Matt Mullenweg at Refresh Houston


Lil Wayne's Protege

Quotes (and paraphrases) from Matt Mullenweg, WordPress founder, at Refresh Houston today:

Open source at its core is about freedom.

Because WordPress is open source, the community was able to continue building on it. The beauty of the commons is what open source enables.

Morally, everything I do should be open source, since everything I have today came from open source.

One of the most interesting artists to me is Lil Wayne. I relate to him on many levels. He embraced the trend the crowds had of copying and sharing music. He overwhelmed them with free music. Does he profit? Of course. From merchandise, concerts, etc. It wasn’t the music, but the things around the music that had the real value.

Our goal as a company is to stay small but be big in terms of influence.

Matt gave credit not to himself but to the content creators, you and me. He said the tool, WordPress, is just that, a tool. A means to an end. And the end is you and me. He mentioned the young folks today, 9-year-olds, who know CSS as well as he does. Ten years from now, they’ll be running things. These people interacting with the sites will actually be able to contribute to them, since they know the architecture. It means big things for the future of open source.

You can tell a good speaker by the metaphors they employ. Matt compared to renting an apartment and to owning a house. With owning comes taxes, lawn watering and other basic upkeep but also flexibility and control of how your house looks. With renting, you rely on the landlord and live worry-free, but you lose control and flexibility.  Metaphor No. 2: is like a gateway drug. It’s easy to access and use. Once you get hooked, you want more. More bells and whistles. Then you migrate over to Then there was the metaphor No. 3 about the school bully. If someone’s trying to make money off of open source, they’re the bully. It takes everyone in the school yard to fight this bully. You take the collective intelligence of everyone in the world. And you beat the school bully. The freedom of open source is a form of protection, security.

What Sajan and I really took to heart: As the founder of Automattic, Matt said he had to set the bar HIGH. Because by definition, his successors wouldn’t set the bar any higher than he leaves it for them. So he worked hard for five years. And set the example. Now his employees can run the company, and he doesn’t have to be aware of every little thing going on. He’s shown them the gold standard to live by.

Sajan and I left Houston Technology Center and went to Pappadeaux and talked forever about how to earn a living off of something you don’t charge for or put ads on. How to run and grow a business successfully.


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