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Akismet Automattic wordpress.com

A Little Funding

The best thing that can ever happen to a web service is to have passionate users. Users that notice and email you the second there’s a database problem, users that really push the limits of what you can provide, and users that are phenomally successful and bring thousands of others to your doors.

As a service provider, you have a strong responsibility to these folks. They’re putting their life online with you, they deserve nothing less than 100% uptime. They tell all their friends to try you out, they deserve for the experience of the hundred thousandth user to be as great as the tenth. WordPress.com is serving 4.2 million hits a day on a handful of boxes. Akismet has gotten to the point where it’s blocking so many spams every second that any fraction of downtime is very noticable to users. (Like we had this morning.)

At Automattic we’ve always taken this very seriously, and from the bootstrap beginning I planned for it to be sustainable and frugal in the long term. Of course since I moved to San Francisco I’ve talked to dozens of really high-quality investors who were interested in what we were doing, but the bubble model of giant valuations and ultra-rapid growth never really appealed to me.

The growth of WordPress.com and Akismet has outpaced anyone’s expectations. Recently, I made the decision to sell a minority stake in the company to a few select partners who I think are going to bring a lot of value to the business far beyond mere dollars. This isn’t going to change how the business is run, or the people involved with it, but it will allow us to take better advantage of the opportunities before us and also for us to keep our promise to every one of you to maintain a fast, stable, and innovative platform in the long term.

Automattic isn’t going to get fancy SoMA offices, throw huge parties at SxSW, or “get big fast.” We took a small amount of capital to put things that were already growing fast in a stable position, so from month to month you’re not robbing Peter to pay Paul. We’re going to use the money to pre-emptively address scaling issues before they happen, and continue to share everything we can back to the community, like all of the code behind WP.com in WordPress MU, the spellchecking feature we sponsored, free Akismet for 99.9% of users, and a few other goodies we still have up our sleeve. In terms of hiring, we’re still going to grow very deliberately in line with our revenues and focus on the very best and brightest (and BBQ-loving), like Podz.

We’re going to publish more technical details about everything later, and this is already longer than I hoped — I’m sure you folks have some questions. I’m going to do something a little different and turn the comment section here into a FAQ. If you have a question, please post it below. If you want to say “congrats!” or “that sucks!” do it on this entry instead to keep the question and answer flow clean. If a question warrants a long enough answer I might turn it into a separate blog post.

33 replies on “A Little Funding”

[…] Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress has just announced at his personal blog that Automattic is going to take some funding: Automattic isn’t going to get fancy SoMA offices, throw huge parties at SxSW, or “get big fast.” We took a small amount of capital to put things that were already growing fast in a stable position, so from month to month you’re not robbing Peter to pay Paul. We’re going to use the money to pre-emptively address scaling issues before they happen, and continue to share everything we can back to the community, like all of the code behind WP.com in WordPress MU, the spellchecking feature we sponsored, free Akismet for 99.9% of users, and a few other goodies we still have up our sleeve. In terms of hiring, we’re still going to grow very deliberately in line with our revenues and focus on the very best and brightest (and BBQ-loving), like Podz. […]

[…] Valleywag is reporting that Automattic (owner of WordPress.com domain) has taken funding. Commenting on his decision to take the funding on his blog, Matt said that the services deserved to be up 100% of the time and “they (the services) deserve for the experience of the hundred thousandth user to be as great as the tenth”. It’s a little early to speculate on how WordPress and Akismet will change and evolve. […]

[…] For the latest perspective on all this, we can look to Matt Mullenweg of Automattic.net, the creator of WordPress.com — the blog software this blog uses, and many others — as well as the blog-spam tool Akismet and lots of other cool stuff. On his blog, Matt writes about selling a minority stake in the company to what he describes as “to a few select partners who I think are going to bring a lot of value to the business far beyond mere dollars.” Matt, who is an extremely nice guy — even if he does look like he’s about 15 years old (he’s 24) — puts it this way: “This isn’t going to change how the business is run, or the people involved with it, but it will allow us to take better advantage of the opportunities before us and also for us to keep our promise to every one of you to maintain a fast, stable, and innovative platform in the long term.” […]

[…] A Little Funding Published April 13th, 2006 Tags: Asides, automattic, funding, WordPress. A little funding for Automattic. These are the guys behind WordPress.com and Akismet, so they definitely deserve to receive some help in realizing their dreams. They are providing some great tools and services so I applaud their hard work. Good luck guys! (0) […]

now, to be fair, you don’t have to take funding to throw huge parties @ sxsw. we totally bootstrapped our way into doing that! we just like to throw parties.

What about Pingomatic? — Martey

Ping-O-Matic is separate from Automattic and is going to go under the WordPress Foundation once it’s done. The only real connection is that Automattic donated the some servers to it. I think it’s important that PoM stay independent.

[…] The news is making the rounds, but what would a WP site be without reporting WP news? Matt discusses the thought process, and explains the details. It seems the funding is primarily meant as a means to better service the wordpress.com users, as well as help keep Akismet running smooth. Another noted point made in his annoucement is the addition of Podz to the fold. If anyone has ever had a WP related question, and ventured into the forum, you are sure to be familiar with him. No one has better served the community in attempting maintain the forums as one of the brightest points of the community. Congratulations to all for being able to take the next step. […]

Oh, a FAQ. Then you’re gonna answer my question, even though it’s not directly related to this case, right (it’s kind of about funding, though. In a way)? And even though you didn’t answer a similar question I asked on Flickr? Please?

Ok, here goes: When are you going to let us guys buy a WP shirt? I’ve been waiting for that for ages, but you’re only selling that limited edition womans shirt.

Thanks! 🙂

(PS: Again, I’d love it if you’d add those pics of WP shirts and caps on Flickr to my Web 2.0 Schwag group! :))

PPS: I love all your services, and I’m using them almost every day (WP, Akismet, Ping-o-matic). I’ve asked the leading Scandinavian blogware provider (BlogSoft), where I have a couple of personal contacts, if they would consider using Akismet as their spam filter. I hope they will! Thank you for all you’ve done for us bloggers!

OK, I have a couple of questions for you:

1. Why wasn’t this post syndicated to Planet WordPress? It seems a heck of a lot more relevant than Mike Little’s family birthdays or yet another theme announcement. Or April Fools in conjunction with Txp, for that matter.

2. Are you really piping all the wordpress.com code back into MU?

3. Where did my ping go? 😉

[…] Why Polaris is Backing Automattic: Mike Hirshland from Polaris explains their rationale for providing a “relatively small” bit of funding for Automattic. A friend of mine from Wooster, another Matt, had a very catchy DJ handle (radio, yes I was a DJ at Wooster) which I believe appropriately describes Mike’s depiction of Matt. Henceforth Matt will be referred to as WonderBoi. Technorati Tags: automattic mullenweg polaris wordpress   […]

We’re planning to put the regular shirts up on Goodstorm, just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Alright, great! Will you let us know here on your blog?
Oh, and please ask them to start ship internationally when you put them up (I will of course ask them myself too. I’ve been in contact with them before, nice guys)! I’d apreciate that!

[…] โดย แมท ประกาศใภBlog ส่วà¸à¸•à¸±à¸§à¸§à¹ˆà¸² เหตุผลที่ต้องเปิดรับเงิà¸à¸—ุà¸à¹€à¸žà¸´à¹ˆà¸¡à¹€à¸•à¸´à¸¡à¸à¸±à¹‰à¸ ก็เพราะต้องการให้มีเงิà¸à¹€à¸‚้ามาหมุà¸à¹€à¸§à¸µà¸¢à¸à¹ƒà¸à¸£à¸°à¸šà¸š ไม่ให้เงิà¸à¸•à¹‰à¸­à¸‡à¸•à¸¶à¸‡à¸¡à¸·à¸­à¹ƒà¸à¹à¸•à¹ˆà¸¥à¸°à¹€à¸”ือà¸à¸¡à¸²à¸à¸à¸±à¸ เพราะว่าทุกวัà¸à¸à¸µà¹‰ WordPress.com à¸à¸±à¹‰à¸à¸•à¹‰à¸­à¸‡à¸£à¸­à¸‡à¸£à¸±à¸šà¸ˆà¸³à¸à¸§à¸à¸œà¸¹à¹‰à¹ƒà¸Šà¹‰à¸à¸§à¹ˆà¸² 4 ล้าà¸à¸„รั้งใà¸à¹à¸•à¹ˆà¸¥à¸°à¸§à¸±à¸ โดยเงิà¸à¸—ี่ได้จากการขายหุ้ภจะเอามาพัฒà¸à¸² server ให้มีความเสถียรภาพและสามารถทำงาà¸à¹„ด้อย่างปกติ […]

Why wasn’t this post syndicated to Planet WordPress? — wank

The planetplanet script that runs that seems to be having some problems, it looks like my site hasn’t been picked up in a few weeks. We should really just move that to use FeedWordPress or something.

Are you really piping all the wordpress.com code back into MU? — wank

Check out MU activity before and after WP.com started. It’s not line-for-line WordPress.com, as some things aren’t or can’t be easily genericized for release, like our stats system, but the codebase is synced up pretty regularly.

Sorry about your ping, I guess your link is there now so it’s moot.

[…] It goes without saying that I believe WordPress is the best blogging application available today.  This week Automattic, the company founded by Matthew Mullenweg – developer of WordPress, annouced it had received “a little funding“.  That’s great news for all WordPress fans, especially those who use Automattic’s WordPress.com.  Like most open source applications, not all of the credit for WordPress can go to Matt, however like most successful open source applications, Matt should get some financial rewards for his efforts to build WP into the great piece of software it is today.  Automattic has a lot of other great applications on its plate, and this intial funding should help to secure the future of those as well.  Congratulations Matt! 0 Posted by Nitin Tagged as Blogs, Mobile Blogging, Venture Capital, WordPress […]

[…] Photo Matt » A Little Funding The best thing that can ever happen to a web service is to have passionate users. Users that notice and email you the second there’s a database problem, users that really push the limits of what you can provide, and users that are phenomally successful and bring thousands of others to your doors. […]

[…] I wonder, too, if WordPress might start to stagnate being centrally hosted. I don’t know why that would be the case, but my fear is that centralized hosting might undermine your ability to innovate. Although, I can see how supporting thousands of distributed installation would be somewhat daunting. Plus, I’ve seen a lot of activity in the WordPress community that seams to have been enlivened by the recent funding that Automattic recieved. […]

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