Automattic Founder Matt Mullenweg Talks WordPress, Blogging And Twitter VS. Instagram At LeWeb

At LeWeb Paris today, Automattic‘s founder Matt Mullenweg and Gigaom‘s Om Malik took the stage to talk about WordPress, the state of blogging and the recent friction between Twitter and Instagram.

According to Mullenweg, the problem with many of the services like Facebook and Twitter is that they aren’t user-centric enough. Instagram, he said, “has always been a very user-friendly company, but for Twitter and Facebook, the real customers are advertisers.” What’s best for advertisers on Twitter’s platform, however isn’t exactly what’s best for users. “What’s best for advertisers on Twitter’s platform isn’t for there to be 20 different clients.” Mullenweg also argued that users want choice and to access Twitter using clients like Tweetbot. The fact that Twitter is taking these choices away, he argues, shows that the company isn’t catering to its advertisers and not users.

WordPress and Automattic, on the other hand, looks at itself as a neutral player. To Mullenweg, “data silos just don’t make sense,” so WordPress works with all of the major players like Twitter, Facebook and Google. As for blogs in general, Mullenweg argues that you always need a digital home on the web. “You can always come back to your blog,” after all, and if your digital home on the web “is powered by open-source software [just like WordPress], that’s even better.”

According to Om Malik, we may also see some pushback against these walled gardens soon. These platforms, he thinks, are trying to define the web for us and try to sell us “their web.” Sooner or later, however, he believes, there will be pushback against this. Asked if he thinks of WordPress as a personal information hub, Mullenweg answered that “that’s how a lot of people already use it.” To him, too, the fact that you can connect WordPress to many other services helps it to stay relevant.

After this, by the way, the discussion turned to the future of WordPress. One area where WordPress is clearly trying to change is on mobile. According to Mullenweg, mobile is giving the company “a chance to reinvent the interface of WordPress from the ground up.” The company iterated the old dashboard for so many years that it got very complicated. and while it’s great for power users, it can be intimidating for new users. To develop for mobile, though, you have to scale the interface down to the basics and that new experience in developing for mobile will surely influence the desktop WordPress interface in the future.