WPWeekly Episode 96 – Commercial Services

wordpressweekly1This episode of WordPress Weekly featured two individuals who are in the midst of running a successful service around WordPress while the other individual didn’t quite make it that far. The round-table consisted of Joshua Strebel of Page.ly, Daniel Bachhuber formerly of CoPress, and Raanan Bar-Cohen of Automattic. During this episode, we talked about the difficulties involved with running a service around WordPress. I was especially interested in the topic of Automattic running a commercial service along side free, open-source software. Daniel was able to offer a unique perspective as CoPress didn’t end up being successful in the long run and he tells us why. Joshua gave us some insight into the business strategies he thought of before launching the service. One thing Joshua mentions during the show is that if you’re going to run a service around WordPress, make sure you’re profitable from the first customer. Another theme that developed during this episode is the lack of trust in the Freemium model. If you are thinking about starting a commercial service around WordPress, this is the episode for you.

Smashing Book Contest:

Week Two Winner – jb510

Want to win a copy of the Smashing Book and a chance to participate in our wrap up episode on April 24th? Help us publicize the special WordPress Weekly series on commercialization! Just follow @WPTavern and guest co-host @jakemgold on Twitter, and Tweet a message mentioning us both with a link to the most recent episode. We’ll randomly pick one of our favorite tweets right before the next show.

We’ll be giving a book away for each of the episodes (excluding wrap up). You can participate each week. Each contest starts at 2pm on Saturday with the show’s recording, and ends the following Friday evening. You may participate if you’re outside of the contiguous United States, but will be asked to cover shipping expenses.

If we get over 500 participants in the contest, before the wrap up show, we’ll also give away one copy of Smashing WordPress to one participant after the last episode!

Ad Copy:

This episode is also sponsored by EnvironmentsForHumans.com This is an organization that brings together expert speakers on a given topic exploring that topic from different angles. While they recently had a WordPRess Workshop, the next event will be a UX Web Summit on Wednesday, April 21, 2010 from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (CT). This event will teach people how to improve their websites so that they are more responsive to visitors as well as making this more usable. If you’re interested in this summit, visit UXWebSummit.com

Stories Discussed:

The Pharma Hack
WordPress Not At Fault

Relevant Links:

Case Studies In Freemium
EditFlow
Edit Flow Project
A Case For Innovation In College Newsrooms
Eyeballs Still Don’t Pay The Bills
The Cost Of Support

Announcements:

The last part of the series will be held on Saturday, April 24th where we encourage everyone to send in their feedback or be part of the live show to discuss what you learned throughout this series.

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Saturday, April 24th 2P.M. EST

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via Itunes: Click here to subscribe

Length Of Episode: 2 Hours 13 Minutes

Download The Show: WordPressWeeklyEpisode96.mp3

Listen To Episode #96:

2 Comments


  1. To answer an issue that came up: no, I don’t have any hand in WordPress.com goings-on. If there is a patch for WordPress core that we want tested, Ryan Boren may roll it out on his WordPress.com testbed, but none of the non-Automattic contributors have access to WordPress.com code.

    Similarly, Automattic employees don’t get automatic commit access to WordPress core just because they might have access to WordPress.com. They have to earn that just like anyone else. Look in Trac to see Automattic employees submitting patches to WordPress core, without any unearned consideration.

    There are two main things that make this separation fuzzy: Matt, and the naming issue. The naming issue is sort out out of the bag, unless Automattic starts using its wp.com domain instead of WordPress.com. And the Matt issue is simply that because he founded Automattic and was a co-founding developer on WordPress (and is the bottom line when it comes to the WordPress.org site), people think that he’s unable to “change hats,” so to speak. That’s just something you’ll have to judge by his actions. And even the non-Automattic WordPress core developers have to deal with the issue of objectivity. I get asked all the time whether I can use my influence over WordPress core to promote a plugin, a company, a service, or commit a feature or patch that would benefit one group to the detriment of another. My perspective, and I’d wager other WordPress core devs would agree, is that WordPress is more likely to outlast any one company or client, and selling WordPress up the river for some short term gain would be a really stupid move.

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  2. Mark – thanks for the comprehensive answer to my question. The curiosity was genuine.

    I can’t remember if I said it during the podcast or after, but I mentioned that a conversation about WordPress “leadership” and the relationship between the open source project and the biggest commercial WordPress-based entity (Automattic) is worth some exploration, maybe an episode of its own.

    We touched on the issue (but tried not to let it consume the episode) because I think it’s fair to examine whether commercial SaaS endeavors like page.ly are actually competing on an equal playing field with Automattic, or whether Automattic has a unique relationship with the software.

    Whether it’s fair or not, I do think many WordPress “customers” have conflated the two. I’ve heard “WordPress software is managed and owned by a company, Automattic” from smart professionals more times than I count. Why, exactly, this is is unclear. I suspect it’s a combination of both factors you raise.

    I’m not sure how many listeners will read the comments. If you’re around at 2 pm EST on Saturday, we’re doing a call in show for the wrap up episode. It would be great if you could share your clarification and POV.

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