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.
37 thoughts on “Thanks Automattic, Hello Resolute Ventures”
It’s been amazing working with, and getting to know you you Raanan. Resolute is extremely lucky to have you coming on board, and I know you’ll continue to do great things there. Looking forward to seeing what the future holds for you, and hearing of your successes. Also to catching up over a scotch some time 🙂
Thanks Beau. Been great working with you, and feels like yesterday that I was helping you do a big product announcement post 🙂 Looking forward to catching up in person soon.
Godspeed to you my friend! Very excited for the future. Resolute – and esp your portfolio companies – are very lucky to have you on their team.
Thank you Paul. You made my job 1000X easier and more fun when you came on board. Automattic is a better place because of your contributions. Keep fighting the good fight.
Super excited for your opportunity and so fortunate I had the chance to work alongside you for many years. It also means I’m looking forward to seeing your new posts here since I probably won’t know their contents! 🙂
Thanks Sara! Great working with you & I consider the VIP Workshops and the Italy meetup at the top of the highlight reel for my years at Automattic.
What natural and fantastic news. Working with you was five of the best years of my life. I’m incredibly thankful for your continued generosity of insights and feedback on your blog, online and in person. The very best to you and your family!
Thanks Lloyd — those were indeed great (and fun) years when we worked together. You made VIP what it was and has become. “In Lloyd we trust”.
Difficult to believe how long it has been since the days at Time, and how far you’ve come since then, but I know you’re on to bigger and better things yet! Congratulations on your new, ahem, venture, Raanan!
2010 was the year we had to switch to aerial photography for the team photo, and also coincidentally the year I started saying “holy crap, all these people” every time I went to a meetup. Automattic certainly won’t be the same without you!
Ya, can only imagine what the 2014 photo mechanics will require 🙂 Great working with you — and thanks for the kind words.
Funny, I was just thinking how small the 2010 photo looked! I always thought we had such a huge group in Seaside!
In hindsight the group does look a lot smaller than it felt at the time!
I’m excited to see what you’ll be able to achieve outside of Automattic and the WordPress community, and where your amazing ability to identify and cultivate extremely positive and healthy working relationships takes you.
Congratulations Raanan on your past and future success.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with you on the VIP team before both of us switched teams. Thanks again for everything and best of luck with this new adventure!
What a bittersweet moment. It pains me to see you leave Automattic, but Resolute is a great opportunity, and I look forward to working with you in your new role. Thank you for your many, many contributions to Automattic, and I wish you good fortune on your journey ahead!
I couldn’t have asked for a better CEO and colleague. I wish everyone would have the chance to work with someone of your caliber. Keep tinkering 🙂 And I’ll definitely see you around!
Great news Raanan. I wish you all the best and it was great working with you on the VIP team on a ton of great projects. Looking forward to the things we’ll see from you next.
Thanks Thorsten. Great to hear from you and thanks for all your contributions to VIP.
Awww, good luck Raanan. Back then was good times! 😉
Thanks Maya! You helped make sense of the chaos in the early days and were a fantastic colleague.
Congratulations, Raanan, and thanks for sharing the old company meet-up photos – it’s amazing to see them in sequence like that. I remember the company feeling huge at my first meet-up in Denver, but as mentioned upstream, we were a pretty small gang back then. I have lots of great memories of our shared time at Automattic, from being hired by you (nice work!), to the EG, SXSW, and watching you work the magic in between. Best of luck (like you ever needed that) with your work at Resolute!
Thanks! Was so much fun working with you and excited to see what you are working on these days. See you on one of those new messaging apps 🙂
“Like”? I have mixed feelings about this, but am super excited for you and for Resolute.
Let me just take the time to point out that you’re basically right in the middle of the last company photo 😉
thanks Mike! Going to miss your inverted laptop typing skills and all around fire-drill problem solving superhero skills. Really been great to work with you all these years.
Go Raanan! What a great legacy you’re leaving behind at Automattic – I’m sure you’ll be missed. Congratulations on starting a new adventure. I will eat two eggs on a roll in your honor.
Make sure you add a slice of tomato to that roll 😉
Hope to catch-up with you in person soon.
Congratulations Raanan. It’s been great working with you through the VIP program and meeting up in person recently. Best of luck with your new journey at Resolute!
Thanks Toby! Great working with you at both Cheezburger and now at RedTri. Looking forward to seeing what you and your team build next.
I just heard! Congratulations, Raanan! I’ll miss working with you via Automattic and WordPress.com. Can’t wait to see what you bring to fruition moving forward.
Was a real treat to work with you and your team, and thanks for being such a fantastic partner. Let’s catch-up in LA soon.
While helping J with considering how to do photographic stitching for an interior design project. I remembered Yuval Levy’s photos from the Automattic company meetup in Quebec.