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Happy Birthday and Anniversary, Matt Mullenweg

Screenshot of Google Images search for Matt Mullenweg.

Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary, .

Well, happy early birthday. Matt’s birthday is January 11.

Matt Mullenweg is the co-founder of , the brains behind and , and I’m honored to call him friend.

He also changed my life completely, in more ways than I can count.

Last year I tried. In “Happy Birthday, Matt Mullenweg” in 2012 I did my best to spell out a huge thank you to Matt.

As I move forward this year back to a more active and participatory site here on , his influence on my life and my continued passion for all things WordPress continues.

This year, I ask you to celebrate the birthday of Matt Mullenweg by sharing your thoughts about how he has influenced your life. Don’t think he hasn’t.

In my workshops and college courses, I teach about the history of WordPress, showcasing the birth of WordPress. It began with a humble question from Matt to the world, an open question ten years ago this month:

My blogging software hasn’t been updated for months, and the main developer has disappeared, and I can only hope that he’s okay.

What to do? Well, Textpattern looks like everything I could ever want, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be licensed under something politically I could agree with. Fortunately, b2/cafelog is GPL, which means that I could use the existing codebase to create a fork, integrating all the cool stuff that Michel would be working on right now if only he was around. The work would never be lost, as if I fell of the face of the planet a year from now, whatever code I made would be free to the world, and if someone else wanted to pick it up they could. I’ve decided that this the course of action I’d like to go in, now all I need is a name. What should it do? Well, it would be nice to have the flexibility of MovableType, the parsing of TextPattern, the hackability of b2, and the ease of setup of Blogger. Someday, right?

That someday didn’t take long as Mike Little in England responded, and hundreds, then thousands of others also spoke up demanding a publishing platform that was easy, flexible, and free to the world.

It is the 10th anniversary of this year. As Matt proposed, it continues to be free to the world as a hosted publishing platform on and a self-hosted version at . There are thousands of free WordPress Themes and Plugins, and hundreds of thousands of “WordPress experts” around the world helping people with WordPress. He created an entire industry with that single post back in 2003.

Ten years? Has it only been ten years of WordPress? It doesn’t seem possible. WordPress is on more than 75 million sites around the world as of March 2012, so that number is way out of date.

Interviewed by the Wall Street Journal in November 2011, Matt stated that 1 in 6 websites in the world are on WordPress.

That’s a lot of WordPress.

And that’s a lot of accomplishment in ten years.

So salute Matt Mullenweg on his birthday, and take some time this year to honor how WordPress has changed your life. Let’s all take a moment to pay tribute to someone whose faith in freedom of speech and helping people have their say has changed the world, not just your life.

Thanks, Matt.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.


  1. Posted January 9, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Happy birthday! I am ever so grateful for WordPress. I enjoy being able to make people laugh by posting funny stories on this site. The fact that it is free and easily accessible is a bonus. Many happy returns, and thank you for making WordPress available to people like me.

  2. Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Well firstly I go all the way back to late 2006 with WordPress.

    I was stuck with an in-house content management system that I was continually being charged excessive fees for (in one year the price went up 150%) and yet its update cycle was terrible.

    So in mid 2006 I decided to look at alternatives. Joomla, Movable Type, Live Journal, Text Pattern and others come to mind and then I came across WordPress. Now it seems like a given, but back then it was a huge leap of faith as it was very much a blogging platform.

    I had around 75 clients and moving them across was a painstaking process, I lost many of them as the CMS company I was using caught wind of this and decided to market directly to my client base. (classy hey)

    But that is all in the past now WordPress is my life, we have over 750 clients, we generate over 1.5 million in annual sales, employ over a dozen people directly with some contractors thrown in across 4 continents and 9 countries.. All because of a faith rewarded 100fold in a ‘little’ open source CMS called WordPress.

    We have also developed a few plugins (all free) and continually try to help others (rewarded in $ or not) to see their business grow backed with this great software.

    I am sure I am not alone, big or small, we all benefit from his vision and the vision and hard work of all the wonderful collaborators on WordPress!

    Matt, thanks to you and your team you have in no small part made the lives of many people like myself and joy to live, we get to see our team afford cars, houses, grow families and give a little back to the community – all because we have software that allows us to be only inhibited by our imagination and skill.

    Happy Birthday and thank you Matt and to you Lorelle, although I rarely comment I appreciate what you also do for WordPress 🙂

    • Posted January 9, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      From 75 cents to 750 clients! Love that.

      Isn’t it amazing how something free can create not just jobs but an entire industry upon which lives are dependent. I saw the vision early but so many couldn’t get the “how does WordPress make money” question. You’ve seen it. Lived it.

      Thanks for your response, and for your kind words.

  3. anoopd
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Would be really great to wish somebody who had made a really great step in the world of internet … Happy Birthday Matt

  4. Posted January 9, 2013 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Happy birthday to Matt! Thank you for this history, Lorelle. I am very grateful that WordPress exists! I’ve told many friends and clients about WordPress, and encouraged them to set up their own sites using WordPress. I’ve also taught a few friends the basics of getting started on WP, as well as sent some of them your link so they could learn more.

    I have both of my sites self hosted at WordPress, after being on for several years. It is really fun to control my own sites, and to learn more about how to make them work well for my visitors. So this is a big thank you!! to all who have made this possible. A revolution really does begin with one question, doesn’t it? Thanks for asking that question, Matt, and then for following through with finding an answer.

    • Posted January 9, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      @Kris: isn’t it amazing how much WordPress infiltrates your entire life? LOL! Revolution is a good word for what WordPress and Matt Mullenweg has done. As a political science student (former but I think he’s a student of life sciences as well as politics), revolution would indeed be a wonderful word to use to describe this. Love it! Thanks!

  5. Posted January 9, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Yes, Happy Birthday, WordPress and to Matt! WordPress has been nothing short of a miracle for me and what I’ve been able to accomplish. WordPress has allowed me to have a beautiful and functioning site that I’ve done myself (with help from the forums!) that otherwise I would not have tackled or had to pay someone every time I wanted to make a change – which is often. Happy new year, Lorelle!

  6. reneeboomer
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing this history, especially for newbies, like myself. I love WordPress. Happy Birthday Matt. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for WordPress. Thank you to you Lorelle for all that you do for us. You are both greatly appreciated.
    Happy New Year and all the best in 2013. ~ Renee 🙂

  7. Posted January 9, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Lorelle!

  8. Posted January 11, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Dear Matt! Happy birthday to You! Congratulations with the 10th birthday of WordPress! Please accept my award of Honesty! “Such a rare Word!”

    New User of WordPress
    from Russia.

  9. Marry
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    Happy birthday matt! Thanks for the story Lorelle, I appreciated it!

  10. Chiranjeev
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Happy Birthday Matt as well advance congratulation on 10th anniversary of WordPress.

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  1. […] friends who were also in Las Vegas. I came back online to some very sweet birthday blogs (thank you Lorelle and John!) and of course a number of nice messages on Facebook and Twitter. All in all, extremely […]

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