With more than 455 million WordPress websites published as of 2021, the WordPress CMS has held the majority market share for more than a decade. The makers of WordPress, Automattic, are considered industry leaders in providing innovative technology solutions that allow publishers to reach their audiences in creative ways.
With such a high number of WordPress websites and an ever-growing demand for new features, it’s no wonder people are curious about the brains behind the operation, who’s funding it, and how it all started.
Here we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about WordPress and its legacy, including:
- How Did WordPress Get Started?
- What is the Difference Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?
- Who Owns WordPress (.com and .org)?
- How is WordPress Maintained?
- What is the WordPress Foundation?
By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how the web’s most beloved content platform came to be and the various ways in which it is supported.
How Did WordPress Get Started?
Michel Valdrighi originally wrote b2 in PHP for use alongside MySQL. After only a year, Valdrighi stopped updating the blog b2, which prompted then 18-year-old Mullenweg, who used b2 at the time, to start his fork.
Since b2 was under a general public license (GPL), Mullenweg could fork the b2 software to bring it up-to-date and accommodate his own blogging needs. Coincidently, he also eliminated the challenges faced by many website publishers.
The rest, as they say, is WordPress history.
In 2005, Mullenweg founded Automattic Inc, a web development foundation intended to serve as an umbrella group that would support lots of open-source developers; however, it wouldn’t be a non-profit because it would have more impact on the world as a for-profit.
Mullenweg wanted a setup process as simple as Blogger, parsing capabilities similar to those of TextPattern, and the flexibility and hackability of MovableType and b2. The result: One man’s vision ultimately transformed the world of web publishing as we know it.
What is the Difference Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?
WordPress.org is an open-source project, meaning the WordPress Core code (primarily PHP and MySQL) is openly accessible for the WordPress developer community to actively contribute bug fixes, new feature ideas, and general feedback and discussion. The software is also free to download and use for personal or professional projects.
WordPress.com is a managed WordPress hosting platform that competes with Wix, Squarespace, and other website builders and WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors. The WordPress website offers both free and paid plan options.
While WordPress.com and WordPress.org are both managed by Automattic Inc, they serve different purposes. WordPress.com is a hosted platform that offers users an all-in-one solution for creating and managing their website, while WordPress.org is an open-source project that provides developers with the code necessary to create their own custom solutions using WordPress.
For a more detailed answer to this question and related topics, consult our guide: WordPress.com versus WordPress.org.
Who Owns WordPress (.com and .org)?
Automattic is the driving force behind WordPress.com and WordPress.org, as well as Jetpack, a plugin with tons of features for WordPress.org self-hosted sites. The company is funded by a combination of revenue from premium services, enterprise customers, and venture capital.
Mullenweg is the CEO of Automattic and the primary driving force behind the growth of WordPress. He also co-founded the WordPress Foundation, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring WordPress is freely available, maintained, and developed.
How is WordPress Maintained Today?
WordPress first started out solely for blogging purposes, but it has since evolved into a content management system. With thousands of WordPress themes, widgets, and plugins, the potential WordPress use cases are limited only by one’s imagination.
As a free and open-source platform, the software relies only on peer support from its dedicated online community, which also includes WordPress testers and group volunteers. The core contributing developers or lead developers at WordPress include Matt Mullenweg, Ryan Boren, Mark Jaquith, Andrew Ozz, Andrew Nacin, and Peter Westwood. Apart from them, there are teams of designers, contributing developers, documentation and support resources, and a group of senior developer emeriti.
What is the WordPress Foundation?
The WordPress Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that WordPress is freely available, maintained, and developed. The foundation’s primary purpose is to provide financial and legal protection for the WordPress open-source project.
The WordPress Foundation is supported by the WordPress community, including developers, publishers, and enthusiasts. The foundation is governed by a board of directors, which includes WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg and other notable WordPress community members.
Wrapping Up Our WordPress History Lesson
WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS) with a long and storied history. Since its initial release in 2003, the WordPress community has grown exponentially, with millions of websites using the platform to power their online content.
WordPress version 5.2 has had more than 16 million downloads, with users including the likes of TechCrunch, CNN, and Spotify. This only goes to show the extended reach of WordPress as a complete blogging, CMS, and web hosting service. WordPress VIP is the default digital publishing tool of major publishing companies such as Forbes.
If you’re ready to try WordPress for your next project, consider the web hosting providers officially endorsed by the experts at WordPress.org.