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Open Source Advent Calendar: The WordPress Blog and Web Builder


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It’s an advent calendar for tech-savvy people. In the fully commercialized digital world, almost everything is owned by a large internet company. Their software is neither open nor free. As an alternative, there is this small island of the open source world: software whose code is publicly visible and can be independently verified for possible security breaches and backdoors. Software that can be freely used, distributed and improved. Often the motivation for work is simply the joy of providing something useful to the company.

Short portraits of open source projects will be published on heise online from December 1 to 24. These are the functions of the respective software, pitfalls, history, context, and funding. Some projects are supported by an individual, others by a loosely organized community, a tightly managed foundation with full-time staff, or a consortium. The work is completely voluntary, or it is funded through donations, cooperation with internet companies, government funding, or an open source business model. Whether it is a single application or a complex ecosystem, whether it is a PC program, an application or an operating system, the diversity of open source is overwhelming.


Short portraits of open source projects will be published on heise online from December 1 to 24. These are the functions of the respective software, pitfalls, history, context, and funding.

WordPress is the prototype of an open source business model: on the one hand, there is compelling technology that is used by millions of people. On the other hand, WordPress made the inventor incredibly wealthy.

WordPress allowed novice IT people to run their own blog or website: you can get domain and web space and install the software with just a few clicks. The website builder has become the near standard for blogging and is integrated with many other web formats as well.

43% of all websites run on WordPress. The software is licensed under the GNU GPLv2 license. The standard layout and simple blog post by blog post structure can be changed using themes. There are around 9000 in the WordPress database Design patterns. 60,000 Plugins can extend the range of functions and, for example, enable surveys, protect against spam or integrate analytics services and ad networks.

The company WordPress Automattic offers a Desktop application as well as applications for Android and ios a.

WordPress is a triangular constellation made up of the founder’s company, a foundation, and a community. In 2004, US developer Matthew Mullenweg released version 1.0 of the software. This was a further development of the b2 / cafelog blogging software. With his company Automattic, Mullenweg has been developing WordPress since 2005.

In 2010, the WordPress Foundation was founded. The foundation owns the trademark rights to WordPress and supports the global community. It has a minimalist structure: it points to 2020 Income of only about $ 11,000 outside. As can be seen from the detail Annual report for 2019 reveals, she has no employees. The board of directors is made up of three people whose activities are not remunerated. Mullenweg is the chairman.

The main activity is carried out by a subsidiary of the foundation, WordPress Community Support, PBC. It raises money from sponsors or through ticket sales and supports community event formats – Wordcamps, Meetups, and WordPress business templates. In 2020, about $ 600,000 turned out to be 33 WordCamps supported, these are locally organized community conferences. $ 250,000 went to WordPress meetings.

A map DIY events service Meetup lists 757 groups with 475,000 members in 110 countries. In 2018, before the Corona Crisis began, WordPress Community Support continued to sponsor events with approximately $ 4.6 million.

The community consists of volunteers, but also agencies, IT companies and freelancers who make money with WordPress: they sell WordPress support, create blogs for businesses or offer premium paid themes and plugins. . the Participation page on WordPress.org features different ways to get involved: You can work on code, translate, host events, review submitted topics, answer questions on support forums, or develop plugins.

The company Automatique of founder Matthew Mullenweg with around 1,800 employees is the third pillar next to the foundation and the community. Employees of the San Francisco-based company develop the software and applications. The company makes money with products and services related to WordPress.

The most important product is the blog host WordPress.com. You can create a blog there for free as a subdomain on which Automattic places advertisements. For more advanced needs, there are subscription models that vary between four and 45 euros per month and include various premium features: You get your own domain, you can download videos, integrate Google Analytics or accept payments. Via the Automattic advertising network Word Ads blogs can monetize their reach. The prices of “WordPress VIP” for enterprise solutions start in the single digit thousands.

Additionally, Automattic has several dozen affiliates, most of which are also making money around WordPress. Jetpack for example, provides malware analysis and spam protection for comments and forms. Other subsidiaries specialize in premium themes and plugins, such as the ecommerce plugin WooCommerce. Automattic also has the old big blogging platform Tumblr, the BbPress forum software and P2, a collaboration tool for businesses. Automattic is also involved in the start-up behind the Matrix Messenger project.

Automattic itself is still a growing company. Overall, Automattic has how the Crunchbase page raised nearly $ 1 billion from venture capital firms. In mid-2021, the company was valued at $ 7.5 billion.

Automattic written in Press area that they are in a “later stage of growth” – the final phase of a start-up cycle. The logic of venture capital financing is that lenders gold their investments after a few years with an “exit”. By going public or buying the start-up. This could also happen at Automattic. When das US-Medium Protocol.com Mullenweg asked about stock plans in August 2021, he laughed and said the reporter should just write a “standard manager response.”

However, the balance of power in the large WordPress company is balanced. In his blog post on the latest round of funding writes the founderthat he has continuously sold company shares since 2011. The voting rights which are effectively linked to the shares remain vested in him.

WordPress is the best example of how sharing software doesn’t mean volunteering or living with a low level of donation. Open source can also become a big business. It’s unclear how many shares founder Matt Mullenweg still owns. However, it should be so incredibly rich on paper, or after a release, on the account as well.

At the same time, WordPress is a gift for the network. Technology has also opened up the web to laymen and spawned a huge ecosystem where you can volunteer or make money with technology. Thanks to its open source construction, WordPress has become a central web infrastructure.

The work on the article series is based in part on a grant “Neustart Kultur” from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media, awarded by VG Wort.

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Disclaimer: This article is generated from the feed and not edited by our team.

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