My guest today is Matt Mullenweg, the founder and CEO of Automattic. He started the company in 2005, and today, it’s the driving force behind WordPress, the open-source software used by over 31% of the web.
In this episode, Matt and I discuss the democratization of the web, the early days of WordPress, and how he makes sense of the company’s scale. We dive into the benefits of writing online, talking about inbound vs. outbound opportunities and the open web. Then we discuss why Automattic bought Longreads, the content triangle, and Robert Caro’s books. Finally, we talk about his love of sci-fi, why writing is the ultimate long-now activity, and what’s next for WordPress. I hope you enjoy this episode.
I saw Matt speak at the 92nd Street Y in New York in December 2016. That night, I told my friend that I’d interview him on the podcast. Two and a half years later… it happened. Matt reached out to me on Twitter after I launched Write of Passage.
While we were together, we recorded two interviews: (1) a podcast interview and (2) an exclusive, writing-focused interview for Write of Passage students. In that second interview, we discuss Matt’s process for writing and why everybody should have a personal website that doubles as an online home.
Find Matt online:
1:56 Democratizing the web, building an operating system for the open web, how Matt thinks about everything in terms of communication, and the tradeoff between powerful and intuitive
9:33 How Matt makes sense of the incredible scale of WordPress, commodification in the age of social media, and building communities
18:57 The difference between inbound and outbound opportunities, how to reverse engineer your goals, and what Matt thinks about Ben Thompson’s Stratechery
26:26 The democratization of the means of distribution, what Matt was writing about at age 19, and the acceleration of evolution through the internet
35:23 Why Matt and Automattic bought Longreads, Robert Caro’s The Years of LBJ, and the feeling of not having anything important to say when you’re starting out
43:54 What Matt thinks about the content triangle, the good and bad ways of collaborating, and why iteration is the way to improve your writing
49:50 How a healthy comment section is like a good dinner party, why default settings are important, why Matt likes reading sci-fi, and why writing is the ultimate long-now activity