A lot of my friends and family have been impressed by how mature and robust benkoo.com is. This is kind of a back handed compliment as I possess no web design, web development, or html/php coding skills. I really cannot take that much credit as my blogging software, wordpress, does all the heavy lifting.
WordPress is an open source blogging software solution that has quickly developed into one of the most popular and functional blogging solutions out there (partly due to the fact its open source).
However since WordPress was initially an open source project and not actual commercialized product, early adopters of it were very tech savvy users who were well versed in web hosting and the value of open source.
In 2005, Matthew Mullenweg started Automatic, in hopes of bringing WordPress to the masses. At the core of their business was wordpress.com, a web property devoted to selling web hosted version of the popular wordpress software. This is a great breakdown of the difference between hosted vs on site and wordpress.com vs wordpress.org for those unfamiliar with these concepts.
2 of the biggest issues surrounding the many emerging open source companies are
1) developing a business model and concept around an open source solution ( not that easy at all)
2) the potential losing of support from the open source community that has painstakingly been a part of the development, testing, and evangelizing of the product but now must watch as a business entity tries to perpetuate its adoption while also trying to reach profitability
Although not an expert on the workings of Automatic and wordpress.com I would say that they have done a great job in succeeding in dealing with both issues (enough to warrant a $200 million acquisition bid and turn it down) Below an except from Automatic’s founders blog
“Fast forward to 2007: many of the seeds planted started to really bloom. On WordPress.com 1.8 million new users joined, they created 25 million posts, we served 3.2 billion dynamic pageviews, and grew to reach over 100 million unique users worldwide. Akismet blocked billions of spams from reaching blogs. Nearly every major media organization, from the NY Times, WSJ, CNN, Fox, Time, People, and more, have embraced WordPress”
Why the above except is impressive, its even more impressive given that Automatic does not have any office space, did this all utilizing only $1.1 million in initial funding, and small employee base (20 or so) is scattered all over the world (although the Bay Area is heavily represented).
So moving past the wordpress history lesson and overview, the young company has made recent news with 2 big developments.
2) WordPress.com users now have 3GB of space for their blogs compared to 50 MB (60x more)
The new funding will allow WordPress.com more resources grow their operations and perhaps a corporate office may even be in the works. More importantly for customers, the extra space will give bloggers the space needed to store the photos, videos, and documents that would have too large for the 50mb storage quota.
I was close to giving in and buying more storage before the increase as I was quickly reaching capacity. Now its a non issue. The 50 MB would have limited me to about 20 or so pictures like the ones below I took in New Orleans. The new 3GB will allow me to store around 1200.
Its great to see Automatic/Wordpress.com gaining momentum, adding value to their product, as well as doing a great job commercializing a terrific open source product.
Its also positive to see the New York Times taking on a more friendly stance on new media. As a novice new media proponent, open source enthusiast, and rookie blogger I must say its good news all the way around.