Lean, powerful and cohesive was the lesson from Toni Schneider, the CEO of Automattic, the creators of WordPress, at this week's Signal Conference in San Francisco. This little company powers some of the largest brands in the world who use WordPress to manage their web content. Names like Mashable, TechCrunch, and the Business of Technology blog of the New York Times, to name a few.
The statistics on WordPress' proliferation and reach are nothing short of staggering:
- 72 million total sites. Growing at 40K more a day. Yes, a day.
- 22 million new posts or comments on WP-powered sites per day (25 per second).
- 8.4 billion page views per month
So, how do they do it? The word is: Culture.
When you join full-time, regardless of your position, everyone starts their first three weeks doing customer support for WordPress.com. The company believes this early connection with the people who use their products is critical and irreplaceable. That type of immersion brings about empathy and relatedness, too.
Toni is a big proponent of a distributed (aka "virtual") workforce, as well. From an article on his blog, he explains five reasons his distributed organization works well. How much quality of life people get out of working for a distributed company, is a leading reason. And with regular team off-sites, Automattic's distributed employees stay related, as well.
Above all, Automattic's Corporate Creed tells the whole story.
I will never stop learning. I won't just work on things that are assigned to me. I know there's no such thing as a status quo. I will build our business sustainably through passionate and loyal customers. I will never pass up an opportunity to help out a colleague, and I'll remember the days before I knew everything. I am more motivated by impact than money, and I know that Open Source is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation. I will communicate as much as possible, because it's the oxygen of a distributed company. I am in a marathon, not a sprint, and no matter how far away the goal is, the only way to get there is by putting one foot in front of another every day. Given time, there is no problem that's insurmountable.
Good culture is the prerequisite for great work to happen, and actually causes it. If you gather a bunch of talented, complementary, ambitious people together and make it easy for them to collaborate and do great things, they will. At Automattic, with employees spread all about the globe, collaborative tools and collective drive deliver the tools that empower the masses.