Everything should be open source, says WordPress founder

Summary:WordPress is one of the most popular CMS tools ever, but what elements of the open source world can be applied to your business model?

SAN FRANCISCO -- Can relying on open source technology as the backbone for an entire company really be feasible? WordPress.com's founder Matt Mullenweg certainly seems to think so.

"I believe morally and philosophically that not just software, but everything should be open source," asserted Mullenweg, while speaking at the GigaOM RoadMap 2011 summit on Thursday evening.

It's a bold statement, but it's the ethos that Mullenweg admirably stuck to, pointing out that sites like Wikipedia replaced Encyclopedia Britannica, and how far Android has gone for mobile.

Although he later backtracked and admitted that Android is "not a great example from an open source point of view" because of things like patents, Mullenweg still noted that you can download the code and run it on almost anything.

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Describing himself as "an open source hippie," Mullenweg explained that WordPress has been built up over the last eight and a half years of "doing right on the open source side."

However, he acknowledged that there haven't been many examples of big corporations with thousands of employees where the open source side is in concert with commercial side.

Hoping that it will be the case some day, Mullenweg cited that one of his big goals is to "democratize publishing," and fundamentally, he wants to show through the WordPress community that this can be done right.

Right now, there are more than 65 million WordPress sites worldwide, and WordPress.com hosts about half of them. (Mullenweg added that the other half are spread out amongst cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Rackspace, but also smaller hosts like GoDaddy, Bluehost and Dreamhost.)

“You can create a really fantastic business that changes the world, but still does the right thing along the way," Mullenweg posited.

Mullenweg acknowledged that he gets inspirations from all areas -- at least "selectively" -- including from Apple and Google. But he argued that these two, "open source-wise, they're the most kosher."

Yet WordPress has had more interesting effects more than just publishing but the enterprise world too.

"One of the most interesting trends for me is that enterprise software has always sucked, but now people are complaining about it more," Mullenweg said, explaining that so many employees are asking why does it take 10 seconds to publish here (presumably somewhere like WordPress), and 10 minutes elsewhere (probably with whatever outdated CMS system the company is still using).

Mullenweg theorized that the "infiltration of Apple" into the enterprise has had an effect somehow, continuing on to say that he is happy that employees are no longer acting satisfied with whatever the company's CTO picks.

Related:

Topics: Enterprise Software, Banking

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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