One thing I’ve noticed about talking to certain types of press, particularly mainstream, is that they have a pattern in mind before they write about something, and the better you conform to the pattern the more coverage you get.
I think what they really want is an unusually young founder, possibly with a partner, who stumbled on an idea in an epiphany moment, implemented it in days, and then enjoyed overnight success, preferably capped with some sort of financial hook such as a huge VC funding or selling out to a large company for millions of dollars.
It’s not uncommon to get leading questions trying to hit a point in the above patterns… Yes, WordPress really is four years old. I was 19. No, I didn’t create it alone, if I did you would have never heard of it. Actually, it entered a rather crowded field, not even close to being first. No, not planning to sell it, there isn’t really anything to sell, it’s more of a movement. No, I didn’t make 60 million dollars in 18 months.
What’s worst is I think these stories sell a false promise and hope to people outside of the industry — it attracts the wrong type of entrepreneurs — and inside of the industry it distracts us from what really matters.
Someday I think there will be a realization that the real story is more exciting than the cookie-cutter founder myth the media tries frame everything in. It’s not just one or two guys hacking on something alone, it’s dozens of people from across the world coming together because of a shared passion. It’s not about selling out to a single company, it’s dozens of companies independently adopting and backing an open source platform for no reason other than its quality. I’m not a millionaire, and may never be, but there are now hundreds of people making their living using WordPress, and I expect that number to grow to tens of thousands. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning, not the prospect of becoming a feature on an internet behemoth’s checklist.
Finally it’s not Web 2.0, or another bandwagon me-too content management system with AJAX, it’s a mature project that has been around and grown up over four years of hard work, and it has many, many more years of hard work ahead of it. I smile these days when I see WordPress referred to as an “overnight success,” if only they knew how long an overnight success takes.
Update, see also:
- 2009-03-19: 37signals — Overnight succes takes years