Changing the Web at 21

Changing the Web at 21

Matt Mullenweg

WordPress is one of the most widely used pieces of blogging software on the Net. We use WordPress everyday to spread our ideas and connect with people all around the world, but how many of you actually know who created WordPress?

Type “Matt” into Google and you have your answer. Matt Mullenweg is the #1 most important Matt in the world, according to Google, as well as the founding developer of WordPress. The kicker is that he is only 23 and he released WordPress 2 years ago, when he was 21. Matt was born in Houston, Texas and moved to San Francisco in 2005 to work for CNET Networks.

After quitting his job at CNET in late 2005, he has devoted the majority of his time to developing a number of open source projects and is now a frequent speaker at conferences. In late 2005, he founded Automattic, the business behind WordPress and the spam-catching software we all love, Akismet.

In November of 2005, WordPress stopped being invite only and opened up to the world.

Matt is also the guy behind Ping-O-Matic, the software that pings search engines when a user publishes a new blog post. This has been instrumental in getting all of our blogs indexed by the search engines. It is great too because Google search results have a special love for blogs that the other big name search engines do not appear to match. Ping-O-Matic has helped our blogs reach a much larger audience, thanks to Matt’s work.

I read an interview Matt did with Digital Web Magazine and they asked him why he chose to make WordPress and open source, GPL-license as opposed to a licensed plan. His response was:

If you do anything for the money you end up selling out. Do what you love, what you can’t not do, and the money will follow.

I think the WordPress value to the community as a GPL extension of what came before is a million times more valuable than whatever pittance I would have gotten from doing a proprietary thing. The benefits I’ve gotten personally from focusing on what I love have been numerous, and go beyond the purely monetary.

Matt has the attitude of a true winner. He says, “do what you love, what you can’t not do, and the money will follow.” He loves being able to empower other bloggers. I think that is the best advice anyone has ever given about success – do what you love, the money will follow. I have heard that from my dad way too many times count, but the fact is, it’s true. Working is less painful when you enjoy what you are doing, and as you enjoy it, you want to do more of it. I work 10-12 hour days, but it’s what I like doing, so it doesn’t feel like work.

I really get a kick out of hearing about young entrepreneurs, especially those in their early twenties. It is amazing the amount of young entrepreneurs who are changing the way we use the web.

The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is also 23. Makes you think…what were you doing in your early twenties? Probably not changing the web.

Update – Matt Mullenweg personally thanked me for writing this article. The real thanks goes to Matt for the amazing work he has put into WordPress.

80 thoughts on “Changing the Web at 21”

  1. WP is unbelievable convoluted. There are many other systems out there than can do what it does, plus. Time for the next project. Whatever that might be.

  2. I wish I was as successful as that guy. At 21 I was exercising my legal right to drink instead of developing. Very inspirational article.

  3. Geesh at 23 I was like…in my own little marketing world. It is amazing how all of you young people are taking over the net, but it has been in front of most of you since you were babies so it is no wonder that you are mastering it.

    Us older guys just sit and watch as you sell your BILLION dollar ideas while we sell our $200 affiliate products LOL

  4. I guess it comes with some jealousy that I say, “did he really do anything that special?” If not him then someone else. Wonder if he’s a personable person or an arrogant snob?

  5. Matt is the man, without doubt. And he really changed the Internet.
    I wonder what else he will create in the future, if he managed to do this at his 21?

    2 Idaho SEO: If ifs and ans… Matt did this, not me, not you, not somebody else.

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