Although Automattic is a fully distributed company with most people working from home in 197 cities around the world, we think it’s really important to meet in person as well and we bring the entire company together once a year. This year we went to Park City, Utah, and were blessed with amazing weather all week. We were right at the base of a mountain so there were beautiful trails for hikes and runs and gorgeous views no matter what direction you looked.
There were all sorts of activities people did throughout the week from paintball to skydiving to a Magic: The Gathering tournament (I played for the first time in about 15 years) and morning running classes every day at 7 am. I went to a Crossfit class with about 15 colleagues. My body is sore but my heart is happy.
I’m really grateful that I get to work with the people I do, and on the problems that we work on together. It’s far from easy, in fact each year brings new challenges and I make mistakes as often as not, but it is worthwhile and incredibly fulfilling. A few hours ago I gave a closing toast and teared up looking around the room. So many folks that give their passion and dedicate themselves to jobs both large and small, visible and unseen, to help make the web a better place. A web that we want to live in. Here’s a vignette from when we were taking our annual family photo, it’s a goofy and crazy group of incredibly unique individuals that I hope to know and make things with for many decades to come.
Last week in the New York elections my friend who was running for Lieutenant Governor, Tim Wu, lost. However, the New Yorker has a great look at how close the race was. As John Cassidy puts it, “The strong showing by Teachout and Wu was a victory for progressive voters who warmed to their message about tackling rising inequality, political corruption, and corporate abuses.” Hat tip: Cody Brown.
Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters is one of the best business books I’ve read in a while.
Merchbar is an iPhone app that makes it easy to buy merchandise from your favorite artists. It also was the first investment I made through my Angellist Syndicate, and I’m excited for the team on its launch. (Although it’s good to remember that launching is a halfway point — you should expect to spend at least as much time as you did leading up to launch to get to something you’re happy with. Something I’m thinking about a lot in Automattic these days.)
Every second, somewhere in the world four babies and two WordPress blogs are born.
That great line comes from Shane Snow’s profile of myself, Automattic, and WordPress called “How Matt’s Machine Works.” If you’re interested in the latest on how Automattic works as seen from the eye of a journalist with a background in product and technology, check it out.
A few comments: Since it came out my colleagues have been making fun of me for “trolling.” The term “benevolent dictator for life” goes back to at least 1995 and is common in open source communities. Our lounge in SF is now much nicer than the one pictured. We mostly use Slack instead of Skype. I would say my management style has changed quite a bit since when Scott was at the company. The end of the article nails it in that as Automattic has scaled, to 272 at latest count, it’s really the over 40 leads who keep things running as smoothly as they do, and many people in similar roles on the .org side.
Even with the above, the article is probably the best look at the things I’m involved with every day since 2009’s The Way I Work, so kudos to Shane and definitely check it out.
We’ve had some really good press the past week, the first I’d like to share with you comes from Aimee Groth writing for Quartz: The makers of WordPress.com learned years ago that the ultimate office perk is not having an office. The funny thing is I’m writing this from the once-a-year Automattic Grand Meetup, which is in Utah this year, there are over 250 of my colleagues here and it’s great fun meeting and hanging out with everybody.