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I'm Pippin Williamson, founder of numerous plugins, a reviewer for WordPress.org/plugins, a cyclist, and avid craft beer lover. Ask me anything!

AMA | Oct. 14, 2015

Hello!

I am a WordPress plugin developer living in Hutchinson Kansas.

6 years ago I began my journey working in WordPress and today I am the owner and CEO of three companies and the founder of several large eCommerce based plugins, including Easy Digital Downloads, AffiliateWP, and Restrict Content Pro. I have also written well over 200 plugins, I help review plugin submissions on WordPress.org, and frequently contribute back to WordPress core. I also co-host a podcast about WordPress development called ApplyFilters

Outside of WordPress and development, I love cycling, hiking, great coffee, and craft beer. I'm an avid homebrewer and a lover of sour beers.

My wife and two daughters are the heart soul of everything I do.

Ask me anything!

When building a new product, do you have any recommendations for how to find and approach influencers to help spread the word and help make new releases successful?

via Clifton Griffin

What's a big issue that you see while doing plugin reviews for WordPress.org? Not necessarily the most common, but common enough to be worth mentioning.

via Joe Casabona

Serious: Do you #FeelTheBern?

via Mizner

I've never been one to "hunt people down" and ask for them to help promote a product launch. While it can obviously be a very successful strategy, it is just not me.

I have never entertained the idea of someone promoting my product just because they might be able to earn a few affiliate dollars on it. Instead, I want people to promote it because they truly love and support the product.

To answer your question, I think one of the best things you can do is try and get a few influencers to not only promote your product but to back it 100%. I promote plugins like SearchWP avidly because it is a truly great plugin, not just because I consider Jonathan a good friend.

How do you get it into influencers hands and attention? That's a harder issue, but I'd start with reaching out directly. Tip: be short, to the point, and honest. People that get hundreds or thousands of messages everyday hate reading yet-another-spammy-help-me email. Keep your email or message less than 300 words or less.

Another tip: write, write write. Write on your own blog, write guest posts, write on Twitter, write on Facebook. Put material out there. While people won't always find it, you're guaranteed to be more successful if you have writing out there than if you have none.

via Pippinsplugins

Biggest: people not following directions.

We get submission after submission where people have copy and pasted some code into a file and uploaded it. Even after we email them to inform them of various issues, we will still get the same exact code submitted with zero changes.

via Pippinsplugins

Yes. He's one of the first candidates I've been excited about in a long time. It's so refreshing to see one that is genuine and not driven / funded by big money.

via Pippinsplugins

I'm Jeff Chandler, Founder of WP Tavern, Ask Me Anything!

AMA | Mar. 30, 2016

Hello there! I currently reside in the wonderful state of Ohio and host the WordPress Weekly podcast. I'm the founder of WP Tavern, one of the largest sites devoted to WordPress and I've been writing about the software for more than eight years, it's one of the few things in life I'm good at. I enjoy watching trains, the Back to The Future movies, meteorology, the 90s, especially the grunge music era, and good food. What more do you want to know?

Who would you characterize as the Doc Brown of the WordPress community?

via Drew Jaynes

Hello Jeff, nice talking to you.

You took one month vacation recently, what contributed to take such long break from writing for WordPress Community? How's that impacted/improved your dedication towards your job/passion?

While there are many large groups in Facebook about WordPress, there isn't many active/large community for WordPress Users/Developers (at least that I know of)- is it because big social platforms like Facebook/Twitter fills the gap? Or, WordPress Community are distributed in nature?

Thank you. :)

via Omaar Osmaan

Excellent question. In thinking about it for awhile, I don't know of anyone off the bat who I register as being the Doc Brown type. However I'm going to ponder this some more and see if I can't nail it down by the end of today. He's a crazy wild hair scientist that Marty looks up to and is friends with. If I'm Marty, I don't know who my Doc Brown is.

via Jeff

Writing about WordPress for a living is a daily grind that has its ebbs and flows. The last four months of 2015 was a rocky road for the Tavern as I started to lose control of the commenting situation on the site. I spent more time putting out fires started by commenters than writing content. I dealt with upset readers on Twitter and generally, I was in a bad mood all the time. It became so bad that I finally drafted a comment moderation policy and banned someone for the first time in the site's history from commenting on the site.

Also, many of the comments on the Tavern are rife with negativity. I don't know if it's something in the water or what but people sure do have a lot to complain about these days when it comes to WordPress. It's a much different atmosphere than it was 4-6 years ago where the Tavern comments were filled with people helping each other out while discussing the topics at hand.

The break from the Tavern and all things WordPress helped clear my mind and gave me a much needed break from the grind. What's interesting is that I didn't miss my job as much as I usually do when I take a vacation. Usually, I work more on vacation than I do during a normal week but this time, I stayed away and didn't miss it.

This is a scary revelation because it hints to a number of things but I'm in the process of trying to get back to the point where I miss my job when I'm away. By the way, if anyone is working for an employer that has one of those cool unlimited vacation policies, don't be afraid to use it. If you feel an extended time away will put you back on the right track, do it!

RE: Your second question, it's because the Tavern doesn't have a place yet for them to congregate :) I think it's because of the distributed nature of the community and between all the social networks, maybe there doesn't need to be one big place.

However, it would be awesome if the Tavern was that place where developers, users, and all people inbetween could gather to talk WordPress, share ideas, and help take WordPress further. Something that goes beyond comments and is more of a community. I think the Tavern can become the second largest WordPress community outside of WordPress.org. It's one of the things I'm hoping I can start working on this year.

via Jeff

Thank you, Jeff- for the in-depth answer!

I really hope to see Tavern become more of a community- it would be super awesome! :)

via Omaar Osmaan

Yeah, I should've phrased it as "Who is your Doc Brown in the WordPress community?"

via Drew Jaynes

Hi Y'all I'm Josh Pollock, AMA

AMA | Mar. 2, 2016

I'm a WordPress plugin developer, educator and entrepreneur.

I am the founder of CalderaWP. We make Caldera Forms, an awesome drag and drop, responsive form builder and many other awesome plugins. I am also a co-founder and developer for Ingot, an awesome A/B testing tool for WordPress. I also write a lot about WordPress and wrote a book on the WordPress REST API and am a core contributor to WordPress.

Besides WordPress, I'm really into music, science fiction and coffee.

Ask me anything...

Take care,
Josh

BTW Find me on the interwebs here:
CalderaWP.com
IngotHQ.com
JoshPress.net
twitter.com/Josh412

Josh - we all know you write articles for your own blog, Torque, etc. but where / who do you turn to when you want a blog to read, or to learn something new?

via Roy Sivan

Hi Roy

via Josh Pollock

Pirates or ninjas?

via Chris Wiegman

There are a few people I go back to a lot.

Carl Alexander (carlalexander.ca/) is someone who I really credit with taking me from hacking PHP together to understanding how object-oriented PHP should be done. #carl2016

I also read a most of what Tom McFarlin writes his stuff is excellent. Pippin's tutorials have also been really useful to me.

I should also say that I read all of your Angular stuff and that's been super useful to me. I copypaste from your Github liberally as well. #thanksroy

Also, they write a lot less, but Chris Wiegman and Ryan McCue are really good at making complicated stuff very clear and I never miss what they write.

via Josh Pollock

Pirates.

via Josh Pollock

What's your favorite plugin that you didn't write?

via Chris Wiegman

I am Joshua Strebel the co-founder of Pagely, a student of business, and a professional rabble rouser. Ask me Anything.

AMA | Aug. 26, 2015

First a thank you to Vladimir for having me.

For a bit of background: I've never had a 'real job' post-college. I had an unpaid internship doing web design for a few months out of college. I came across the book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" and decided to take the rest of our money from our recent wedding and incorporate our business, that was over 12yrs ago.

In that span we did 5-6yrs as a web design agency, failed at launching a social network in the event planning space ($100k I'll never see again), and invented what is commonly referred to as "Managed WordPress Hosting". For the last 6yrs (Pagely turns 6 in Sept) we've revenue funded (fancy word for bootstrapping) Pagely into a multi-million dollar SaaS and leader in the space. I am an average programmer, average designer, and average CEO. I like to consider myself an above average Dad and sports fan.

I'll do my best to answer any all questions as candidly as possible. Just a word though, we have never disclosed our revenues or # of employees and will not do so here today. I'll be available for the next several hours to ask questions, so let's do this: Ask me Anything.

What's the biggest threat to the WordPress hosting industry?

via Brian Krogsgard

First, love the Rich Dad, Poor Dad reference. I read the book as a teenager and was certain I would go on to become a wildly successful real estate investor. Then I discovered the web and haven't looked back since.

So, my questions for you:

1. With your self-described "averageness", what would you say has been the key to the clearly above average success you've achieved this far?

2. I've been a big fan of "managed WordPress hosting" for years now, especially after dealing with the headache (and heartache) of compromised WordPress installs. The term "managed", though, is somewhat loaded and has different meaning to different folks. What does "managed" mean to you at Pagely?

3. What do you think is the place for "non-managed" WordPress hosts (the "norm" a few years ago) in the marketplace?

4. What are the pain points you see in the managed WordPress hosting space today?


via Jonathan Wold

Oh, is this today? ;)

1. As the head of a hosting company, are you on call 24/7/365 and if so, how does that feel?

2. Related, how do you balance work and personal life?

Bonus: Where do you get your hair cut?

via Steven Gliebe

If there is a 'threat' I think it would be from within WordPress itself; As in will it maintain and grow marketshare. If WordPress falls out of favor then of course demand will drop and the market will contract. The non specific hosting players that do the generic type thing may weather it fine (although data shows the 'shared hosting' market grew at 0% in 2014), but uber specialized hosts like Pagely and their ilk may find they have fewer customers.

via Joshua Strebel

How does pagely train employees or do you directly hire people who already know a lot about wordpress?

Does pagely use same settings on all vps? If yes, what would pagely do if one customer got hacked?

via tudoutou

1. I see all, and hear all. However the team took me out of active rotation months ago. To be honest as our platform has moved forward under the direction of our CTO and his team, I know less and less about the fine details of every connection and coupling that makes it all work. Therefore I became less useful in actually fixing things at 3am. We have very talented engineers that are on rotation.

2. For many many years I had no balance. I worked 12-16hr days year after year it seemed. Having kids forced me into balance. Also as the team grew I was directly responsible for less and less. Today at Pagely, our culture encourages and promotes a healthy balance: we pay folks above market, we encourage breaks through-out the day for exercise, coffee, whatever. We have a formal vacation policy of a min. of 2 weeks. Take more please, but I a team member is required to disappear for a couple weeks each year.

Personally I work from home, an average of 5-7hr days, stopping at 4 or 5pm no matter what as that is when the kids expect "Dad".

Bonus: Place down the street called M Salon. Ha.

via Joshua Strebel

Hi, I'm Collis, CEO/Cofounder of Envato, Ask Me Anything!

AMA | Nov. 17, 2015

Hello! I'm Collis, in 2006 I cofounded Envato, the company behind ThemeForest, CodeCanyon, and Tuts+. I got into WordPress in 2007 shortly after we launched the company because I wanted to start a blog. I soon got into theming (being a web designer) and even cowrote a book on theming (a long time ago, it's not a very relevant book now!) These days most of my time is just running Envato, but I still work with WordPress for my personal projects, and am really excited to be here to do an AMA!

Hi Collis!

I love, love, love everything you've done with Envato over the years. Your company is very largely responsible for helping me get to where I am today.

As a fellow founder and business owner (though a much smaller one), I'd love to hear about some of your primary difficulties in scaling your company. You famously started Envato with just a few people in an old men's bathroom. Now it's a huge company. What were some of the challenges you faced in growing from 1 or 2 to 50+ employees?

via Pippinsplugins

Hi Collis

Thanks for taking time for this AMA.

I am curious do you remember what were Envatos biggest hurdles and how you overcame them going from 3 to 30 employees; same for from 30 to 300.

Do you use remote workesrs and what is your general stance on that?

What excites and what scares you the most about WordPress future?



via Vladimir Prelovac

Hi Collis,

we are non-exclusive author on ThemeForest and would like to know if ThemeForest will consider increasing non-exclusive rates?

via Ana Segota

At times, the relationship between Envato and other parts of the WordPress world (WordCamps, theme best practices, licensing) has been fractious. It seems to be better now, but Envato properties do still feel a bit isolated from other parts of the WordPress "community". What changes could occur -- on both sides -- so that the Envato community (Envato employees, ThemeForest authors, etc) and influencers in the WordPress community have greater interaction?

via Brian Krogsgard

Hey :) Where can I get a cool avatar like yours designed?

What do you see as the biggest avenues for Envatos growth moving forward?

via Tom Harrigan

:-) Thanks Pippin!! I'm certain you would have been very successful with or without us, but I'm super proud that we got to have a hand in it. Two of the biggest challenges I can think of have been:

(1) Having to learn all the stuff which wasn't anything to do with making web products.

Like probably most founders, I was working on Envato because I liked making web things - blogs, marketplaces, products! For quite a while, probably too long, I just pretended most of the other parts of running a business didn't really exist. A few years in when our team was really starting to grow past like 20 odd people, I started to realize that I needed to grok things like managing people, finances, legals, communications and the like. I made SO many mistakes in these areas, and some of them just take time to really understand. And what's most challenging I think is that you're kind of doing it all while also still worrying about the product and most importantly about growth.

(2) Learning to delegate
And on a related note, over time I've realized the only way to scale is to delegate and bring in great people who understand their areas. Even this has been challenging to learn (for me!) For a long time I still wanted to be in the details of things, and would worry that someone else wouldn't be able to do it as well. I remember delaying getting our very first reviewer because I was adamant that nobody would review items as well as me. Turns out, literally the first person we brought in was way better.

Even so, learning to create a great team and rely on them is one of the biggest challenges I think. The mix of letting go, plus learning how to set clear expectations, plus being able to find good people, plus giving feedback when it doesn't go to plan, plus helping them grow in their careers, plus, plus, plus. It's pretty complicated. I guess people are pretty complicated :-)





via Collis

I'm Brian Krogsgard, Editor of Post Status. Ask me anything!

AMA | Sep. 7, 2016

Howdy!

My name is Brian Krogsgard. I'm the editor of Post Status ( https://poststatus.com ), a news and information website for WordPress professionals. It's my full time job, where I manage a community, write a members-only newsletter, and do other activities to promote an ecosystem for folks to be better informed at whatever they do in the WordPress space.

I've been heavily involved and writing in (and about) the WordPress community since 2010. After spending several years as a WordPress developer in two agencies, I went full time on Post Status in December 2014.

Ask me anything!

With some of the recent a8c acquisitions (WooCommerce, WPTavern) do you think that you would ever be approached by Matt to quire PostStatus and if so, would you consider it?

via Jonathan Bossenger

What made you decide to start Post Status, and switch from development to journalism?

via Gilbert Pellegrom

What's the biggest threat to the WordPress ecosystem right now? Are most people aware of it, and what can we do to avert this threat?

via Nemanja Aleksic

Where do you see Post Status a year from now? Would there be any additional features or perks?

Also was been the biggest (in your mind) scoop or news story you've had the chance to report on, or which one holds a special place in your heart?

via David Bisset

What's a typical day in the life of Post Status journalism? Do you primarily scout out stories, or do they come to you? Or is it more of a natural progression of events in the ecosystem that cause a certain topic to bubble up to your attention? How do you organize everything in your pipeline to ensure a balance of completeness and timeliness?

via Jonathan Christopher

I think acquisitions like WooCommerce are extremely different from WP Tavern.

WooCommerce (then WooThemes) was a strategic acquisition, and is already one of the main legs of the stool for Automattic's revenue (that's how Matt and I discussed it at WCEU during our interview at least: wordpress.tv/2016/06/25/matt-mullenweg-interview-and-qa/ ). It's got a chance to be a huge component of their business.

Other acquisitions have either been technology acquisitions, or acquihires (for staff). Those cost less and A8C has had mixed results to their effectiveness, but they are still strategic.

When WP Tavern was acquired it was more of a lifeline by Matt to keep a blog that had been prevalent in the WordPress space for a very long time going. And it wasn't for some time after that until Matt staffed it with Jeffro full time, and Sarah as well. It's still not a money maker in any way, but it's good for the community to have coverage of what's going on, and I think that's why Matt is happy to keep it going; he supports plenty of stuff with no clear payday.

That said, no, I don't think Matt would ever want to buy Post Status, and it's not for sale. To be honest, if I ever did want to sell, I wouldn't want to sell to Matt because he's heavily intertwined in the coverage. WPT does a good job keeping things separated but it's not the kind of situation I'd ever want to see my readers in and I think if I did want to sell (I don't) there would be plenty of other people interested in the site.

via Brian Krogsgard

Hola, I'm James Farmer, Ask Me Anything....

AMA | Feb. 16, 2016

Hi, I'm James Farmer and let's get the WordPress persona non grata thing https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/10-years-as-a-wordpress-entrepreneur/ out of the way first yeh? Tick. Done. I'm sure we won't hear anything more about that ;)

In other news I founded http://edublogs.org in 2006, co-founded the business side of https://premium.wpmudev.org a few years after and have since had a crack (and often failed) at pretty much every WP business under the sun.

Currently I'm CEO of Incsub, based in Melbourne Australia, run by an awesome worldwide team of folks who do far more important work than me.

Ask me anything...

Thanks for being on our AMA, James!

- What was the most promising idea on paper that you failed to turn into a successful business, and why?

- What are the most important parameters when hiring remotely, in a scenario where that person is not connected to your current team in any way?

- How different is the Australian WordPress community from North America and Europe?

via Nemanja Aleksic

Happy to be here :) Email notifications would make me even happier lol.

> - What was the most promising idea on paper that you failed to turn into a successful business, and why?

Probably the thing I was most excited about for the longest time was a project called blogs.mu (great domain name huh!) which we launched in 2009 after about 6-9 months of dev and basically did to Multisite, what Multisite did to WP... namely start your own blog network.

On paper it looked awesome, not only because there wasn't (and still isn't lol, for reasons I'll come to in a minute) anything that did that, but also because it was a defensive move against anyone creating a similar tool that would (in my mind at least) trump the Multisite hosting and management platform I had built on top of Edublogs - now campuspress.com - as it'd be free / easy etc.

Unfortunately, as it turned out, the demand for third party hosted, largely diy, multisite network creation ispretty much 0 :) The new Ning I was not going to be.

But you only find out by trying!

> - What are the most important parameters when hiring remotely, in a scenario where that person is not connected to your current team in any way?

I've written a massive post all about this including some serious tricks and techniques: premium.wpmudev.org/blog/starting-your-internet-business-part-3/

In a nutshell though, be specific, require people to jump through hoops, set financial stuff early and hire until you can't hire any more.

> - How different is the Australian WordPress community from North America and Europe?

I wish I knew!

I actually setup and ran the first ever WordCamp in the Southern Hemisphere back in the day, which was lots of fun, but as you can find out in the post I linked to at the top of this article, I was pretty quickly pushed out of (for good and bad reasons, mea cupla, etc.) the WP community en large, especially in Australia... and I haven't been invited back... so I can't tell you :)

via James Farmer

Hi James and thanks for your time.

You obviously run a very successful WordPress based business. How do you see things unfolidng for WordPress in the upcoming years and what do you perceive as the biggest threat to WordPress growth?

What do you expect from Upfront?

Do you ever wish things between you and Matt settled down, and if yes, what could be the first step from your side?

via Vladimir Prelovac

Thanks Vladimir, pleasure to be here :)

> You obviously run a very successful WordPress based business. How do you see things unfolidng for WordPress in the upcoming years and what do you perceive as the biggest threat to WordPress growth?

Squarespace, Wix, Webs and schmancy new players in that market... I mean have you even *seen* how many Squarespace 'developers' there are out there, it's crazy and only gonna get crazier.



Especially, and fundamentally, due to those platforms becoming both easier and more powerful, and WP still basically being something that needs to be hosted.

I think wp.com has a strong future, I think Calypso is a big part of that, but the individually managed self-hosted WP that we know and love, in 5-10 years I think we'll be the CMS equivalent of an Ubuntu user.

> What do you expect from Upfront?

Oh, only the World and everything in it :)

More seriously though we just released 1.0 after a massively insane year of learning about function, process and how to even cope with something this complex and significant, and the new product, and how we are developing it, is far far better premium.wpmudev.org/blog/upfront-1-0/

BUT we're nowhere *near* done yet, in my mind this is like wp 1.0, when we get to version 4, oh my.

Huge things on the horizon are different user roles, a completely redesigned front-end posting experience, the BUILDER (oh my word that'll be exciting, only 18 months late lol), a brand new UI that we've already been working on for a few months and rolling it out on Edublogs and CampusPress, which will be an experience in itself.

In terms of the business, I want to make it far far more accessible to regular WP users (i.e. free, although of course it already is GPL) although of course WPMU DEV members will get extra goodies.

Fundamentally though, and above all else, I want to make using and customizing WP far far better and more accessible experience for authors, admins and developers alike... give us a chance to keep those third party systems at bay for a bit ;)

> Do you ever wish things between you and Matt settled down, and if yes, what could be the first step from your side?

Maybe a nice Turkish bath? ;)

In all seriousness, of course, absolutely, we've been swimming upstream for most of the last decade 'cos of this, imagine how we could be doing if we got the same support and approval as Cory, Pippin or any of that crew, it'd be insane not to want that, from a business perspective.

From a personal perspective I feel like I already have made the first move, in a very public and (for me) somewhat cringeworthy way with the post referenced up top, I'm obviously still a little upset, and I think given all the water that's flown under the bridge me and jeff/brian/matt etc. are never gonna be best mates, but I don't lose any sleep over it (I literally used to) even if you can generally start me on a pretty good rant by mentioning how we are 100% ignored (check tavern, post status etc.) by these people and yet link to them copiously and without question in the WhiP premium.wpmudev.org/blog/get-the-whip/

I'm full of first moves :)

via James Farmer

Hi James! :)

What have been the 5 biggest lessons in building Edublogs that, given a second chance, or a whole new business sector, you would learn from and not make again? While I have no use for the site; we never used it when I was in school, they subsequently do now though, I love how it's run with WordPress.

To touch base on the "whole new business sector" above, if you had the chance to create another Edublogs (and we'll exclude CampusPress), something outside Education, what would it be and why?

I'm in the process of building something similar (WP.com/Edublogs), for a sports sector; what helpful articles should I read?

Do you not Open Source any aspects of your business, on the likes of GitHub (for example) like other successful companies?

Can you see Edublogs going down the same route as WordPress.com with Calypso? Do you use the REST API within Incsub?

If it wasn't for WordPress, where/what do you think you'd be doing today?

Thanks for your time!

via Mark McWilliams

Hey Mark,

Should be called Ask me Everything :D I might be a bit shorter with these just so that I can make my next meeting (only 30 mins, will be back)

> What have been the 5 biggest lessons in building Edublogs that, given a second chance, or a whole new business sector, you would learn from and not make again?

Never as for donations, it doesn't work, don;t ask teachers to pay either, it's their job and they aren't over the moon about handing over cash to do work they are generally already poorly (and unfairly so) paid for... really focus on the enterprise and institutions, from day 1.

> To touch base on the "whole new business sector" above, if you had the chance to create another Edublogs (and we'll exclude CampusPress), something outside Education, what would it be and why?

Probably something in the small business space helping people both set up, and actually succeed, on the web.

> I'm in the process of building something similar (WP.com/Edublogs), for a sports sector; what helpful articles should I read?

Well it's marketing marketing marketing so I'd get over to the Moz blog, Conversion XL is also awesome (I'm going to CXL Live in Austin end of March, very excited!) and there's a lot of good marketing stuff on hacker news etc. Too much to point to individually.

If you can't drum up an audience you won't succeed. So you need to start there.

> Do you not Open Source any aspects of your business, on the likes of GitHub (for example) like other successful companies?

Everything we do is 100% GPL, we're experimenting with using github etc. we have a lot of stuff on wp.org profiles.wordpress.org/wpmudev/#content-plugins

> Can you see Edublogs going down the same route as WordPress.com with Calypso? Do you use the REST API within Incsub?

Yes :) And WPMU DEV, perhaps too. I'm not a techy so can't really comment on REST.

> If it wasn't for WordPress, where/what do you think you'd be doing today?

Probably some sort of entrepreneury thing, I've been focused on running my own business since I was a kid, so that was always gonna happen... I used to think about starting my own school.

via James Farmer

I am Vladimir Prelovac, founder of ManageWP, ask me anything!

AMA | Aug. 3, 2015

When not dreaming about sending a rocket to the moon, I run a WordPress business called ManageWP. I have been contributing to the WordPress movement since 2007; I've built popular plugins, developed themes, started a successful WordPress SaaS, talked at WordCamps and published a first book on WordPress development, back in 2009.

It is noon CEST (6 AM EDT) and I will be checking this for the next 10 hours. Thanks for your questions.

Super excited for this! Thanks Vladimir for being willing to give up some of your time. Now onto the questions... ;)

How did you come up with the idea for managewp.com?

How long did it take for you to get the first version of the product out there? And what did it look like?

Looking back over the last five years of managewp, what have been some of the biggest mistakes you've made and how would you change them?

Hope that's not too much!

via Ryan Love

1) The idea was given by a friend of mine who was managing several WordPress sites (hey Dave). Interesting how it still stands.

2) It took about 6 months. I actually managed to find how ManageWP looked like in 2010 :



You can compare that to ManageWP Orion (our next gen version) in 2015 managewp.com/design-decisions-behind-managewp-orion

3) I should have probably started working on Orion earlier. But was busy learning all the 'how to run a company stuff' and making beginner mistakes along the way.

via Vladimir Prelovac

If you were able to implement one major change to the WordPress project, what would it be?

via Nemanja Aleksic

I think that the size and the nature of this project is currently more suited for the Advisory Board style of leadership (covered it in more detail here managewp.com/wordpress-advisory-board )

via Vladimir Prelovac

Hi Vladimir

Loved seeing the screenshot from 2010. :)

My questions are:

1. What challenges have the variety of different hosting environments posed for the ManageWP service?

2. Have you thought of producing a guide to choosing a compatible host for ManageWP? It would be good to see what features the optimal host has. I've come up against issues with backups etc. a number of times.

Cheers

Claire

via Claire Brotherton

1) This has been a huge challenge and still is. Luckily we now have 5 years of experience under our belt which is allowing us to take things slowly and rebuilt every feature in Orion from scratch with that knowledge in mind. There will always be challenges with certain hosts and we will always keep trying to reduce the hassle for our users.

2) There is one such guide available here managewp.com/user-guide/faq/optimum-site-server-setup-need-order-experience-full-power-managewp

The best would be if we built a WordPress hosting product ;)

via Vladimir Prelovac

I am Jason Cohen, founder of WP Engine. Ask me Anything!

AMA | Oct. 28, 2015

I've founded four companies, both bootstrapped and funded, both software and hardware, grew all to more than $1m in revenue, sold two (ITWatchDogs, Smart Bear), helped start local Austin incubator Capital Factory, invested in about two dozen startups, and currently spend all my time as CTO and founder of WP Engine, owning innovation and technology strategy. I've written for eight years at http://blog.asmartbear.com/, and in fact the popularity of that blog (more than 60,000 RSS subscribers at peak) is how WP Engine got started nearly six years ago!

I wanted to thank MWP for having me for this AMA so I wanted to share a special coupon for the audience in case you want to check out WP Engine. Just use the coupon code “SPEEDUP” to get 20% off your first payment. When you combine that with our normal 2 month discount on annual accounts, you get a year’s worth of service and only pay for 8 months.

Ask me anything! (Literally anything!)

Hey, Jason!

Nice to have you here. A few questions

— What does a day in your life look like?
— What do you think about WordPress as a platform after the recent addition of REST API's infrastructure, and endpoints (which are still in the beta plugin stage), what kind of impact do you expect?
— I am a Full Stack WordPress developer with focus on theme development, together with our partners we have a Power Elite Author account at ThemeForest (i.e. $1MM+ in sales), with roughly 26,000 customers, how do you suggest we can add the "hardware" factor to our business and build a SaaS-based recurring business? Do's and Dont's?
— Which TV seasons are you watching this fall :)?

Thanks :)

via Ahmad Awais

Hi Jason

Thank you and welcome to this ManageWP.org AMA! Plenty of things that I'd like to ask you.

- What do you think is the biggest threat to WordPress growth nowadays?

- Is WordPress hosting space becoming saturated? What effect do giant players (EIG, GoDaddy) have moving into the managed WordPress niche?

- One could say that WPEngine was a text book example of how to build a brand in the WordPress space. Is there anything concrete that you can share with other aspiring WordPress startups?

- If you switched places with Matt Mullenweg for a month, what would you bring to WordPress?

- Boston, San Francisco or Austin? Why Austin? :)

- If you were to create a new startup what would it be about?

- Please share a pic of your workdesk and some favorite tools you use every day.

via Vladimir Prelovac

1. Day in Life: Because we have a large and growing team (WPE is over 300 people now), my job is to help determine the strategy for technology and innovation, especially in Product, and then align everyone to that, which means both inside and outside the R&D department, and even outside the company, i.e. to customers, the press, analysts, partners, etc.. Also, talent is always of top importance, so I spend a lot of time interviewing and recruiting. Everything I just wrote requires talking to people, thus my day is almost all meetings, with a wide variety of people and topics.

2. I think the REST APIs will have the immediate impact of creating new front-end products to WordPress which are still variants of CMSs. That is, it will replace wp-admin and templates. I don't believe the current REST API will suddenly make WordPress the platform of choice for generalized application developers, because what it accomplishes -- CRUD operations for a dozen tables which have simple relations to each other -- would take a Rails developer less than a day to set up, including an at-scale hosting environment (e.g. at Heroku). So there's no reason to use WP as a replacement for e.g. Rails. Hopefully we'll see innovation beyond just API'ifying the database which will enable applications which indeed are not easy to replicate with other frameworks, in which WordPress is the right choice. In the meantime, "better CMS's" seem inevitable, and in fact are already starting to appear.

3. This is a big question! I think the critical thing for the theme developer is to answer this question: How does the product continue to deliver as much value in month 2 or 10 or 30 as in month 1? Currently the answer is "because you might call Support," but the truth is in most months they won't, so that's not a good answer. If you can't answer, it's hard to justify the recurring revenue component because people wonder "why am I still paying this company?"

4. Ha! I don't watch much TV, but when I do my wife and I will watch whatever is available on NetFlix so we can binge-watch without commercials, and discover post hoc which are worth watching.

via Jason Cohen

Hi Jason! Thanks for taking some time to do an AMA!

It seems like the majority of companies in the WordPress space are bootstrapped. VersionPress recently raised a round of funding, but it's rare to hear. Why do you think that is? Is it a good or a bad thing? Thanks! :)

via Robby McCullough

Hi Vlad!

1. WordPress has always been strongest with the smaller, non-Enterprise sites. But those are the sites which can use things like Wix, SquareSpace, Weebly, etc instead. We all know that the successful folks will outgrow what those services offer and will eventually switch to something like WordPress, but it's compelling for a v1 of your site. I think the threat is that a "simple website" is not difficult to have anymore, as it was when WordPress began, and yet WordPress hasn't added the kinds of features or market positioning that make it attractive to the larger, more complex sites, e.g. to compete with the likes of Adobe, SiteCore, IBM, Oracle, Acquia, etc..

2. Certainly the hosting space for SMB (small business) is saturated. There's 5-10 players who you would consider to be "a perfectly reasonable choice for folks with non-demanding websites." GoDaddy doesn't seem to be winning new business at a faster rate than we've seen in the past, but I imagine they are retaining more of their own business that would have churned had they not had their managed offering. Of course the market in SMB is massive, so there's room for a variety of players there.

3. Maybe we're textbook, in the sense that it hasn't been a straight line. In early 2012 and again in spring 2014 we had significant hiccups in which our reputation (rightly) took a hit, due to our crazy-fast growth in customers, employees, servers, and so on. Reputation takes years to earn and you lose it in an instant. Therefore, all we can do is put our heads down and demonstrate operational excellence in the platform and support, to earn it back. We've seen that pay off in spades in 2015. So in this sense -- that it's about trials and tribulations, difficulties and redemption, using honesty as the guide -- that is probably more replicatable.

4. I don't think you can move a ship as big as WP in a month! Also it's impossible to know what's in Matt's head for the long-term product roadmap and vision of WP, so making some tweak in the absence of that information would be folly. However, the fact that there isn't a shared understanding of the product roadmap is itself a challenge for all of us in the community, because it means it's hard to know how to contribute to the success of that roadmap, and how to make our own plans so that they are compatible and supportive of the roadmap instead of finding out months later that it is incompatible. Thus, if I were switched for a month, I would "download" that vision into a manifesto that the community could rally around.

5. "What's the best city in America and why is it Austin?" :-) I grew up in Austin and always had a reason to return here -- family, business, school. Of course Austin is well-known (now) for its incredible food scene, music, eclectic residents, strong economy, and a steady influx of new people from the university and from outside of Austin.

6. I don't believe picking a topic is a good way to start a company. It needs to be a result of natural observation and need, a true insight you have, a passion for solving the problem, a love of the customers of that product, an ability to execute that particular company, and so on. I'm already working on the startup I want to be at! In fact, the day we stop innovating like a startup is the day we start dying, so my new few startups are projects at WP Engine.

7. My workdesk is often "wherever I am," so it's my laptop. I use the beta version of Remember the Milk (finally they added start dates!), Google Inbox (I know, they're Big Brother, this makes me a terrible person), and Evernote.

via Jason Cohen

I definitely don't believe there's "good and bad" about raising money. It's just different paths, different trade-offs, for different purposes, i.e. different goals. A healthy ecosystem should probably have a mixture of companies and company-types, so that there's maximum optionality for customers.

Why so little funding? This I have some direct perspective on, especially as an angel investor myself.

The goal of a funded company is for the stock to become very valuable. The way that generally happens is the company gets a large number of happy, paying customers, i.e. a genuinely wonderful product at a good price point. (Yes there's exceptions like Instagram, but then the number of happy customers is orders of magnitude larger, and anyway the number of *successful* VC-backed companies who are like I described is 100x more common than the anomaly written about by TechCrunch.)

The key here is "large." For investors to make a profit, the successful companies have to be *so* successful that the gains covers the much more frequent losses from the other bad bets, thus the successes have to be mega-successes, certainly north of $100m/yr in GAAP revenue and growing to achieve a stock value in the mid-to-high 9-figures and occasionally the "unicorn" int he 10+ figures.

So the question an investor will ask herself when considering backing any company is: "Can this company grow to more than $100m/yr in revenue in 8-9 years?" Here "can" means "is there *any* plausible way this could happen," not "is there a business plan." No one has a real business plan. The question is whether it's even possible.

For it to be possible, the market has to exist. Sometimes you create a new market, but generally the best evidence is that people are already paying for something that you will replace.

What products do people collectively pay more than $100m/yr for, right now, in WordPress? Hosting is one. But for almost all product categories the answer is: Nothing. Not themes, not premium plugins, even taken as a whole, nevermind if you were to focus on just one area of premium plugins like e.g. forms or SEO.

One valid answer is: eCommerce. And that's still possible, but then you get to other questions an investor would ask, like: Are there already at-scale and still-growing companies doing this, which we would be 5 years behind on forever, and thus we'll also be "#4" in the race, and thus this isn't a good bet? In eCommerce, that's the likely conclusion.

Now I'm not trying to paint all doom and gloom! Rather, it's a high-level explanation why most WordPress businesses as currently formulated would not be good candidates.

But!

1. So what? Raising money sucks. Make an amazing business and don't worry about making $100m/yr in revenue. That's not a path to happiness and fulfillment anyway! If you'll forgive to links to articles of my own about this topic and why you shouldn't worry: blog.asmartbear.com/startup-success.html and blog.asmartbear.com/relativism.html

2. So reformulate the business! The vision you have today might not be fundable, but if you really do want to take that journey, expand your vision. Don't just think about selling into WordPress as it is today, but about how to create a broadly-applicable product that happens to include WordPress as a component or base. So for example it's an eCommerce platform that happens to be based in WordPress, not a "WordPress plugin." There are opportunitites for platforms in a wide variety of fields which could make sense on top of WordPress, both sold into the existing WordPress market as a way to start, as well as sold outside of it as a way to expand.

via Jason Cohen

I'm Tom McFarlin. I'm the owner and lead developer of Pressware. AMA!

AMA | Oct. 12, 2016

Hey, I'm Tom! I am the owner and lead developer at Pressware[0]. We're a small (that is, a two-person) development shop that uses WordPress for building custom solutions for small businesses and individuals. I also work as the Editor for Tuts+ Code where we publish numerous, free tutorials on learning new skills in various languages and technologies.

My background is in computer science, and though I've used WordPress since 2005, it wasn't until 2010 when I began to focus primarily on using it as a foundation for building solutions for others. Now, I enjoy speaking at WordCamps, my local meetup, and talking with others who are using WordPress is any capacity - be it for blogging or a foundation for application development.

I blog daily on my personal blog[1], and I've recently started another one[2] that focuses on running a business, time management, productivity, and things like that.

When I'm not at my computer, you're likely to find me spending time with my wife and our two daughters as well as our two crazy terrier mutts. I'm also into fitness, so I try to fit about an hour of working out into each day. And when I've caught up on everything else (which is rarely, but it does happen :), you're likely to find me playing guitar or tracking some music in GarageBand.

Ask me anything!

[0] - https://pressware.co
[1] - https://tommcfarlin.com
[2] - https://heyimtom.com

1) What is your biggest code "pet peeve" you see in WordPress that really drives you up the wall? (Whether it is contributor code, core code, random function snippets...)

2) Do you miss anything about the Standard Theme?

3) Coffee, Tea, or other?

4) Muffins, Scones, Bagels, or other?

5) Finally, if you had one word of encouragement to people wanted to get involved in contributing to WordPress what would it be?

via Benjamin Bradley

> 1) What is your biggest code "pet peeve" you see in WordPress that really drives you up the wall? (Whether it is contributor code, core code, random function snippets...)

This is a good question, though I can't say an actual "pet peeve" comes to mind -- even if I sit and think for a moment. If I had to pick _something_, then I'd have to go with two things: Code comments and more focused classes/functions/modules/whatever-you-like-call-it.

Aside from that, I'd love to see more of the following:

- Developers adhering to the WordPress Coding Standards,
- More modular code (not necessarily OOP, though that's my preference), but well-organized and documented code,
- Use of 'newer' language features in PHP (such as namespaces even autoloading, when available),

Some might also say greater compatibility with the PSRs, and I'm torn -- I'd like to see that, but I also understand WordPress' commitment to backward compatibility so changing coding standards will need to be something that has a defined milestone far from when it's planned.

> 2) Do you miss anything about the Standard Theme?

Not really. I had a blast working with the team who built it, and I learned a lot about WordPress when working on it, but I still keep up with most of the guys.

We've all moved on to things that serve our greater interests/passions so I couldn't be happier for all of us, to be honest. We're all doing what we want to be doing, and I still keep up with most of them (as in, I talk with them *at least* once a week - though daily with a couple of them - either via texting or phone).

> 3) Coffee, Tea, or other?

Coffee.

> 4) Muffins, Scones, Bagels, or other?

Right now, I'm on an oatmeal kick but were it not for that, it'd be who grain bagels.

> 5) Finally, if you had one word of encouragement to people wanted to get involved in contributing to WordPress what would it be?

This can be somewhat of a tricky question to answer because the idea of "contributing to WordPress" is so broad. This can be from writing documentation to writing code and anything and everything in between. There's almost something for everyone.

With that said, I'm going to assume you're talking about code since that was part of your first question.

And when it comes to that, I recommend that people work on understanding the coding standards and the APIs first. Yes, this will take a bit of time (so if you're expecting to get your code committed to core quickly, then push pause on that thought). You're going to need to build things, you're going to need to chat with people, you're going to need to share your code and be open to critique (sometimes a lot of it), and it's going to help if you've looked at other patches and the WordPress source code itself.

It will also help to have a strong understanding of how things in the software work - from the database schema up to how information is presented in the templates.

Then I think it's safe to "un-pause" that desire to contribute code, look for a good first bug[0] and try working on it. If your first commit isn't accepted, it's no big deal. In fact, this happens to a lot of people, but so what? Try again :).

There's a worldwide community of very smart people working on this software. It shouldn't be easy to join the ranks, but it's worth the effort.

- [0] core.trac.wordpress.org/tickets/good-first-bugs

via Tom McFarlin

If you consider the facade pattern, the factory pattern, and the mediator pattern - what would you say they have in common, how are they different (beyond function), and which would prove to be most helpful in a complex application built on WordPress?

via Chris Lema

This sounds like an interview question.

My answer: they're all equally delicious when printed on an ice-cream cake.

via John James Jacoby ⚡️

All my questions for Tom sound like interview questions. :)

via Chris Lema

Hey Tom; huge fan!

What motivates you to keep producing?

What was your very first experience with WordPress?

What is your favoritest plugin of all time: BuddyPress or bbPress?

via John James Jacoby ⚡️

I'm Matt Cromwell, Head of Support at WordImpress.com. AMA!

AMA | Oct. 26, 2016

I'm Matt Cromwell, I have a wild and crazy job history and educational background that magically landed me at WordImpress [0] as Partner, Head of Support, co-author of the Give Donation Plugin [1], and more.

I'm obnoxiously proud of the fact I began web development by building websites for churches with Notepad in pure HTML and CSS. My first exposure to WordPress was when they released the Kubrick theme [2] -- I was in AWE of its fancy rounded border with subtle gradient background.

I started building sites for churches to fund my education. First for my Master of Arts in Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary and then for my Master of Arts in History at San Diego State University, which of course made perfect sense to go with my Bachelors in Music Education .

Miraculously, I understood web development pretty well. I loved teaching, but I also wanted to get paid and provide for my family. So while I kept studying and paying for my education, I also built sites and earned more. The tipping point happened when I looked into a PhD in History and what that would cost my family compared to taking the offer to build-out the products at WordImpress. I haven't looked back since.

I'm also the Lead Organizer of our Advanced WordPress Meetup in San Diego. We started the Advanced WordPress Facebook group back in 2012 and it now has over 23K members and over 30 admins from all parts of the globe. We recently did the largest WordPress giveaway in history with over $100K in prizes given away to over thirty lucky winners. Our little Facebook group has come a long way in a relatively short time.

Through it all, I also blog regularly about Religion, Politics, and WordPress at my personal site [3].

So, what do you want to know? Ask me anything! Don't forget to refresh the page to see answers and other questions.

Also, #hiroy.

LINKS
[0] - https://wordimpress.com
[1] - https://givewp.com
[2] - http://binarybonsai.com/kubrick/
[3] - https://www.mattcromwell.com

Hi Matt,
Long-time reader, first time caller.

Would you say that Rainn Wilson stole your look or is it the other way around?

via Michal Bluma

Also, what do you feel are currently the biggest challenges in the WordPress ecosystem?

via Michal Bluma

I have no idea what you're referring to. I am an Island. An uncopiable figure. Though if he wanted great fame, looks, and humor I wouldn't blame him if he did emulate me a bit. [/end sarcasm]

We have a running joke in the office that I look like Rainn and Devin looks like Drago from Rocky IV. See here:

twitter.com/learnwithmattc/status/671911228676005888

Thanks friend!

via Matt Cromwell

That's awesome.
...as are you.
I've been following your evolution over the years.
You put so much heart and passion into everything you do and put out there.

Do you miss working more on the production side or is product/service/support where you love being the most?

via Michal Bluma

Biggest challenge in the ecosystem is not fracturing or losing the open nature of the community. WordPress definitely is a legacy product and if it was done from scratch today it would look dramatically different. That makes new developers not want to adopt it, and longstanding WordPress devs just tired and ready to move on. On the other hand, actual WordPress users continue to be excited about the power WP gives them to create their own sites beautifully and well. I'm really proud of a friend of mine who put this site together with a lot of hard work, but pretty much all on his own: www.woodstockalbums.com/ -- testimonies like that don't happen in Jekyl or Drupal or any other platform.

So between those two moods or feelings about the project, I hope people continue to remain focused on the end-user and what's best for them rather than whether or not they feel "cool" when they code for WP or not.

via Matt Cromwell

Excellent points.

It'll never be a #shinyNewThing.
Hopefully, it'll remain a mature platform that finds the balance between meeting the end users' needs for ease of use and remain an extremely easy platform to dev for.

Thank you for your thoughtful response.

via Michal Bluma

I'm Cory Miller, Founder of iThemes.com, ask me anything!

AMA | Dec. 2, 2015

I love talking about entrepreneurship, leadership, marketing, career advice and of course my beautiful amazing kiddos (Caloway and Lillian). :)

I'm a former newspaper journalist turned web entrepreneur. Started iThemes in 2008 and now we have 25 people, thousands of customers and are focused on making people's lives awesome.

What else do you want to know? :)

Hi Cory,

I see lots of plugin companies struggling to scale. Things are easy when your just a founder or two, but at some point there becomes more work than two can handle. When it's time to hire your first employee there are a lot of details to sort through...

What position should we hire? How do we hire the right person? Dealing with taxes, legal, etc...

Any advice on this front?

via Ross Johnson

Hi Cory! Which would you rather fight: one horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?

via Dodgers Benny

Ross, great questions!

I will just share from my experience and unique situation and leave to you to pull the truths out for yourself and particular situation. Fingers crossed, here goes:

When I started iThemes in 2008, I knew I wanted to hire people and build a team ... mainly because I didn't want to do everything myself and frankly I wasn't talented enough to do it. Although for the first 6 months or so I was the only full-time team member and did or managed most everything by myself (with the help of one contractor).

In the early years, the answer to the question "What position should I hire?" was very simple. I identified the areas in the business I hated and/or was very bad at. That came pretty easy for me because I was very motivated to find people that enjoyed and were great at the things I sucked at and/or was miserable doing.

So I looked at all the categories of work that needed to be done -- everything from site maintenance, marketing, taxes, legal, support, development, project management -- and assigned a name to them ... and in the beginning my name was on most of them. And then based on my own personal pain or failure at doing some of them ... rapidly found new names to put on those tasks.

In later years, hiring was more ... what firepower do we need to roll out new products and features .... as well as scaling questions like, "Who needs more help?"

By the way, I've written extensively about How to Hire Your First Employee (Team Member) here:

corymiller.com/hiring-your-first-employee-step-by-step-guide/

Re: hiring the "right" person ... that's something I have been trying to hone in and refine on for the last 7+ years now and will always be learning more about. Admittedly it's the most frustrating, painful part of the hiring process because if you don't find or get the "right" person doing the "right" job, it's a costly, often painful misfire. And that's ALWAYS the hardest part of the job -- telling someone they are no longer part of the iThemes team.

Here are some notes / thoughts on finding the "right" people for your team (giving the caveat that we've failed and broken these many times over):

* Would I invite them into my home or to be around my children? -- This is about Trust. It's non-negotiable. I invite our team into my home, and when our children were born, many of them came to the hospital and held them on their first day in this world. If I don't trust someone on our team to be in my home, or around my family, they don't belong on our team ... or in my life. I know we all pay lipservice to this, but it needs to be said again -- trust is a foundational, immutable law. Break it and we've got serious problems.

* Do I enjoy being around them? This is about Fit-in-Ability. The essence of this is, they need to fit in our existing team and with me. Our culture has been defined by having a small group of diverse and passionate people who are supremely committed to each other, the mission and the customer. The acid test for Fit-in-Ability for me has been asking myself: Would I want to spend my precious time with them at dinner with them? And then, would the members of our team want to do dinner with them as well? Sure, we're not always going to like each other. Conflicts happens. But at the end of the day, are we compatible? I cannot underestimate the importance of this. In my experience, building a team of supremely committed people means they sync and like each other, despite their differences. Which is why each month we try to do a nighttime hangout at one of our team's houses in Oklahoma City where our office is located. We invite team members and spouses/significant others to come and eat and drink and be merry. I'm always thankful for the voluntary participation of our hangouts because it tells me that we do in fact LIKE each other enough to spend our "free" time together. And that tells me that when the crap hits the fan ... we'll pull together FOR each other through the bad times. (By the way, for our remote team we try to get "Elbow Time" 3-4 times a year with them and I also seek to travel with at least one team member whenever possible to WordCamps etc.)

* Do we share the same values and vision? This is very hard to determine at first because people are getting better at interviews and at saying what they think you want to hear. But if someone doesn't share the same values as our team, it becomes apparent very soon. That's why we tell stories a lot here. Examples of experiences that demonstrate what we value most. Additionally, do they embrace the vision of the company and where we are headed? In the past we had some team members who did not embrace the vision but wanted to steer it in their own direction. That'll never work. Part of boarding the ship here at iThemes means embracing the vision that I (and we) have for it. If you don't, you belong on another ship, and maybe one of your own.

* And finally, it comes down to: Can they do the job? Skills are vital. You have to be able to do the job we assign you at iThemes. But it is the last priority question that we typically ask.

Whew. Hope that helps.


via Cory Miller

I'm a lover, not a fighter.

via Cory Miller

Answer the question!

via Brad Williams

That's not how this question works :(

via Dodgers Benny

I'm Brian Gardner, Founder of StudioPress, Partner at Rainmaker Digital. Ask me anything!

AMA | Dec. 16, 2015

I'm a designer and a writer, but most known for creating the premium WordPress theme market.

I'm living the dream in the suburbs of Chicago with my wife Shelly and 11 year-old son Zach.

Most people know me as a Starbucks addict or Sarah McLachlan fan -- both of which would be right.

So what else do you want to know?

Hey Brian,

We've known each other for a while, dating back to the digital nomad blog concept and possibly even a few "chapters" before that. I wanted to say thanks for always speaking from your heart -- and not being afraid to do so.

Over the years as I watch you (and your team) evolve, I'm curious, how do you validate that *next* idea? What math or spaghetti-against-the-wall method do you use to allow yourself to commit to it? Do you start with "how can I say _no_ to this?" Lastly, for the partners at RM, are these personal brand missions critical to the overall business and do you all discuss each?

via Matt Medeiros

Hey friend! I'm probably going to hit you where it's unexpected right now, but I find myself stuck in a situation and am thinking you can help.

You know I've been a SP/Genesis user since day one, pretty much. I love it. I love all the themes and the ability to totally customize what I'm doing. However, I'm running into issues where clients want the whole drag-n-drop page builder elements of themes like Enfold and Divi.

I can't stand using them. I've successfully convinced many to leave them and come to the Genesis side (hehe).

But they're growing in demand, I think.

Any plans on incorporating/developing a clean plugin for Genesis for this stuff, or is there one? Or should I just tell those people to find someone else?

via Lara Kulpa

Hello Brian!

Thanks for making StudioPress and the Genesis themes. They have helped me in my Design business tremendously.

I'd like to learn the Genesis platform and how to design themes for it, actually just being able to customize them to whatever my clients want is my goal. But I don't know what is the best route to take without spending years becoming a developer. Is there a way to learn to modify StudioPress themes quickly. And is there a place to learn the genesis platform inside and out?

Thanks for your help.

Jon

via Jon Dalrymple

With your current minimalist approach to themes, with no sidebars, where do you see churches and other like sites putting important but peripheral information such as service times, physical location, special events, etc. And still keep essential information about the organization front and center?

via Paul Oyler

Hey Matt -- good to hear from you!I don't think there's a way to validate an idea ahead of time, so for me it's pretty much as you said -- throw it against the wall and see what sticks. Thankfully my role in our company isn't to create every idea, rather ones that pertain to design -- primarily StudioPress/themes.

It's no secret over the years I've redesigned my blog umpteen times, and to be honest it's only partly because I'm creatively schizophrenic. The primary reason I do this is to test design ideas and gauge the reactions I get from my audience.

As for personal brands, I'm a huge advocate of companies encouraging the employees (or partners in my case) to build them. I think the stronger the personal brand, the stronger the company brand. I think that relationship should be a symbiotic one, where the company pushes the personal brand and the person pushes the company brand. I know I go out of my way to do both, because I think they are both beneficial to each other.

via Brian Gardner

We've been asked this a number of times over the years, and the reality is that it's something I doubt very highly we'll ever do. We simply have too many other priorities on our plate. Do I think it could be a valuable thing? Yes, absolutely!

Which means I think (cough) this is a golden opportunity for a developer in the Genesis community. Someone who sees a void with high demand, and wants to supply something of extreme value.

Hint, hint.

via Brian Gardner

I'm Chris Lema, I'm the CTO of Crowd Favorite, ask me anything.

AMA | Nov. 4, 2015

I blog regularly at chrislema.com, speak at conferences, have written some eBooks, and coached entrepreneurs for more than ten years. I've also managed software developers for over twenty years, and built (and sold) several startups.

Is Crowd Favorite hiring? #NotA10upJoke But seriously what qualities does Crowd Favorite look for, especially if they are looking for talents and skills mostly found in the WordPress community?

There are many people - especially freelancers - that have design and/or development skills making it on their own. If you had to give only one or two quick tips to help them market themselves, what would they be?

via David Bisset

At WCEU this year Matt said "Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it is". Where do you see the puck heading for WordPress. What opportunities do you think will open up in the next 5 to 10 years?

via Elliot (Raison)

Chris, you are one of the smartest, most eloquent business thinkers I've ever met. What else does it takes for one to become a billionaire?

via Vladimir Prelovac

When I look to hire people, I'm looking for several things - not all of them talents or skills easily found anywhere, whether it's in the WordPress community or not. To be clear, knowing WordPress is great. But smart people who know how to learn will pick it up if they don't know it.

At Crowd Favorite, we work with some large organizations. And we have a high value, based on the CEO's backstory, on account management. So understanding how to work with large organizations is a big plus. The pressure, the sensitivities, the politics, and the deadlines - those are all things that may differ from building a website for a small business.

A lot of what we do is what I call "heavy lifting" - which translates to writing integration code into an organization's back office software. So that means integrating with Oracle Financials, Peoplesoft, Microsoft Sharepoint. Basically, code that a lot of people may not have experience with, or may not want to do. It's not sexy. But it's essential when working with large brands that need all their systems to talk to each other.

So what I look for, beyond a history of some of these experiences, is a demonstrated ability to learn, a value for ownership/accountability, demonstrated effectiveness in coaching / training others, a curiosity that drives experimentation, and of course some magic super power that most people don't know they have. It's never the same for each person, but if I find it, and want/need it, I try really hard to bring it into the company.

As for freelancers marketing themselves, my consistent recommendations are these two things:
- Specialize. Don't try to do it all. Just design websites, don't also development and host them. Or just develop them. But pick.
- Learn the business of your customers. Another form of specialization is to focus on a market segment. So just do real estate sites, or just do band sites, or something of that nature. It makes it easy for folks to recommend you.

via Chris Lema

I think we'll see growth at the very bottom of the ecosystem - helping brand new people set up and run their small sites on WordPress (which is why we see such growth at marketplaces like Envato's). And I think we'll see growth at the very top of the ecosystem (with more large brands beyond newspaper sites). The lower sector growth will likely happen faster. But the top growth will drive a lot of cascading effects.

So I think organizations that focus on training, on all-in-one hosting (with plugins and themes already together), and ease of use (page builders) will all see some growth from the growing edges where people are still learning about WordPress.

But I also think some companies will leverage WordPress, along with other technologies, to push WordPress into other government sectors, and large/strong verticals.

via Chris Lema

Thanks Chris! Very well put and specialization I agree is important.

via David Bisset

Howzit, I'm Mark Forrester, Co-Founder of WooThemes, AMA

AMA | Mar. 16, 2016

I'm excited to be here to answer any questions you might have about building web businesses and living in Cape Town, South Africa. Thanks for having me ManageWP.

I'll try check-in here regularly throughout the day.

How is life after joining Automattic family?

via M Asif Rahman

As it seems I am the only one awake now, let me ask you few more question if you don't mind?

1) What is your thought about SaaS in E-commerce?

2) If anybody complains about eco-system is little costly and learning curve is little higher than average WordPress, what will be your answer?

3) Why it's so hard to get into WooCommerce Official Addon Listing? I only hear developer's frustration as it take very long to get an answer and most of the time the answer is negative. Why is that? Don't you want to have your door open for any good developer?

via M Asif Rahman

Thanks for being here, Mark!

I have a couple of questions:

1) You're a CEO of a highly successful company, a father and a dog owner. How do you juggle all these duties?
2) What was the dynamic like between you and the other WooThemes founders, back in the early days?
3) A lot of WordPress developers don't have the soft skills to match their coding skills. As an entrepeneur, what is the single most common mistake they're making, and how should they fix it?
4) How hard is it to hire remotely? What is your number one concern when you screen candidates?
5) What's the biggest mistake you've made in your professional career?

via Nemanja Aleksic

BTW Adii posted this question on the announcement post:

"Serious question: Will Benitez save your beloved Magpies from the drop?

More serious question: Thoughts on this? www.shopify.com/blog/113145925-introducing-shopify-for-wordpress "

via Nemanja Aleksic

Hi Asif,

Life is good thank you. Being part of the Automattic family provides many benefits for the product, team and community. We hope that is apparent in our recent releases.

For myself personally, it's obviously been an adjustment going from the owner of a business, to the lead of the WooTeam within a bigger organisation, but I'm enjoying the learnings, the experience and the network Automattic provides. It's also quite liberating - not having to now worry about every operational aspect of the company, having more experienced teams available to us (e.g. Distributed HR, Finance, Law).

via Mark Forrester

I also need to seriously make sure I post questions in the right places. :)

via adii

I am Jennifer Bourn, Founder and Creative Director at Bourn Creative

AMA | Sep. 9, 2015

This is my first AMA, so I'm not completely sure what to expect and hop to provide some value! Here's a bit about me for those who don't know me yet!

I started out thinking I'd be an electrical engineer and after 2+ years of courses, I changed majors. I have a bachelor's degree in graphic design from Sacramento State and have been working in the field since 1997. Through college I completed six internships while working part time as a designer at a small agency. I graduated and went to work full time as a graphic designer in 2002. In 2005, with a 2 year old and a pregnant with my son, I ventured out on my own and founded Bourn Creative.

A friend taught me web design at my kitchen table to help me earn more money and I began offering web design services immediately (so sorry to those clients). I discovered WordPress in 2008, fell in love with the ability to give clients more control over their content and to reduce the revisions and maintenance I was doing for them and never looked back.

In July, we celebrated our 10 year business anniversary.

The first 5 years I was basically on my own, with my husband Brian taking care of the financials. Then Brian quit his full time career, joined the business full time, and became not only my boss (I know, crazy right?!) and developer. Today Bourn Creative is a full service design studio specializing in brand design, custom WordPress theme design, and graphic design services for small to medium size businesses. We're also a Genesis recommended developer. We work with clients around the globe and provide online business consulting and web strategy to a variety of businesses.

I manage the development of our internal systems and processes, which we have automated much of, and I do quite a bit of speaking, teaching, guest blogging, and content development for our brand, as well as content services for select clients.

We're known for working hard and playing hard. We have a Lego room. We play a lot of board games. I'm learning to cook. Our kids are now 9 and 12 and we vacation and travel A LOT ...

I think that's it ... Ask away!

Having just recently taken our first family "vacation" (1yo and 4yo), I'm curious - at what age does this become relaxing again?

Favourite board game? Do you play Monopoly by the real rules?

via Lucas Karpiuk

Did either you or Brian have a fascination with Lego back when you were kids? How big was your collection back then?

via Jason Tucker

HEY! Welcome to the AMA. This question might be a little out of left field, but I've always wondered, what's the Grateful Dead obsession? :) Have you and Brian always been big fans? Do you meet at a concert? What's the story there? Thanks!

via Ryan D. Sullivan

Lucas ... lol! OMG. Traveling with babies, car seats, strollers, diaper bags ... so much stuff! When our youngest was about 5, vacationing became so much easier! I could give each kid a packing checklist then and they would put everything on the list on their beds, then once approved, pack their bags. Now they pack everything themselves and it's heaven!

Our favorite board games are Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. We just got Exploding Kittens and have been playing that a ton too ... but our favorite games are those by GameWright, especially Gubs and Loot. And, the kids are just getting into Monopoly :)

via Jennifer Bourn

Hi Jennifer, I caught you at the first Prestige Conference on the live stream, and again at the last one in Mpls where I attended the first day in person. In your first talk, you mentioned that you developed several items you send out to new clients as part of streamlining your onboarding process. Can you talk about what items are sent to clients and how many iterations you went through before feeling like it was working as you wanted it to? Were there certain public resources that were most helpful to you in developing them? I'm interested in doing something similar and learning more about how others have arrived at where they are.

via Robyn Flach

Can you tell us a little bit about your use of the Genesis framework? Why did you choose it, and why have you stuck with it? Is it just the speed of developing a new site, or something else?

via Tim Masson

I am Nick Haskins, founder of Aesopinteractive, ask me anything!

AMA | Aug. 12, 2015

When I’m not pretending that I can play a banjo in the Appalachian Mountains, or writing code for my day job at CG Cookie, I run a business called Aesopinteractive. I’ve built some cool plugins including Aesop Story Engine, and Lasso - a front-end editor for WordPress. In addition I built Story.AM, a free hosted platform for storytellers that utilizes the tools that I’ve built.

It’s currently 10AM EDT here on the mountain, and I’ll be checking this thread for the next 10 hours. Thanks for your questions!

What's next? Got any big plans for a new project after ASE? Obviously you are planning on spending a bunch of time with family, but are you going to also start something new?

via Matt Pritchett

You've built a really impressive membership site at CG Cookie using Restrict Content Pro. Do you/CGC have any plans to open source or release any code from that which could be used by others in their own RCP installs?

via Ian

Hey Matt! Yes I've been wanting to write a book to share my adventures as a developer, the experience of building and selling a WordPress based business in under two years, then switching gears to concentrate on family and farming. Looking further out, there's a big area of WordPress that hasn't really been tackled yet, and if that area is still untapped, then you can expect some neat things from that in the next few years.

via Nick Haskins

Thanks Ian!
Yes, we've talked at length about open-sourcing the work I've done at CG Cookie, so you can expect to see this soon. I really want to share my experience at building a scalable codebase, and at some point we'll be establishing a company based blog geared towards WordPress developers.

via Nick Haskins

Hey Nick

I hope you don't mind some hard questions :)

Aesop and the whole idea behind interactive story telling looks to be a big one, at least on the paper. Why do you think it didn't take off as much as you've probably hoped for? Was the timing too early?

via Vladimir Prelovac

That'd be awesome! CG Cookie is run by Pipin's brother if I am right?

via Ahmad Awais

We're Justin, Billy, and Robby, founders of Beaver Builder, Ask Me (us) Anything!!

AMA | Aug. 20, 2015

Good morning ManageWP! We're FastLine Media, a boutique web design firm based out of Campbell, CA, and we're the team that created Beaver Builder. Our business supports our beautiful families (including a soon-to-be teenager and set of twins)! We love that we’re able to create open source software, contribute to WordPress, and further WordPress' mission to democratize publishing.

Gloves are off and we're ready to get our hands dirty. We'll be checking this thread for the next several hours. Ask us anything!!

Hey guys, thanks so much for doing this. I guess I'll get us underway.

What's been the most challenging thing about building/growing beaver builder?

via Ryan Love

You have a lite version of your page builder on wordpress.org (which you didn't have initially). What is your experience with that, has that helped growing your paid business, is it a lot of work providing support, any dos or don'ts you can share?

Thanks for a great product!

/Johan

via Johan Falk

Hi guys,

We are embracing your product, extending it and integrating it into a product we have been working on for a while. So far, we are so happy with Beaver, with all the limitations WP has, Beaver can do a good job, and written in a very good code quality which allows us to extend it, even beyond custom modules as well. Hats off!

Do you have any plans to make module categorization simpler, beyond "Basic" and "Advanced Modules"?
I believe that's not a difficult feature to implement, but it will add more power to your amazing product.

via Nizar Ashkar

Hi Ryan! Thanks for the opportunity. We're looking forward to it.

Hmm, most challenging.. that's a good question. When we started Beaver Builder, it was just a side project that we hacked away on during our evenings. We we're hoping to build a theme framework that we could use for our client sites. As things progressed, we wanted to have a page builder as part of that framework, and then we decided to make the page builder a stand alone plugin. After all that, we thought, "Hey, maybe we should try to sell this thing." Ever since then, we've been on this mission to get the word out and build the best product we can.

Admittedly, we're kinda flying by the seats of our pants here. :) It's been a really fun and exciting challenge (which makes it not feel so challenging), but just deciding what to do next is always something we struggle with!

via Robby McCullough

Hi Nizar! Thanks for your question!

Yes! We do! Actually, we just released a beta version of Beaver Builder with our new row and module templates feature. In the next release, you'll be able to save and reuse rows and/or modules. You'll also be able to create global rows and modules that can be used all over a site, but only need to be edited in one place! We're pretty jazzed about this one.

Anyways, in this update we're adding a new section to the page builder sidebar interface, a section for saved rows and modules. In the future, we do have plans to further categorize the modules lists to make them a bit easier to find what you're looking for. We're not exactly sure how we'll do that, but it's on the road map.

via Robby McCullough

Hey Johan! Great question! Overall I would have to say that having the lite version on WordPress.org has helped grow sales of the premium version. It’s another outlet for people to find out about the Beaver Builder brand and having a place for reviews has been great. It's also nice that theme developers can easily recommend it using the TGM activation plugin. That has been huge for us.

As for support, that hasn't been an issue at all. We only offer support for bugs/issues there and most people respect that. If anything, it has been great to get the product into more hands to see what kind of feedback people have. More people also means that we're finding and fixing bugs quicker.

As for dos/dont's, I would say don't offer a lite version. :) Haha, just kidding. What I mean is that if I was going to do it all over again, there would only be one version of Beaver Builder and everything else (premium modules, templates, agency features), would be sold as add-ons. As it is now, if someone upgrades, they have to delete the lite version and install the premium version even though they are essentially the same thing. However, I don't think the way we're doing it has hurt our business at all.

via Justin Busa

I'm Lisa Sabin-Wilson co-owner of WebDevStudios. Ask Me Anything!

AMA | Oct. 7, 2015

Thank you to ManageWP for having me here for AMA today - I've never actually done one of these, so looking forward to it!

I'm Lisa Sabin-Wilson and am the co-owner and Chief Operating Officer at WebDevStudios, a WordPress agency specializing in custom website design and development. At WebDev, we mainly work with enterprise level clients who are using WordPress to publish content on the web. Clients like Microsoft, Discovery Channel, Uber and MSNBC, to name a few. I'm excited about the work that we're doing at WebDev.

I'm also the author of several books on the topic of our favored CMS, design and web development - WordPress For Dummies is my most popular title and I've been writing and updating that book since 2007; my other books are WordPress focused as well: WordPress All In One and WordPress Web Design. In 2009, I published BuddyPress For Dummies, as well - but that title is no longer an active one (and it's very, very outdated). I do a bit of public speaking at conferences on the topics of WordPress, Business Development and Design.

I joined WebDev in 2012, but prior to that I ran my own small freelance company called eWebscapes where I did much of the same type of work I'm doing now: custom websites for clients, all powered by WordPress. I've been using WordPress since 2003 and all of my skills around WordPress and design have been self-taught and picked up through trial and error (and a lot of destruction!)

I live in Wisconsin and I'm a true fan of Packers football (green and gold 'till I'm dead and cold!). When I'm not at my computer working, I like to spend free time with my family, gardening in the spring/summer and do a bit of skiing in the winter (but mostly watching football or attending games at Lambeau Field in Green Bay!)

I'll be available for the next several hours to ask questions, so Ask me Anything!

Hey Lisa, thanks so much for doing this, looking forward to seeing the questions put to you!

I'm going to be greedy and ask two questions!

1) Given that you've worked in web design/development since 2003, what 3 things do you know now, that you wish you knew when you got started?

2) Is there anyone you'd like to see in an AMA here?

via Ryan Love

Thanks for the AMA, I recommend WordPress for Dummies all the time as an entry level WordPress book :)

1) What did the initial writing process of WordPress for Dummies look like?

2) How did you decide to bring aboard Dre Armeda?

3) Have you considered branching out your business outside the scope of WordPress?

via Nemanja Aleksic

Good morning, Ryan - you're welcome and thanks for asking me to participate today.

3 things I wished I knew in 2003 when I first got started....

I was pretty green to web development back then, with only about 3 years of some serious tinkering with CSS and HTML markup prior to the release of WordPress. It took me a long time to really understand WordPress core, primarily because I didn't have a good base knowledge of PHP. I think I could have achieved more things in my development work and emerging career back then if I had a better fundamental understanding of PHP and the logic behind it. CSS & HTML came pretty easy to me, and even the hierarchy of WP themes and the template tags were pretty easy to understand - but I was stymied for a good amount of time in any real custom features until I had a better understanding of how it all worked.

Second, I wish I had been more prepared for running my own business. These days, everywhere I look on the web there are resources, training and advice for new entrepreneurs in internet tech, particularly in the WP community. But back then, I either was not looking in the right places or it just didn't exist - so I made it up as I went along and learned some of the hard lessons not through the benefit of someone else's experience, but because I went through each challenging step of it myself. It was exciting and actually quite fun, looking back - but I think I could have progressed quicker with the help of some of the fantastic resources I'm seeing out there today.

Third, I wish someone would have told me how difficult it was to write a book about technology! I really do enjoy it, a lot - and over the years have learned so much - but it's quite a challenge to write a book about software that is constantly changing and evolving. Most often, the software is changing as I am writing. If someone had sat me down back then and said "Lisa, this is going to be really challenging" - it wouldn't have changed my mind about doing it, I just would have, maybe, felt better prepared for the road ahead of me, which might have softened some of the frustrations and stress I experienced about it early on.

And, finally, who would I like to see in an AMA here? Matt Danner, the Chief Operating Officer at iThemes. I think he has a lot of valuable things to share about running a business in our WordPress industry. Hit him up on Twitter @mattdanner

Thanks Ryan!

via LSW

Hi Lisa and welcome to ManageWP.org AMA. Good to have you here!

1) What is the life of a COO in a WordPress company like? Also interested in a typical day example.

2) What are your tools of choice? Any secret weapons you'd like to share?

3) Favorite WordCamp?

4) Any plans for a second book?

5) Photo of your work desk please :)

via Vladimir Prelovac

Good morning, Nemanja - great questions, and thank you for recommending my book!
1) What did the initial writing process of WordPress for Dummies look like? The initial writing of WordPress For Dummies happened back in 2006-2007, that is when the first edition was written and published. Since then, I have updated the book to reflect current versions of WordPress over the years. The initial writing was hard and I had a lot of challenges around it. First, I had never written a book before - about anything, so that was a completely new process for me. Second, there weren't a whole lot of resources about WordPress back then, so I felt a bit of pressure to put out a resource that was really helpful to WordPress users and would help them understand the basics of working with it. That meant I needed to take everything I knew about the platform and organize it into a resource guide that made sense, and that spoke at the 'newbie' level to make sure everything was covered. It took about 4 months to write the first draft of the book and then I went through, roughly, 2 months of intensive editing from the copy editors and technical editors at Wiley Publishing (the folks behind all the For Dummies books) and it was finally published about 8 months after I started writing it. That's a pretty fast process for someone who was so new to writing books - - but when you put it in the perspective of online publish, it seems like a lifetime.


2) How did you decide to bring aboard Dre Armeda? Dre joined our crew at WebDev in August 2014. My partners at WebDev, Brad Williams and Brian Messenlehner, have been friends with Dre for several years, so naturally we kept up with his professional pursuits, and were already well aware of his talents in business and operations through his work at Sucuri and CubicTwo. Early in 2014, when Dre announced his departure from Sucuri, I think the immediate reaction between my partners at I at WebDev was "when do we want to talk to Dre about coming on board?". It was really a no brainer for us - Dre brings so much to the table. WebDev is a growing company and Dre had gone through that process of growing Sucuri into a very successful operation - we were at a point where we could really benefit from that experience and insight to help us grow and push ourselves further. It was a a natural selection, a great fit and one of the better decisions we made in 2014.


3) Have you considered branching out your business outside the scope of WordPress? Sure. I mean, as a business owner looking to grow your business further, you should always be looking at every available vertical to branch out to in order to improve profits and grow the company. That being said, we haven't done it and it doesn't look like we'll be doing it any time in the near future. Our entire team is extremely talented in the area of WordPress, and we are strong proponents of working to your strengths. The more we've worked with WordPress over the years, the more our company has emerged as one of the top agencies for WordPress in the world - you don't get that kind of cred by spreading yourself too thin. We are laser focused on WordPress development work right now and very happy doing so. There is life outside of WordPress and there is a lot going on outside the bubble of WordPress, sure - but currently, we focus on what we excel at, while always keeping an eye to the future.

Thank you Nemanja!

via LSW

Hey, Lisa!

Nice to have you here at ManageWP.org AMA. Below are few of my questions.

1— How do you guys at WDS differ yourself from other companies like CrowdFav, 10up, etc
2— Do you people have Enterprise clients only, or Small and Medium business clients too?
3— If you do have Small and Medium business clients, then how do you people distribute developers on project basis, does a developer works for a few months or more on one single project or does he work at multiple projects at the same time?
4— Dre Armeda became partner about a month ago, as a WordPress business owner I'd like to know what does a partner mean to you, how can one decide to make one, what are the ins and outs here. You may answer this question in WDS perspective (as in what would one need to do to become one) or as an advice to mulit-million dollar WP business owner (how and when to chose one).

Looking forward!

via Ahmad Awais

I'm Jake Goldman, Founder & President of 10up. Ask me anything!

AMA | Oct. 19, 2016

Hey there - I'm Jake Goldman, and I like to say I've been "making with the web since there was a web to make."

I started making websites in the 90's when I was still in high school, taking on my first paid gig in 1997. Over the next 14 years, I worked in the technical and creative services industry as a developer, designer, manager, and salesperson... usually wearing several of those hats at once. I've worked for huge organizations (the U.S. Navy) and tiny organizations (employee #2 at my last job). I went through the first browser wars, built interactive applications in Flash when that was a thing, spent too much time working with a proprietary ColdFusion CMS, and even "designed" a few web ads (yikes).

In February of 2011, I started a consultancy focused on WordPress engineering and UX called 10up. While I had ambitions to grow (I didn't call it "Jake, Inc."), having spent the last 5 years in senior management, I thought it would be nice to take a year off from managing teams and focus on projects I could handle as a freelancer, maybe collaborating with a few contractors. I'm bad at saying "no" when opportunity knocks, and before 10up's first year was over, I'd grown the team to 8 employees, with some noteworthy showcase clients, like TechCrunch and Trulia, already under our belt.

Since that first year, 10up has organically grown in size and scope. Today, we are ~130 full time staff strong and as financially healthy as ever, with expertise spanning virtually every aspect of making and supporting even the most complex and high scale web projects. Our expertise goes much deeper than WordPress (still our preferred CMS), and includes user experience and creative design, monetization and advertising strategy, front and back end engineering, and of course, project strategy and management. Last year, we had a client project featured on Google's home page (it uses the WordPress REST API, and yes, it stayed up), and saw 4 client projects nominated for Webby Awards (AMC.com won). Since mid-2015, we've helped Adobe relaunch 99u, helped Microsoft launch Windows 10 with an official media and consumer launch microsite, collaborated with ESPN to release another flagship property (The Undefeated), helped both the New York Times Co. and Washington Post with some publishing tool projects... and the list goes on. An analysis of the impact of iOS 9 Content Blockers that I co-authored was featured and quoted in publications like Time, AdAge, and Daring Fireball.

I'm also very proud of 10up's continued tradition of investing heavily back into in the open source platforms we depend on. We're the only agency that employs a Lead WordPress (Core) Developer, likely the largest contributor to WordPress behind Automattic, our company plugins are listed as "active" on ~1 million WordPress installs, and projects like VVV and Flexibility have become standbys. Our team has spoken at events around the world: phpWorld, NTC, ZendCon, CSSCONF, Gilbane, and of course, anchor WordCamps like U.S. and Europe - to name a few.

The journey has been inspiring... and exhausting, exhilarating, emotionally draining, and unbelievably educational and maturing. Even in our toughest moments, or when I'm agonizing over a mistake I've made (in classic type-A fashion), I've always tried to keep perspective, and remember just how fortunate I am, both professionally and personally.

These days, when I'm not working with team 10up, I'm usually chasing around one very curious 10 month old daughter. In the event I get a bit of independent free time, I've been cultivating an interesting in cooking, and indulging a home-automation interest. My podcasts playlist consists mostly of political and issue commentary, with a sprinkling of Apple enthusiast news. I do enjoy a good Netflix original, but with my new daughter in the picture, a "binge" looks like finishing one episode without interruption. I'm eager to travel more, again, when I can.

Ask away!

Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or 1 horse-sized duck?

via Dodgers Benny

Definitely 100 duck-sized horses. A horse-sized ducks sound terrifying.

via Jake Goldman

Everyone usually says 1 horse-sized duck. I don't understand it! You have the right answer, it DOES sound terrifying.

via Dodgers Benny

Congratulations on the success of 10up!

What advice would you give your 2011 self? or your 1990s-era self?

via Bill Dennen

Hey Jake

Glad to have you here. Got a ton of questions for you :)

- What's your second most liked CMS?

- Do you deploy vanilla or modified WordPress ?

- How does a web agency land Techcrunch and Trulia as clients in its first year?

- How do services of this type scale? Would increasing your revenue 10x require adding roughly 10x more people to your team?

- Have you ever thought of your own conference dedicated to web professionals out there?

- What is your greatest challenge nowadays?

via Vladimir Prelovac

Jake,

We love Managewp. Dashboard for all our sites have been a blessing. Have you found anything that will incorporate the magic of managewp with error logs?

When we updated plugins/themes/Core via ManageWP, we cross our fingers hoping that nothing breaks.

via Jimmy Blanco

I'm Matt Danner, Chief Operating Officer at iThemes, ask me anything!

AMA | Nov. 24, 2015

I work at iThemes, where we make software that helps make people’s lives awesome. I manage our developer, support, and sales teams as well as running the day to day operations of the company. My job is to put out fires before anyone else knows they’re burning (it’s easier when you’re the one that starts most of the fires).

My wife and I live in Oklahoma City, where the wind comes sweeping down the plains. We both love whiskey, and are particularly fond of the Scottish varieties. Outside the office, I work with wood, fly remote control quadcopters, and am an active archer and hunter. Ask me anything.

Thanks for the AMA, Matt!

I always wondered how bad the plain text password breach last year affected your business, if at all?

via Nemanja Aleksic

Do you and Cory consider yourselves opposites that meet the others weaknesses or are you more similar and fill team roles to fit those areas?

What's the most challenging part of daily operations management?

What's the coolest thing you've ever made while woodworking?

via Matt Pritchett

Hey Nemanja -

Thanks for stopping by. I hope no one takes this answer the wrong way, but in hindsight, us getting hacked last year has only made us stronger. We learned a lot of hard lessons at a time when we really needed to learn them. If I could go back in time and take it back, of course I would. But only because of our customers. Because of that incident, we have a stronger security plan in place than we ever would have had, and our team went through a trial by fire and came out hardened and bonded together.

A lot of people don’t know that early on at iThemes, we had another very serious incident. Someone (ok, me) ran a bad command on one of our servers and wiped the whole thing out, including a bunch of client sites and data. Long story short, we came through that trial with a product called BackupBuddy. I guess the point is that no one wants to go through these bad times, but what’s important is to come through them better than before. If we can do that, it’s all worth it.

mattdanner.net/why-you-need-a-wordpress-backup/

via Matt Danner

What's the most important activity or event of your daily work routine?

via Pippinsplugins

Hey Matt!

Cory and I are definitely opposites who complement each other’s weaknesses. I always say that it’s Cory’s job to be looking in to the future, planning what’s next, and seeing the possibilities and hardships ahead. It’s my job to look at right here, right now. If Cory says he wants to take the ship to X, it’s my job to get the ship there in one piece. We are very very different, but we work very very well together. I fully trust him, and I believe he fully trusts me.

I think without a doubt the most challenging thing about operations is also the most rewarding. The people. People make for the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. We celebrate huge wins with our team. But as with any business, there are sometimes when expectations aren’t met or things aren’t working and you have to have hard conversations with people. It’s the only real drawback to our team-as-family culture here. I lose sleep over it. But at the end of the day, we’re a part of something that’s bigger than any one of us, and Cory and I are tasked with protecting that. I

The latest thing I’ve made is always my favorite. I love working at the lathe. Bowls are my favorite. I recently started making some wood signs, and that’s been a lot of fun too. Last night I started carving a spoon from some trees I cut off our place in New Mexico, and a salt cellar from a great piece of spalted maple. A few examples below.
(www.instagram.com/p/9sIXUnDFrE/, www.instagram.com/p/9MzS6tDFnh/, www.instagram.com/p/a-5WJ/, www.instagram.com/p/a-0Yv/ )

via Matt Danner

Hey Matt,

Thanks for doing this. Three questions!

— What do you look for in a developer before hiring him for a remote position?
— The fact that a developer applied for a position and a developer that you yourself approached to recruit, does it affect how well they are compensated?
— What's your take on REST API and Calypso?

via Ahmad Awais

Hi! I'm Rachel Carden, a web developer/designer at The University of Alabama and community/event organizer (WPCampus). Ask me anything!

AMA | Nov. 11, 2015

Hello!

I'm a web designer and developer living in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama and have lived in this great state all my life. I started using WordPress 5 years ago when I took a job at my alma mater, The University of Alabama.

I've worked in the world of higher education for 9 years, first at Mississippi University for Women (Columbus, MS), then Samford University (Birmingham, AL) and then back to my alma mater, The University of Alabama, where I'm currently in my second position as the web developer for the Division of Student Affairs.

Multisite is my friend.

I have a degree in graphic design but my passion meter tends to learn towards development. I've built my fair share of custom themes and plugins for my job and for fun. I've never released a theme to the WordPress repo, but I have a few plugins available and some that are in development.

I'm a big proponent of collaboration and professional development and am the organizer of several communities, meetups, and conferences, including WPCampus, a new community and conference focused on using WordPress in the world of higher education.

Outside of WordPress and the web, I love spending time, and traveling, with my bad-movie-loving boyfriend, Josh, fitness, anything remotely related to Disney, and binge-watching old TV shows on Netflix and HBO GO (currently watching Boardwalk Empire).

Ask me anything!

p.s. Roll Tide!

Hi Rachel, thanks so much for doing this, looking forward to seeing what questions our members put to you!

Now, onto my questions...

What are some of the biggest challenges you face with running WordPress multisite and how do you deal with them?

What features do you think multisite is lacking the most? Or what's on your feature wishlist?

How's WPCampus coming along?

P.S. For some reason it appears this post isn't being pushed to the front page despite having more then enough vote strength, so it's probably not getting as much attention as it deserves, bear with me while I look into this!

via Ryan Love

Have you found that your design background helps you as a web developer? Has it given you more of a "feel" for how to develop a website that also looks good?

via Adam Wayne Fout

Hi Ryan!

Some of the biggest challenges I face with multisite are also its strengths. I use (and love) multisite because it allows me to easily manage my network of sites in one place with one codebase (core+plugins+themes) and one database... but that also means I'm managing lots of sites with ONE codebase. If something goes wrong in a plugin, it goes wrong everywhere, or at least everywhere that plugin is active, so I have to be double sure of any plugin I put on my network and I have to be double sure of any changes I make to MY code since any push I make to the server will affect basically all of my sites. It is, sometimes, not for the faint of heart.

Up until now sharing one database was a big pro for me because it also meant I could easily share content across my network by just querying the database and pulling from any table/site I want. Now with the REST API at my fingertips, that's slowly becoming less of a need. I've enjoyed experimenting with the API to help share content across my sites and get rid of all those crazy custom queries. :)

The other big issue for me is, dare I say it, security. I have NEVER had a security problem. I've never been hacked (although they've tried) but the worry is still there sometimes because all of my sites share the same database. Our database is constantly backed up and I could be up and running again in minutes but I worry when it comes to potentially sensitive information, e.g. information gathered from forms. In my last position, where I had a large multisite network, I setup an entirely separate WordPress install that was locked down with every security measure our OIT department could throw at it and we used that install/domain solely for any online applications/forms that gathered potentially sensitive information. I didn't feel comfortable enough to host that on the main network with all of the other sites.

Our sites are hosted here on campus and thankfully my server admin is pretty awesome and does a pretty good job of securing things down. Our campus also has a VPN so, using .htaccess, I block the WP login page so it is only accessible to folks on campus. This basically got rid of any and all brute force attacks.

I have no problem telling people multisite is not the answer for every project but I am a big fan. Having everyone in my division on the same network also allows for my content managers to move from site to site easily and with one login which makes everyone super happy, especially since I wrote a single sign-on plugin that allows for our users to login with their campus username and password. :)

As for what it's lacking? I wish it was easier for plugin developers to add settings pages to the network admin so it was easier to make their plugins multisite compatible. I wish it was easier to share content across sites on your network (thankfully the API is here which is one solution). I need to start writing these things down when I come across issues because my mind is blank but I'm going to be writing code for my network all day today so I'll post any more I can think of. :)

WPCampus is going splendidly! We are currently asking for universities to apply to host our first event, which is available on our site: wpcampus.org/apply-to-host/

Lots of ideas are being worked on for ways our community can provide value to members and non-members alike so be on the lookout for some WordPress in higher ed resources in the near future!

via Rachel Carden

Yes, it definitely helps from both ends! My creative/design background not only helps me develop solutions that look good, it also helps me think differently when problem solving. My developer background helps my designs go further because I know how all the gears move so I have a complete picture in mind when I'm deciding what design or layout is best for my content. I'm also not restricted in my design because I know what is and is not possible.

Knowing how your bread is made and buttered can be quite an advantageous skillset. :)

via Rachel Carden

What are the hardest parts about using Multisite in an educational environment where departments have varying needs?

via Brian Krogsgard

How has working in education, maybe specifically higher-education, affected how you code when working on something that isn't for work? Have you learned new things or created new standards for yourself that you now use, and if so, what?

via Roy Sivan

Hi, I'm Michael Torbert, lead developer of All in One SEO Pack

AMA | Apr. 28, 2016

Most of you know me as the lead developer for All in One SEO Pack, but to my wife I’m just a Star Trek geek. I currently live in North Carolina, but am originally from Virginia. I’ve had a variety of work experiences before WordPress, including a network operations center engineer, working for a SAAS forms company (before there was Gravity Forms), and then my own Semper Fi Web Design (http://semperfiwebdesign.com), before I launched a variety of commercial plugins, most of which are on http://semperplugins.com (some are hosted elsewhere, and others were sold).

I started playing with WordPress in 2007, but really got into the community in 2008. I started traveling all over to go to WordCamps, and have been organizing the Raleigh WordPress meetup group and WordCamp Raleigh since 2009 and 2010, respectively. You’ll find me often in the .org forums, helping out where I can.
I’ve even gotten my wife into the WordPress world lately. She’s a project translation editor for Tibetan and Chinese on translate.wordpress.org.

Feel free to ask me any questions you have about WordPress stuff, but there is a lot more to me than just WordPress. Outside the office, I love to travel, fly my DJI quadcopters, eat foods from all over, Audis, college football, my Nikon, and so much more.

Hello Michael, and Welcome!

Do you have a secret plan to release a new plugin or will the All in one SEO remain the flagship in your plugin fleet?

Kind Regards

via Aleksandar

Hi Alek,

At the moment, All in One SEO is going to remain the flagship. We have a handful of other plugins (not all are related to SEO), and will be coming out with more in the not too distant future, in addition to some more for SEO.

via Michael Torbert

Hi Michael, was great chatting with you at PressNomics! I didn't have the chance to ask you how did you start with All in One SEO. What's the story behind the plugin?

via Vova Feldman

Hi Vova,

It was great talking to you at PressNomics this year as well. That’s what I love about that conference, meeting smart people doing innovative things. :)

The first developer of All in one SEO Pack was a developer who went by the name of Uberdose, launched in early 2007. About a year later I took the project over, and eventually built a team and community around it. The Pro version launched in late 2009, and helped paved the way for the commercial plugin industry. Then in 2011, we launched semperplugins.com as its new home.

via Michael Torbert

Hello Michael, nice meeting you- :)

What is your biggest pain points, if any, for running All in one SEO Pack that may bother you time to time?

Thank you.

via Omaar Osmaan

Thanks for the details. I'll hit you with another two if you don't mind :)

- What is your favorite thing in running a product in the WP ecosystem vs. other environments?
- On the contrary, what you don't like in running a WP product?

via Vova Feldman

I'm Adii Pienaar, co-founder of WooThemes & founder of Receiptful. Ask me anything!

AMA | Oct. 21, 2015

Hey everyone!

Adii Pienaar (or the *artist* formerly known as Adii Rockstar) here. I'm mostly a maker of mistakes and have in the past managed to co-found WooThemes (who were acquired by Automattic) - amongst a variety of other failed projects - and am currently working on my latest startup, Receiptful.

I'm happy to talk about any of these ventures or business / life / everything in-between. Ask me anything! :)

Hi Adii

Thank you for doing this AMA, I hope a lot of entrepreneurs will show up to pick your brain :)

You started many companies in life, and the WordPress community is most familiar with WooThemes which is arguably your biggest success to date.

After that you started a couple 'failed projects' (as you call them) that did not have much to do with your previous big success (WooThemes). You are currently working on Receiptful and it seems it is doing well and can be your next big thing.

Do you think this is perhaps because this time your latest startup is somewhat leaning onto the market reach you helped build previously with WooThemes? And that having an existing network and market reach is by far the most important thing when launching a startup?

via Vladimir Prelovac

Hey Adii,

What are the main differences between running and managing a theme shop with multiple products and a SaaS type of business, like Receiptful? Is there anything you miss from the time when you were the CEO of WooThemes?

Thanks!

via Pavel Ciorici

Thanks for stepping up to the plate, Adii!

What is the biggest mistake you've made with WooThemes?

How did you feel the day after you decided to sell off WooThemes?

How important are angel investors for Receiptful?

What's the most irritating thing you encounter daily, either on or off-work?

via Nemanja Aleksic

Thanks for having me, Vladimir.

Receiptful is already my next big thing. :) Not yet as big as WooThemes of course, but it's already a successful business with loads of potential. (For anyone that's heard me say before that I feel like a "one-hit wonder" with Woo being my only success, you'll find this prior statement interesting.)

When I left Woo, I had set myself one challenge: I really wanted to build a business with recurring revenue and preferably something that is pure SaaS. My first attempt at this post-Woo was PublicBeta and had nothing to do with Woo. Yet with Receiptful there is an overlap with Woo; both because we integrate with WooCommerce, but also because Receiptful is a tool built for eCommerce store owners (which is something with which I have a lot of experience via Woo). In that regard, I've definitely been able to use my relevant experience & network.

But there is also a caveat to this, which is that today Receiptful has 10x more Shopify users than WooCommerce users. So the ultimate impact of that past experience & network is still limited and I don't think it's been crucial to our success or progress.

via adii

When Recieptful first launched you had Easy Digital Download integration, but there's no mention of it on the website anymore - but I can see there is now WooCommerce support. What happened?

via Jake Jackson

There's loads of things I miss from my days with WooThemes. :) Primarily though I've missed the team (especially the individuals with whom I had a closer relationship) and a stable, growing business with an established, captive audience.

But then there's also loads of things I don't miss. :)

The thing I don't miss at all going from Woo to Receiptful has been the support we needed to provide to users with unique server environments and where they've had access to source code (which meant they would tinker & _break_ things as is the WP way). With Receiptful, we have one codebase and the ability to quickly roll out fixes or new features to all of our users. Whilst we still have a WooCommerce plugin that needs updating every now & again (and requires individual support sometimes for users that fall into edge cases with their server environments), our support & development has been greatly simplified by having a SaaS product.

The other major, MAJOR benefit has been that we know who all of our users are and have key information about them (like how well their store / business is doing). This means that we can learn much more about our customers and also use those insights in marketing (like customer case studies for example). With WooThemes, we were selling products that were being used on isolated islands all over the web and we didn't necessarily know much about the ultimate user & beneficiary of our products.

via adii