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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

BetterKnowanSFBlog: WordPress' Matt Mullenweg

Posted By on Tue, Mar 4, 2008 at 12:01 PM

Every Tuesday morning, SF Weekly's news blog The Snitch profiles one the Bay's many cool blogs or bloggers in a segment we call, BetterKnowanSFBlog. This week, we revisit San Francisco blog celebrity Matt Mullenweg.

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By Tyler Callister

Matt Mullenweg, the computer code developer whom PC World listed as #16 on its 50 Most Important People on the Web, has only taken one computer science class in his entire life — and he hated it.

He told me that the rest of his tech knowledge he taught himself, using books and the Internet. He never finished college, but he managed to become the lead developer of WordPress -- one of the most influential blog publishing platforms in the world. If you've ever read a blog, there's a good chance you've seen WordPress in action. In January, the company behind WordPress, Automattic, sealed $29.5 million in funding, with The New York Times Co. among the investors.

Back in November, The Snitch spoke to Mullenweg about his feelings on democracy and Internet censorship in China. But there's more to this San Francisco based entrepreneur who is only 24 and is already a well-known face in the tech world.

Mullenweg grew up in Houston, Texas, where he only saw two options — work in medical or work in oil. "Medical isn't bad, but I don't know that it's a terribly inspiring industry," he said in a telephone interview from his San Francisco home. "And oil, well that was just sort of evil."

So Mullenweg came to the Bay Area to work for CNET in 2004, but continued to live in San Francisco after he left the company. "My whole tribe was here," he said. "These are the people who are passionate about the things that I'm passionate about."

Mullenweg was attracted to blogging largely because of the comments feature and the way it opened up dialogue. He also firmly believes in open-source technology, calling it the future of software.

WordPress displays the phrase "code is poetry" on its homepage. I asked Mullenweg what that means to him. "Code can be very short, very concise, and still pack a lot of punch and meaning," he said.

So is writing code a kind of art? "If it's done correctly it is," he said. He pointed to Flickr as an example. "You can just tell that the people who make it have incredible attention to detail and love what they're doing. I think if you combine those two things, you create great software."

See also: our discussion with Matt Mullenweg on democracy, the Internet, and China.

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Ty Callister

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