Welcome to Mark Davies, Automattic’s new CFO

I’m excited to share the news, just out this morning, that Mark Davies will soon join Automattic as Chief Financial Officer.

I joined Automattic as CFO in 2012 when we had about 100 employees and were in the early days of scaling the business. I had helped organizations grow from that level before; my skills and passions were an excellent fit. Since then, we’ve built Automattic to over 1,100 people, increased revenue by 10x, and welcomed some fantastic new investors. It’s been amazing. 

I’m as passionate about Automattic today as I was when I first arrived. But we are a different organization at a different stage that needs a different set of skills and experience from its CFO. When we began this search in January, I had three attributes in mind for an ideal candidate: the know-how, record of success, and interest in building finance for companies of thousands of staff and billions of dollars in revenue across multiple business lines; fluency with the subscription business model; and enough experience working with iconic founders to keep up with Automattic’s inimitable Matt Mullenweg.

Mark matches those attributes perfectly and is an exceptional fit with what Automattic needs now. He has built and managed successful finance teams at large organizations ranging from Vivint to Alcoa to Dell. He spent the past six years building a recurring revenue business. And he spent a decade working closely with Michael Dell, one of technology’s most iconic founders. It’s rare to complete a search with a 100% hit rate on your ideal attributes. With Mark, I believe we did.

The only bittersweet thing is that it means I’ll spend less time with the teams I’ve built over the past few years. As I’ve said here on this blog, I consider these to be some of the most talented, committed, and passionate people on earth. I am so proud to have been able to lead and learn from them. It was important to me that they be in good hands with a new CFO; I’m confident they will be.

Welcome, Mark! I believe you’re going to have a huge impact at Automattic and look forward to supporting your transition into the role.

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.

Longreads Joins the Automattic Family

Great news from a few weeks ago on Longreads joining Automattic.

WordPress.com News

Today we’re excited to announce that we are acquiring Longreads, the pioneering service that helps readers find and share the best longform storytelling around the world, for reading on mobile devices.

Over the last five years, Longreads and its community have created a new ecosystem for readers to find great in-depth stories, and for writers and publishers to distribute their best work over 1,500 words. Longreads will continue to do what it does best — recommending stories from across the Internet — and we are excited to have them join the WordPress.com team and continue in their commitment to serving readers.

Mobile reading and the appetite for longform content

As consumption has moved to mobile devices, there has been a growing hunger for longform content: phones and tablets are perfect for enjoying in-depth articles, and there are more moments than ever for readers to dig into a story —…

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Striking Back Against Censorship

Defending our users and our shared principles has always been a big part of WordPress.com. I’m really proud of our General Counsel Paul and his team’s efforts, including in these two cases.

WordPress.com News

The mission of WordPress.com is to democratize publishing. We’re inspired every day by the ways creators use our platform to bring their voices to the world. Unfortunately, we also see many cases of censorship aimed at WordPress.com authors and users.

One area where we’ve seen a number of problems is the censoring of criticism through abuse of copyright law. Two recentcases of abuse really caught our attention and made us think that we needed to take action to fight back on behalf of our users and everyone who believes in the internet’s promise for free expression.

Censorship by DMCA

A common form of censorship by copyright stems from improper use of legal creations called DMCA takedown notices. The DMCA stands for the “Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” which is a US federal law that created a system for protecting copyrights online. The DMCA system works pretty well, but has a…

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Cloudup Joins Automattic

Raanan Bar-Cohen

So excited to be able to share the news today that we’ve acquired Cloudup, an amazing startup that makes it super easy to share “streams” of images, videos, audio, links and more — instantly!

I’ve gotten to know the founders Thianh Lu and Guillermo Rauch quite well during this process, and couldn’t be happier to have them now as colleagues.

Like Automattic, Cloudup is also distributed (1/3 of the employees are outside the US), uses IRC a ton, and are involved in some massive open source projects including
socket.io, mongoosejs, and expressjs.

Cloudup screenshot

Check out our announcement post on WP.com and the Cloudup post for more details and get ready for some seriously exciting stuff coming soon to your WordPress dashboard.

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Book about working on WordPress.com

YWP-COVER-FINAL-200x300A fun new book came out today by the talented Scott Berkun, a former Automattic employee.  It’s called The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work (an inside joke about the sartorial options available to people who mostly work from their homes). It tells the story of Automattic’s model for distributed work, our balance of creativity and technology, and what it’s like to work on WordPress.com (which has passed Yahoo in Quantcast’s ranking of U.S. websites). If you want to know more about what it’s like to work at Automattic, check it out!