Bay Area CFO of the Year Awards

On Wednesday night I attended the Bay Area CFO of the Year Awards, an annual tradition that supports the great work Larkin Street Youth Services does to help homeless and at-risk youth in San Francisco.

I ended up winning the award for Emerging Company CFO of the Year. Past honorees at this event include people I’ve admired and looked up to in Silicon Valley like the CFOs of Apple, Google, Intel, Cisco, eBay, and Pixar. What a cool honor.

Awards like this go to an organization and team more than an individual. Automattic is an extraordinary place, and the teams I lead include some of the most talented, committed, and passionate people on earth. I am so lucky I can work with them, every day, to help build our company and support the WordPress community.

Related, the San Francisco Business Times today has a profile notable for its photo of me next to the most CFO-y thing in my house: my kids’ toy abacus. 🙂

P.S. we’re hiring.

A new toy: the “flying camera”

I took the plunge and got a drone a few weeks ago, a DJI Mavic Pro, which they market as a “flying camera”. The big attraction for me was its portability, and I ended up testing it out on a recent family vacation. Here’s some of the footage we got from the Amed coast in eastern Bali. It starts with the morning sun and fishing boats off the beach in front of our hotel, has a cool shot of Katherine and Claire snorkeling at midday, and closes with the sun setting over Mount Agung:

Notes on the Mavic Pro and why I chose it:
– I’d been contemplating a drone for a few years, but its portability finally pushed me over the edge.
– It has a built in 4K camera with an excellent gimbal for smooth video and all sorts of other bells/whistles.
– The controls/software seem pretty easy to use (which is important because hard-to-use things tend to crash).
– It packs down to roughly the size of an SLR (or a one-liter water bottle) which is pretty impressive; it fit easily into both my regular checked baggage and also my little carry-on backpack.
– I got the “Deluxe bundle” which includes two additional batteries (which are handy since, when you go to the park or a beach, it’s more fun to have three 20-minute batteries to enjoy), a bag (perfectly sized for the drone, controller, and the spare batteries), and few other things which I’ve generally found worth having.

Notes on my first attempt at aerial photography and editing:
– Avoid jerky cameras movements while recording. The Mavic Pro’s cinema mode helps with this but still lets you move too quickly.
– If you adjust the drone or camera direction while recording, move just one direction per shot e.g. forward or turning or gimbal up/down.
– In particular, adjust the gimbal up or down very slowly otherwise it’s nausea-inducing.
– Don’t rely on auto focus, auto exposure, or auto white balance for important shots. They will adjust while you are recording. I lost a couple cool shots because of big changes halfway through.
– When editing, I thought I’d want 20 seconds minimum per shot. More like 5-7 seconds feels right.
– Music matters; it provides mood, pacing, and structure. H/T Jake Shimabukuro for the above.
– My first few flights I recorded everything so a single 10-15 minute file per flight. Major pain. Better try to keep each shot its own separate video file.
– On the Mac, iMovie is better for browsing clips than Photos, but it feels quite primitive. I’ll have to try out some pro package.
– I’ve got a 13″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar loaded with the 3.3 GHz Intel Core i7 and 16 GB. That model comes with the “Intel Iris Graphics 550 1536 MB” GPU. I also have the newish LG 5k external monitor. Trying to edit 4k video in iMovie with this setup doesn’t really work that well. Playback with iMove is pretty glitchy even if I reduce the iMovie preview window to a small size. When doing final timing checks on the video, I generally had to just export a final rendering and check that rather than trying to do within iMovie.

Wikimedia v. NSA

As a Wikimedia Foundation board member, I’m proud to support a lawsuit it filed today:

Today, we’re filing a lawsuit against the National Security Agency to protect the rights of the 500 million people who use Wikipedia every month. We’re doing so because a fundamental pillar of democracy is at stake: the free exchange of knowledge and ideas.

See New York Times Op-Ed for more, or the Foundation’s WordPress blog.

We Proudly Have Your Back: EFF Awards 5 Stars For Protecting User Speech

Transparency Report

The Electronic Frontier Foundation yesterday released a new version of their Who Has Your Back? report, focused on protecting user speech from “copyright & trademark bullies.”

yeeaaahhhWe’re proud that was awarded all five possible stars in the report — one of only two services to earn that honor.

“When a private citizen or corporation wants to silence speech on a major online platform, the quickest method is often a copyright or trademark complaint,” the EFF correctly noted. This isn’t what the law intended, but it’s a practice that we see all too frequently.

We strongly support the rights of all creators to reasonably protect their works — users create millions of original (and copyrighted!) posts every day, after all — but we are irked when IP holders stretch their legal rights to the point of abuse. The law is meant to also preserve free expression and fair use…

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The Fog of Sadness

Here’s my friend and colleague Lori McLeese’s lovely post on Automattic’s annual Grand Meetup which just ended yesterday.


I know the fog of sadness will come. The knowing doesn’t make it any easier when it arrives.

It’s happened every year for the past five years. Sometimes it sets in the afternoon I arrive home, like today. Sometimes it sets in after I wake up from the post trip nap (last year’s “nap” was 18 hours long, due to sheer exhaustion from too much fun).

This year our annual all company meetup was held in Park City, Utah, and more than 250 people attended. This is a highlight of the year, because it’s often the only time that I’ll see many of my co-workers. We’re a distributed company, and everyone’s primary workspace is their home office. Oh, did I mention we have folks in thirty-five countries around the world? We’re really spread out. It’s a whirlwind of a week – learning at internally led code academy classes; project teams…

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Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 1

The Blog

Here’s the first official edition of Longreads’ Best of WordPress! We’ve scoured 22% of the internet to create a reading list of great storytelling — from publishers you already know and love, to some that you may be discovering for the first time.

We’ll be doing more of these reading lists in the weeks and months to come. If you read or publish a story on WordPress that’s over 1,500 words, share it with us: just tag it #longreads on Twitter, or use the longreads tag on


Tickets for Restaurants (Nick Kokonas, Alinea)


How the owners of world-class restaurants including Alinea created their own custom ticketing system:

Though I hadn’t the faintest idea how we would sell tickets, Grant and I included the line: “Tickets, yes tickets, go on sale soon…” in the announcement ‘trailer’ for Next. That was meant to do three things: 1) gauge…

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