In this thought-provoking podcast, Matt and Mark dive into the current state of WordPress, discussing its target audience, marketing strategies, and potential challenges that lie ahead. The conversation covers a wide range of topics, offering insights into the future of the popular content management system.

Key questions and topics discussed:

  1. Who is WordPress primarily built for – DIYers or professional developers?
  2. How can WordPress better understand and cater to its end users?
  3. The impact of the Gutenberg editor on WordPress’ user experience and market position.
  4. The role of Automattic and wordpress.com in shaping the future of WordPress.
  5. The debate between using free vs. premium WordPress plugins and themes.
  6. WordPress’ position in the market compared to competitors like Wix and Squarespace.
  7. The potential impact of AI on website building and the WordPress ecosystem.
  8. The importance of the WordPress community and how it can continue to thrive.
  9. The challenges of balancing the needs of different user groups within the WordPress ecosystem.
  10. The future of WordPress pricing and the sustainability of the open-source model.

Throughout the conversation, Matt and Mark explore various scenarios and possibilities for WordPress’ evolution, considering factors such as open-source development, commercialization, and the role of key players like Automattic. They also touch upon the importance of understanding and catering to the needs of different user groups, from hobbyists to professional agencies.

While no definitive answers are reached, the discussion highlights the complex nature of the WordPress ecosystem and the challenges that lie ahead as it continues to adapt and evolve in a rapidly changing digital landscape.

Matt & Mark

[00:00:00] ​

[00:00:00] The following episode is a conversation with myself and mark is Umansky. We weren’t sure if we were going to release it, we decided to record, uh, just, uh, A little one-on-one brainstorm session that we had just chatting about WordPress. We were recording it. Wasn’t sure if we were going to release it. I am going to release it.

[00:00:22] It’s a rather long conversation. Ideas is a little bit all over the place, but generally you talking about. who WordPress’s for, how we approach The marketing, the messaging around WordPress who? WordPress reel. Quote, unquote enemy is in the space who our competition is, what could bring WordPress down.

[00:00:43] and all of those fun topics.

[00:00:44] So sit back, relax, grab your favorite drink and a kickback to listen to mark. And I chat about some WordPress stuff. [00:01:00]

[00:01:22] Mark: Obviously we chat via DM quite frequently on different things. Cause you are my. One of my mentors in this space kind of like to Run things by you a lot of times when I see them because I know you’ve been in here for a long time Just try to get your insights Obviously, I watch a lot of your content.

[00:01:41] Mark: I think When was the most recent one where you were talking about like the cycles? Oh, you’re with WP tonic Yeah, and you’re talking about the cycles how you’ve seen all these things before so sure being You Slightly, I like to consider myself some sort of an inquisitive person. I like to think of and utilize the [00:02:00] experience of my elders.

[00:02:02] Mark: Not to say you’re old, but my elders, like yourself. So, I just like to run things by you. And I guess some of the most recent events that we have seen in the WordPress community were a couple things about, Like blogging and I would, I always like to blow it up to bigger concepts. Obviously we use examples, because that’s what kind of like triggers the conversation, but just kind of like ways that plugins, market their content, different blogging tactics, things like that.

[00:02:29] Mark: Just the messaging surrounding all that. That’s really interesting. And then as a subset, premium versus free tools, that I feel would be more directed towards people that are actually purchasing, right? The end users or the agencies. That’s another big topic that has been on my mind recently.

[00:02:46] Mark: Have some thoughts there. And then, also just in general, you know, kind of how we’re, I guess how we’re navigating this, I think I had another, I had another thought was just like thinking about the end user versus thinking about like developers in the community in a [00:03:00] sense, because those are two vastly different audiences.

[00:03:02] Mark: And I feel like a lot of times we don’t have. We’re thinking like we’re doing something good for one party, but we’re actually the other party and we don’t have the proper perspective. So I think that’s another big thing that we need to continue to navigate in this space.

[00:03:16] Matt: Let’s start with that. let’s start with, you know, so let me, let me return a question back to you.

[00:03:21] Matt: Are you saying we’re, it’s, we’re having that same discussion of, Who is WordPress for is when you were thinking about that last question, are you thinking Oh man, we’re still stuck in the throes of who, what, who is this for? How do we talk to these end users? If it’s for, you know, if it’s for like the basic blogger or website builder, are we even using that, that kind of, you know, copy to reach these people?

[00:03:45] Matt: Like what, how does that break down in your head?

[00:03:48] Mark: I think that What I see is that there’s a lot of, speculation and just I feel like you feel that something is one way. So then you say it’s one way, and I’m, I’m [00:04:00] probably guilty of this. I’m just trying to observe. Cause I would like to, I would like to move forward in the most productive way possible surrounding this.

[00:04:08] Mark: I feel like this is a real fundamental block. So to kind of answer your question, I don’t necessarily know per se who WordPress is for, if I was thinking about how to solve that. Or, you know, figure that answer out. It would probably be relatively simple. I just don’t know if we can. Because I’ve kind of posed the question before.

[00:04:24] Mark: It’s if there’s 800 million websites, WordPress installs, then I feel like it would just be simple to know how many of those were like, single individuals building like one, maybe two websites. Right? you’re building the website to build the website, versus you’re building the website to make money and build other people’s websites.

[00:04:41] Mark: It’s really as, as simple as that. broken down as I can say it. So if we just say pros is anybody that’s building websites for other people and DIYers are people that are just building websites basically for themselves. if we could get any sort of data on that, then we could easily know who the majority is.

[00:04:56] Mark: I feel like the majority might actually be the DIY crew, but I don’t actually [00:05:00] know. and either way is fine. I don’t really care either way. I just would love to know that and then from there the question is, okay, well, if If the platform is for them, that’s totally fine, but we need to make sure we’re talking to them and getting their opinions, because they’re not going to be building the platform, but they could be shaping it if we actually get their insight.

[00:05:18] Mark: You know what I mean? It’s kind of like, it’s for them, don’t you want to know what your audience needs, wants and everything like that? I’m not saying we’re not doing any of this, I’m just saying that, that’s, that’s kind of the topic I feel like, because there’s a lot of conversations that seem like we’re not doing that in a way.

[00:05:32] Matt: Right. Right. And you think that. Based on some of the stuff that you’ve seen lately, let’s say, you know, free versus commercial plugins or some of this content marketing stuff, you think that has a direct effect or, or these are just unrelated topics that you’re just curious about?

[00:05:49] Mark: I mean, they’re all related in the sense of their WordPress and you have to navigate these things if you’re in this space because it is like robust yet complex.

[00:05:58] Mark: It’s there’s, it’s a lot of benefits, a lot of, a [00:06:00] lot of pros, a lot of cons. But, the free versus premium thing is, the way I would relate that is that if you are a DIYer, you may want the cheapest solution all the time, and that may work for you. But as soon as you start building websites for other agencies, I went through it myself, because we’re all DIYers at one point.

[00:06:19] Mark: As soon as you start building websites for other people, then you have to start to consider, well I am making money from this. It just becomes more of a business conversation. I’m making money from this. Do I want more headaches? Do I want more hiccups? Do I want, do, people don’t think about like the longevity of the product.

[00:06:34] Mark: It’s it’s business. people are not going to continue to build XYZ form plugin, XYZ page builder without being compensated. You know, so those, I feel like those are kind of like 202 topics that, but they really start to rear their head when you start to actually consider what, what you should be doing from a, A non DIY perspective.

[00:06:56] Mark: So again, it’s two separate conversations, but it is, it kind of all blends together [00:07:00] as far as, you know, whether you should choose free or paid or when or why, and those types of things.

[00:07:05] Matt: Yeah. I mean, I, you know, I still, for me, the, the end user is still largely going to be that DIY person,

[00:07:13] Mark: you know, Can you define that?

[00:07:17] Mark: Can you define that for me though? what your definition of that is?

[00:07:22] Matt: Well, I mean, I would say it is anyone who Wanted to get a website, anyone who wanted to get a website up that just wanted to literally do it themselves and it could range from, You know, I don’t know. It could range from you’re in business and you’re selling pottery and you’re trying to get something off the ground.

[00:07:43] Matt: You are just somebody who likes to put up, photos. You’re a photographer. you’re a blogger. You’re a blogger. I think the, the, the depth of end user for WordPress is just so deep.you know, the difference is, is many of them are coming [00:08:00] through, well, they all, I mean, 99. 9 percent of them are all coming through a, web hosting company.

[00:08:08] Matt: so, you know, those web hosts are largely the ones responsible for recruiting and retaining these types of end users. So, you know, if you’re trying to figure out like, how or what types of customers these are, because we don’t have the data. you know, it’s, it’s to look to, in a way that I would look at it, is look at the largest web hosts in the world and, and look at their marketing and how they try to attract, you know, users.

[00:08:35] Matt: there are plenty of people who, and then, then there’s massive percentage of people who just don’t even know it’s WordPress. don’t care, don’t know that they’re even using WordPress. And that is either because they just literally aren’t paying attention. Like they’re just literally not paying attention when they’re building this website that they signed up for.

[00:08:55] Matt: And somebody just threw WordPress at them, like a web host, you know, [00:09:00] or there’s some layer of software on, you know, on top of this stuff. And yeah, it is a massively fragmented space. And I don’t think we’ll ever have the definite answer of like hard percentages, you know, you can just, try to summarize how much, how many websites you’ve launched, how many websites other professionals have launched, and try to get an idea of for the professional WordPress community, like the ones who are always talking about it every day of, of how many websites they’re responsible for, for launching, you know, and it’s, A massive amount to write the professionals in the WordPress space.

[00:09:39] Matt: So it’s a tough, it’s just a tough one to crack. And I don’t know any other, if anyone has any other ways of calculating that data other than looking at the web hosts and trying to understand, you know, who the biggest web hosts are hosting WordPress and seeing how they attract customers to kind of reverse engineer [00:10:00] potentially that type of customer, That’s the best that I have to, to try to answer that.

[00:10:05] Mark: So, then if, if we define that, if that’s our definition of end user, somebody that is, needs a website for either business or blog, but they’re not really at the level, or they don’t want to, get somebody to do that, right? They’re not gonna hire somebody, they’re gonna do it themselves. Which, in 2024, we are, Definitely lying to ourselves if we don’t think that’s like possible or if we don’t think that’s like a good idea.

[00:10:30] Mark: I mean, it’s definitely a good idea. Even though, I want people to, you know, come to my agency and make me, and have me build them a website, I do think that, you know, we don’t work with everybody and there’s a certain level there. And it’s, it’s just interesting to see how it’s gone. So I think that, you know, with the Gutenberg Project as an example, and I wasn’t really, I wasn’t really in this, you know, you know, frame of mind when, when this all started, right?

[00:10:53] Mark: And you were, so tell me about this, what was the initial, was the initial thought [00:11:00] there to be like, we see where this is going. We see that it’s, it’s getting like easier for the common person to build. So we’re going to try to move in that direction. And again, I don’t know where Wix all those were at that point, but it was the idea to go that route so we could kind of.

[00:11:18] Mark: Compete, if that’s, you know, if we want to use that term with those types of things, because I do think that makes sense. But was that any of, was that any of the, would you say, did, did it sound like that was the reason, or did we just think in general like that was the way to go, or?

[00:11:32] Matt: Well, I mean, you also have to consider the complexities of the, of the situation.

[00:11:38] Matt: Meaning, it’s not like we all, it’s not like we all got together and decided, you know, Gutenberg was the path. I mean. I think,

[00:11:50] Matt: you know, there, this is going to go counter to a lot of the stuff I’ve told you before. So try to, try to take, try to take it with a grain [00:12:00] of salt. I think every great product, let me zoom out. So I’ve worked at companies before where the founders don’t care about the product. They don’t care about the product.

[00:12:18] Matt: They don’t use it. They don’t, they’re not passionate about it. They don’t understand it from a customer’s point of view. What do they

[00:12:28] Mark: care about? Just the money?

[00:12:29] Matt: Yeah. Just like the business side of it. Like I’ve got this, I’ve got this cog and can I sell it and you know, profitability and plenty of businesses run that way and that’s totally fine.

[00:12:40] Matt: Right. Totally fine. I mean, it’s, it’s just, it’s business, right? And a lot of people who see business on paper and numbers and that’s it. And that’s fine. That’s probably how a majority of the world operates, you know, and then you have software. That, you know, are, it’s a unique [00:13:00] animal because software companies can be one person.

[00:13:03] Matt: And generally that’s one person that is super passionate about a thing and they can become multi millionaires and they can have hundreds of thousands of customers. They can be one person. I mean, there’s plenty of case studies around that. so the software business. And then you look at the WordPress world.

[00:13:19] Matt: It’s very unique that five, six, seven, a dozen people can come together and build something awesome and be super profitable for it and yada, yada, yada. so having said all of that, there, there needs to be in this space, a good product leader and to make decisions. Any business needs that for the product.

[00:13:43] Matt: Somebody needs to say, I love this thing enough to make a decision. Because what I was getting at with those other businesses is no decisions are made. Eh, you’re just coasting along. We don’t even know what the hell we’re building. We don’t know any of this stuff. And in the WordPress world, the person who [00:14:00] makes that decision, whether you agree with the decisions or not, are largely led by Matt Mullenweg’s vision, right?

[00:14:09] Matt: Now, when you date, Way back into the WordPress world and the reason why I have always, you know, the reason why I latched on to WordPress early on was he had a vision of WordPress becoming the operating system of the web. Now, he never really broke that apart and dissected it, nor was it ever really just like a, like it was never like a thing that they flew on a flag and everyone was like, We’re all going to build like the operating system of the web.

[00:14:36] Matt: I heard it and I was like, oh. That’s pretty cool. I kind of like that idea. Because, back then, page builders weren’t a thing. It was custom post types, custom fields. You were building user logins. That’s, I mean, I was doing that at my agency. We’re building, these little mini apps. And I was like, oh, yeah, WordPress is kind of like this, this application layer.

[00:14:55] Matt: We talked about this before, that was a debate many years ago, where people would [00:15:00] debate forever, is WordPress really just an application? framework. and that was a massive debate for a while. so Mullenweg is the one who kind of rolled out the concept of Gutenberg. Now people, you can debate whether or not it was the right decision to make.

[00:15:18] Matt: You can debate whether or not,there was massive like accessibility issues with it. Presumably there might still be issues with it today, all this stuff. It was where the web was going. from an end user’s perspective, you know, but, but in my spine, defining

[00:15:35] Mark: that though, the way it was going, the vision, everything like that, we literally mean going from like a WYSIWYG classic type editor style and things like that, just like being dropped into pages via themes to a visual building like that’s what we’re talking about, right?

[00:15:51] Mark: Exactly. I don’t think that’s a bad thing I mean, we could have a separate discussion about that, but everybody’s doing it You know what? I mean? Like it does seem like it it is trending that [00:16:00] way It’s way easier to build when you can actually see the stuff rather than again It’s more encapsulation abstraction away from the actual, you know coding of it.

[00:16:08] Mark: But again democratizing publishing I don’t really think too many people Would take like issue with that obviously it gets in more nuance as far as like how it’s gone and things But that’s not even what I’m that’s not really even where I’m at right now. My thought is okay So what was it five years ago?

[00:16:24] Mark: Roughish. Okay. So five years ago, we make that turn. I would love to go back in time. Maybe, you know, like where the other platforms were at that point, regardless of if it’s a competition or not, in a sense, I do believe it kind of is because at the end of the day, if I am a lay person, this is the whole concept right here is if I’m a lay person, I don’t know 1 percent of the shit you and I know.

[00:16:46] Mark: You know what I mean? Like I don’t know anything. And I think we, I don’t know if we actively forget about this. Or if it’s just a passive thing, but because we’re kind of in the space, we just, and I’m just, I’m talking in general, I’m not, but you know, you and I, as an [00:17:00] example, like I, cause I do it. I for, I think we forget about the, the actual end users and what they do or don’t know.

[00:17:07] Mark: And if the goal is to get more like random, you know, pottery people or blog people onto the WordPress platform, that is, I feel like there’s a, there’s a bit of a, a struggle there. And I think Gutenberg is starting to solve that. Jamie Marsland, those types of videos. Fantastic. So I just I but I but I still think that like the actual product then and this is another question I don’t I don’t think we got an answer to it is Has anybody gone to a pottery or a blogger person or something and literally asked them is this does this make any sense to?

[00:17:37] Mark: You you would you guys use this thing? Yeah, like as compared to a Wix or a Squarespace or whatever That’s all that’s all I’m saying on really on that point because I feel like just from Straight up like thinking about how to sell this project to them and get them to try it. That’s kind of the best thing.

[00:17:54] Mark: And again, again, I shout out Jamie because he’s making fantastic videos about that specifically. he’s even [00:18:00] doing adwordpress. com now. So, I think, I definitely think we’re moving in the right direction. Definitely optimistic. I’m just trying to kind of recalibrate my mind on that, on that front too to see how, how I could be continuing to do better, think about it differently, and how we could continue to move forward.

[00:18:14] Matt: Yeah, it’s also very, again, it’s difficult because of the sheer size of WordPress and, you know, one of the benefits still, with open source and, and with WordPress is, You know, effectively, if there were, cause there is, if you look at, there’s a market for restaurants, right? I mean, when I got into the agency game, probably just like when you got into the agency game, maybe probably the first thought that came through your head is like, all these restaurant websites are terrible.

[00:18:41] Matt: I’m going to go help people build restaurant websites. And then you go talk to the restaurant owners and they look at you and they say, get the hell out of my kitchen. I work 70 hours a week. I don’t have time to do this website thing. And then you realize. Why web, why restaurant websites suck.but there has

[00:18:59] Mark: evolved that [00:19:00] has evolved as well.

[00:19:00] Mark: I don’t want to go on restaurant tangent, but like now there’s like online ordering and you obviously can do that through WordPress, but that’s, that was a really, really good thing that people like came up with a good idea to make, you know, platform specifically for that. Now, every, every restaurant website looks like kind of one or two different ways or whatever, but that’s a side note.

[00:19:17] Mark: But that, but that’s, That’s one of the examples though. And if

[00:19:20] Matt: you, if you look at like WordPress to just use a different analogy that I don’t often use in like the word, the WordPress open source side of it is, is it’s the open highway and then your different cars can come on, it’s come drive on this highway.

[00:19:33] Matt: So. You know, WordPress effectively can build you a 50, 000 foot view page builder. I know it’s not trying to do that, but if you zoom out, like if it’s, if it stays out of the way and builds you the infrastructure, you need to have a good page building experience or editing content, editing experience.

[00:19:53] Matt: Then if the market demands more pottery type solutions, Then somebody [00:20:00] will come up with Pottery themes, Pottery plugins, Pottery services. And that’s the, the benefit of, of this whole like open source thing. Because if somebody’s truly being underserved here through WordPress, chances are you can find somebody to fill that gap.

[00:20:17] Matt: You see it now, well you see it now with services agencies. That’s why there’s so many services agencies that invest in WordPress. But then you see it more thoroughly with like higher ed solutions. Pottery Barn Where they have a specific need for WordPress and there are agencies out there and software out there that like bends that Bends to that market same thing with publishing Magazine like traditional magazines traditional news news publishers I went to a competitor the other day is side thing.

[00:20:50] Matt: There’s a pretty popular magazine in my area They always do like the top You Top restaurants top stores for all the 2024 and all the [00:21:00] categories and I used to manage their site I actually built them all kinds of stuff way back in the day Then magazine stopped getting funded or whatever and they they cut their budgets down tried to bring it in house There was a problem with their website the other day and I was like, Oh, I wonder if they still run WordPress.

[00:21:14] Matt: So I went slash WP admin, they do. And somebody rebranded the WP admin interface and I don’t know what the name of the website was, but it goes to some other website and, they just talk about how like they’ve built a CMS for media publishers and all this other stuff. And I’m like, guys, this is, this is still WordPress here.

[00:21:34] Matt: so, you know, that’s the benefit with WordPress is it can be, you know, molded to that experience.

[00:21:39] Mark: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s different depending on what you obviously want. but I think, I, I still think that, I mean, I just think that’s what,

[00:21:48] Matt: let me ask you this. So why do you think if you get, if you all of a sudden had a chart of the breakdown of, of end users, would, would you do anything different?

[00:21:59] Mark: [00:22:00] I feel like it would matter what the results were to a, to a certain degree.

[00:22:04] Matt: You think that would make the software better? If we could, really pin down, who that was.

[00:22:12] Mark: I think, I think it’s, I think it’s an interesting one that, that needs, that calls for an analogy. That I’m, that maybe you and I could come up with.

[00:22:20] Mark: Because I, I don’t, I don’t have one off the top of my head. But it’s the way I see it is, we have talented developers that are in this space all the time. Creating the software for people that are gonna use it. But. But again, literally, do we have any focus groups of those things? I mean, how, how do regular SAS products work?

[00:22:39] Mark: did they get, did they get feedback from, from their user base? Like they’re, they’re, it’s just different because there’s, there’s too many different types of people utilizing it. Like for instance, my FinTech bank that I’ve used since they basically opened, I was like one of the core people and I was like giving feedback on what was going on and UI changes and things.[00:23:00]

[00:23:00] Mark: But I’m the only person that’s using it. I’m like, like I’m the only, I’m not the only person. I’m the only avatar that’s using it. Right. They don’t really have too many other avatars, but in WordPress, there’s a ton of people. I’m not saying these are easy questions to answer. I’m just saying that, you know, I, like if, if, if we literally just rounded up a hundred pottery people and we said to them, Hey, through Gutenberg in front of them and said, Hey, you know, I feel like that might be a good thing to, just to kind of see.

[00:23:27] Mark: What the vibe is like. But then, I mean again, I’ll counter my own argument. Is, does it even matter? do we just feel like we, we know what’s best for them and we just put it in front of them? And then they, they handle, and they figure it out themselves. That’s, that could be an answer. I’m just, again, I’m, I’m just wondering.

[00:23:42] Matt: Yeah, and that’s the, yeah, that’s something I can’t answer either, because of, you know, the various decisions and the various, concepts that come into the WordPress space.you know, the core, the core team and, and a lot of people who contribute to actual code to [00:24:00] WordPress, you know, some of these ideas just come out of nowhere, right.

[00:24:04] Matt: You know, and, and some of these big concepts just come out of nowhere. And yeah, obviously the, the. Biggest fish in the game is, is automatic. So, you know, you have some smart people there and, and certainly can lead you to say like, why did we come up with this idea? I would hope that when they’re making those decisions.

[00:24:24] Matt: So, so this goes back to my, what I was saying before about you need to have a product person. I know not to call, you know, WordPress a traditional product, but you need to have a product person who makes those decisions, makes those bets. Cause at the end of the day, if you don’t have somebody who’s like willing to risk that or have that vision, then you get, then you get nothing.

[00:24:44] Matt: You just get the stag, stagnant product or company. So Gutenberg big grand vision. Matt has even said before in other podcasts that, or other interviews that he actually sees open source Gutenberg [00:25:00] to be bigger than WordPress in years to come. So wrap your head around that, right? And I kind of agree with him on that.

[00:25:07] Matt: You know, other CMS platforms should use Gutenberg. Ghost should use Gutenberg because Ghost is a great platform. But when you start editing, it’s so limited compared to what I can do with, with Gutenberg when I’m building pages and templates. And that’s the idea around Gutenberg. That’s also an open source project that other CMSs or any interface that has inputs on the web could use, could fork and use in their project.

[00:25:32] Matt: So you need somebody to be able to make those decisions. So I hope that when, you know, Matthias and Rich Tabor and, and McCarthy and all these folks that come up with a lot of Nick Diego come up with these big grand visions of WordPress that they’re thinking. This decision is good for, for everyone.

[00:25:53] Matt: It’s a bit of risk, it’s a bit of a bet, as a good product person should do.but the idea [00:26:00] would be like, hey man, if this isn’t working, you gotta, you gotta yank it, or we gotta, you know, shift course. And a little bit of hint of that this week, past week when Matt was like, maybe we should take a year and reinvest in stuff.

[00:26:12] Matt: yeah, man, like maybe we have been iterating too fast. And, and actually we kind of just saw this happen because I believe collaboration was next on the list, but that’s getting paused because there wasn’t enough either interest or maybe they realized like, oh shit, we have to, we have to pump the brakes a bit and beef up this other stuff before we start thinking about Developing collaboration in, in WordPress and that’s going to get pushed to a later date.

[00:26:38] Matt: I believe is what the end result was

[00:26:42] Mark: Yeah, I don’t I mean that would just be another question that I would have is it is it that The is it that the iteration has been too fast or has it been some other like word? I mean like Because again, there’s different, there’s different opinions all over the community about this.

[00:26:59] Mark: some [00:27:00] people say it’s not been managed well. Some people say it’s going slow as hell. Like all that sort of stuff. I’m not here to say one way or the other necessarily. I haven’t been around long enough to really feel it. But I’m saying like, how,It, it signals to me like there’s, just looking at it, That, that, If it, if it was too fast and we need to go back on certain things, then maybe those weren’t, completely thought out at the time. And either not completely thought out or not completely, I don’t know the process for building a SaaS, I’m not gonna lie.

[00:27:27] Mark: But I’m, but I’m thinking, I don’t see other, again, we, we can’t really compare, I guess, products to projects, but, I don’t really see that happening in these other platforms. So I wonder, literally, I know it’s not apples to apples entirely, but I’m wondering, With a Wix, with a Squarespace, like how do they even come up with these ideas?

[00:27:41] Mark: Do they, do they pull their users at all? Do they have those types of focus group type things? because we have the greatest community of that in WordPress, but it is not really the target audience of traditional WordPress, I suppose. Like you can just. [00:28:00] Open up Twitter and you will see an opinion about Gutenberg or WordPress in general or something like that.

[00:28:04] Mark: But that person is most likely going to be somebody that does this professionally. Yeah. Rather than, or has some sort of livelihood connected directly to the product, on the project, rather than just like their business uses WordPress. Yeah. I just think it’s a really, really Interesting juxtaposition.

[00:28:22] Mark: Yeah, I mean, I would even,

[00:28:24] Matt: I would even argue that if you saw a negative opinion about WordPress, you would see more negative opinions about WordPress from the average user than you would, positive, you know, reviews. Because it’s still a learning curve and it’s still difficult and, you know, you need to have some, some knowledge to, to know how this whole thing is, is put together, right?

[00:28:46] Matt: Plugins, themes, what can, you know, hosting, what happens when my site goes slow? Like you need to, you know, that’s why people reach out to a service provider. And I think that really it’s, it’s understanding. [00:29:00] And this is why I think secretly you start to, not secretly, but I start, you start to see efforts with Playground, Playground.

[00:29:07] Matt: wordpress. net and the Studio app, Because this gives somebody the ability to, to use WordPress and try WordPress for free. Now this is, remember, this is infant, we’re in infant stage right now. This, this tiny little blip on the radar right now. But six months ago, ten years ago, when you told somebody to get WordPress, it’s just download the zip file, what do you do with it?

[00:29:32] Matt: Now you can actually, Try it for free in the browser, and that’s not going to help everyone, but it’ll certainly Onboard people faster because one you can do it for free and you can do it without any risk like you It’s not like you’re breaking anything. It’s not like you have to save this somewhere kind of thing.

[00:29:51] Matt: You have to break your website and I think that that’s going to be the start to get people on boarded and Ultimately, at the end of the [00:30:00] day, it, I mean, ultimately at the end of the day, it is what it is, like if people can’t figure out WordPress on their own, like that DIYer, that you always have in this free, open market, not just open source, but open market, you’ll have those other solutions of Wix and Squarespace, so like their market share is basically people who are just frustrated with WordPress at the end of the day, not literally, but But, but there’s a large portion who are like, I don’t want to do this myself.

[00:30:27] Matt: Give me this app. That’s 10 bucks a month that I can, that, that looks like it’s good. It looks like what I have and there’s tech support and that’s a total viable solution and WordPress WordPress. com exists for that reason too. but they’re their own worst enemy because of somebody on boards through wordpress.

[00:30:44] Matt: org and they hate that experience through some like 5 a month. Cheap hosting plan. then that person just says, I don’t, I don’t care if wordpress. com is the place to go. I don’t want WordPress. I’m going to Squarespace and Wix until they level up in their [00:31:00] business life or they realize Oh shit, I, I, I can’t do what I need to do with this website.

[00:31:05] Matt: and then they move back to WordPress or something else.

[00:31:09] Mark: Yeah. It’s again, it’s just, it’s tough. I feel like there’s a, an. a piece of it. That’s what is louder versus what is true. in just a general opinion of everything, because you know, I feel like a lot of people would question that idea of just simply like you just brought up there, like dot.

[00:31:28] Mark: com versus. org. What’s the purpose of either? who’s, who are they being marketed to and things like that. And I’m just not sure. Cause I hear a lot of opinions, but then I don’t, it doesn’t get reflected in like the way that it’s actually, You know, either updated in, iterated on or, or what have you. And, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t know if there’s an actual, these are some of the toughest, toughest, toughest questions I feel like in this hole, in this whole space.

[00:31:54] Mark: Just because there’s, there’s too many pains, there’s too many

[00:31:56] Matt: things. Does what, what do you get out of it for if you get an [00:32:00] answer?

[00:32:02] Mark: I mean, I don’t know if I would get anything out of it, but hopefully it impacts some change, I guess. I don’t know. Ah,

[00:32:08] Matt: but change, change for what? Like what, what is it going to change?

[00:32:11] Matt: Like what change are you looking for? Well,

[00:32:13] Mark: I don’t know if I’m looking for a particular change, but I will say that things are absolutely going to change. Like for for instance, so like you talked about AI recently. I know you, I know you have some opinions on that versus like professional themes.

[00:32:25] Mark: AI website building. Yeah, yeah. ai, website building and like that versus professional themes and things. And I’m like, I’m very interested to see where that goes. Like I am, like I don’t, I don’t know if I’m optimistic or pessimistic on it, but like I think people are trying to like that, that is like a real concern.

[00:32:40] Mark: Like we could be, we could be having another chat in five years and this is like incredibly different now. You can’t predict that for sure. A hundred percent right. But it’s like. I don’t know. I just feel I feel like if the, again, if the DIYers are the main audience, I would be like on them like a hawk, seeing like what they actually want, what they actually want to do.

[00:32:59] Mark: And I don’t know if you [00:33:00] can, because you don’t have a direct access per se to them, which I get that, but it’s a real question. And then the last point was, I kind of forgot and now I’ve come back to it, is, Is WordPress the end? Is it? is it the end solution? Meaning, does somebody, go to, get marketed to a Squarespace?

[00:33:17] Mark: It’s real easy? Because I could see that as one of the journeys. The customer journeys. Where they go there and then they get limited and then they’re like, Hey, go to WordPress or have somebody build you a WordPress website because there’s a lot more that you can do. we all know that. And we say that.

[00:33:31] Mark: And it’s like, how do we actually communicate that where Hey, if you just maybe started on WordPress, I know it might be a little annoying, but just learn Gutenberg and then you’re going to be like way better off because you’re already going to be kind of like kind of settled in this, in this ecosystem.

[00:33:44] Mark: If you ever need to hand it off, it’s going to be, you know, you’re, you’re not going to be limited in any way. they’re all business decisions though, for people that are literally running businesses outside of the tech space most of the time. So it’s a really hard conversation to actually

[00:33:58] Matt: have. You’d have to [00:34:00] have.

[00:34:00] Matt: You know, if the DIY segment, you know, you have to define and refine and all that stuff because there are business owners that will roll up their sleeves because literally they don’t, they don’t have the money to hire somebody right now, so they’ll roll up their sleeves and they’ll try to get it done.

[00:34:17] Matt: You would imagine that’s the type of person they are if they’re going to start a business. and then eventually business grows. Yada, yada, yada, you know the whole story. And then they say, it’s time to hire a professional. Hopefully, Well, maybe they’re happy with a Squarespace and Wix type solution. So they hire a Squarespace and Wix, specialist and they design them a site and they’re happy.

[00:34:41] Matt: It’s the different kind of site that is doing probably more like publishing, obviously something leveraging custom post types and, and archives. If you have a lot of, you know, tons of content or data on your site, complex workflows, all this other stuff. And that’s when they say, okay, these platforms can’t [00:35:00] help me with that.

[00:35:01] Matt: I’ll go hire a professional or they interview people and somebody convinces them to use WordPress, right? And I think it said, I think that that’s why when you saw, Joseph, talk about like the next steps for the community, this is something that. You know, I’ve been holding onto for all of the 2024 because end of 2023, you know, the next thing now is how is WordPress thriving.

[00:35:23] Matt: We have to keep asking ourselves that as good stewards of the community is WordPress thriving, not just the software, but the people in it and around it. Are we encouraging ourselves to, you know, reinvest back into WordPress, learn WordPress, educate others on WordPress, et cetera. And. You know, that’s another that to me, that’s another segment for for growth.

[00:35:47] Matt: And I think Josefa and team, including Matt, realize that you don’t want to lose the community because if you lose the community, it’s a slow erosion effect. And there’s all kinds of issues [00:36:00] right now in that with WordPress, you know, age. The software is, the software itself is, is also aging. the users are aging.

[00:36:10] Matt: And yeah, when you look at AI, Certainly. And who the hell knows five years could be drastically different or could not. But drastically different, like where people can write their own code and the chat GPT just ships it off to a hosting platform. You don’t even know, nor do you care. You say, build me a blogging system where my five colleagues can log in and blog and it just builds the whole system for you.

[00:36:34] Matt: Now, maybe Matt’s vision of WordPress and Gutenberg is that there’s a way that that code is being used in AI algorithms, and it’s putting together the underpinnings of WordPress and Gutenberg is a standalone project. So that stuff is just, you know, AI knows Gutenberg and it’s building you these bespoke platforms using Gutenberg.

[00:36:57] Matt: That sounds pretty cool. You know, whether or [00:37:00] not that happens, I have no freaking idea, but, it is definitely. a risk to, you know, to WordPress. But don’t forget, it’s not just a risk to WordPress with 48 percent of the content marketing space, or, excuse me, content management space. It’s a risk to all these other platforms that have 1 percent and are already, and are charging people.

[00:37:23] Matt: It’s a closed commercial system. So who’s at risk more? Wix or, Wix and Squarespace or WordPress, you know? Yeah, but anyway, at the end of the day, AI site building is very underwhelming for me.

[00:37:36] Mark: Do you think, do you think, do you think it’s a fair statement to say that the only thing that can kill WordPress is WordPress itself?

[00:37:49] Matt: no. No, because I think there is definitely a threat from, you know, AI. And, There’s definitely threats from, from [00:38:00] other open source platforms.you know, Shopify is a threat. I, I don’t see it as, I don’t see like an, I don’t, I don’t see an ending for WordPress. I don’t think anything is as drastic as an ending to WordPress.

[00:38:17] Matt: it might fall out of popularity, but. You know, I don’t see it being like dethroned completely because they’re open source tools and packages that people have been using for decades at this point, you know, people are definitely still using I. R. C. And chat rooms, you know, versus social media. So, you know, I don’t, I don’t see it as grim as an outcome to wordpress.

[00:38:47] Mark: How did, how did the initial run up, how did that happen with WordPress? Like when, when you were going through that and you were like, I guess you were seeing like that kind of happen. Why, why would you, what were like maybe the top couple of reasons why you [00:39:00] think that WordPress got to 43%?

[00:39:02] Matt: Oh, largely because of, well, number one, open source.

[00:39:07] Matt: a lot of it, and this is just my perspective. I’m sure other people have different perspectives, but, Open source number one number two Giving the credit back to Matt in the early days. You had somebody willing to to pursue Blogging and building out a blogging platform and That was right right place right time because blogging was the thing it was pre social media and You It, it started to become a site builder, you know, to a degree back then, because people kind of just only knew websites as very complex things or things that had text on it.

[00:39:52] Matt: So if you could build this thing that helped you publish things with text on it, you’re like, Oh, this is pretty cool. And, yeah, just [00:40:00] so many other factors. technology was getting better, faster, cheaper every day. it was really like the perfect storm to build this, this publishing tool and that ramped up with the rest of the economy of web design, where you front page, you know, Corel had website building tools.

[00:40:22] Matt: Apple had, Page mill. I don’t remember what it was. Apple had. I mean, it was a whole market. Adobe flash like the consumer internet was happening. I mean, it was just perfect, perfect, perfect storm to get all these things going. And then you had the financial crisis of 2008 where That’s when I started our agency that might I didn’t lose a job.

[00:40:47] Matt: We sold. We used to run car dealerships. We sold our dealerships because General Motors was going bankrupt. and then we started this. We started our agency, but, you also had so many people who started so many agencies that are still in [00:41:00] business today in the WordPress space started. Back then as well, because they were leaving their jobs or their job got shut down.

[00:41:06] Matt: So everybody kind of turned to this boom of, of WordPress because it was, it was amazing, you know, for that kind of technology was amazing to start a services business back then. And you saw it again with COVID, right? All of a sudden the jump in themes, plugins, WordPress hosting just frickin went off the charts because everyone was like, what do I do?

[00:41:29] Matt: I lost my job, I want to do something, or I have a business, and I need to start selling shit online. So another boom because of like the economy. So, there was a lot of stuff, you know, at play. And again, back to the open source side of it, if it were like commercial out of the gate, you would not have seen, It, you know, it would have never spread, you know, and then compound the community and all of us, spreading the knowledge of WordPress.

[00:41:56] Matt: That’s, that’s why it’s grown, in my opinion. [00:42:00]

[00:42:00] Mark: Okay, so right place, right time?

[00:42:02] Matt: Yeah, just a lot of other things, yeah. And Drupal was massive back then to Drupal. It was Drupal and WordPress was the arms race, and Drupal just didn’t did not win out. It was much more complex. It was looked at much more of an enterprise type solution, and it was built with that.

[00:42:22] Matt: It was built with that mindset, and that’s actually a good, that would add. You know, it could be a whole Documentary unto itself, but I was big in the in the Drupal That’s I came into this whole market through Drupal And it wasn’t for the designer that I was working with who was like Drupal’s terrible to design with I need this thing called WordPress WordPress is way better and The DrupalCon, I forget what year I went, 2003, 2004.

[00:42:50] Matt: I can’t remember. It was in Boston. It was freaking massive, but it was very, very corporate, like right out of the gate.and I think [00:43:00] because of that, and because the company Acquia,like Dries Butart, who’s the founder of Drupal, he started a company called Acquia. And it was very much more enterprise y than automatic was when Matt Mullenweg started Automatic.

[00:43:17] Matt: And I think that was a perfect example of, they had so many enterprise type clients and they catered to that market. That, that’s the lane that Drupal stayed in. Still is. And WordPress was much more like, Mullenweg was just like, Freedom, man. Everybody wants a blog, dude. and Dreeze became much more of a corporate entity.

[00:43:43] Matt: And I remember when they, I was there when they announced Acquia. And people, I think, I’m pretty sure I heard boos come out of the crowd. Because you had a bunch of like open source developers were like, No, this is not what we want. We don’t want to commercialize this software. And they did, and that was the [00:44:00] path that they stuck to.

[00:44:02] Mark: Hmm. So was it open source to begin with you’re saying? Oh, yeah. Yeah, it

[00:44:05] Matt: still is.

[00:44:06] Mark: Oh, it is. Okay. Yeah But okay, it’s commercialized in a sense

[00:44:14] Mark: It’s quite the ride

[00:44:16] Matt: Well, that’s again you want to touch on the free versus paid stuff

[00:44:19] Mark: we can do that. Yeah. Yeah, I mean like for freed versus paid specifically with you know, I don’t know. Which way do we want to go here? Just I mean, cause again, I’m thinking of it from a different angle, but I don’t know what, what questions you have or where would you start?

[00:44:33] Mark: What’s your, what’s

[00:44:34] Matt: your, what’s your angle? You said you, you said it could take a whole seminar for free versus paid or something like that. You said something.

[00:44:41] Mark: Okay. So yeah. So like free versus paid plugins, like with, with, I don’t know, just my opinion, my lived experience and what I see with other people is that WordPress is fantastic because it is open source.

[00:44:53] Mark: It is. More or less free to kind of like get started with, and you could spin up a blog, just paying for hosting and things like that.[00:45:00] I think the idea of having 50, 000 or so, whatever plugins in the repository is in a lot of ways, awesome. And in a lot of ways, potentially, obviously scary for a litany of reasons, but you don’t obviously, if you, again, this is the whole thing is you have to almost go through.

[00:45:16] Mark: the, the gauntlet to know some of these things. if you’re a DIYer, like if you’re a DIYer and you just search, okay, I’m making my pottery website. I have no idea how to put a form on here. I got to type in, you know, give me a free like forms on WordPress or something. Or maybe there’s something that’s kind of already in there.

[00:45:35] Mark: I don’t know, but like you have to like type in forms into the, into the plugin repo. I remember doing this and I’m like, okay, I have no idea what any of these are. Am I going to go cross reference these? Am I just going to. Whatever. So then you pick any free one and then you have something in there. If it does the job, that’s cool.

[00:45:50] Mark: If you need something more at some point, maybe you pay for that one or maybe you find a different one. So it’s like really cool that that’s an option, but for DIY wires, I don’t even know how [00:46:00] we talk about it because most of the time they’re probably like, I don’t even know how you, I don’t know at what point you get to as a DIY where you’re like actively going to pay for something that you, that you can’t like directly see the value prop for.

[00:46:15] Mark: if it was like some sort of software that premium plugin that was specific for that and there was no free option, maybe. but that’s one piece of it. And then the second part of it though is the way that I think more is like I’m building websites for other people. So, and I’m managing those websites.

[00:46:29] Mark: I just literally don’t want to use a bunch of free plugins because not that there’s anything wrong with free plugins, but it’s probably gonna limit me in some capacity. It’s probably gonna be Somewhat less supported in a way, like it’s going to be less funded because it’s free most likely unless it has a premium counterpart that’s whatever that’s, that’s, that’s generating revenue and things.

[00:46:52] Mark: But the other thing is I just want to have like less headaches in a way and that is too much of a generalization is some free plugins are perfect. [00:47:00] It’ll never give you any trouble, but that’s the way that I think. And I feel like if I’m paying, then I, I ought to be receiving better service. I ought to be having less problems and I have a reason to actually complain.

[00:47:09] Mark: If I, if that does happen. So it’s really two, again it’s a two sided thing just because of the nature of WordPress. But that’s kind of the high level of like free versus paid. I feel like a lot of, like it’s different for everyone, but if you’re building for other people, there’s, there’s, I feel like there’s definitely an argument to choose premium more so than free.

[00:47:26] Mark: And free stuff if necessary.

[00:47:29] Matt: Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s two different problems, right? So if you say Oh, the end user has issues, difficulty navigating the, the plugin repository. Absolutely. Right. I think everyone, you know, agrees on that. And.that’s a whole, you know, conundrum onto itself. We’ve seen plenty of, of issues.

[00:47:47] Matt: We talked about this last time, back in the day themes, you could just put your theme up there. If you review the most themes that would get you hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales per year from having that top spot, that exposure, you know, plug in the [00:48:00] same thing. And once you got into the plugin repo, effectively you could, This has been an issue for many years and I think it’s a lot better now, but there was a time where man, once you got past the initial check of the plugin review team, once you’re in, You could just change your plug in and do whatever the hell you wanted to do.

[00:48:20] Matt: you know, and get away with stuff. Little, little up sells, little nagging up sells, right? You know, in terms of commercializing the software. Whereas themes was always different. Every time you made a commitment, Every time you made a commit to the theme, they would review it before it would, you know, go live.

[00:48:36] Matt: So there was like, and there was always this debate of wow, why do the themes get treated different than the plugins? Well, because there’s so many more plugins and plugins has so much more code than themes. So there’s just not enough manpower. Then that would snowball in. Well, what are we doing here?

[00:48:50] Matt: Why not make us, and you just saw this and Vato sold to Shutterstock for quarter of a billion dollars or whatever the number was, Envato and theme forest was [00:49:00] massive back 2008, 2012. Like their run was ridiculous. And people would always say, well, look, look at this theme. theme space, marketplace over here.

[00:49:10] Matt: Why can’t we have that at wordpress. org? you know, and that’s, that’s still a, a, a debate for some, like why not have verified users, little check mark next to your name? why can’t we have better support? Why can’t we have better data? So yeah, like improving that experience is, has always been a thing.

[00:49:29] Matt: one, I think just, just not enough. It’s just the sheer structure and. Manpower that would take. Remember, wordpress. org, is a non profit. It doesn’t, it’s not an, it’s not a commercial entity. So it’s not oh yeah, we’ll just hire a bunch of people and just, just do it. there could be a way to do it and everybody would be taxed just like you’re taxed at Apple 30%, but the distribution channel is pretty massive.

[00:49:58] Matt: So I had always said back when I [00:50:00] was selling themes and plugins, tax me. I want a trusted distribution channel. And that would have been the place.That’s one half of your question. The other half of the question is yeah, man, picking free versus commercial. A good agency owner service person should always be looking to, you know, hedge their, business continuity or whatever you want to call it.

[00:50:22] Matt: Right. So very important plugins. Page builders, forms, themes, you know, whatever it is that you’re, that you’re, you know, e commerce, other, you know, other things that are in there that are like detrimental to your, to your support of a customer. Absolutely, you should have a commercial license to get that commercial support.

[00:50:44] Matt: trusted, you know, reliable, and, Works with the business and you know that makes total sense because the last thing you want to do is Sell a big client project and then you know, you’re just using some throwaway plug [00:51:00] in that breaks the site And then there’s no support and then you have to go back to tell and this was very very prominent on the theme forest slash Code Canyon days because again, I’ve told the story before One of the low hanging fruit customers we used to go after to a real estate agents still shitty websites today shitty websites back then and What did we do?

[00:51:24] Matt: We used? Business directory plugins off of Envato because I was foolish and I was like, oh, yeah 59 for this thing. Absolutely, and It’s somebody in some unknown place in the world who’s coded it and then it doesn’t work Or the code is terrible and there’s no documentation and then we’re stuck holding the bag going.

[00:51:46] Matt: Oh, yeah Your site keeps crashing because you have too many real estate listings and this plugin just simply can’t handle it Or there’s some rogue like memory leak in the php and it’s crashing the the hosting now again This was a long [00:52:00] time ago. So those were big issues back then probably less today But yeah, it was, it was the worst because then you’re like, God damn, you knew every weekend the site was going to crash, right?

[00:52:10] Matt: They’re doing an open house. The site’s going to crash.and that was poor code. and somebody, you’re not getting support from, but there were solutions for many hundreds of dollars that service that market. And I was like, guys, I can’t, I wasn’t selling projects. high enough dollars to justify that fee.

[00:52:29] Matt: I was certainly wasn’t going to pass it on to my client because I was trying to be the person who is just no, no, we’re doing it all ourselves, man. We got it. This is us. We’re custom coders. you know, that’s early days. And then you learn your lessons and then you start to understand, oh, people don’t care about the code.

[00:52:43] Matt: They want professional support. So add another zero at the end, tell them that you’ll be there for them and be honest, you know, and the world’s a better place. And you know, that those are lessons that, you know, I learned the hard way.

[00:52:57] Mark: Yeah, I mean, I, like I said, I’ve [00:53:00] started there as well. I think everyone does, with the, with the free side of things, just because it’s very easily accessible.

[00:53:05] Mark: But yeah, I mean, just for me, it was honestly, a lot of times it was a limitation thing because I couldn’t do something with the free tool, whatever I wanted to do. And then I would, and then I would rank up and obviously the support is, you know, is huge as well when you’re trying to deal with other clients.

[00:53:20] Mark: But again, it’s two different problems for two different avatars and I don’t know if that’s ever going to be something that, I don’t know. I’d be, I feel like I’d be interested to see, do a deep dive on any other platform as well. you know, we talked to Sam about Webflow. You know, I wonder how they handle end users.

[00:53:39] Mark: Concerns versus agency concerns, or they’re just not at the scale that it, it actually matters. It doesn’t matter. You can hear

[00:53:46] Matt: it. It doesn’t matter because every one of their users is paid. Right. So remember wordpress. org doesn’t, doesn’t make a dime. There’s that, [00:54:00] that kind of that just doesn’t exist in, in the wordpress.

[00:54:03] Matt: org world. No one at wordpress. org is actively thinking, are we going to make payroll this month?do we have to like, what do we have to do to keep this business going? It’s a very, very different, very, very different animal. Whereas Webflow is constantly looking at the competition, marketing, sales, adding features, charging people 15, 000 for bandwidth, you know, like that, like their business model is, is completely, completely different.

[00:54:35] Matt: yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, I think a lot of your concerns and questions would be smoothed over when we see the day that automatic becomes much more.

[00:54:50] Matt: The front runner for WordPress. And, oh by the way, get WordPress, you can get a free version of [00:55:00] WordPress at wordpress. org. Hmm, like that’ll be the, that’ll be the thing that really changes like, the way this is all perceived, because I, I honestly think that at some point, automatic needs to be much more profitable in the face of all these other hosting companies in order to survive.

[00:55:19] Matt: and you will see, I said this before, countless times, you will see get wordpress at wordpress. com. Get, get, Get WordPress wherever you want to host your, just like we say, listen to your podcast, wherever you listen to podcasts, run this WordPress website, wherever you run WordPress websites with Jetpack.

[00:55:39] Matt: And then in an eight point font below that, download your version of WordPress for free, right? Like the open source version that we know today

[00:55:49] Mark: is, is how help me understand how that situation. Is different than the one you outlined with Drupal. [00:56:00]

[00:56:00] Matt: It’s not, it’s the same. It’s not the future. I’m like, I’m not looking forward to it.

[00:56:07] Matt: Right. I just think that that’s going to be the only path really that automatic can go in the future, unless Matt comes up with some amazing, you know, idea, but this is why he gets so crazy about, you know, places like GoDaddy who make billions of dollars on web hosting, much more than Automattic does, and all these other web hosts because they’re making a lot more money than Automattic, hosting.

[00:56:33] Mark: With that, with that, the way that I interpret that, like reading into all that is obviously open source and closed source things have their own Inherent problems and stuff, but is that, is that a separate concern? Is, is, is WordPress being open source? Am I, is this get conflated too often? We’re like, Oh, the, the, the idea that it’s open source [00:57:00] is inherently hurting or benefiting what we just talked about there.

[00:57:06] Mark: Is that a different, do you understand what I’m saying? is that a different concern? Like open source is a category of literally just like code, right? that’s the, it just means like you can, you could fork the code or the code’s proprietary, like proprietary versus not proprietary, more or less.

[00:57:21] Mark: Right. Like that piece of it.

[00:57:22] Matt: Yeah. I mean, yes, there’s legalities around it. Like the GPL license, like you can’t. Right. Yeah. That’s, but it does not hurt. It does not hurt it for sure.

[00:57:33] Mark: Well, what I’m saying though, is like a private company can be running a open source project. Automatic.

[00:57:42] Matt: Automatic is the example,

[00:57:44] Mark: right?

[00:57:45] Mark: So that’s not, those two things aren’t like mutually exclusive. You can’t like, it doesn’t have to go one way or the other. It doesn’t have to be a non, are you saying that wordpress. org being a nonprofit doesn’t have to be like that [00:58:00] or

[00:58:00] Matt: yeah. So, so,other examples, Red Hat Linux, Ubuntu Linux, same thing.

[00:58:11] Matt: They all have open sources, just, well, I say it’s just, but when it, in terms of business, it is a particular. It’s not really a business model, but it’s something that you can do in business. Android is open source, right? You know,

[00:58:28] Mark: that’s what I think is it? The distinction is open source because it sounds like it’s some people and I’ve often played it open source.

[00:58:35] Mark: The specific distinction is open source is not a business model. It doesn’t have anything to do with that. It is just the categorization and classification of the project or the product or whatever. Right? So it’s and you can actually

[00:58:51] Matt: see the code. Exactly. That’s what I mean.

[00:58:55] Mark: Proprietary or patented or some shit like proprietary would [00:59:00] be the antonym of open source.

[00:59:04] Mark: Yeah. So that’s your project, your code base, whatever is open source or proprietary, but then your business doesn’t have to be the business model would be, or business type would be like for profit or nonprofit. Those two things are separate. things like you could have a for profit business running an open source project.

[00:59:23] Mark: You could have a nonprofit business. Well, I guess you probably couldn’t have a nonprofit business running a for profit, like a proprietary product.

[00:59:30] Matt: It wouldn’t be like the classification of business. You’d you, your question really would be how does that business make money? And it’s, it’s very easy. Cause again, like you look at red hat Ubuntu as to like software open source examples is you can go and do it yourself.

[00:59:46] Matt: Customer. Or you pay us to do it. That’s the trade off. The same thing you see with plugins, like free versus paid plugins, is the same thing WordPress could do if they shifted the way they pa [01:00:00] if Automatic shifted the way they package themselves. Which would be very difficult because the WordPress foundation theoretically, is set up to protect WordPress, the patents of, or the copyright of WordPress, the logo, the namespace and WordPress.

[01:00:16] Matt: org. but there could be a world where you see WordPress position itself as, and you kind of see it now with the, the hosting page. if we go to wordpress. org slash hosting, I think finally, I forgot the E in WordPress. WordPress.

[01:00:41] Matt: Oh, how about that? It redirects it slash hosting. So wordpress. com. I don’t know when wordpress. com actually has been on the hosting page, but it’s blue host hosting or dream hosts and WordPress, right? And this is another highly debated topic, but the point is, is WordPress could position itself to [01:01:00] say the best place to experience hosted WordPress is wordpress.

[01:01:03] Matt: com. The best way to experience WordPress without wordpress. com is to get it with Jetpack. And then for the rest of you fools, go grab it and download it and host it somewhere else if you want to play with it. But that’s, that’s the way that big businesses do open source. Here’s my free operating system, Red Hat and Ubuntu Linux.

[01:01:25] Matt: Go run it on your own, or pay for the commercial license, and we’ll support you. It’s the same thing that we do with plugins. Get it for free, or upgrade here and we’ll give you support.

[01:01:38] Mark: Okay. So then I think the last thing to pull that together then is that why, when we, when we made the comparison between that automatic, it’s already kind of pseudo led, it seems like by automatic, obviously, but like a more front facing automatic lead on the WordPress situation in that reality, compared that to the Drupal [01:02:00] reality, why is that reality of WordPress not your favorable Outcome and what would be

[01:02:11] Mark: That’s probably a pretty deep question, yeah Yeah,

[01:02:16] Matt: I mean honestly on the high level I I Still probably would I would not mind that I wouldn’t mind. I don’t care if WordPress did that It would be a I wouldn’t like it from man. We all kind of feel like we’ve built this thing together. We’ve all been around this for so long that it kind of would feel weird, to kind of like push aside now, of course we’re just theory crafting here.

[01:02:53] Matt: We don’t really know like this is going to happen, but if it did, to kind of push aside the word, the [01:03:00] free open source side of it. And kind of like hide it a little bit and put it in its own little like compartment and be like, yeah, yeah, yeah. We got this over here. that would kind of feel bad. I, you know, it would be so hard to do because the community is so large and so vocal and WordCamps already run through the foundation.

[01:03:20] Matt: Remember WordCamps are a foundation thing, not an automatic thing. Okay. It’s not, it’s not an automatic event. It’s a foundation event. So, the community is still pretty strong. in that space. I would not mind it. They’re just not like it and I would not mind it. What I wouldn’t want is for WordPress to be owned by Salesforce because forget it, you know, that’s the kiss of death.

[01:03:48] Matt: So again, I keep saying this automatic is still the best steward for WordPress, even if they position themselves, And I also think that would be the medicine we would all kind of need to [01:04:00] swallow to a degree to be like, yes, we know you have to monetize to survive. It’s the same thing us plugin developers say, right?

[01:04:11] Matt: If you have a free plugin in the repo and people are bashing your free plugin or asking for more and you’re like, well, Give me 59 bucks, man, and buy a license. And I can survive and continue to do this.that’s why a lot of people are, you know, should be against the lifetime deals. you saw this with bricks, they had lifetime deals, but obviously to survive, you got to charge your customers.

[01:04:36] Matt: You have, you need money to come in. and guess what? Those prices should go up. You know, like I put this out as a poll the other day. How many people have raised their prices in the WordPress space both, on the software side and the hourly pricing side? Because, man, I’m talking to different random ass contractors, pest control [01:05:00] people, right?

[01:05:01] Matt: Squirrels. You know? And then the prices are just outrageous. And they’re like, well, the price is gone. Everything is so much more expensive. And then I sit here and go, man, I haven’t seen A WordPress plug in raised their prices in a decade.

[01:05:16] Mark: Yeah.

[01:05:16] Matt: You know? Are, are the consultants raising their prices?

[01:05:19] Matt: Because And then the thing that kills me is when these contractors, they don’t even get back to you. They don’t even care. Right? Had a guy come, put mulch, in my yard, cut my grass, do the, the spring clean up. Cracked the side of my stairs with his lawnmower. Didn’t even tell me. Sent them a message with a photo.

[01:05:39] Matt: Hey, what’s up with this stare that you broke? Yeah, I saw that I couldn’t really couldn’t do much about it Awesome, you know, I don’t go into a client’s website delete a bunch of pages and then Chewing on an apple when they call me up going. Hey, what’s up with all those pages? Yeah, I deleted him Sorry, and then just move on [01:06:00] with my life, you know But that’s a whole like, you know traditional business versus online business because there’s so much more competition in our space I think a lot of people are afraid to go up in price Customer can just be like, okay mark delete you move on to the next guy Who’s gonna charge me 50 bucks an hour to not saying that that’s what you charge But you know, the idea is you know, all of this stuff is is so volatile Youanyway, I forgot where I went or how I got on that, but.

[01:06:24] Mark: Well, just quick point on the pricing thing. Yeah. I mean, I think if you’re a reasonable person or from stuff, cause like I say reasonable, but it’s if, I guess if you’re making any money, like doing things that we’re doing, like I always think these are incredible deals. I mean, any plugin for 59 a year, whatever, like 200 a year, whatever.

[01:06:41] Mark: I mean the amount of value that I’m getting out of that. software, you know, I’m happy to pay it. And then also it’s if I don’t pay it, like you said, it could be gone tomorrow. And now I have to factor in how much time, energy and money it’s going to make to meet for, to find another, you know, solution that’s going to do that because, you know, [01:07:00] I wasn’t paying or they weren’t charging me for those types of things.

[01:07:02] Mark: So you really got to think about it a little differently. Oh, that’s, yeah.

[01:07:05] Matt: That’s how I got on that is because I was talking about the, the survivability of, of automatic. Yeah. At some point automatic. Has to start turning, you know more revenue other that they just keep going for more investments, and that’s just another you know, slippery slope and Said it before I’ll say it again.

[01:07:23] Matt: I think Matt is trying to outsmart the VCS and Be like I don’t need this VC money. I can do this without you. The difference is it’s it just means that You He’s thinking that wordpress. com and jetpack are going to be the ways and he’s got WP cloud now, which is the infrastructure for hosting. So that’s another big moneymaker, that might soften the blow across all of this stuff, but certainly jetpack is the, that’s the product, right?

[01:07:59] Matt: [01:08:00] That’s the product to monetize all of these free hosted websites everywhere in the world. And. It’s only going to get more aggressive. But I also don’t mind it because I understand you got to eat too.

[01:08:15] Mark: There’s no way to market these things though. there’s no way to market as a, as a non, even not even a nonprofit.

[01:08:21] Mark: I mean, I’m not saying there’s, I don’t know if there’s a budget or anything, but that, but like you have Wix, and all that sort of stuff, but then you have wordpress. com, which effectively if positioned correctly and has those like, you know, standard tools in there, Couldn’t there be a way where WordPress.

[01:08:35] Mark: com effectively becomes a direct competitor to those types of things with the Gutenberg baked in and all that sort of stuff where it’s like literally, what, what does a random person know the difference between Wix and Squarespace? You know, I barely even know the difference. It’s they’re very, it’s, they’re very similar, you know?

[01:08:52] Mark: So it’s like, what if we made Gutenberg, like spearheaded that, made that situation, Basically, like the core experience in WordPress, [01:09:00] maybe this is the goal, but the core experience in WordPress is a direct competitor like a Squarespace. And then the marketing around that, again, I know there’s not necessarily a budget, but like then the sentiment, and if we could market it in any way, becomes, hey, come over here.

[01:09:14] Mark: Because it’s kind of the same, maybe have, you actually do have better features, you do have more of a, more, more headroom. But then here’s the beautiful part. Mrs. Pottery person. you need a website right now and you don’t want to pay a lot of money. That totally makes sense. Everybody understands that you’re getting your business off the ground.

[01:09:31] Mark: If one day though, your business does begin to, to blossom even more and you continue this, you are probably going to want to delegate some of these things like you would other stuff, and you’re already going to be on a platform that is like extremely robust and you have a lot of headroom and you have a million people in this world that can handle that for you.

[01:09:47] Mark: I feel like that sentiment and that like customer journey and that thought process there. Might be something that could be ran with. I mean, I’m sure there’s holes in that too. And that’s, that’s, that’s

[01:09:57] Matt: how, that’s how wordpress. com works [01:10:00] now. Right. So that’s, and that’s only, a very recent change where they allowed, plugins to be installed on wordpress.

[01:10:10] Matt: com hosting, because for years, if not a decade, I don’t know if it still is. WordPress. com was one massive WordPress multi site install. Now it used to be a thing that all these developers used to talk about how wordpress. com the whole instance of wordpress. com of everyone’s website was one multi site install.

[01:10:31] Matt: I don’t know if that’s still the same. now that they, support so many different pricing plans now, and now they support installs, plugin and theme installs, they even have staging. So for, for your typical 30 bucks a month, you get your typical managed web hosting. Experience, themes and plugins, staging sites, FTP access, GitHub connections, etc.

[01:10:55] Matt: And the staging site works pretty good. I used it the other day when I was re launching the podcast setup. com. you know. [01:11:00] So, and below 30 a month is the whole concept that you just illustrated. Start here. Start for free. If you just want a subdomain, janespottery. wordpress. com, go nuts. You’ll have it on a subdomain and you’ll have a little wordpress.

[01:11:14] Matt: com ad. If you want to add a domain name to it, I think it’s 100 bucks for the year or something. I don’t know. And you can put your domain and it removes the ad. And then if you want to install themes and plugins from the repo, then it’s 30 bucks a month. But why would you, when jetpack is there, right?

[01:11:31] Matt: From the very basic, basic user.

[01:11:34] Mark: Yeah. I mean, as a, as an agency owner of somebody that could potentially be doing business with that person in three to five years, I am a little I’m. kind of like holding back throw up in the sense of what I’d have to do to kind of make sure everything is on par there, but at least everything would be on the same place.

[01:11:51] Mark: Everything would be, they would already kind of know like WordPress a little bit. They would, they would already have the data there. I’m sure I could move, you know, the data, like the, [01:12:00] I guess I don’t know what that would be hosted with or where that, that domain is actually necessarily registered at. But my point is like at least they’re kind of in the same place.

[01:12:08] Mark: You know what I mean? Rather than being over at Squarespace, and they’re like, Oh, we’ve been paying Squarespace, we’ve been paying Wix, and then I have to come in and tell them, it’s no, WordPress is actually, you know, the way to go as you continue to scale.so, I don’t, I don’t know. I just feel if we could, if that could be the sentiment, where, kind of push them, push them, And, and educate them now because they’re not going to know the difference.

[01:12:31] Mark: They’re not going to know the difference at first, and it’s not going to matter really which way they go. It’s just like later down the line, if most people are in agreement that WordPress is the place to end up for most things, obviously not, maybe not everything, I guess, then, yeah, I just feel like that’s the, that’s an option, for the marketing portion of it or the messaging.

[01:12:52] Matt: Yeah. I mean, this is. com. This is why automatic. com should [01:13:00] befriend the us more, right? It should be more friendly with us because I would probably also argue that there’s a lot of us in this space. That are some of the biggest referrers to the Squarespace’s and Wix’s of the world. Because we know, like, when a customer, when a person comes up to you and you’re like, in the back of your head, you’re like, no, no way you’re going to be able to run WordPress.

[01:13:22] Matt: And I ain’t teaching you. Right? So, go use this Wix and Squarespace thing. Because you don’t want them mad at you either, to be like, you told me to use WordPress. I couldn’t figure it out. It’s yeah, because you need professional help. so. They should be thinking, oh yeah, com is getting better. And I hinted at this in my last article that I published yesterday on Sunday.

[01:13:44] Matt: The request for the traditional WordPress admin on WordPress. com. WP Admin, right? Just to have it look and operate just like a WordPress install. There was a beta request form that you could fill out and request access to that. [01:14:00] And, and my theory is, yeah, because maybe hope, hopefully maybe more developers are starting to use wordpress.

[01:14:07] Matt: com and refer wordpress. com more. Now that you can install themes and plugins for 30 bucks a month, which is industry on par average managed web hosting 30 bucks a month to do that stuff. Whereas years ago, you were like not a couple of years ago. You’re just like, ah, Wix and Squarespace. I would have loved to be able to tell people for the last decade that I’ve been referring to Wix and Squarespace to use wordpress.

[01:14:30] Matt: com. Now I can, because themes and plugins and guess what? You should also be excited for the data liberation project, for migrating inter WordPress from WordPress to WordPress, because yes, if, if more people are using wordpress. com and a customer comes to you and they’re on wordpress. com and they’re like, I want a custom site, you can be like, okay, If there is limitation on wordpress.

[01:14:54] Matt: com, you could pull that and go to your favorite web host with it because of [01:15:00] whatever challenges you might be having with dot com and poured it right over and start building in your favorite, you know, environment slash host. so.

[01:15:13] [01:16:00]

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