Behind WordPress: Interview with Matt Mullenweg

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Matt Mullenweg, creator of WordPress

If you’re shocked that I’m posting an original interview with Matt, then I’m right there with you. If you aren’t, then perhaps you don’t know who Matt is.

Mr. Mullenweg is the one we can thank for WordPress as a whole, as he is the founder/creator/origin/what–you–want–to–call–him. He’s the big guy. And after a chance meeting with Matt in Chicago when I was there for An Event Apart (last year), he was kind enough to take a couple of minutes and answer a few questions. I’m grateful that he did, because I think his words give some insight into WordPress as it is right now as well as where it might head into the future.

Quick note

This interview was actually done a little over a year ago, and has just been chilin’ in my notebook since. Overall the insights still fit, and I thought it might still be interesting to a few.

Interview with Matt Mullenweg, Creator of WordPress

You mentioned that part of WordPress began as a project you were involved in with a church. Could you explain that a bit?
Sure, the site is still up: http://www.unityhouston.org/

You can notice some WordPressy touches there, especially in the URLs. It used some code from what I was calling ContentPress at the time, but it became obvious that I was duplicating a lot of WP functionality and could implement it more elegantly within WP and it influenced Pages feature.

How has the emergence of WordPress.com added to the project, as a whole? Anything especially difficult or exciting?
I think since WordPress.com started the project has benefited from having a strong commercial project with goals aligned with its own.

Since it’s essentially the same software, improvements flow both ways. One great example is the HyperDB plugin which was the secret sauce which allowed WordPress.com to horizontally scale to hundreds of millions of pageviews a month on cheap hardware. It’s very custom code, but it’s GPL and out there for anyone to use.

You talked about the niceties of moving to a regular WordPress updating schedule of 3 times per year. How has this benefited the development of WordPress?
New features are being added constantly, but as WordPress.com runs trunk they get the kinks worked out of them pretty quickly, so the code is always pretty close to a shippable state. It’s just a matter of picking a day and getting all the ducks in a row.
WordPress is more and more being used to control more than just blogs. Having pages along with the blogging capabilities makes it so WordPress is a very capable CMS. What do you think of this development, and where do you think it will go in the future?
WordPress is an extremely flexible framework. As I randomly browse around the web I can’t imagine a single site that couldn’t be powered by WordPress, and I think startups like 71miles.com and Viddler are a great example of that.
Along with that, what do you think of the community continuing to benefit commercially with WordPress?
One of my personal dreams is to have thousands of people earning their living from WordPress, which I wrote a bit about here:
http://photomatt.net/2007/05/10/meaningful-overnight-relationship/

If WordPress can foster an ecosystem where dozens of companies beyond my own can thrive it’ll be something that outlives us all. I think its embrace by major publishers like CNN, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times is a great first step in that.

Thank you Matt!

Just wanted to take a second and thank Matt Mullenweg for answering my questions. It was great meeting you, and an honor to interview you. A great number of us owe you a good deal of thanks. Personally I have a large amount of freelance work to thank you for, as many of my readers do too. Keep it up!

8 thoughts on “Behind WordPress: Interview with Matt Mullenweg

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  3. Totally agree that WP can be used for anything…

    I saw a site earlier today that’s taken Google Maps to all new heights – http://klews.net/maps/

    If it had not been for the clue in the footer, I’d have never known it had anything to do with WordPress…

    • Thanks for the link, AD8. I hadn’t seen that implementation yet, or the group responsible for it, WPMU Premium. Looks like they are still working out some kinks, but definitely worth taking a look at.

      • Yeah, we still have a week or so before we officially launch our website and open up the club, and a few more days to finish off the gMaps theme and get it released…

        The KL Maps site was a paying client who commissioned us to do the work so that has bumped it to the top of the list, but apart from that, the majority of us here at WPMU Premium still have day time jobs, so it’s slowing things down a little as we work through this transitional period…

        Good luck with everything Ryan, and thanks AD8 for bringing this up! 🙂

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