At last night’s PandoMonthly in New York, Sarah Lacy and WordPress Founder Matt Mullenweg discussed everything from jazz music and rap to the future of advertising, why Silicon Valley could destroy the world, the beauty of open source, and working sans pants.
But the audience questions had a recurring theme:
The fast-growing blogging software is likely top-of-mind for Mullenweg, WordPress and its parent company Automattic. Yes, WordPress powers 16 percent of the Web, and yes, it’s used by 48 of the top 100 blogs. But WordPress is not the CMS of choice for youths starting a blog. (You could argue, even, that thanks to Pinterest, Tumblr isn’t either anymore.)
We were in New York, Tumblr is a New York company, and a New York audience wanted to know how the company plans to compete.
The answer lies in the way WordPress views Tumblr. Mullenweg said Tumblr is not a competitor. It’s complementary. In the way that Twitter or Facebook act as tools that can amplify a message and share content across the Web, Tumblr is another medium. Tumblr’s dashboard traffic is higher than its pageview traffic, Mullenweg said.
So it makes sense that the company is building a tool that pushes blog posts to Tumblr. Mullenweg let slip on stage that, in the coming weeks, WordPress would roll out that functionality, which I understand will look similar to the way Google’s Blogger does.
“Let’s say that there is a way that when you post to WordPress it goes to Tumblr, and it has its own website instead of just appearing in a dashboard,” he said. “I think that if Tumblr continues on its path WordPress and Tumblr could be highly complementary in that regard.”
Beyond that, WordPress has quietly launched a subscribe feature that allows users to consume blogs that is, in some ways, similar to the Tumblr dashboard but different because it takes a more author/blog approach, Mullenweg said.
WordPress has grown in the absence of social features. “People have an idea of what WordPress is, and it’s very much a means to an end. It’s not a social place,” he said. “The beauty of a new service is that you have tens of thousands of people coming in that don’t have a preconceived notion of what your company is about.”