The blog publishing tool WordPress, created by alumnus Matt Mullenweg and used by newspapers and blogs such as CNN, the New York Times and The Daily Cougar, celebrated its 10th anniversary on May 27.
Mullenweg, the lead developer, encouraged WordPress lovers worldwide to show their support by organizing a celebration in their respective cities, according to Aaron Baxter, owner and developer of Method 21, a Houston-based web design company.
“As the date drew near, Monica Yoo, marketing communications manager for PAS, and I realized that there was no event planned for Houston,” Baxter said. “Considering that WordPress was born right here, we felt that it was absolutely necessary to represent.”
Two days before the event, Baxter and Yoo teamed up with Leah Mayo, managing director of Start Houston to secure a venue for the event.
To unite the participants of this global event, a website was developed to wp10.wordpress.net, that would host images posted in real-time from event-goers around the globe.
“We had about 30 people show up, which was a pretty good crowd considering that we knew that it might be tough to get a large crowd to come out on such short notice for an event that falls on Labor Day,” Baxter said.
“The event consisted of an open forum,” Yoo said. ” WordPress fans came together and talked about anything they wanted. We saw clusters of people chatting about technical advice, design tips and WordPress bloggers seeking marketing advice. It was amazing.”
Attendees were able to drink, eat a few snacks and share meaningful conversations with WordPress users in Houston.
Mullenweg was 19-years-old when he and Mark Little founded WordPress. Mullenweg attended UH as a political science major until he dropped out to move to San Francisco. He later founded Automattic, the company that runs WordPress.com.
WordPress is a free and open source blogging tool and a content management system, which runs on web-hosting services. During the past decade it has become one of the most popular blogging systems to use on the web.
“I was just working on something I wanted to use for myself,” Mullenweg said. “The biggest challenge I faced was creating a product that people wanted to use. I had to learn a lot about design, programming and marketing.”
Mullenweg celebrated the anniversary in San Francisco with about 150 attendees.
“I feel like there is so much left to do (within the company),” Mullenweg said. “I think we can grow to power a quarter of all websites and employ a few hundred more people working full time on WordPress.”
Mullenweg said the company is hiring very aggressively, the limit is really the number of qualified people applying.
“I really miss Houston and can’t wait to come back,” he said. “Houston is where many of my family and friends are, as well as great BBQ.”