I was on VentureBeat’s podcast with Dylan Tweeney, talking a bit about how WordPress came to be and geeking out on some of the tech behind our approach.
There’s been some controversy and discussion about the fact that WordPress.com no longer support Bitcoin in our new checkout flow on signup. (It’s still there in some other flows.)
Since there has been a lot of discussion about it, I wanted to share directly some of the answers I had to Grace’s follow-up questions, since I’m not sure if they’ll be published and if they are it probably won’t be in their entirety.
In regards to your future plans for the currency, is bitcoin support definitely returning or is that just a possibility at this point?
We’re big fans of Bitcoin and hope to support it again in the future, for all of the reasons that we originally supported it in 2012, which you can read about here:
Is there anything that will influence the outcome of this decision?
No, it is simply a matter of development resources, which are especially scarce for us right now as we’re trying to keep up with growth.
You mention that bitcoin has low volume compared to other payment methods, has this always been the case? Has its volume share changed over time?
The volume has been dropping since launch, in 2014 it was only used about twice a week, which is vanishingly small compared to other methods of payment we offer. We supported Bitcoin for philosophical reasons, not commercial ones.
What are the key aims of your checkout process changes?
Our goals are twofold: to refactor the code behind it which has parts that are over five years old and has grown very complex, and to make it faster and easier for people to buy our services.
When you first launched bitcoin payments WordPress’ blog post praised it as an inclusive payment method for those who cannot use PayPal. Do you worry that these people will now be excluded from the platform?
Of course, but either that number of people turned out to be smaller than we expected or they found other ways to pay. Since it’s so few people overall I’m happy to extend people’s subscription for a year, as I offered in your comments section.
What does being a ‘big believer’ in bitcoin mean to you?
I believe Bitcoin or some other blockchain-like system will be the basis of the majority of financial transactions in the future, from small remittances to multi-billion dollar corporate acquisitions. I think transaction costs should follow Moore’s law, and I don’t think we’re going to get there with the centralized gateways that currently account for the overwhelming majority of transactions. I also personally hold Bitcoin, I’m an advisor to Stellar.org, and my friends make fun of me for bringing up Bitcoin and the blockchain in unrelated conversations.
The bitcoin option still appears on the ‘WP Admin’ screen but not on ‘My Upgrades’. Is this part of the phase out, or likely to stay this way?
That’s on the old code base, and will be available for a short while if any current Bitcoin subscribers want to renew while the option is still available.
J. J. Colao, who covered Automattic for Forbes Magazine in 2012 and has a long history and experience with WordPress and Automattic, sat down with me for close to three hours in March and somehow managed to distill it down to just a few thousand words of interview. (“13,500 words down to 2,800.”) I’m sheepish to link it because there are a lot of “I” statements and some nuance lost in the distillation, but JJ asks great questions and we cover a lot of ground that anyone who follows Automattic or the WordPress ecosystem I think will find interesting. You can check it out here.
Brad Stone at BusinessWeek reports Automattic has acquired the great service Longreads, which you can also read about on our blog. See also: Techmeme.
I have a few quotes and thoughts in the WSJD article At Lavish SXSW Festival, Some Avoid Marketing Circus.
The chat I had the other week with Reid Hoffman is now online. Reid is such a thoughtful guy it’s my favorite interview in a while. We cover a lot of ground, including expanding WordPress’ (and Automattic’s) mission from “Democratize publishing” to “Democratize publishing and development.” Give it a watch!
I have a few engagements in the coming week in the San Francisco area and online:
- Later today I’ll be on the WordPress-focused podcast Dradcast.
- This evening there will be a Patent Happy Hour co-hosted by Engine Advocacy, EFF, and Automattic.
- On Thursday the 20th I’ll be speaking with Kent Goldman as part of the First Round Capital Dorm Room Fund Speaker Series at Stanford Graduate School of Business.
- Friday the 21st I’ll be talking with Reid Hoffman as part of the LinkedIn Speaker Series at their campus, and it will also be broadcast online.
- Tuesday the 25th I’ll be on the WP Think Tank panel discussion with a number of other notable WordPress community members.
- On Wednesday the 26th I’ll be interviewing Ben Rattray of Change.org at the Commonwealth Club.