“It’s not often you see a for-profit company donate one of their most valuable core assets and give up control,” Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg writes today in a post announcing that the WordPress trademark has been transfered from his company to the WordPress Foundation. “This is a really big deal,” he continues.
What this means is that the key ingredient behind Automattic is now in the hands of the organization in charge of “promoting and ensuring access to WordPress and related open source projects in perpetuity.” So why do this? Mullenweg says it has been his goal since the beginning to blend a non-profit business, a for-profit one, and not-just-for-profit one under one banner. Now that he feels each of those aspects is stable enough, he wants that main banner, WordPress, to be “protected” as a “beacon for open source freedom.”
With a quarter billion people now using the WordPress.com product — and with other for-profit products doing well (we use WordPress VIP to host TechCrunch, for example), Automattic clearly feels they can afford to lose their biggest asset. And Mullenweg thanks Automattic’s Board for allowing this transition to go down.
“I know in my heart that this is the right thing for the entire WordPress community, and they followed me on that. It wasn’t easy, but things worth doing seldom are,” Mullenweg notes.
This move ensures that WordPress will live on as a project no matter who is in charge of the for-profit business or what happens to it. If this is about legacy, Mullenweg seems to have just cemented his. Good move.
Automattic is the company behind WordPress.com, the simplest, most secure way to start web-publishing immediately on the open source WordPress platform. They also make Jetpack for WordPress, which bundles a number of social improvements to the WordPress core software as a single plugin. Automattic offers a number of products, like VaultPress and Akismet, on a freemium model so anyone can use them for free, and later have the choice to pay extra for premium features. Automattic has over 150 employees, including...
Matt is an entrepreneur living in San Francisco, California. He is the founding developer of the popular open-source blogging software WordPress. After leaving CNET, he has devoted the majority of his time to developing a number of open source projects and is a frequent speaker at conferences, such as Canada’s Northern Voice and the WordCamp events organized around WordPress software. In late 2005, he founded Automattic, the business behind WordPress.com and Akismet. Mullenweg attended the High School for...