This Week in Startups

Last week I was on This Week in Startups with Jason Calacanis and Joel Spolsky. Here’s the show:

34 thoughts on “This Week in Startups

  1. Hi Matt, great interview thanks, I can’t believe i watched the whole thing. It kept me entertained while updating some WordPress sites, and might even be inspiration for my entrepreneurial ventures.

  2. Great interview. Jason did a good job covering a broad assortment of topic and keeping it very interesting.

    You mentioned in the interview a few books you were currently reading and I know from a previous interview you are an avid book reader. Do you happen to keep a list/log of what you have read?

  3. Matt: I feel old, even though I am 4 years older than you…lol.

    Definitely WordPress is something to be proud of… even others like bbPress, BuddyPress, and more…

    I tried movable type. I actually did my own comment system like Haloscan, and then ditched it for b2… which I am really happy how b2 progressed to WordPress and to other projects too.

    b2 was a lot different (coding) and you might laugh, but before I moved my site when WordPress offered downloads (long ago in what now we all call near the dinosaur ages…lol..jk), I had to fix my site in b2 because I hacked it so badly…lol.

    Extra note: Matt, this is a huge question (at least for me….on the gutsy part), I started (, it is meant to be for fans, advanced, and n00bs, would you be interested if I were to send you a questionnaire that only required at least 200 words, or maybe a podcast…) that I could post on the site.

    Also, I am interested in trying a WordCamp to St. Louis (I live an hour from St. Louis, about 5 hour drive from Chicago.) Anyone I SHOULD get in contact that could help me get something like a WordCamp to happen in the STL area???

    Jason’s Mahalo is WAY different from the WMF Wikimedia Foundation/ Wikipedia. I am a part of the Fan History wiki. We are currently in proposal w/ WMF… Mahalo, as much as Jason would want to pay people as he has said on Twitter (to even purplepopple/ Laura Hale of Fan History), due to licensing and current users of Wikipedia, he could not pay them anything to merge over…and that includes Wikia too even though Wikia is outside the WMF. It is all about quality and Mahalo has a lot of articles that are lacking.

  4. Interesting conversation Matt. Keep up the great work! I am a big fan as well.

    I watched the whole thing despite a busy day. Very interesting to hear about your plans for the future of WordPress. I think the CMS Press idea sounds especially promising. Do you have any plans to attend a Word Camp or other event in Toronto in the foreseeable future? It would be great to meet you in person.



  5. During the interview, you refused to bash Movable Type or CNet, even when Jason did. Way to just laugh off his “real company” comment also. Very classy.

    It is always refreshing to hear a CEO who not only understands the GPL philosophy and core freedoms, but stands behind them 100%. Software features and usability issues will come and go; the open code will last.

    As you say, it does not make a company “bulletproof”. You’ve even taken some hits for it (occasional FUD, Six Apart’s Akismet clone, or the non-GPL theme expulsion controversy), but I think it is the right course in the long run.

    And nice xkcd reference 🙂

  6. Although I don’t usually place interviews at the top of my viewing list, I enjoyed watching this one. It was cool to hear you recount the wordpress story from beginning to now. Evolving from an open source start-up to a fully fledged corporate business with employees and investment capital during the blogging explosion was quite a journey. What I got the most enjoyment from was hearing your future plans for wordpress, including the CMS idea.

  7. I was once as enchanted as Matt that “open source always dominates its space in the end.” But, then, why hasn’t open source software like Linux dominated desktop operating systems, dethroning Windows and Mac? In fact, I can note just as many examples of closed, commercial products that have been successful against many threats from open source competitors, for many years and going strong. The cell phone industry. Cable TV. Wikipedia, the ultimate “open content platform,” would be a free-for-all of chaotic propaganda without a strict, reflexive protocol of appointed user-contributors. Spiritual founder, Jimmy Wales assigns these roles as what he terms himself, “the benevolent dictator.”

    It’s not so simple. The war between open source and dictatorial, controlled systems rages on with new battlegrounds each year.

    1. Usually what I say is “Open Source eventually dominates every market it enters.”

      The eventually is key and depends on a lot of factors like the complexity of the problem and the quality of the competitors. In the desktop space Microsoft and Apple are both kicking butt right now and it might be another decade before we see desktop Linux in double-digit market share but I do think it is inevitable.

      1. If it takes 30 years before an open source alternative dominates a market, that’s not domination–that’s commoditization. Like once hi-tech patented cathode ray tubes now being mass-produced in Asia. Inevitably hi-tech will lose its luster, but the smart companies that originally invented it, will invent and market new technologies to profit ahead of the curve. Linux does not quite fit into that comparison, but it’s a big leap to predict it will prevail on the desktop…

        The open source path serves as a marketing strategy, a loss-leader for the commercial–where money is made to advance the product. I am cognizant of the value added from the developer community in plug-ins… But am I wrong that is growing relative to .org? The hosted service is a solid, low-cost, product requiring little technical expertise to scale.

      2. Domination and commoditization are not mutually exclusive, nor is it without innovation or after all the “smart” companies have moved on. The LAMP stack is a good example of OS coming in fast and hard. OS is still new on the consumer side, but you could point to Wikipedia, Firefox, and WordPress as positive examples.

        The success of OS has nothing to do with a marketing strategy or the idea of a loss leader, you shouldn’t confuse the tactics of certain companies with the broader movement which has strong philosophical and social underpinnings. A hosted service is another tactic, but is much harder than you say.

  8. It takes little (or no) expertise for your customers to use the hosted service.

    I can attest, building and supporting a hosted platform to scale is very difficult which, presuming it sells well, is another win for a commercial, closed system.

    If the philosophical principle of open source were stronger than the commercial value, you would also open source your hardware infrastructure intelligence, so other companies could replicate and benefit from it. I don’t blame you for protecting the trade secrets of your core business 🙂

      1. Yes, I’ve seen it. Not exactly a step-by-step recipe for re-creating your company.

        If OS were dominating your space, then how would you be paying salaries to 35+ employees and supporting your growth as a company? The philosophical movement of OS certainly captures mindshare which has helped WP, but it appears you’ve evolved the company beyond it. These days are you more a philosopher or a business man?

        Personally, I capped my philosophy studies as a minor, because it wasn’t teaching me to make things, survive and thrive in a competitive world. Arm-chair theory and work-for-free would only help me if barter returned as a dominant form of trade.

        Would you allow me to use WP VIP for free in exchange for the recipe to my GrandMa’s Apple Keuchen? I’ll even make you the first batch. 🙂

      2. You’re conflating free and Free. Open Source doesn’t suffer as people make money, and they don’t have to make money in ways that compromise OS ideals.

  9. Does Darwin’s theory of evolution conflict with the myth of Christianity? Of course it does. But to get you to attend church, a priest will reconcile the two based on “faith.” Likewise, the theory of survival of the fittest in capitalism conflicts with the benevolent force of OS.

    I acknowledge the faith you place in the ideals of OS creates a moral fabric to motivate you, your employees and some customers. I cannot question your success thus far.

    You’re a priest of open source. Forgive me for questioning the faith. 🙂

  10. Matt – great interview, I just launched a startup to help small business and personal blogs get on the web. I decided to definitely recommend WordPress at the platform of choice. I like your philosophy regarding open platforms and it is in alignment to what I want to do to help more people make transitions to using the internet and creating websites.