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Mullenweg: We don't want cash...well, ok, maybe we'll take some

Matt Mullenweg
Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automattic, the company that manages the popular WordPress blog software, announced yesterday on his blog that he has taken some funding.

This comes just a few months after his December launch, when he announced he wasn't seeking funding for the San Francisco company. Funny how that works. We believed him, and think he was being genuine at the time, because we've followed him for some time now, and he talks rarely about money, always about vision. And nothing drives VCs wilder than a confident 22-year-old who says he doesn't need any cash. So then they go dangle it in front of him, and he realizes that maybe its easier to take a little dough than spend his time "robbing Peter to pay Paul" each month, as he puts it.

The amount wasn't announced, but it comes from Polaris Ventures (Mike Hirshland), Blacksmith Capital (Phil Black, now at True Ventures), Radar Partners (Doug Mackenzie), and CNET (Shelby Bonnie).

Automattic's Wordpress is up against Six Apart's Movable Type to become the leader in the blogging space, at least as far as top-grade blog software is concerned. (Full disclosure: We use Movable Type; and having studied both, we've found that each has its advantages and disadvantages). Automattic also operates an anti-spam filter for blogs, called Akismet, and a hosted version of Wordpress, called Wordpress.com.

Here are Matt's words on the funding:

...Automattic isn't going to get fancy SoMA offices, throw huge parties at SxSW, or "get big fast." We took a small amount of capital to put things that were already growing fast in a stable position, so from month to month you're not robbing Peter to pay Paul. We're going to use the money to pre-emptively address scaling issues before they happen, and continue to share everything we can back to the community, like all of the code behind WP.com in WordPress MU, the spellchecking feature we sponsored, free Akismet for 99.9% of users, and a few other goodies we still have up our sleeve...

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The goals haven't changed, just the path a bit. It's funny how much funding gets celebrated because in some ways it's a failure, in our case the business is growing at a trajectory that I couldn't have anticipated months ago. But all things considered, it's one of the better problems to have. Regardless, any amount of investment is unimportant compared to what we actually do with it, and I think some of the things we have up our sleeve for the next few months should be far more exciting. :)

Matt on April 14, 2006 5:19 AM
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Funny how that works. We believed him, and think he was being genuine at the time, because we've followed him for some time now, and he talks rarely about money, always about vision.

You make him out to be some sort of crook for taking the funding. It's not like he's the first person to change their mind on funding, and it's understandable why so many do. People say they want to do it all themselves, and not take charity funding, or however you want to look at it, from VCs, but then the bills come, the expenses come, the staff payments come, and the money still isn't there.

There's only so many ways to go when that happens

Jesse on April 14, 2006 6:13 AM
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You write: "You make him out to be some sort of crook."

That's a misunderstanding, and sorry i wasn't clearer. I was referring to VCs, who approach him anyway -- even though he says clearly on his about page that he's not looking, something he said precisely to avoid the constant pandering of calls from VCs!

Matt Marshall on April 14, 2006 7:27 AM
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I don't think Matt was making him out to be a "some sort of crook." Read it again. On the contrary, he was saying that Mullenweg appeared to genuinely not want to take money at first, but that times and needs change.

Larry on April 14, 2006 7:30 AM
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You said it better than I could, Larry. That's indeed what I meant.

Matt Marshall on April 14, 2006 7:39 AM
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blog for money, get advice.

blog for advice, get money.


Dave McClure on April 14, 2006 1:47 PM
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Funny. Matt was making him out to be a "some sort of crook. True

Jennifer Hershey on April 16, 2006 2:06 PM
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