Information about Matthew Charles Mullenweg
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|Full Name:||Matthew “Matt” Charles Mullenweg|
|Date of birth:||January 11, 1984|
|Place of birth:||Houston, Harris County, Texas|
|Father:||Louis “Chuck” Charles Mullenweg IV|
|Mother:||Kathleen “Kathe” Anne Hageney|
Charleen Anne Mullenweg
Matthew Mullenweg graduates from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts May 31,2002
See Matt’s personal web page. Matthew is also the sole web developer of this site.
Recent article about Matt in the Houston Chronicle:
Houston native turned San Francisco resident Matt Mullenweg is often touted as a local success story by the city's Web-technology enthusiasts. The 26-year old dropped out of the University of Houston in 2004 to work for CNET Networks. He eventually left that to found popular blogging service WordPress, which hosts millions of blogs worldwide, and its parent company Automattic.
Mullenweg was in town recently and dropped by the Chronicle to talk about technology in Houston and blogging. After the jump are excerpts from that conversation, an abridged version of which ran in the print edition.
Also, for those of you who are fans of WordPress or want to meet Mullenweg, he'll be speaking at the first ever WordCamp in Houston later this summer. Details here.
What are your impressions of the Houston Web tech startup community?
Because I haven't been here for a while, I don't know a ton. When I was here, in terms of technology, it was excellent. I was a member of HAL-PC. I used to volunteer there on Saturdays and fix computers. I founded the Houston Palm Users Group; there was a wireless group and that was awesome. So there's a ton of technology here, but why are there fewer entrepreneurs?
I think part of it, this is my personal view, is golden handcuffs. People in Houston are able to get fantastic jobs in energy, medical and any number of industries, and the nature of a commuting city is that it's a lot less social. So people have these fantastic jobs, and they're driving their cars to their fantastic homes and families with a big screen TV, or maybe they're tuckered out. Whereas in places where you have more of a café culture and more collaboration or places where there aren't as many cushy jobs, people are more likely to want to start their own things. But I think this is actually an opportunity.
Because, much like when I started Automattic, you have the ability to bootstrap. If you have a fantastic idea you're really passionate about and are making $100,000 in your job, if you can set aside some of that to invest in servers or contractors or other folks, that's actually the best way to start a business in my opinion.
It's pretty scary to quit everything and start a business, right? If you're going to quit your job to focus on an idea, you get overly attached to that idea because you had it, and it's the reason you quit your job. Plus, most ideas are bad. So if you're bootstrapping, it's the perfect way to do it because you're constrained with money, which is a good thing.
Do you think consumer tech startups can be successful in Houston, or do they need to be in Silicon Valley?
I don't know. Our company is distributed. So the execs are in San Francisco, but everybody else is all over the world. We work just as well as companies that are 100 percent in the Valley or in San Francisco. And there are some cool startups coming out of everywhere.
Do you see social media helping or hurting blogging now that individuals can post quick updates on Facebook or Twitter?
I hope that people have more to say than 140 characters will allow them in their life. What we've seen in terms of aggregate traffic patterns is that, at least for WordPress.com, it's higher then ever. And we're doing over 70 million pages a day now. And an increasing percentage of that, used to be that SEO dominated that, but now more of it's coming from social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc.
You're an advocate of open source software, where code is freely available. What's so appealing about it?
In my brief sojourn in college, my favorite classes were political science because I loved the idea of systems we can set up that benefit society -- rules we can put in place that sometimes you run against, sometimes they're painful, but ultimately they benefit the world. Open source is that for software. It's inevitable that more and more of our lives are going to go through a computer or go through software. Now, that's dangerous. The software can become a loss of control, a loss of freedom, a loss of transparency if it's a black box. If it's open source, it becomes a source of freedom.
For example, I think voting systems should all be open source. It doesn't mean they should publish every person's vote, but the code that someone uses when they record their vote should be something anyone in the country can review. We paid for it, right?...It should be a part of the commons that is the base on which we build our country.
To the extent that I'm someone who can create software, I believe it's my moral responsibility to create as much open source software as possible and avoid using proprietary software where possible. Where possible I use open source software. And it gets easier and easier every day. I haven't run Microsoft Office in years. I don't need to. I've got Open Office or Google Docs. I haven't run a proprietary content management system in nine years. Open source eventually dominates every market it enters. It's just a side effect of having that many people working together.
What startups or technologies have caught your eye?
It's usually stuff I blog about. I'm interested in anything that's disruptive in the banking industry because I feel like that's an area where technology could actually make things a lot better. I'm excited about energy. You have Tesla making awesome cars that everyone wants. It's tricky because when it comes to the Web and we like it, we do it or we buy someone else that's doing it.
Where do you see blogging going?
The big shift we've had in the WordPress is that people have gone from just running their blogs on WordPress to running their entire websites. A blog used to be one thing you had on your website. WordPress now runs the entire kit and caboodle. The blog might be a section on there, it might not. And so that's pretty exciting to me. The latest stat we had was that WordPress was running 8.5 percent of the domains on the Web, which is pretty cool but also kind of low in my opinion. I would love for a majority of the Web to run open source software, hopefully on WordPress, but if some of that's Drupal and others it's ok.
You're among a generation that has grown up online. How do you decide what you're willing to put out there?
I put most stuff out there, particularly photos . . . I sort of err on the side of putting things out there. But I'm far more interested in my ideas being out there than my personal life. So I don't really talk about relationships, or anything like that. And probably if I ever have kids, I probably wouldn't talk about them too much and let them choose their own online presence when they're able to do so. For ideas, for feelings, for opinions, I just put it all out there, probably too much. I also recognize that's not the correct decision for everyone. I have friends who aren't even on Facebook, and I think that's pretty cool.
What's next for WordPress?
Well, WordPress 3.0 is . . . out. That's a pretty major evolution of the WordPress platform. That and we're focusing a lot on mobile. We're doing a lot of investment in mobile. We now have an app on every platform, and I think we have around half a million users on aggregate on that . . . I want to have the best mobile experience out there because blogging isn't just something you do at your desktop anymore. You do it wherever you are and it becomes part of your life, as well as checking your stats and moderating comments.
What are the challenges ahead for you?
We're at an interesting spot because WordPress.com is one of the largest web sites on the Internet, built by one of the smallest teams. We have 60 people at Automattic, of which only 10 are working on WordPress.com. So basically the challenges for me are scaling. How do we figure out the revenue models and people models to continue to be an Internet scale property without necessarily needing 1,000 people to run the thing because I like the idea of being small and agile? When you ask about the future, I have no idea what we're going to be doing in five years. But I do know that what's made us successful thus far is listening to our users, remaining really responsive and agile and just relentless attention to detail.
What's it like being so successful at such a young age?
I don't feel that young anymore. People used to ask me that question when I was 20 and I was like "Okay, I'm young," but now not so much. I'm 26. It's pretty normal. I guess the answer is it feels good. At the same time it's very humbling in that lets say you get an award and you haven't done that much yet, or you feel like there's a lot of life ahead of you. It puts a little pressure to live up to the accolades you've already been given. I feel like I've been given accolades above what I've accomplished so far. So it pushes me and drives me to work even harder.
Posted by Purva Patel at June 19, 2010 09:29 AM
This is a review that was posted on jazzhouston.com (4/18/2) about Matt's senior recital (the only correction being that Matt plays the Alto sax):
An older musician once told Joe Zawinul "When you go out there put your heart in it" Well I can assure MATTHEW MULLENWEG put his heart into the music. Its very refreshing to constantly see the young crop which ascends from HSPVA, the legend, continues. Fresh off their California competition, Matthew and his host of friends swung with gusto. Very well attended with enthusiastic response, never met her before, by accident sat behind his very proud mom. Matthew has tremendous stage presence and obviously a love for his art, his presentation of "MISTY" had the audience captivated. Very special performance by Scott & Shawn McGinty, Jose, Jamire.and Marcos were outstanding. The Wayne Shorter comp "YES OR NO" with Matthew and SCOTT McGinty was rich. What ever venture this young man pursues, is sure to be rewarding. MATTHEW MULLENWEG, TENOR SAX,
Picture of Matt during a Fed Competition