Thanks Automattic, Hello Resolute Ventures

In many ways, the number seven holds special value. It’s a lucky number in various cultures, the number of days in a week, plays a role in agriculture and crop rotation, and it’s said that your allergies reset and change after seven years. So changing things up after seven years just feels right.

But as one of my editorial colleague back at TIME would frequently remind the team — stop burying the lead. So I’ll take that advice and jump into the TL;DR: After seven incredible, fun, and rewarding years at Automattic, I’m wrapping up in a couple of weeks, and joining Mike Hirshland at Resolute Ventures as a General Partner. Resolute is focused on early stage seed investing, and already has fantastic companies in the portfolio.

When I joined Automattic back in 2007, we were a handful of folks distributed around the world running WordPress.com and Akismet and contributing everything we did to the WordPress open source project. When we got together in person, we could fit around one table in the old Pier38, which was True Venture’s SF office, and later we got a space of our own at the very same pier.

About a year in I recall that Google and others had estimated that WordPress powered about one percent of the web (which we were ecstatic about!). I remember thinking, here was a company with still a couple of dozen people, having raised just over a million dollars in funding – and what a big impact already!.

Fast forward to today and WordPress is powering over 22% of the web. Automattic is 250 people in 190 cities and 30 countries, profitable (and now with a war chest), a positive force for the open web, and we are still contributing everything we do back into a huge open source project. As Matt Mullenweg, the founder and CEO of Automattic likes to say, “we open source everything but our password files.” It’s a powerful concept, and one that has held true at Automattic for all these years.

Looking at our growth, I decided to flip through the annual company meetup photos over the past few years. It’s fun to look at these photos as a nice visual on just how much the company grew:

I want to especially thank Matt Mullenweg and Toni Schneider for making this an amazing journey. We sketched out some big ambitious plans (often at Crossroads) all those years ago, and it’s incredible to look at where things are now and see how many of those big ideas became a reality. When we started talking about my transition a while back, Matt & Toni were super supportive and it was fun (and a bit nostalgic) to walk down memory lane and add up all the amazing experiences we’ve had together.

At Automattic, maybe more than any other company I’ve worked at, every single team member made themselves available to help at a moments notice – we were real-time before it was cool!. All it took was a “ping” in IRC and you had the top person in the world in their field ready to help (I’m biased, but the talent level at Automattic is incredible). So a special thank-you to those early team members who welcomed me with open arms and helped me ramp-up. Too many to list, but I’ll try: Barry Abrahamson, Mike Adams, Ryan Boren, Andy Skelton, Joseph Scott,Nikolay Bachiyski, Donncha O Caoimh, Mark Riley, Maya Desai, Lloyd DeWolf, Matt Miklic, Alex Shiels, Demitrious Kelly, and many others. You all were unbelievable colleagues and true friends.

I loved every second at Automattic, and have learned a ton along the way. I loved the way we worked and focused on output, and put engineers at the center of the company. Automattic and WordPress will always be part of my DNA, and I can’t wait to see what the talented team tackles next. In fact, I’ll remain an advisor to Automattic, and you’ll still see me out there championing the cause of democratizing publishing. For anyone looking to work at a fast paced, fun, and big impact type of organization – I can 100% recommend working at Automattic.

I also want to thank Phil Black, Jon Callaghan, Tony Conrad, and the whole team at True Ventures. I’ve known many of them even longer than my colleagues at Automattic, and they are just a tremendous group of people who are the embodiment of integrity and loyalty. I’ve learned so much from them, and in many ways they provided the spark that got me hooked on working with early stage companies.

In terms of Resolute Ventures – this was an opportunity that was tailor made for me. My passion is working right in the intersection of technology and entrepreneurship. I’ve always been both a tech entrepreneur who is passionate about building businesses and working on product, and a business guy who thinks the more technical you are, the closer you are to the truth.

I love working with founders and helping early stage companies navigate and make sense of the amazing opportunities and the chaos. I’ve founded companies back in the web 1.0 days, worked at large media companies in NY, and have helped grow Automattic the last few years wearing many different hats — from building up our enterprise VIP business to most recently heading up corp dev and partnerships. The highlights for me at Automattic were definitely helping bring people on board either through hiring or acquisitions — and seeing fantastic people make great contributions has been incredibly rewarding.

Mike Hirshland, the founder of Resolute Ventures, is someone well known here in the Valley, especially for a guy based in Boston. I’ve known him for close to a decade, and he served on our board at Automattic for many years while at Polaris and was part of the original investors in Automattic. Many of you know him from Dogpatch Labs, which he ran, and where Instagram and many other companies got their start. He’s a true advocate for founders, and blends hard work, persistence, and self deprecating humor into something magical.

Part of me is definitely a bit sad to be leaving my family at Automattic, but I’m excited for the next chapter and can’t wait to work with all the fantastic people who are part of Resolute. A special shout-out to my friends who helped me with this transition and were so generous with their time and insights.

So here goes something new — and I’m looking forward to the next seven years and beyond.

Dave Pell’s NextDraft on WordPress.com

My favorite daily newsletter, NextDraft, from the amazing Dave Pell, is now on WordPress.com:
http://nextdraft.com

So here’s what this WordPress sponsorship means for NextDraft:

- You can now read NextDraft wherever you want, including on a blog that utilizes responsive design so it looks great on any device. It will be free. And it won’t include any intrusive ads.

- I’ve merged my blog Tweetage Wasteland into the NextDraft brand and those posts are now called NextDraft Originals. Expect some great guest contributors and a new series of interviews called NextUp.

- Each of the blurbs in each edition now has its own permalink and unique spot on the web. This has dramatically improved NextDraft’s sharing functionality. Each blurb can easily be shared with a click or two.

- NextDraft is now hosted and supported by Raanan Bar-Cohen and the excellent team at WordPressVIP, so it will be fast, scalable, and generally awesome.

Full announcement post here.

And if you never read it, go do it now, you’ll be forever more informed and amused: nextdraft.com

Tiger Global invests in Automattic

We shared some exciting news today that Tiger Global has made a $50mm investment in Automattic.

From our CEO Toni

Tiger Global has recently invested over $50M in Automattic secondary stock purchases. After many years of being backed by a great team of investors who have been with Automattic since the early days – Polaris Partners, True Ventures, Radar Partners, and the New York Times Company – Tiger has joined this illustrious group by purchasing shares from early Automattic investors and employees. Along with the on-going growth of WordPress (now powering over 18% of sites on the internet) and the amazing Automattic team (now over 170 employees), this investment is another milestone in our journey towards building a great company.

It’s noteworthy that Tiger has recently invested in companies like SurveyMonkey and Eventbrite, and before that companies like LinkedIn and Facebook. Those names provide a sense of how far Automattic has come and how we’re poised to enter an exclusive circle of successful software companies that are built to last.

And from our founder Matt:

Anyway, wanted to get in front of the news that will inevitably come out in the next week or two: there has been a large secondary transaction in Automattic stock, about $50M worth. “Secondary” means that it’s existing stockholders, like the earliest investors or employees, selling stock to another investor versus money going into the company (“primary”). It was led by Lee Fixel at Tiger Global, one of the behind-the-scenes quiet geniuses that has previously invested in SurveyMonkey, Facebook, LinkedIn, Palantir, Square, Warby Parker… Automattic is healthy, generating cash, and already growing as fast as it can so there’s no need for the company to raise money directly — we’re not capital constrained.

Plus always gratifying to see the reactions from our friends:

WordPress on Google App Engine

I’m at Google I/O right now and they just ran a demo of WordPress running on App Engine and using Jetpack to tweet out via the Publicize feature. Cool stuff:

UPDATE: here is the video of the session:

USC Talk & a surprise about Snapchat usage

I gave a talk at USC earlier this week about Automattic and WordPress — something I’ve done for 3 years in a row now.

It’s always a ton of fun, and I make sure to do a survey (by show of hands) each time to see what these undergrad & grad students are using in terms of popular services.

Here are the results:
WordPress: about 75%+ use WordPress in some capacity
Facebook: 100%
Twitter: about 75%
Tumblr: 33%
Note taking: Evernote vs Simplenote vs Pen & Paper: About 33% Evernote, the rest a combination of email, other apps, or nothing. And one person still using a pen & paper.
iOS vs Android: 75% iOS, 25% Android
SMS vs GroupMe vs MessageMe vs Snapchat: SMS still used by everyone, but the surprise here was Snapchat being used by over 50% of the class.

I asked the obvious question of what they were using Snapchat for – and the answer was that it was just a free SMS-like service, easy to send media, works all over the world and w/ friends overseas — and basically that everyone is on it. Was pretty clear it’s moved beyond the salacious roots (or at least how it was covered early on).

So a big thanks to Zach Posner for having me, and for his entire class for engaging in a really fun and interesting discussion – appreciate the tweets and Instagrams too :)

Thanks for the awesome #wordpress presentation at #APOC2013, @raanan!

A photo posted by jenflaks (@jenflaks) on

Howard Lindzon on Twitter & WordPress

Twitter turned 7 years old this week. It makes me more grateful than ever for WordPress. Without WordPress, I would not have learned to write with my own voice and style.

WordPress is an awesome platform. WordPress is pretty damn open. Matt Mullenweg is really accesible. Matt is the founder and still pretty much in charge. He was like 15 when he started it. WordPress has community. WordPress powers so much media, but is rarely in the media. I meat Tony Conrad, Stocktwits first venture capital investor, through WordPress. Tony was Matts first investor.

full post on howardlindzon.com

When the very best becomes the minimally acceptable

In the physical world, when you shop at a bodega you don’t instantly compare it to an experience at a high-end Dean & DeLuca. When you purchase headphones at the airport, you don’t compare it to the selection and speed of buying something at B&H.

But when we consume digital services or buy stuff online, something radically different happens — at least to me. I get very disappointed when any service doesn’t deliver what the very best service out there is doing. It’s to the point where I change my behavior or try to convince others to adopt the very best. It’s unfair, and doesn’t mirror the offline world, but it’s happening and I suspect it’s driving lots of consumer behaviors these days.

For example, when I purchase any physical product online, I expect shipping to take 2 days max, maybe even just one day. Which is what Amazon/Zappos has trained me to expect. Any service that doesn’t do that, will cause me to double check if I can’t just buy the same thing on Amazon.

I’m a huge fan and user of Uber Conference which allows you to do conference calls with a visual browser interface, provides stats, easy calendar hooks, and calling-in from Chrome. Now when I have to use some other conf calling service with a 10 digit ID and no way to see who is talking – I feel underserved. I try to get the sender of the conf info to switch.

So what’s the conclusion ? Bigger marketshare for the leading services ? Probably. Build something that is at least as good as what the very best is offering ? Yes, but tough to pull off on all fronts.

I think one definite answer to all of this is to do deeper integrations with the very best and build on top of these platforms. If you sell physical stuff, work with Amazon Fulfillment or something similar. Doing voice services, start with integrating Twillio. Building a publishing app, build on top of WordPress.

Otherwise I think you’ll find that your customers are going to turn away when a certain core feature isn’t the best.

Reblog: Why do corporation die so soon and cities don’t? Corporations are Machines and Cities are Networks

As I write this I am thinking of how WordPress works. At the core of WordPress is a for profit organization – but also one of the tasks of Automattic is to ensure the health of an ecosystem that is the larger WordPress ecology in which thousands of independent developers who do not work for Automattic make a living. I think of Wikipedia. At the core of Wikipedia is a set of rules about how Wikpedia has to work and how people in Wikipedia have to behave. Surrounding this core is a cadre of “White Blood Cells” AKA editors – that ensure that this DNA is kept healthy. I see no way now that Wikipedia will not be here in 50 years.

Why my confidence?

If you look at WordPress and Wikipedia you will see the key. In a network that really is a network – like WordPress and Wikipedia – the costs go up in a shallow linear curve while the outcomes rise exponentially.

via The FASTForward Blog » Why do corporation die so soon and cities don’t? Corporations are Machines and Cities are Networks: Enterprise 2.0 Blog: News, Coverage, and Commentary.