This director manages a billion-dollar company with no office or email.
The art of managing a global company without the usual attributes of corporate life
Even if you don’t know what the WordPress blogging platform is or don’t use it to post content on the Internet, it’s very likely that in the last 24 hours you’ve visited some website that works on this platform.
This is determined by the fact that WordPress - the content management system of the open source site - is now the basis of a staggering number of websites in the world - 25%!
I recently spoke with Matt Mullenweg, the creator of the WordPress platform and CEO of Automattic, which offers a large number of products and services for WordPress users.
Automattic is currently valued at more than $ 1 billion.
Matt joined me for a detailed conversation on my Internet radio station, during which he shared his desire to get 75% of the Internet that WordPress does not control so far.
He also explained how his team of 400 employees works mainly at home or in shared offices in 43 countries and relies almost entirely on an internal blogging platform for communication and collaboration, without using email.
The following are excerpts from my conversation with Matt; You can listen to this entire conversation on my internet radio station.
Automattic's mission is to democratize publications. Where do you think you are currently in from the perspective of achieving this?
This is probably a lifetime mission, to be honest. The idea is to give everyone - regardless of what language they speak or how much money they have - the opportunity to have their own voice online based on the best software in the world.
You or I should be able to download from the net and use for publishing the same software that The New Yorker weekly magazine uses for its newyorker.com website. And I think that this situation is almost unique in world history. We will not have access to printing presses like The New York Times, but in the digital world we may have the same software as The New Yorker.
You have been a strong proponent of the open source software movement. What is the state of this movement now?
Currently, we are the basis for approximately 25% of all websites in the world - the largest part, when comparing all content management systems. The next system closest to us has approx. 3% But we are not entirely happy with these 25%, and we intend to do a fair amount of work to get the remaining 75%.
Of course, our immediate goal for WordPress is to try to get the most, because I feel that when the bulk of the network works with open source software, it will make the network the best place. It will be more open, less discriminatory, with fewer closed “kindergartens” and “bunkers”, and this will also make people with property rights more open.
You have a highly decentralized distributed team of employees spanning the globe — people working at home and, for the most part, never being in the office. How does this work?
Automattic is indeed a fully distributed company - everyone works wherever they are. It can be a cafe, apartment building or apartment, some kind of shared office. We attract people to work no matter where they are.
Our employees now live in more than 40 countries. It turned out to be just great for our company in that we can attract and retain the best talents, regardless of whether they are in New York, San Francisco or in any of the traditional places of information technology.
Until now, this model has worked exceptionally well, and we plan to develop it.
The Automattic Code proclaims that communication is “oxygen” for a distributed company. You have long used a blogging platform called P2 for internal communication and collaboration. And you basically do not use email for communication within the Automattic company.
I think that e-mail is definitely completing its journey, having such an alternative as P2 and Slack, which are a communication tool in the workplace. Email has a lot of wrong in itself. I have never heard anyone say that they love email, everyone wants more from it - right?
Imagine that in your company everyone could send-receive letters and comment directly on the blog instead of email. Different groups or teams could have their own space on it, but in principle everything would be marked out, it would be traceable and transparent. This is partly what P2 looks like.
P2 also has its own kind of internal Google calls, so you can keep in touch with everyone without having to read everything that goes through.
This program is free, so you can go to "p2theme.com" and check. I invite everyone to try it.
Why is literary and literate writing so important for Automattic?
The ability to express my thoughts well in writing is one of the most important characteristics that I consider when hiring someone, because I think that a clear written language reflects clear thinking, regardless of the education of a potential employee or whether he is a developer, programmer or anyone else.
The ability to communicate effectively and clearly in writing is not only super important in a distributed company, but I believe it reflects well how the employee relates to life in general.
Part of the reason I started blogging and working on WordPress was because I love literary work.
If I can become the best writer, then perhaps I can become the best thinker.