Happy B’day Matt Mullenweg: The Man Who Powers 17.5% of World’s Total Websites


If you want to be good at something, you really have to work at it every single day. You have to work hard at the things that are hard. Otherwise, you are just treading water.

Versatile is the word that may describe Matt Mullenweg quite distinctly. Matt dropped out of college at the age of 19, when he was pursuing a course in Political Science from the University of Houston. The music fanatic loved to play saxophone, but never considered it as a career. Later coding grabbed his interest and as the puzzle pieces of his life formed the meaningful picture he met Mike Little, a professional coder.

Matt Mullenweg founded Automattic on July 1, 2005, a $190.6 million worth equity funding company which led to the creation of WordPress.com, WordPress.com VIP, Gravatar, Vaultplus, Polldaddy and more. Later on May 13th, 2015 he founded Akismet, which is blog spam filtering software.

When the art (Matt Mullenweg) and code (Mike Little) met, WordPress was born in January 2003.  The ratio of a total number of unique monthly users in the US (131 million) to the total number of employees (mere 425) in an organization is the highest in WordPress compared to other organizations. 17.5% websites around the globe are using WordPress.

PC World Magazine ranked him #16 among the “50 Most Important People in the World Internet” in 2007, rightly so as this Herculean Techie recruited Toni Schneider (former CEO and Senior Manager at Yahoo!) as the CEO of Automattic in the year 2006 when Matt was a mere 22 years old youngster.

Full Name: Matthew Charles Mullenweg

Born: January 11, 1984, Houston, Texas, USA

Net Worth: $40 million

Now curiosity arises of how has a non-technical background college dropout became a Gladiator of the internet. Let’s discover this great personality a bit more:

  • Political Science, Music, Arts and then b2 software (an open source simple project), Matt had different facets of life until he met Mike Little over the internet who was a die-hard coder. The b2 software was the creation of an artistic idea mingled with coding, which later became the undisputed WordPress. At that time, Matt was just 19 years old and was studying Political Science in Houston University.
  • WordPress proved to be the nitro-booster for Matt as funding kept piling up from renowned investors such as CNET, True Ventures, Radar Partners etc. which engrossed $1.1 billion in 2006.
  • A typical Youngster: He prefers working from home, even though his office is at walkable distance from home in San Francisco. Only prefers office for board meetings as his ventures are all on a virtual platform.
  • An avid late morning guy: Matt avoids caffeine and rarely prefers morning breakfast. He is skeptical towards alarm clocks and prefers a virtual world after an hour of leaving the bed in the morning.
  • He has never planned to leave WordPress and his satisfaction comes from the continues growth of his and his customers.
  • Impressive management at WordPress: A total of 5 teams work together on different aspects of WordPress and every 2 months, he organizes a global hang out with all his teams where the meetings are held.
  • An ardent reader: Matt is a ‘kindle’ addict and prefers business magazines to be at par with the real businessmen. He also a soft corner for the classics.
  • Tech addict: Possesses both, Mac and PC with 30 inches computer monitors for both and shares a common mouse and keyboard to work simultaneously in both environments. The laptop is his all-time mate, which accompanies him everywhere he goes.
  • Matt has a priority e-mail folder which contains the filtered e-mails from WordPress plugin. Also, he prefers his self-created P2 software for communicating codes and ideas instantly with his employees.

We focus on two things when hiring. First, find the best people you can in the world.  And second, let them do their work. Just get out of their way.

  • Stern Manager: For every 800 applications received one person is hired by Matt on a contract basis. Many of them work on the open-source project. Eight hours a day work is mandatory and believes experience becomes obsolete over the time akin technology. A person with good work ethics, creativity, curiosity and good taste is preferred over the experienced one.
  • Luncheon: Matt prefers luncheon with Automattic’s CEO Toni Schneider, their verbal discussion and exchange of ideas takes place over the luncheon.

When there’s no one you can point to, or when something goes wrong, it’s your fault – that level of responsibility and accountability is pretty interesting.

  • He believes one must have completely conflicting ideas in his mind every single time and feels he is financially more capable now to try anything that will benefit his users.
  • He feels ideas are the main source for a successful startup while the investment and terms come afterward. As investor is not anyone’s wife eventually one has to pay him off.
  • Angel Investor: He doesn’t consider himself as a real investor. His investments in ventures are based on his intuition that if he was not into WordPress then what else he may have opted for. Matt has 34 investments in 31 different companies.
  • Entrepreneurs have a bad memory of travel appointments; same is the case with Matt. Maya Desai, office manager, takes care of Matts appointments, including the WordCampsa conference that focuses on WordPress. Earlier the WordCamps were organized around the globe, but due to the hectic schedule, Matt started to organize it in San Francisco itself. Music, T-shirts, bar, lunch and conversation all are a part of every WordCamp.
  • His blog is like his living room and entertains every single comment on his blog even the ones with the negative approach.
  • Future: His dream is to make WordPress like Google, Amazon, eBay which have enabled many organizations and individuals to garner revenues using these platforms. His next target is the remaining 82.5% of the websites that are not using WordPress.

I don’t have big ideas. I sometimes have small ideas, which seem to work out.

The post is a part of a B’day Series where we celebrate the birthday of renowned personalities from Tech Industry, very frequently. The series includes Entrepreneurs, C-level Executives, innovators or a renewed leaders who moved the industry with his exponential skill set and vision. The intent is to highlight the person’s achievements and touch base the little known, but interesting, part of his life. You can see the list of all earlier celebrated tech personalities, including Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayor, Sean Parker, Andy Rubin, Julian AssangeSir Richard Branson, Sergey Brin by following this link or subscribe to your daily newsletter.

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