WordPress has conquered the web ever since it has emerged, and it doesn’t look like it will fall back soon. Last year, its market share has grown by 4% on the web.
You might wonder how does it make money and who is behind it? Well, read on and you will find out.
Its foundations relied on b2 Cafelog, but WordPress offered much more to users – a friendlier interface and templates mainly focused on content creators, rather than businesses.
And bloggers were looking for an alternative to the dominant tool at that time Moveable Type. The thing is, bloggers didn’t like too much their new T&C and wanted to write freely and enjoy previous content rights for the least.
Ever since, WordPress began its skyrocketing growth that continues now, 20 years later.
But things aren’t so simple, as WordPress is not only a CMS (content management system) available on WordPress.org, but also a hosted platform for website creation/management, available on WordPress.com.
To make things clear, there are two platforms – WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
Difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
It leads the way to total freedom of using the platform without any limitation. In other words, WordPress.org is representing the community that builds websites using the software with the same name.
There is one important thing you need to know about WordPress.org – it’s a self-hosted platform. This means that you need to get your own hosting and install WordPress over there.
WordPress.org offers many outstanding features + flexibility via themes and plugins. It allows you to build a website pretty easy and save a fortune on web development and design. In fact, you can create a WordPress site for only $60.
WordPress.com is the commercial version WordPress.org. It explicitly offers products such as hosting, domain names, themes, plugins, and even dedicated services for enterprises.
WordPress.com is a hosting service, and this means that all websites created there, remain there. The plans start at $4 / month and offer everything you need to launch a website.
Who Owns WordPress?
So, Matt Mullenweg is behind both WordPress.org and WordPress.com. When he founded WordPress.org in 2003, he pursued the initial purpose of providing an alternative that will help bloggers to make their publishing easier, faster, smoother.
But the open-source software didn’t bring any money as a tool, and there should have been a solution to monetize the entire development effort. And that solution came fast – Mullenweg launched WordPress.com in 2005 and later in 2012, launched WordPress VIP – a dedicated service for enterprises.
But that’s only one part of the story. There are more things to say about Automattic as the story goes beyond WordPress.
Automattic runs a few other successful companies/projects like:
- Pocket Casts
- Happy Tools
Most of the projects have been created from scratch, other companies have been acquired, for example Tumblr and WooCommerce. You can check the list of major acquisitions in the WordPress market.
Automattic Valuation and Investors
With such a wide portfolio of brands, Automattic is worth a fortune.
Back in 2014, Automattic was valued at $1.2Bn and they have almost tripled their worth in 5 years.
Before the funding round in 2019, Automattic was funded by other investors too. The second-largest funding round was in 2014, with a series of investors like Insight Ventures, True Ventures, Chris Sacca, Endurance, Tiger, and Iconiq among others, and it raised $160M.
Automattic Staff and Salaries
Automattic has more than 1,900 employees in 96 countries speaking 121 different languages. Although it has a mailing address in San Francisco, the company is fully distributed and all the employees work remotely.
Automattic was one of the few companies to embrace remote work, long before it was a necessity. In 2017, they closed their office because not enough employees used it.
The average salary at the company is $62/hour or $130,968/year, according to Comparably. At the same time, the highest-paid job at Automattic is Corporate Counsel, who brings home $216K/year, not bad!
How Automattic Makes Money from WordPress
Automattic has multiple sources of revenue, including WordPress.com. Here is a breakdown of its main income channels:
WordPress.com offers 5 pricing plans, 4 of them are paid. The more money you pay, the more control you get over your website + extra features.
The cheapest plan is for personal use and is $4/month if you pay yearly or $7/month if you pay monthly.
The most expensive plan is for eCommerce and is $45/month if you pay yearly or $59/month if you pay monthly.
2. WordPress VIP
The VIP Plans start at $2,000/month but the final price varies in multiple factors. VIP plans are tailored to enterprise websites.
WordPress VIP is used by popular brands such as Airbnb, TED, Disney, and Spotify among many others.
WordPress makes money from advertisement on free websites. The T&C of WordPress.com says that Automattic has the right to place advertisement on free-plan users’ websites and get the revenue generated from ads.
Most of the WordPress.com themes are free, and that’s great. But there is also a selection of good-looking premium WordPress themes that Automattic makes money with. All themes are priced at $50 / theme.
There are no 3rd party premium themes available on WordPress.com at the moment.
If you’re using WordPress.org though, you can choose from a multitude of premium themes with amazing features and design. Astra and Kadence are 2 of the most popular themes.
Some of the most used plugins on websites built with WordPress.org are developed and powered by Automattic. These plugins are available for free, but you can pay an extra fee if you need more advanced features or extensions.
Here are some examples. Every plugin is used on more than 5 Million websites:
Automattic earns money from WordPress.org plugins and even if there are real alternatives to all their tools, users tend to trust those created by the original source.
Wrapping things up
Even though WordPress has a huge user base and powers almost half of the entire web, it generates less income compared to other commercial platforms. That’s because it’s not commercial oriented and is mainly focused on community.