With latest acquisition, Automattic now 84 percent white men

Owen Thomas · 10/16/08 11:00AM

Northern California is an enlightened haven of multiculturalism, and globalization requires a diverse workforce. Unless you're a startup, in which case you're going to hire people who look like you. Take, for example, the workforce of Automattic, the maker of WordPress, a blogging program.The company, founded by white male Matt Mullenweg, has just increased its white maleness with the acquisition of PollDaddy, a two-white-males Irish firm. Are we being too harsh on Automattic? Should we give it credit for not being 100 percent white and male? After all, Google prides itself that 32 percent of its employees are women; that it views that level as an achievement shows how imbalanced Silicon Valley's scales of equity are. Still, look at the Automattic company photograph, taken at a staff retreat in Breckenridge, Colo. If I were a woman or a minority working at this company, I'd hide in the corner, too.

Facebook's Brandee Barker hides from camera while denying Microsoft buyout

Nicholas Carlson · 09/17/08 04:00PM

BoomTown's Kara Swisher went to Palo Alto’s MacArthur Park restaurant for a luncheon hosted by Germany’s Hubert Burda Media yesterday, the organizers of the DLD conference. A target of her shaky videocam work: Facebook flack Brandee Barker, who hid behind a fern. Asked if Microsoft was buying Facebook, Barker shouted, "Never!" Brave words, if not exactly consistent with Facebook's fiduciary duties to shareholders to consider all reasonable offers. Besides Barker, Swisher captured Silicon Valley figures like nerd chanteuse Randi Zuckerberg; Wired writer Steven Levy, fresh from his fly-on-the-wall writeup of the making of Google's Chrome browser; and layoff-happy Loic Le Meur. The crowd is shown descending into a happy drunkenness, giggling about Wall Street all the way down. After the jump, the full clip and a guide to the best moments:Click to view

Wish I was a little bit taller, wish I was a baller...

Jackson West · 08/19/08 06:00PM

WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg trades Google gaming tips with Charles "Moserious" Lewis, the MC of SEO, at WordCamp last weekend on the UCSF campus. We know you can do better, so crack wise in the comments and we'll make the best one the new title. Yesterday's winner was TimsBoot for "With nerds and Twitter behind me I will rule the world." (Photo by Alan Levine)

Matt Mullenweg: All Automattic's foreign workers are independent contractors

Owen Thomas · 08/08/08 03:00PM

At the Start conference yesterday, Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg, creator of the popular WordPress blog software, startled the audience by claiming his company didn't have any employees. Instead, he said, they're all independent contractors. "Is that legal?" some audience members whispered. We're not employment lawyers here, so we can't say. But we note that the IRS says independent contractors are "generally free to seek out business opportunities" and "are available to work in the relevant market." Translation: Mullenweg has just announced that his programmers are available for the poaching! If, that is, you don't mind the occasional security hole. Update: Audience members missed Mullenweg saying this was true of Automattic's foreign workers only. U.S. employees have full benefits, he tells us. Only the offshore workers are eligible for poaching! (Photo via

Robert Scoble, other Valley bon vivants subject of latest ego-stroking linkbait

Jackson West · 07/29/08 03:00PM

Vancouver-based NowPublic is ostensibly all about citizen journalism. But since Guy Kawasaki sold Truemors to it and signed up as an advisor, it's becoming better known for publishing flattering lists of "influencers," supposedly ranking them according to various social media metrics. The first "Most Public" list focused on New York, but a new list for the Valley and San Francisco is "coming soon." And by virtue of being included in the latest edition, we received an early copy as a press release. Who comes out on top? Ubiquitous attention slut Robert Scoble, naturally. Full list after the jump.

Kevin Rose's parties bid SXSW goodbye

Owen Thomas · 03/12/08 06:36AM

I've always loved to watch Mark Cuban dance — but Tuesday night I got to see the billionaire booty-shaker up close. The venue: PureVolume Ranch in Austin, Texas. The occasion: The Bigg Digg Shindigg, South by Southwest Interactive's closing party. "You guys always picked the worst photos of me," Cuban said. Mark, as I said at Sunday's panel on gossip, I live to serve. Digg packed PureVolume's dance floor and backyard tents with hundreds of partygoers. Besides Cuban, Moby was there, as were Digg CEO Jay Adelson and cofounder Kevin Rose, iLike CEO Ali Partovi, StumbleUpon's Garrett Camp, and Automattic's Matt Mullenweg. RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser had just flown in from Florida on a private jet. But for me the most interesting person was newly hired Digger Aubrey Sabala, who put the party together in three days — after Digg had given up on the idea.

True confessions of the world's busiest websites

Owen Thomas · 03/11/08 04:21PM

Do not want fail? Why then, can has win, say the folks behind the curtains at Flickr, Digg, Media Temple, and StumbleUpon. Six of them showed up at a panel organized by Kevin Rose to explain how to make websites that stay online, more or less. Being a not very clever gossip, I just listened in for the quips. Oh, and the drama. Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg almost didn't make it. Check out how his fellow panelists updated the lineup right before he showed up.

Filthy rich Matt Mullenweg calls rival "dirty"

Owen Thomas · 03/11/08 12:00PM

Automattic, Matt Mullenweg's blog-tools startup, is readying an upgrade to its WordPress software this week. Anil Dash of Six Apart took the occasion to let WordPress users know they can upgrade to his company's Movable Type instead. It's a move straight out of Oracle's handbook. But Mullenweg freaked out, calling the post "desperate and dirty." Dash responded by charging Mullenweg with "slander." Some are under the delusion that this nerdfight is about software. It's not. It's about money.

Spring break for Web developers

Owen Thomas · 03/09/08 03:35AM

Hey, wait a second: Why am I the only one working at SXSW? For everyone else in the Valley, the Austin conference is just a sanctioned spring break party. Clearly, I'm an idiot. I just spent three hours snapping photographs at SXSW's Bit 16 opening-night afterparty, without so much as a beer touching my hands. The Scoot Inn, a dingy dive bar east of downtown, hosted the event. I ran into Julia Allison first thing. I heard Kevin Rose was there, too, but I never spotted him. (Curious.) I chatted up Automattic's Matt Mullenweg, and Mashable's Pete Cashmore, as well as Glenda Bautista, Mullenweg's ballsy Bronx belle (pictured here with friends). It was a good time. But the ROI on SXSWi? Hard to spot, if you don't run an Austin bar, restaurant, or convention center.

"Bloggers do it in public"

Melissa Gira Grant · 03/07/08 06:00PM

Weighing in on geeks and public sex acts this week in Austin, the "How to Rawk" panelists offer this advice:

Ian Lloyd: It's not "what happens in Austin, stays in Austin" — it's on Flickr.
Jason Toney: Totally the opposite. I say, do it in public.
Matt Mullenweg: Bloggers do it in public.

(Photo: Panelist and efficiency fetishist Tim Ferris, who just advised us that our job at SXSW is to "be memorable." Mm, and how!)

Automattic founder proves exasperatingly boring

Owen Thomas · 01/23/08 06:41PM

The "life change" Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg Twittered about? Not, as we suspected, a big-ticket purchase funded by his company's recent $29.5 million financing round, some of which reportedly went into the founder's pockets. Instead, he tells Valleywag, it was the purchase of, his new domain name. Buying a .tt domain, based in Trinidad and Tobago, costs foreign registrants $500 a year, and requires an international wire transfer. Only in Silicon Valley would the purchase of a domain name be considered a "life change." I've learned my lesson: Mullenweg is far too boring to gossip about.

How much money did Matt Mullenweg make?

Owen Thomas · 01/23/08 03:22PM

Automattic has been tight-lipped about how much of the blog software maker's $29.5 million financing round went into the pockets of founder Matt Mullenweg. In November, TechCrunch said that "most" of a new round would go to buy out Mullenweg and other shareholders, in an effort to dissuade them from selling the company. To the Wall Street Journal, Automattic only conceded that "some" money went to the founders. But Mullenweg himself has not been so coy.

With $29.5 million, Automattic cashes out some insiders

Owen Thomas · 01/23/08 02:23AM

Automattic, the maker of WordPress blog-publishing software, has raised $29.5 million from the New York Times Co. and existing ventures.Not all of the money went straight into the company's coffers, however: Some insiders with vested options sold shares in the round. This is perhaps the most notable example of a new trend: Startup employees profiting from their stakes before a sale or IPO. Reports, however, miss the most tantalizing details: Anyone know who cashed out — founder Matt Mullenweg? CEO Toni Schneider? — how much they sold, and if they're buying any new cars?

Did Harde give Mullenweg the business?

Owen Thomas · 10/29/07 11:57PM

Business advice, that is. Despite Paul Boutin's entreaties, I find I just can't leave Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg alone. Neither, apparently, can acquisitive buyers. TechCrunch reports that Automattic, maker of the popular WordPress blog software, just turned down a $200 million offer. Interesting timing, considering that Mullenweg was spotted just last week at David Hornik's Hawaiian funconference, The Lobby, having a very close chat with Harde. In the moment when the two were spotted by gutter-minded gossips having a tête-a-tête, was Harde advising Mullenweg on whether or not to take the offer? And, in the process, helping score an exclusive for TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington? (Photo by True Ventures)

Leave Mullenweg alone!

Paul Boutin · 10/29/07 09:47AM

I'm not going to make one of those crying videos, but as Valleywag's Very Special Correspondent (read: over the hill) I need to stomp a heel down. Why are we reporting that two people I've never heard of were reportedly touching each other in public? I had to look up who Mullenweg is. I think we use his software. Or we did, or we're going to, or something. Anyway, he's from Houston. That means he infuriates San Franciscans merely by existing, which makes him cool with me. The lady in question turns out to be the PR genius who emailed me the most ridiculous embargo demand ever. That backfired perfectly, so everybody won. Commenters say we shouldn't print this rumor 'cause it's cruel. Worse than that, it's dull. Call me back when one of them runs Google and films a three-way on the Boeing. (Photo by True Ventures)

A week that calls for a chaser

Owen Thomas · 10/26/07 08:08PM

Would someone please shut down the Valley and lock the doors? I don't know if I can take another week like this. Seriously, can you remember another week filled with such drama? Microsoft showers Facebook with cash, making Mark Zuckerberg a paper billionaire — and turning Facebooker Dave Morin's relationship with a Googler into forbidden fruit. Meanwhile, venture capitalist David Hornik attempts to have an off-the-record conference in Hawaii and completely fails — because gossip will out. Gossip like BusinessWeek's Sarah Lacy throwing a drink at TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington, while his CEO, Heather Harde, stays up suspiciously late with WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg. Yahoo loses a devoted cheerleader and its top marketer. Larry Ellison tries to reel in BEA. Special correspondent Nick Douglas, meanwhile, demands I stop reading all of my favorite sites. I need something. Not a unicorn chaser. How about ....

Is Matt Mullenweg getting Harde?

Owen Thomas · 10/26/07 04:36PM

When David Hornik pitched VCs and entrepreneurs on his tropical funconference, The Lobby, part of the sell was that the whole affair was to be off the record. Ha! Good one, David. Turns out what happens in Hawaii only stays there long enough to launch itself toward our inbox. Take for example, what struck some attendees as a budding romance between TechCrunch CEO Heather Harde, the former Fox executive Michael Arrington hired to run his blog's business end, and Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress. Now, TechCrunch runs on WordPress, so it's possible that Mullenweg was just giving Harde blogging tips. But witnesses to their late-night canoodling at the bar say that wasn't the kind of pointer in question.