Matt Mullenweg: State of the Word 2017

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Matt Mullenweg was born on January 11, 1984, in Houston, Texas. In January 2003, when he was a freshman at University of Houston, Matt noticed that it had been several months since the blogging system he was using, b2/cafelog, was last updated. b2/cafelog was released under the GNU General Public License, which meant that Matt could take the codebase of the system and build upon it. Matt wrote a blog post about the undertaking, and in the first comment to it, developer Mike Little said that he would be willing to contribute to the project. Together, they created the first version of WordPress. The name was suggested by Christine Selleck Tremoulet, a friend of Matt Mullenweg.

In 2004, one of the most popular blogging systems of the time, Movable Type, changed to a more expensive pricing structure, which encouraged its users to look for an alternative. Many of them settled on WordPress. Movable Types price hike gave WordPress its first big push.

Matt Mullenweg during his State of the Word talk at WordCamp US in 2016.

In October 2004, Matt Mullenweg dropped out of University of Houston to take a job at CNET, where he, among other things, helped them run sites built on WordPress. A year later, in October 2005, he left CNET to work on WordPress full-time. The spam detection service Akismet was announced a couple of days later. In December the same year, Matt Mullenweg announced the founding of Automattic, the company behind, Akismet and WooCommerce. In January 2006, former Yahoo executive Toni Schneider was recruited as CEO, bringing the number of employees to 5 people.

Growth of the WordPress platform continued to accelerate. By July 2011, WordPress powered more than 50 million blogs. In May the year after, the number had grown to 70 million. The blog phenomenon had reached the mainstream, and WordPress was riding the wave.

In January 2014, Matt Mullenweg became CEO of Automattic, as Toni Schneider shifted his focus to specific projects within the company. Toni wrote about the news on his blog at the time. In May the same year, Automattic raised $160M in funding, valuing the company at over a billion dollars. At the time, it had 231 employees. Today, Automattic has 720 employees.

Since October 2014, Matt Mullenweg has held an annual State of the Word presentation at WordCamp US, where he discusses the progress the platform has made during the year and where it could go in the next twelve months.