His name is Matt Mullenweg.
This is what he looks like:
Matt is a Leader.
Matt is also 30, a Texan who lives in San Fran now and 11 years ago he started the open source software called WordPress, via a “Not for Profit”organisation WordPress.org.
Did you know that WordPress now powers over 21% of all the websites in the world, and is gaining a % point every 3-4 months?
I have used WordPress for blogging for a while and after a years of using Joomla and a short and relatively unsuccessful go at using Silverstripe, I now use WordPress for my content websites as well (MagnumBI bing our first).
9 years ago Matt and his team started a “For Profit” organisation called Automattic that runs WordPress.com. And not thats not a speeling pistake (for once ;-), it has two t’s cause its got Matts name in the middle. What ego centric founder doesn’t put their name in the company name he said. But thats the thing, Matt came across as one of the most humble guy I have heard speak in a long long time.
There was no entourage, no pretence, just a guy talking to 120 geeks in Wellington. 40 more than in Melbourne, but still a surprisingly small number given the influence Matt has on the web. He even invited for the audience to join him for a beer at the pub afterwards, I doubt Bill Gates, Larry Ellison or any of the others would do that.
He has managed to hold the balance between a not for profit and a for profit organisation, without allowing the two to conflict, I can’t think of any other person who has done this. All the other “commercial” open source companies sell out sometime to make some money (SugarCRM anyone).
Matt exposes the core of the open source for freedoms, http://ma.tt/2014/01/four-freedoms/ to the extent he said he would forgo the for profit organisation if it ever threaten the open source one. And I believe him. He has principals he stands behind and they are obvious in both his words and also in his actions.
WordPress as an organisation are all about “Democratizing Publishing”. And you have to admit they have been spectacularly successful in doing that. 21% of the worlds websites, the defacto standard for blogging (by the way your using wordpress right now, thats what this blog is using). Matt has set a vision that they never waver from.
When I attended WebStock this year I went to a session by Scott Bekrun. He talked about the year he spent working for Automattic, and the book he wrote as a result, the year without pants. Automattic has 250 people that work for the company and all of them work remotely. As we were starting our remote working journey this book resonated massively with me.
When Matt speaks he talks about the company he works for and the people he works with. Not the company he foundered, owns or the people who work for him.
It was an eye opening evening for me, and very enjoyable, lots of great stories, funny jokes and insights into where WordPress had come from and where they were going. If i was looking for a job (and could code) I would try and see if I could cut the Automattic mustard.
I only wish I had taken my son so he could see what a leader really looks and sounds like.
Oh and there was cool WordPress swag as well.