Wordpress Cofounder and Automattic CEO provides insight into why open source software is important for economic equality & how to harness the power of your community.
Matt Mullenweg and his team at Automattic are at the forefront of building a more open internet, harnessing the power of their community to build and iterate collaboratively, while building tech platforms that empower all users.
As the Co-Founder of WordPress, the open source publishing platform that powers over 40% of all websites, Matt Mullenweg is an expert on building platforms and products leveraging the power of community. Now, as the Founder & CEO of Automattic, Matt is at the forefront of building a more open internet. Mullenweg spoke with Round about why open source software is important for economic equality, how to harness the power of your community, and how Automattic ships products so rapidly.
Building a platform increases a company’s impact by creating the opportunity for other companies to benefit and build on top of that foundation. Mullenweg shared his philosophy of the “platform ratio” or the economic distribution principle for which platforms should strive. According to Mullenweg, tech platforms should reap around 5% of the economic opportunity available within the ecosystem, allowing the rest to be earned by others. Many platforms have higher take rates, which limits the economic opportunity for other players in the ecosystem, and can ultimately limit meaningful development and user-led creation.
Creating a sustainable tech platform should be equally focused on generating revenue for a business and creating an ecosystem that others can explore and build upon.
Leaders can drive participation in open source projects and communities by creating a welcoming environment. Community participation is necessary for open source projects as well as for many businesses to thrive. Creating an environment where community members can easily make an impact and enjoy the process, will motivate leaders to participate and create mutually beneficial relationships between businesses and the community. For example, the open source platform WordPress creates an enjoyable atmosphere through an engaging onboarding process, hosting contributor days, and a calendar of regular events to collect feedback from the community. Ultimately, creating a sound and inclusive experience for everyone, spurs engagement as people work toward a shared mission.
Mullenweg recommended thinking of how to host a successful dinner party when thinking about how to build a thriving community. Like a good dinner party, a community requires a reason for coming together, or a shared mission that everyone knows. Similar to a guest list, a community requires members with a diverse set of backgrounds and experiences who all feel comfortable speaking up and sharing the mic. Setting a clear vision, bringing together a curated group of people, and creating an environment where everyone can participate is the basic recipe to build the foundation for a growing community.
In open source, companies take inputs from the community and ship new code frequently, and with that experience comes the wisdom that launch is really just the halfway point. For more than a decade, Mullenweg has believed that 1.0 is the loneliest number. In other words, you can be ready to launch your product, but you never know the potential until it is in the hands of users. With data and feedback, companies can continually evolve products so they can truly meet the needs of their audience. Getting feedback from a passionate user base is one of the best inputs for building a roadmap that drive adoption and loyalty from the community.
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