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Inside Automattic, The Company Behind WordPress.com
WordPress, the incredibly popular content management system that runs this very blog (via WordPress.org), absolutely rocks in my opinion. I’ve been using it for years and can’t recommend it fast enough. If it wasn’t for WordPress, I think the world would be a very, very different place with far less information being shared in a meaningful, easy-to-access way. That’s why I was incredibly excited to interview Sara Rosso who works at Automattic as the WordPress.com VIP Global Services Manager. Here’s how she describes life as an Automattic employee.
I would describe Automattic’s culture as distributed. Not only does this refer to our physical organization and lack of offices, it’s also part of the fabric of the company. I had my own essence word to share, but for fun I decided to see if anyone else in the company had something to add. With one internal blog post, I had a bunch of answers (see below). And that’s the culture of Automattic. You can get this level of interaction, transparency, and feedback on anything that’s going on within the company, from any employee background, on subjects varying from financial forecasting to product roadmaps to t-shirt slogans.
Automatticians also suggested these words that describe our culture: Collaborative. Empowerment. Ardent. Infinitesimal. Quirky. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Irreverent. Spectacular. Go. Earnest. Unique. Impassioned. Kaleidoscopic. Flexible. Deploy. Creative. Scrumtrulescent. Iterative. Home. Personal.
Since we’re a distributed company, we don’t have any offices. We have a lounge in San Francisco that serves as a meeting place when colleagues are in town and for events, though few Automatticians work there every day. The view from the 9th floor in the Mission is breathtaking, and the burritos are restorative.
It’s hard to choose just one day as my favorite day working for Automattic, but I would say most of the best days I have had at Automattic have been during our in-person company meet-ups. You might think that this means we should work together more often, but on the contrary I think because we’re a distributed company we enjoy our time together in-person that much more. We spend every waking hour together (some days are quite long due to excitement and catching up) and a lot of it being excited to talk shop, too. The best part is working on a week-long project with people who are not your normal team members and presenting your project at the end of the week to the entire company (for example, my team’s project was the restaurants vertical, which recently launched on WordPress.com).
I work with a MacBook Air (13″) and a 23″ external monitor at home, which I think is pretty similar to a lot of my colleagues. The monitor is helpful for anchoring some of the constant discussions we have in IRC so I can follow along there without having to change my main window focus. The overwhelming majority of Automatticians use a laptop, as we want to stay as mobile as possible so we can change work locations even from home to a coffee shop to the terrace outside, or go on a trip as needed.
The quintessential Automattic employee is curious and likes learning, and either makes or groans heartily at puns. They speak in acronyms, have attempted a haiku, use their WordPress.com site as their digital hub, and deploy code at will. They are passionate about democratizing publishing on the web and believe WordPress.com is one of the best tools to do it with.
We do a lot of goofy things. We have our own memes, including an entire photo blog dedicated to one of them with posts from our meet-ups around the world. We try to eat BBQ whenever we’re in person together, and burritos on Burrito Friday (naturally) wherever we are. We started doing a Worldwide 5k on a specific day so everyone could run together, around the world, and there’s almost always crazy karaoke sing-offs when we do in-person meet-ups.
If there was one thing I could describe to an outsider to make them feel like an Automattic insider, it would be: “P2 it.” It’s our verb we use to constantly remind ourselves to document our decisions and discussions no matter where they happen, online or offline. Our internal blogs all use the P2 theme (http://p2theme.com/), so it’s where we want that information to be shared and documented for the rest of the company.