Considering I am going on sabbatical in 83 hours and passing the CEO torch to Toni Schneider until I return in May, it seemed like a perfect time to do a giant re-org! Just kidding. But we did introduce a concept into Automattic that I think will provide a lot of clarity for the teams within Automattic, and hopefully for the broader WordPress ecosystem that works and partners with us.
The frame is there’s a game, each person gets a card: Be the Host, Help the Host, or Neutral.
You cannot change cards during the course of your day or week. If you do not feel aligned with your card, you need to change divisions within Automattic.
If you’re Be the Host, you are hyper-competitive. You are trying to make the case to a customer for why they should host with you and not consider anyone else. This is what everyone assumes all of Automattic is, but it’s actually just one sub-division, which is a minority of our revenue.
For Help the Hosts, your word is ecosystem. You plant the seeds of open source software that grow everywhere. Every WordPress is precious to you, wherever it grew up. You want every host to be as successful as possible, because the real threat is from the Big Proprietary folks outside, who steal all your good ideas and don’t let you touch them again. You want to get to know every WordPress in the world, however it grew up, and help it out by selling it attachments.
Neutral treats everyone equally, either because they don’t care (Day One, Pocket Casts, et cetera don’t have a horse in this race) or because they are a support function like finance or HR.
Whenever you meet or talk to an Automattician you can ask what their card is.
Also, WordPress.com is going to orient itself more towards developers, and have an experience that feels similar to WordPress hosted other places, less Calypso more wp-admin.
The big tension this surfaced was Woo Express, going forward that team is switching under WP.com, and Woo.com will recommend a variety of hosts (like W.org) to get started with Woo. Now people can meet with Paul Maiorana, who leads Woo, or James Grierson, who leads Jetpack, and know they have Help the Hosts cards as their teleological goal.