Matt Mullenweg Identifies GoDaddy as a “Parasitic Company” and an “Existential Threat to WordPress’ Future”

On Thursday Matt Mullenweg responded to an inquiry on Twitter from Jeff Matson, a Pagely employee, about whether Automattic’s Newspack platform had all open open source components or some proprietary elements. In his response, he formally identified GoDaddy as “an existential threat to WordPress’ future.”

The response raised more than a few eyebrows on Twitter as it seemed unrelated to the topic of discussion, which was Amazon’s expansion of its proprietary digital publishing technology.

The conversation following this statement grew more heated and escalated, as GoDaddy employees felt this statement disparaged their contributions and careers dedicated to WordPress.

Mullenweg elaborated on why he sees GoDaddy as an existential threat in a series of tweets that have now been deleted but were preserved in screenshots below. He urged GoDaddy employees to examine how many people are contributing to WordPress and WooCommerce, two open source projects from which the company makes what he estimates to be hundreds of millions of dollars, versus the company’s investment in proprietary website and store products. “How much did GoDaddy put back into .org vs spend on cPanel licenses?” he asked.

In response to a tweet from WordPress digital producer Allie Nimmons, Mullenweg said that although GoDaddy employs some great people, they are “unfortunately overshadowed by massive corporate actions made many levels above them.”

“Those who care about the future of WordPress should spend their dollars with less parasitic companies,” Mullenweg said.

He commended Bluehost for its support of WordPress and its ecosystem since 2003.

Citing GoDaddy’s market dominance, revenue estimates, and 25% of its commerce customers using GoDaddy Payments, the concern seemed more strongly aimed at preserving WooCommerce and the its ability to benefit the rest of the ecosystem.

Some speculated that GoDaddy is more likely an existential threat to WooCommerce and WordPress.com than it is to the WordPress project.

“What I’m worried about is the future of WordPress if GoDaddy succeeds and suffocates the rest of the ecosystem,” Mullenweg said.

In a strange turn of events that would have been unimaginable years ago, many in the WordPress community took to Twitter to defend GoDaddy, even though the company has historically been criticized for its poor performance and predatory sales practices. GoDaddy has been working to improve its tarnished reputation by sponsoring open source contributors and events. Representatives from GoDaddy have not yet responded to a request for comment.

“People have contributed some really great work to the WordPress ecosystem over the years while employed by Godaddy,” Mullenweg told the Tavern. “I wish the company great success and many happy returns.”

Although the tweets were ultimately deleted, fragmenting the resulting conversation, it is clear that Mullenweg perceives GoDaddy as lacking support for the WordPress project and WooCommerce, relative to how much the hosting company is benefiting in revenue. He also sees GoDaddy’s support for proprietary solutions at grave odds with its purported support for WordPress.

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52 responses to “Matt Mullenweg Identifies GoDaddy as a “Parasitic Company” and an “Existential Threat to WordPress’ Future””

  1. Great to see Matt taking a stand for Open Source and asking the “greedy” Corporates to “Donate”. So much is taken “for granted” from the open-source community. I mean if small guys like me donate why cant the big corporates? I guess deep inside we all know why, “Corporations” are legal entity like an individual but Individuals have a “soul” where corporates do not which is why we are in this mess. The rich people created this concept of corporation’s limited liability and no conscience !

    • Not sure what you’re talking about. GoDaddy is one of the largest contributors to WordPress. It also maintains some of the best free tools like CoBlocks and the Go theme, which are free on WordPress.org. Even WordPress.com uses CoBlocks and doesn’t contribute to it…

  2. The only things I don’t like about GoDaddy is the way they charge for SSL certificates and don’t allow you to install your own for free and the expensive-as-heck Managed WordPress plans, which have doubled in price since I first signed up to it in 2016.

    However, GoDaddy has the best value-for-money unlimited websites cPanel plan (I host 3 websites on it for £10/month), which I can’t seem to find anywhere else (including Bluehost). And it’s quite beginner-friendly compared to other hosting providers.

    • “Value” is relative. GoDaddy’s non-managed WP plans are mostly bare-bones. Then they nickle and dime you for the mostly necessary stuff you need; things that come standard with more advanced hosting plans for professional developers. And GoDaddy takes horrible advantage of the average person signing up for a domain and website, who have no previous knowledge of such. I have seen that time and time again. Nearly all of the fulltime professional website developers I know personally (mostly WordPress, but not all) will not work with GoDaddy hosting. I am also in that group.

      But, these technical complaints about GoDaddy are not the issue in this discussion. Matt’s complaint is that GoDaddy simply does not give enough back to the WordPress and open source community. I do not know how deeply that goes, but I certainly understand Matt’s position, and I stand with Mr. Photomatt.

    • It seems more like a “fight” between wordpress.com and godaddy.com regarding the market share. from matt’s reactions its quite obvious who is the one losing the “battle”

    • Try SpinUpWP.

      $15 for the control panel and systems management plus any DigitalOcean of GCP server and you can host an infinite number of sites.

    • Calum
      I use their (GD) cpanel hosting and have installed SSL certificates that I bought from CheapSSL.

    • I like how easy it is to integrate Office 365 Email with your custom domain. They charge crazy amounts of money for it, but alright. It saves me a bunch of headaches.

      However, now CloudFlare is moving in on the domains market with very low prices (my .press domain costs $300,- at GoDaddy and only $50 at Cloudflare) I’m moving all my domains to CF as they expire. So, at one point I’m going to have to move the Office 365 package as well.

      As for the SSL, if you point your domains nameservers to your hosting provider’s DNS (or Cloudflare) you can easily install your own Let’s Encrypt certificate.

      • Daan – You don’t have to wait for your GD domains to expire. If you transfer them to CF and pay the (smallish) fee. Dot com domains are $8/yr. That will cover your domain(s) for a year after it expires at GD. Automagically. FYI.

  3. It’s unfortunate to see this persistent behavior from Matt, who is largely perceived as the figurehead of the WordPress community. Anyone who has followed the WordPress project long enough can name more than a few petty, targeted, and vengeful words or actions he’s levied towards members of the community he’s fortunate enough to shepherd.

    And yet, there has rarely, if ever, been any kind of public apology or reckoning for the things he’s said and done. People used to even cheer him on.

    Even today, he just gets to delete his tweets, make excuses, and move on with his life while he leaves a wave of hurt and frustration upon the community, upon the many folks who have worked tirelessly to improve the software his own business’s success is inextricably tied to.

    All across the tech community, efforts are being made to hold these (not so) micro aggressions accountable, especially by privileged white men who just can’t seem to govern themselves. It begs the question — when will Matt Mullenweg finally be held accountable, and by whom?

    We deserve a better leader.

    • I find your comment distasteful. Why did you have to mention him being privileged White Men? If someone posted the same thing but changed skin colour and gender then there would be an uproar.
      We should not attack someone who is successful because of their skin colour or gender.

      • Well, if someone were to say “privileged Women” it would be an oxymoron and thus an uproar would be comical.

        So there is that.

        P.S. There is a difference between attacking skin colour and acknowledging the reality of power dynamics in the world. Speaking as a privileged White Man.

    • Must be a hell of a fever, because I’ve never been so sick that I attacked valuable members of a community I claimed to care so much about!

    • This is an important part of the story IMO and should be featured more prevalently in this article (whether or not you credit this to really being the reason for Mary’s hostility).
      I believe this was a major contributor. Matt knows better than to lash out like this. (Even if it’s really what he thinks, he knows better than to phrase it in such a non-professional way). I think what he meant to say was “GD should contribute a lot more to WP than they do. If everyone contributed so little, it would damage the WP ecosystem.” And despite all of GD’s contributions, he may be right: for their size, maybe they should dedicate quite a bit more. I don’t know.

  4. Bad mouths GoDaddy. Praises Bluehost. Let’s see which one is a massive sponsor of WordPress and Automattic. Oh yes.

  5. What exactly does count as contributing towards the WP project?

    Just in WordCamp Europe, Pagely has been a Super Admin sponsor (same level as Google, Hostinger and Jetpack) and GoDaddy Pro both editor sponsor (same level as WooCommerce) and sponsored the after-party with Mollie payments

  6. “WooCommerce itself is free. While people may think it’s primary revenue stream is premium extensions… it’s not. ”

    So why i must pay for every basic e-commerce functionality? If what he says it’s true, merge everything in core, optimize it, and get a lot more of revenues.

  7. Well Automattic should work more to help contributors to work on WordPress/Woocommerce as takes years to see patches approved/reviewed.
    Maybe this companies are not interested to contribute for this reason instead?

  8. WordPress obsession with popularity means everyone needs to be providing for free and charging users money is “evil” (unless you are Automattic).

    Back when people wanted to charge for code, WPMU was designated “evil”.

    Back when people wanted to charge for design, Envato was designated “evil”.

    Just charge breadcrumbs for support!

    Naturally hosts (well, and Automattic taking credit and VC money for all the free) ended up the only ones with serious money in WP ecosystem, because good luck convincing them giving away hosting.

    They almost got away with it! But as golden idol of market share peaked and faltered, a new “evil” must be appointed to put up more free.

  9. Do you not agree that a fever suffering CEO of a very large hosting company calling out another very large hosting company in public on Twitter is a sign that
    1. Twitter can turn toxic very quickly
    2. WordPress does have an existential threat and
    3. that threat is Matt Mullenweg

    GoDaddy support the commercial aspects of WordPress – its obvious through sponsorship, partner programs and out reach.

    Throughout the pandemic GD have put their hands in their pockets to support Online WordPress events like the Atari Agency Summit, The page builder summit and numerous others. This sponsorship has allowed the conversation and the use of WordPress by devs, Diyers and freelancers across the world to highlight the positives of community, teamwork and support.

    Whatever you feel about GD supporting .org -they certainly support the community as a whole. This should be recognised and celebrated. Matt’s comments and the now deleted tweets show a disdain for Corporate activity in the WordPress space- and this with Automattic being valued at $7 Billion! – It beggars belief. If Matt continues to comment like this in the social mediums, we will have another Elon Musk on our plate – and nobody wants that, right?

    Fever or not – Matt needs to backtrack on this approach and backtrack quickly. Drama should never be created from the top. It’s high time we had some governance and change in WordPress -it simply cannot be a one man show forever. I like you matt, but man, you dropped a clanger here mate.

    • how wrong can you be

      I don’t know enough to say if Godaddy is a parasite or not but if they are, Matt is right to call them out. Sometimes leadership is being critical

      Oh and Elon Musk is a genius, who wouldn’t want him in charge

  10. It’s the other way around – the open source community and the WordPress.org is contributing so that Automattic can earn a significant amount of money on their overpriced services. I could argue that WP.com should be renamed.

  11. The real existential threat is Automattic neglecting everything other than Gutenberg in their misguided quest to compete with Wix and Squarespace. GD might be one of the biggest a**holes in the sector, but whether their competition with a year-old, for-profit payment platform is only a threat in the minds of Automattic’s leadership or a real threat due to the direction said leadership is taking WordPress, it’s still pretty telling :/

  12. Former GoDaddy employee and WordPress community member here. Reading through all this mess I saw one thing that needs to be addressed.

    Matt’s comment on high GoDaddy CEO turnover rate (4 in last 10 years), while technically accurate, is highly toxic and misleading as a proof that the company is toxic to WordPress.

    Blake Irving came in 2013 and made a drastic course correction away from its SuperBowl infamy to a more responsible, professional company with great work conditions. He’s responsible for an increase in the company involvement in the WordPress open source project. He retired in 2017 after completing his objective.

    Scott Wagner replaced him, previously serving as a COO. His tenure unfortunately was cut short in 2019 because of a major health issue. Fortunately he is doing well, but he never went back to working full time.

    The current CEO, Aman Bhutani, joined in 2019 as an external hire, and still heads the company.

    Throughout my time in GoDaddy (2016-2022) I’ve seen GoDaddy mostly maintain the course set by Blake, and the company slowly and painfully getting to a point of delivering a high quality WordPress solution that goes beyond just hosting. All three of them sponsored increasing involvement in .org – it’s the exact opposite of Matt’s argument that Blake retiring and Scott becoming ill are an indication of a parasitic company where people churn a lot.

  13. It’s sad. I’ll move my sites from GoDaddy when my subscriptions are about to expire – to contribute to the future of WordPress.

    Matt is right! I wonder why GoDaddy have not thought of doing this right thing Matt is making clear to everyone in the ecosystem. It’s a shame; GoDaddy is selfish and wants to destroy WordPress and WooCommerce, perhaps, any moment from now.

    Hmmm, it’s well. I’m dropping GoDaddy now (I may). I’ve been with them (yes, I’ve been this faithful) since 22/1/2015.

    • Despite what Matt said, GoDaddy does in fact contribute to WordPress. They have several plugins (for example Coblocks) and a solid theme (Go) on wp.org. Also, they have been major sponsors on several Wordcamps all over the world (Pagely is part of GoDaddy ).

      I’m sure you can find of a proper reason to end your subscription with them, but this shouldn’t be it.

    • I have to agree with Bianca on this. There are plenty of good reasons not to use GoDaddy for hosting. It’s bad enough (pricy, low-performance, weird throttling, pay-for-SSL) that I frequently offer to move people to better, lower-priced hosting at no charge.

      So their pricing vs. quality is a very good reason to drop them.

      On the other hand, GoDaddy’s support for the community is surprisingly good — it’s the only reason I don’t completely close the iron door on them!

  14. I think that A8C is BY FAR the greatest contributor to WordPress open-source project, and if M. Mullenweg is calling Go Daddy a threat to WP, especially since he has “a bit” deeper insight into the business side of WP-related things, I tend to take his side here. I don’t think that Matt would lightly make such claims … despite the deleted tweets.
    A lot is happening behind the scenes, and most people commenting on Twitter, here and elsewhere are not familiar not even with a fragment of it.
    If Go Daddy is an actual threat just to WP.com and WooCommerce then it is a threat to Automattic too, therefore to WordPress open-source project itself.

  15. After seven years, I watched them gut the in-house email marketing and website products. They have laid many hard-working employees off without notice as they kicked us out the door. Loyalty is none existent. What was a forward-moving company that has been reduced to the bottom line, sacrificing all our hard work and many families’ incomes to fill the pockets of their shareholders? I hope they enjoy that lobster while we work to keep our homes!

  16. Anyway, how about making future WC paid extensions unavailable on GoDaddy hosting, with a dashboard notice explaining why? If GoDaddy wants to freeload, then let them also have to fork and maintain every extension themselves. It would make for an interesting war, anyhow. Might end up with GoCommerce! Maybe they can slay Shopify.

    Frankly, WordPress becomes less and less attractive the more I see these battles. The contradictions are tiring. Proprietary can actually be quite refreshing because it is what it is. Period. Use it or not.

  17. It seems to me Matt increasingly fails to differentiate properly between WP, WC and A8C….

    Sure GD is in many ways an existential threat (ie. competitor) to Automattic and WooCommerce…. But it’s far less of an existential threat to WP itself than A8C has long been.

    A8C has steered WP hard into directions clearly designed favor wp.com and WC often at the expense of other users of WP. Anyone using WP as a general purpose CMS has long gotten the short end of the stick with disregard for very large sites, disregard for CPTs, disregard for custom fields, disregard for much of anything that didn’t further the needs to wp.com and WC.

    And don’t even get me started on JP.

    If anything having an elephant sized competitor to the 800lb gorilla might be a good thing for WP. See what I did there?

    I’m no huge fan of GD, but I’ve seen their contributions and they’re not trivial nor warrant this kind of shade being thrown from Matt.

  18. This new GoDaddy product seems to still require the use of both WordPress and Woocommerce please correct me if I am wrong but that is what I have seen so far. I am not taking either side here and am just trying to gather the facts.

  19. Parasitic company? More like competition and who wants that? I think it’s more whining about the competition using pejorative rhetoric.

  20. To answer the original question, the Newspack software suite (blocks, theme, plugins, etc.) is designed to be fully able to be self-hosted. There are a couple bits, like the advertising integration, where a SaaS-like service is used to make it simpler to connect a site to Google Ad Manager, but there is still compatibility to connect Google Ad Manager without using that service.

  21. I personally never recommend anyone to use Godaddy. I always prefer Hostgator, bluehost or vpsdime for the personal VPS. This is high time to avoid godaddy.

  22. I think what a lot of people are missing here isn’t the competition aspect, but the lack of giving back. GoDaddy, a company with more than 10,000 employee, contributes 217h a week to WordPress, that’s around 6 full time employees at best, or 0.06% of the company size. Automattic, a 2000 employee company, contributes 4098h a week, around 103 full-time employees, or 5.15% of the company size.

    For a company the size of GoDaddy, this is a ridiculous number, smaller companies like 10up or Yoast outpace them in hours and percentage.

    For WooCommerce, an open source project that GoDaddy makes millions from, they have 0 contributors, and 0 rev share of any kind. When GoDaddy acquired. SkyVerge, the biggest vendor on woocommerce.com marketplace, they immediately pulled back the whole catalog, taking that revshare that could be invested back into the project.

    Automattic has more than a 125 person working full time on free and core features of WooCommerce like the core plugin, the admin area, the blocks, general marketing, integrations and such.

    No other company contributes back to those goals and still benefit from them for free.

    Sponsoring events is merely a marketing avenue to capture new customers, and I wouldn’t consider that genuine giving back, like full time sponsored contributors.

    So while GoDaddy is giving back, it feels like it’s giving back less than the bare minimum. Once the funds and marketshare of WooCommerce shrinks, who would pick up its development exactly?

    I absolutely have nothing against the people sponsored by GoDaddy, I worked with a lot of them, and they’re all absolutely great people who care a lot about WordPress, and I wouldn’t fault them for decisions made levels above them.

  23. Godaddy is mainly for smaller websites as the limitations having in shared hosting packages are too many , so it’s not recommended at all for a WooCommerce installation .
    The bigger packages may suit for WooCommerce but the price will be pretty higher of course .

  24. Ive moved probably 100 people from GD to Hawkhost over the years. Its not just a price at GD, there was no free ssl, no ssh access, no redis, and php version selection was out of date. I havent touched GD in a few years so this rant might not be 100% accurate now, but i dont see myself spending a penny with GD to check if anything had changed.

  25. This is an hilarious confrontational debate all these companies are in for the money. What they have done over the years is make WordPress much more complicated just like QuickBooks.. all I ever wanted was a simple WordPress site with the five usual pages that I can set up in 1 hour or less. Now you have blocks because that’s the big thing these days and you have other companies copying all these features. Having all these plugins is wonderful but most of them could have been put into the WordPress site like speed up cache functions. Simple anti-spam blockers for the blog comments and automatic Mass deletion of comments. I should have been able to easily post to multiple sites with one click but everyone is worried about the money

  26. I’m no fan of Go Daddy but praising Bluehost of all things is insane. Anything that’s gobbled up by EIG/Newfold must be avoided like the plague. There’s pages upon pages of user complaints about Bluehost’s service quality falling off gradually after they got bought by EIG.

    • Agree about Bluehost. I moved all eight sites off Bluehost after the EIG takeover; things really began degrading at that point. I now have all but 2 sites at Flywheel and couldn’t be happier. I find their Support to be excellent, and my oldest site has been hosted there for 6.5 years.

      I also agree about WooCommerce. I built a reasonably complicated eCommerce site last year. It took five plugins at $49 to $69 each to make it work half-way. I still had to spend a month writing PHP functions to fill in the holes and glue things together. In the end, I was sorry I went with WC; it was a real rabbit hole. And now I’m wondering whether Wix customizations might be a better eCommerce choice for next time.

    • Blew Hoast, I’d just like to say that I laughed my arse off when I read your hame.

      (I have no issues with Blue Host – I just appreciated the comedic nature of the name choice)

  27. His issue seems to be with GoDaddy dominance and them converting people off of WordPress. He can’t be upset about people not using Woo Payments.

    IMO WooCommerce doesn’t offer enough at the base level to make it competitive with other alternatives. Those paid plugins for shipping or search cost more per year than other basic e-commerce solutions.

    SHipping integrations also really only exist for US customers. otherwise, it’s a paid and frustrating integration with your own country.

    I am also going to venture a guess that by WordPress losing market share with its more recent theme builder and page builders that it isn’t exactly what the WordPress users want. It to me seems like a way for .com to offer a better product, and for .org devs to create themes to sell.

    I could be wrong but it seems like a much more complex process for single devs to stick with the echo system and embrace the new builder tools.

    If that’s the case and others can make a better builder then that is on Matt and his direction to resolve.

    They are stepping into Wix and Squarespace turf very late in the game.

    WordPress more and more over the years feels like Fremium to me.

  28. Most of this article and the comments are over my head. But please don’t support Bluehost. The following content is forbidden per their acceptable use policy:

    Distributing pornography or adult related content or offering any escort services

    I know of a serious not-for-profit documentary oriented website that got booted from Bluehost because of nudity. This should be none of Bluehost’s business per Section 230 and how the web is supposed to work.

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