility work and stuff there, they have a project going on right now at wp governance.com. And so this kicked off at the start of this year. And what they’re doing is they are working as just community members to put together the collateral and the planning and the documentation to take to the WordPress foundation and say, here’s our proposal for putting in a governance scheme. So that we actually have something to point to and say, when the important decisions get made. Here’s who’s responsible for that, why and how the decision gets made.
So if something and this and this could maybe like decouple the development of WordPress, com from WordPress, open source, yeah, absolutely. To a degree. Yeah. Oh, by the way, if you recognize the name Rachel cherry, she was on build process number four, and Episode 37. We’re talking about the Gutenberg accessibility.
Yeah, yeah, she’s the person who is behind that too. Rachel’s been in the strongest and encouraging WordPress to be better, basically. And that’s the this is one of those things. So they complained about Gutenberg. One of the big deals was, well, it’s got all these accessibility problems, are we going to wait to release it? In our documentation? WordPress says, you know, every week we released code that’s double a compliant and Gutenberg not and they released anyway. And because there was no consequence, right, there was nothing that actually held any of that in check. There was nothing that enforced that standard. And so yeah, I think, as automatic grows, and the more you see these kind of acquisitions, and the more money you see them pushing towards making money in the ecosystem, I think that’s a great thing. It’s fantastic for Matt, I wish him the best of luck and, and a full wallet, and, you know, a sponsorship deal for us if you feel so inclined. But it does rain, the importance that, you know, wordpress.org is still an open source project that is out there to benefit the community. Now,
I there’s there is a responsibility that automatic has towards remembering that for sure. Absolutely. Yeah. And I have no I have zero problem with automatic and wordpress. com, and all of their respective parts existing. But like, they need to be mindful of all of the instances of that software that are are not on WordPress doc
now. And why? Because the bottom line is, like it or not, WordPress runs a third of the internet, which is an incredible thing to say. And I mean, exactly, I have a lot of respect for Matt’s ability to say that, and I think understand what it means. Because if you really try to spend some time and think about what that number means a third of web sites run WordPress, like that responsibility can’t possibly be an easy one to shepherd. And the fact that he hasn’t used that to actually make more money, I think says a lot, quite frankly, cuz he could have sold a all of this off long before, you know, we got to this point. And they chose not to do that they chose to make the WordPress foundation they chose to give the trademark and branding and everything to to that organization to keep it you know, shepherded properly. And so
I wonder if they regret that now?
Oh, no, I do it all. Unknown Speaker Because I think in the end, that’s no, I, I’m glad that they did that.
Yeah, I think in the end, Matt has his sights set on automatic and he understands the importance of of, you know, keeping the left hand unaware of the right hand a little bit. Good on them, or that’s all I have to say on that. I’d love to know what you think and what you know, opinions and predictions you have, what thoughts you’ve got on the Tumblr acquisition, and where you think automatic will go and what it will mean for the development of WordPress in the coming years. Because, you know, here we are 16 years of WordPress. That’s all. That’s a lot of years for a software platform.
That’s really amazing.
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Also great way to share code snippets. Yes.
Drinking ux.com slash slack.
Folks, I look forward to finishing up the year with you. We’ve got a few more interviews coming up a few more topics on the docket. We keep trying to think about ways to help you be better think smarter, be strategic and help your users out. And at the end of the day, the best advice that I’ve ever given anybody in my entire life from start to finish whether it was with Aaron an hour ago or with you right now it’s hope that you’re keeping your users close and your Nope, that’s not right. Is it? Nope, see. It’s Unknown Speaker Magneto you have to keep next
it says it’s the scotch in the magic mag magenta. Unknown Speaker Folks, keep your personas close
and your users closer bye bye