Building the Perfect CMS with WP VIP CTO - Interview with Brian Alvey

Maciej Nowak [00:00:08]:

Hey, everyone. It's good to have you here. We're glad you decided to tune in for this episode of the awesome to Know podcast.

Brian Alvey [00:00:16]:

Hello, Brian. So I would like to start this this conversation because you are CTO of Force VIP. And my first question that pops to my mind is being a CTO, is it more art or a science?

Maciej Nowak [00:00:32]:

That's funny. So it is whatever the person in the seat makes it be. I would say I'm equal parts art and science. That's a funny question that I was not expecting, by the way. It's a very good question, because I've thought about this for a long time. When I was a child, I thought I was going to be a comic book artist and draw superheroes all day long. And I thought I was going to have a career in art. And my father said, a career in art means you'll never own a house and have a family, so don't do that. He said, you have to have a science career. Don't go to college and get an art degree. Anyone can draw, right? Go to college and get an engineering degree. So I ended up getting, like, a physics and astronomy degree. So I ended up doing a lot of science. And I would say that one thing I noticed about myself early on was if I was competing against pure creative people, people who were artists, right. I would use my technical skills, computer skills. It was very early on in the 90s, people weren't using a lot of computers and art. So if I had to compete with somebody who was creative, I would bring my technical skills. And if I had to compete with somebody who was technical, I guarantee you I would build a better looking product than them. I would make something that was prettier. I'd make something that people liked more. So I was never a ten technically or a ten in terms of creativity. Right. But on a good day, I was an eight in both, and somebody I was competing with might be a ten technically, but a two creatively or a ten creatively and a three technically. And so I would always use the other part. So to me, you ask, is my job art or science? It's a lot of both. It's a lot of talking to customers. It's a lot of listening. It's a lot of design thinking. Right? Thinking. Problem solving. Really. Is problem solving technical or is problem solving creative? It's both.

Brian Alvey [00:02:18]:

Yeah, exactly.

Maciej Nowak [00:02:19]:

It's a lot of problem solving. I'd say equal parts of both. So I like that. But I think a lot of people will bring technical only to a role or creative only to a role, and I'm incapable of doing that.

Brian Alvey [00:02:32]:

All right. From what I'm hearing here, you bring together best of both worlds, right?

Maciej Nowak [00:02:41]:

The Renaissance man, that whole idea of DA Vinci was like an artist and a scientist, right? I'm not DA vinci, but that's what I aspire to.

Brian Alvey [00:02:49]:

Sure. But still you pursued career within the technology space, going very deep and listening to your answer. Initially, I have this feeling that you described yourself as a very strong generalist, combining this art approach, your personal aspirations with what you learned and the path you pursued. So maybe digging a little bit deeper, would you say you're like a generalist on a technical position, or you are already that specialist that went very deep and now going upper on that tree, looking from the higher and higher perspective, how would you comment on this?

Maciej Nowak [00:03:41]:

Yeah, so it's a good question to go deeper on. Again, it's funny when you say, oh, you're very technical and you're very strong technically. So how does this all work out? I think the proof is if you put me in a room full of developers that work for me, they'll say, he's not technical at all. He's barely technical. That's a funny thing. And if you put me in a room full of artists, they'll say, yeah, I don't know if that person's any good at art. I hope that's not your day job, right? I actually got told that in college, somebody was like, I hope they're not planning on doing this for a career. Which is funny, but what I've done is in both. At the end of the day, it's problem solving. So it really is problem solving. So what I learned in all the physics and astronomy classes is that I don't remember how quasars work or how to find the temperature of a star based on the color or whatever. I don't remember any of that. What I remember is at some point they said, look, there's a lot of things you're going to need to solve. There are five or six ways to do it. I'd like to see you solve it and then defend how you solved it. Tell me how you arrived at this conclusion. Which of these four or five formulas did you use? And say, like, this is how I think this is going to play out. And so it was all about problem solving, knowing that you don't know anything. The further you get into a science degree, the more you understand that you can spend the next 70 years studying just this one type of thing, and you will still not be the world's biggest expert at it. Or maybe you will, but you know nothing else. So I don't know. I would say I probably haven't gone deep enough in anything. I just assimilate things along the way. And so that's my I don't know if it's skill, gift, curse, whatever you want to call it, but it's what I do. I would tell you in a room full we just had this big meet up with a bunch of product teams, I would tell you I might be the least technical person in the room in terms of get on a keyboard and go code something. But I did that in the past. I effectively retired from that. You think of it, it's more like I'm a coach, not a player. And so is the coach, is he the smartest one in the room or not the smartest one in the room? I don't know. It depends. Depends on the output.

Brian Alvey [00:05:50]:

On the note you mentioned being in that room and having people working for you. I wonder how does the work look for you? I mean, what this position, like, encompass? What does it mean to be a CTO? Because developer, it's like self explanatory, but CTO, there is so much less CTOs around the world than developers, but also they vary very dramatically across different companies, different cultures, product versus service companies and so on. So I'm very curious, what's your role and what's your objective as the CTO of forpus VIP?

Maciej Nowak [00:06:35]:

Yeah, it's a good question. So it's funny, as you mentioned, that when you said there are more developers than CTOs. And that makes sense, right? You wouldn't want to have more coaches in the world than players. That would be a terrible world to be in. That would be upside down. So it's a good question. It's different. Each CTO is probably built differently. Each person in the role is built differently. So at some companies, you have an executive team run by a CEO, right? In a two person startup, you may have a CEO and a CTO and that's it. And really, they shouldn't even have a C title. They shouldn't be called C anything because it's a two person company. But then you get to yeah, exactly, right. Founder, that's good enough. But we're a 300 person company within a 2000 person company, which is still not very big. And we have a good executive team, right? We have a CEO who's fantastic. I've been a CTO in the past. I was a CEO for the last, I don't know, almost 20 years. And now I'm a CTO again. And I love the CEO nick that I work for. He's fantastic. But we also have this other team around me. So we have a Chief revenue officer a Chief Marketing officer who just joined us. We have a chief customer officer, I think, or Customer Success Officer or something like that. So all these different people in all these associated roles. And so, for me here in this situation, I'm the only technical person on the executive team or technical role on the executive team at a very software oriented company, right? So it's almost like if I wasn't there, there'd be no technology leadership represented at the top, right. For that role. It's a lot of different things, but it becomes some companies have an abundance of these technical roles. So they have a Chief Information Officer and a Chief Product Officer, and they have all these different people, somebody in charge of design. We don't exactly have that. So I end up representing all of that in terms of figuring out what the business needs, taking what the business needs, and taking it to the teams to make sure it gets built. So it's probably a broader role than it would be at some places. In some places, a CTO is like your It. Make sure the exchange server gets the email delivered and make sure we don't get viruses on our laptops and make sure the printers work. And so CTO can be very It based or here, it's much more colorful and fun. Make sure some of the biggest and most popular websites on Earth keep running no matter what happens to them, right? That's a different challenge. And then also in a lot of startups, you're out there selling your own product, you're building your own thing. So I would say the most unique things about the role that I'm in now are that, one, I didn't build the team, and two, I didn't build the product. So in a traditional startup, even the last thing I did, I created this thing with my co founder, we made a social video app and then we made a platform out of it, and we built all these things. And I was constantly getting to and even in previous companies that I founded, I got to build tools that dazzled creators. I got to build the things that our end users used. And with VIP, we don't build WordPress that's built by WordPress core. We can affect it. We can help it, we can contribute to it. But we don't have 70 people spending their time building WordPress. We have 70 people spending their time making sure that WordPress runs for the biggest Craziest, websites, whatever you want to do that it keeps running and that it's measured well and that all these things work and scale. So you build it, we scale it is kind of the motto, right? You build your Craziest WordPress site, biggest database, biggest multi site, that's all good. And then similarly on the team, I did this probably this has got to be the first time that I've inherited a team I didn't build. And so it's a different dynamic, right? If I build a team and I take them from zero to six and then from six to 35, 35 to whatever, they all see me as like, oh, you're the guy who invented this, and you're the guy that hired me. And it's a different relationship. And when you inherit the team, you get this thing, which I call Stepdad syndrome, which is where you're telling them what to do. And they're like, I don't have to listen to you. You're not my real dad. You didn't start this thing. You didn't build this product, you didn't hire me.

Brian Alvey [00:10:43]:

And they don't I'm no longer here than you.

Maciej Nowak [00:10:46]:

Well, yeah, exactly, right? I was here before you. And the Stepdad thing is funny because, like, well, next year my mom's going to dump you and you're going to be gone. And I was actually the third CTO in three years. So they rightfully had this bit of a mental model of like, you're the CTO de jor, you're going to be here for a year tops, and then you're going to be gone because two people came in and flamed out and didn't last. Or I don't even know their stories, I just know they didn't stay. And so if you look at that, you go, oh, third CTO in three years. I don't know if we have to follow this. I don't know what this guy wants to do. Is he going to reorg? Is he going to change our roadmap? Is he going to introduce a lot of process? Like, what stupid playbook is this guy bringing? Has got to be what they're thinking. And that's a valid thought, right? I'm just going to wait. In a year, Brian will be gone. And so here I am, a year and a half in. I'm not going anywhere. I'm having a great time and things have gelled and things are working really smoothly. So we've gotten past all of that, like step dad syndrome that I like to call it for me, where I didn't invent this team or create this team, build this team, I didn't invent the product. But now I've got my handle on what parts of the product I love, what we can change, what we're here to do, and then specifically on the team, how to work with them. Because we have two radically different product teams that I work with. One is the Parsley content analytics team and the other is the VIP, the WordPress CMS platform hosting team. And they're built differently. One is a SaaS app, a single product, it's a beautiful dashboard, it's a single thing. The other is a platform for hundreds and hundreds of giant businesses to run whatever they want for WordPress and we just have to make sure it runs. So it's definitely platform as a service, software as a service. Two different teams, but I'm loving both of them.

Brian Alvey [00:12:30]:

So how do you combine those two objectives for those two teams? Because it's so different hosting platform and assas platform. I know there is a lot of overlap, obviously, but customer base or technology, like a little bit of the technology underneath, but I can hardly think of any other products from different worlds still within it. I'm very curious, how do you manage those two very different organizations within one business?

Maciej Nowak [00:13:09]:

Yeah, it's interesting to think about because if you think of someone like Salesforce, they constantly buy companies and they fit into a bit of a plan. Like Salesforce knows where they're going and what they're missing. Right. What they need to buy, what they need to fill in. It's a bit of a trick because one of the reasons WordPress is so successful is because of the plugin model, is because it doesn't try to do everything. It does this core bit of stuff really well, and specifically authoring. It is a plus. It is the best authoring experience you're going to have for building web content, right, or for content. Right. It's phenomenal. But what it doesn't say is how all these other pieces should work. So if you look at other DXPs right, suites of products, so, like an Adobe system or some other system may have like, it may have seven modules that you use. And they say, here's how authoring works, here's how rendering works, here's how personalization works, here's how commerce works, here's how whatever else analytics, right, all these other things. And they want you to buy all seven pieces in the suite. So it's like the starting price is like now a million dollars. Plus, because you have to buy the suite, you're going to have a better experience with their products if you don't just try to buy one. You have to buy all of them. So it's a bigger commit for people and that's what you're going to be sort of stuck with. So WordPress itself sort of works like the anti DXP, which is, we don't care what you do for analytics, we don't care what you do for search, we don't care what you do for all these other pieces. We're just going to do the core. And if you want to bring your own digital asset management platform, awesome. Look at us. We're based on plugins. Look how smoothly this is. And one of the craziest things that WordPress does really well, which I don't think people understand how hard it is, is to make an admin, WP admin, to make a CMS where all these crazy apps are living together in harmony and have it not suck. Because it could be very easy for you to drop in the Yoast SEO plugin and some other thing for this and like 1020 different things, and all of a sudden your CMS is like Mad Max. It's crazy. Like you can't get around and it's terrible and it's dangerous. And they make it so that all of these things work together cooperatively so you can build your own CMS that's perfect for your brand, that does the eight things that you need and uses the solutions that you want. Now, VIP is sort of the high end version of that, right? If you have the biggest website, the most problems, the most scale, the most DDoS attacks, whatever your thing is, you come to us and we'll make this stuff run. The only place where VIP has an opinion is they say, actually, hold on a second. If you're doing analysts, we think you should use Parsley, and here's why. And Parsley is a good fit for at least half of our customers, especially media companies, people with a lot of traffic, big editorial teams, right? Big newsrooms, a lot of content, big volume of content. So we do have an opinion on that. So we're not a suite of things, but if you're doing analytics, the company a year before I joined, made this big bet to acquire Parsley. Brilliant product, brilliant founders, amazing team, amazing process. And it said in general, bring all the stuff you want, but if it's analytics around media, you're really going to want this product. This is the best one in terms of that. The platform you launch all your sites on and the analytics app that you use go hand in hand. And one thing I don't think people realized when they acquired it was we didn't acquire all the other eight things in a traditional suite, a personalization engine, or digital asset management, or any of these other kinds of things. We did acquire analytics. And the teams don't work the same. The Parsley team has its own process. We've ended up carrying that process over into the platform team. So the way that Sprints iterations and Interludes and all that work and the way that we build product, we've tried to blend them a bit, even though they're not the same kinds of things that we're doing. But I think where we're finally seeing this gel and blend together and really look back and go, wow, god, we were so smart to buy this company, right? Like we look back at this is around the places where the two products are working together tightly and around AI right now. So AI is the big hot topic. Everybody's talking about this. And what we're learning is that we have one sort of exclusive set of data, right, the content. So we have whether it's a New York Post, Rolling Stone, White House, all these different websites, we have their content, so we're able to do things. But if you see a million stories, a million articles on a news site, and you try to build AI on top of that, that's interesting, that's good. Maybe you can write stories in that brand's voice. Maybe you can answer questions about things, about the history of music or Hollywood or whatever their topic is. But none of that matters if you don't know which of those thousand articles outperformed all the rest of them ten times, right? Which ones were the highest traffic ones. So it turns out that the analytics that we have on the content are crucial. They're essential to AI. If we're going to then say, OOH, you should write more like this, less like this. Here's how to fix your bottom performing content. Here's how to double down and go all in on your top performing content. Or here are things that we've learned from around the network that might help your brand as you're trying to make new content. So it's very interesting that you look at these loops of like, create, publish, measure, optimize, create, publish, measure, optimize, whatever that cycle is. Everybody has different words for those four stages, and I probably won't use the same words twice, but in all of that, if you're not measuring, how do you optimize? So it really turns out that partially was the missing piece for us. And if we have to have an opinion about one thing in that stack, in that suite, it's going to be analytics because your business rises and falls based on measuring and optimizing.

Brian Alvey [00:19:05]:

All right, so I would like to make a couple of step backs back still to circle around you as the CTO, because when I was preparing for our conversation, I calculated that you being CTO of workplace VIP is roughly 5% of your professional career, time wise.

Maciej Nowak [00:19:32]:

So you're saying that I'm old? Yes, I am old.

Brian Alvey [00:19:35]:

No, I'm saying you're a very experienced, very experienced gentleman running technology operations in VIP. And I'm wondering, something that struck me is that most of the places you worked, you had to create by yourself, like from the companies then when they were sold, moved to the advisory positions and so on. Now you are acting as a CTO of workers VIP, and I'm wondering, how did you join VIP? And no pressure, Brian, you're the third within three years time. So I'm really curious about the background of the situation of what's the behind the scenes of joining Corpus VIPs, the CTO.

Maciej Nowak [00:20:23]:

Yeah, sure. So you're right. A long time ago, I've been lucky to work with a lot of great brands. I've never built things that you haven't heard of from the beginning, everything online. I've been very lucky to work with brands that people know and similarly with investors. I've had really famous investors and it's been really good. And at one investor summit we went to, they gave out T shirts that had a quote, and it was the guy who created CNN and I'm blanking on his name right now, but it was a quote about his son being an entrepreneur. And it said, an entrepreneur is what they call you when you don't have a job or you can't work for someone else or something like that. Some kind of slam about that. And when I started doing things, we didn't call them startups and I didn't know what entrepreneurs were. Right. I knew entrepreneurial, sure, but it wasn't like a career. Like, oh, we're all entrepreneurs now, right? And investors and all that didn't understand how any of that worked. We just couldn't find the things to do that we wanted to do in the companies that we had to work for. So a friend of mine and I had worked at, you know, he worked at Sony, I worked at Business Week. But we wanted to do magazine stuff together. And so we just did that on the side. You would just do things on the side. These are hobbies. And then until you sold ad revenue, you sold ad placements and you had revenue and you hired people and it turned into a business. And then you had to learn how to incorporate. So we just kind of fell into that we never thought about. Now you watch Shark Tank. Now you listen to this week in startups. Now you watch the Social Network movie and everybody my grandmother understands how startups work. They understand how VCs work. They understand you walk out on the big shiny floor and you pitch Mark Cuban and you ask him for money. That's how it works, right? So it's a different thing in all of that. I was that sort of entrepreneur, right? Like couldn't really work for other people, unhirable, whatever you want to call it. But building things that I thought were interesting in the moment and going faster than I could if I was working at a company where they were telling me no all the time or let's not have risk. So I did all of that. So you're right, this last sort of year and a half is a big change. I'd actually say it's more of a grown up job in terms of can you deal with having a boss? Again? If you've been the boss for 20 years, can you have a boss? And I kind of lucked out because the person that I report to, Nick, is a phenomenal CEO and I'll be blocked on something and he'll come in with an answer and I'll go, wow, damn, I'm glad I work with you. So that's really interesting. And then he reports to Matt Mullenweig, who was one of the creators of WordPress, right? And built automatic. So it's a very flat organization. It's still a very crazy take the time you need, do what you want, you be you. It's not a very corporate company at all, right? But we have really big but the part that we do, the enterprise part, has really big important government customers, giant enterprises. We are the crazy little division wearing suits inside like a circus show of people who are going to be any, look how you want, dress how you want, do what you want. And so Automatic is a wonderful, wonderful open company. Loves open source, really believes in the indie web. And then we are this crazy little professional team in a little room over here that's trying to do businessy things inside this big company. So it's been a challenge, right? Inheriting someone else's teams, selling someone else's product, right? Making this thing work. But it works for a lot of different reasons. And I'd say the number one reason is that WordPress is inevitable. So when I started building CMS, there was no WordPress. I built things in the came out in 2003. Just two days ago. I got to see Matt on the 20th birthday of WordPress and we took a little selfie on his rooftop, on the rooftop of his building. And it just made me very happy because I wasn't a part of WordPress. I didn't build WordPress. I wasn't there. I built things six or eight years before WordPress. I continued building CMS. I never had a reason to install WordPress. Like, who cares? I would compete against WordPress to get News Corp. To do some big thing with me or to get something. I would compete against Adobe, compete against something. So I was always building my own things. And at some point so how did I get there? Is I had a video startup, a social video company, and it was doing well, but we would do these campaigns with celebrities and their fans. So we had a way for let's say you're hosting a podcast and you want to get video questions from fans for an upcoming guest. So we had a way where you could just share a link, just a link to a web page, put it on Twitter, put it on Instagram. People would swipe up, watch your intro video, see what you were asking for, and then click a reply button. And without leaving the Instagram app, without leaving the Instagram story, without installing anything, their camera would turn on and they could send you back videos. Or if you were Taylor Swift or The Rock, you could ask your fans a question, and they could send you back videos. And so we had a whole platform for that. And what happened with us was we got into an interesting spot where every third or fourth campaign that we did with a celebrity was huge. Like, Ogilvy. Somebody at Ogilvy who'd been there 20 years. Like, I've never seen anything work like this. This is magic. You got 15 hours of videos. It's brand safe. UGC. You've solved everything. And the next two or three campaigns will go nowhere, and then we do another one. It was fantastic. So we're in this zone where we hadn't yet figured out product market fit for our video product. And I happened to write Matt about something a couple of Septembers ago, and he said, oh, what are you doing? We might want you to come help us with some stuff. And so we ended up talking, and then we ended up joining, but that was it. And so it's definitely, I'd say, out of my comfort zone in some ways, to inherit somebody else's team. But at the same time, I feel like I went from a small company that didn't have a sales team and didn't have a support team to I just hired 50 great salespeople and somebody amazing to lead it. Right. I feel almost like I hired all these people that I joined. I just got a great sales team. I just got a great support team. I got a great chief marketing officer. I got a really good CEO. So it's been fun for that reason that it's out of my comfort zone and not being my own boss. So it's freeing in certain ways. Right. I don't have to worry about everything.

Brian Alvey [00:26:33]:

Yeah. And I am asking one question, and you are giving your answer. And during the answer, it's like. Next question gone. Next question gone. My list of questions shrinking twice or three times as fast as I'm asking them. But you mentioned a couple of things I wanted to ask you, like being that there's that opinion that when you and you're starting your own companies 1 second and so on, you are becoming unemployable because you would never change that. And you mentioned that it's like grown up work, grown up stuff to do. I was curious very much, how are you making this transition from what you have built? You shared this already a lot, but I'm very curious what would be the thing that you were worried about when leaving the comfort zone of that safe space? You knew from the day one of the company you created, knowing the problems inside out and so on, maybe smaller team, maybe not so small, but what was one thing that you worried that would be a problem? Transitioning from that comfort zone to something organized, even corporate, with a corporate profile within this crazy environment of WordPress, that wasn't the case. So you worried about something, but it never materialized. You were surprised and the opposite, something that struck you as would be easy to do and was totally the opposite.

Maciej Nowak [00:28:21]:

Yeah, let me think about that. I would say I don't have any complaints. Right. The things I worried about, right. Inheriting a team, selling someone else's product. I would say one of the more disappointing things. So, one, my wife is like, you're going to have a boss again. How's that going to work? Right? And it actually turned out really well. And then I don't think about it much. Right. But then when we actually have to do things together, I'm always just shocked at the level of help that I get. I'm usually on these meetups, I'm the oldest person in the room, right. So I'm not looking around for a mentor, I'm not looking around for something, but I have a really good boss who acts as a mentor, and that works really well. So the things that I worried about are this taking over the big team, it's not my product, I didn't invent it. How's that going to go? Do I have enough energy for this? It's a lot more work to juggle 70 people and all these nine calls in a row, overlapping phone calls every day with customers, with teammates. There are people that I only get to talk to once a year. It's insane. There's too much to do. So do I have enough energy for this now? Is this what I want to do next? And so far, I run myself a bit ragged. I travel a lot, I sleep on airplanes. I fly a lot of red eyes. I get sick a lot. Hopefully I'll be healthy next week because we're going a family trip. So I was talking about this the other day, even with Matt, and I said I probably haven't worked this hard in 20 years, since the last time before I got to run my own companies and before I'd made a lot of money and didn't have to worry so much. Right? But I take this very seriously. They acquired my company. I'm the smallest investor ever in this company, right? So I'm a bit of an owner, and I look at it like an owner. I want to increase our valuation. I want our numbers to go up. I want us to thrive during a recession, not contract. Right? So I take this seriously. And I think he was shocked when I said, I haven't worked this hard in 20 years, 18 years, 17 years. And he's like, really? I said, yeah, but I do it because it's just so much to do and I really do care and I want this to work. And then in a week, I'm going to go unplug for two weeks with my family and go on this epic vacation. And so it's really, work hard, play hard. And he repeated that back to me. He goes, yeah, work hard, play hard. I like that. And it is I'm going to tell you one, it's very funny that I'm answering more things than you ask, but that's what I do.

Brian Alvey [00:30:46]:

But this is very interesting. It's like you would be reading my mind. Really?

Maciej Nowak [00:30:51]:

Yeah. I also like interviewing people. I love doing podcasts and stuff, so this is good. So there's another thing, too. So when we look at ways that Matt and I are alike, right? And not to single him out throughout this interview, but I really do think about, this is his company, his product, his vision, and how am I going to work with that when I spent, whatever, 18 years ignoring it, right? Like, I thought it was cute we had respect for each other, but I would never install WordPress and use it for something and he would never install something I built. Right? That's cool. But unlike a lot of the other players in the space, we liked each other, respected each other, and always thought it would be great to work together. Right? So now I'm here and this is all good. So it's going well, but I don't know. There are, like, three things that I look at with me and Matt again, a single hunt out. I think we align on two of them and we don't align on one. And so that was one of my bigger questions when I came into this, was how would that play out? Because a lot of people that I've worked with here, especially in support and stuff like that, they were born into WordPress. They don't know the web before WordPress existed. They don't know coding before the WordPress site work. They did. Right. A lot of people here, I joke WordPress tattoos, they bleed WordPress colors, they're so WordPress. And I'm just not. So when you look at me and Matt, he runs a big distributed remote workforce that's global. 2000 people, no offices, right? They're all over the planet. And it's not all over the planet. Like they're all over America. They're all over the planet. So I have calls at 06:00 a.m with Manchester and Hungary and all of this and then I have calls at 11:00 at night because we have Australia and all we have a lot of time zones to cover and it's not fair to have somebody have to do something at midnight their time all the time just because I'm on the west coast so we both are completely aligned to stop you.

Brian Alvey [00:32:50]:

Sorry for jumping in, but then you are the guy that is answering the more or less calls all day long. You are on the plane. Red eye, red eyes. This is interesting. And sorry for cutting you off, but when you mentioned that you haven't worked so hard for 1820 years and you want to want the numbers to go up, we are recording this on the federal holiday, right, on Monday, right? Look, you're sick making the interview with me on your supposedly day off. Is this an American US work ethos or is it you driving this so hard?

Maciej Nowak [00:33:45]:

So it's me being a workaholic because my American teammates are off today. But I had a call with one of our teammates in Europe this morning who works on the gutenberg core stuff. Like we had we had a really good session. I'm also trying to just get a lot of things done before I go away for a bit and then come back and there's so even when I travel so we have these meetups, right? So a long time ago when I had I had all distributed remote teams, probably before WordPress existed, right? So more than 20 years ago we had companies with people all over the place. Back then it was all over America. Maybe one person in Italy, maybe one person in Australia. It wasn't so distributed, but we've always had that. And the only way that works, no offices, completely remote, is if you still get together every three months. And we called them code jams back then. And here at Automatic they have meetups. So we just had a meetup a couple of weeks ago in Istanbul with three big teams, basically all of my CMS platform teams that I work with, right? So the platform team, the systems team, the design team, and we all got together and worked. And it's funny because it's so global that you have no choice. And so you ask about what's social time, what's time off, what's downtime versus being on, right? Like, is today a holiday for me or is today a work day? First off, being on a podcast is a heck of a lot of fun. Talking about things that I've done or that I know about. I could do that all day long, right? Like until I run out of oxygen so that's okay. I love the talk. This is fun and it's helpful to me. But even on those meetups, they ask me when they're organizing them. Hey, so what's your plan for us? We have five days, couple of travel days, but we got like three or four days in the middle. What do you want those days to be like? And if you ask me, I'm a crazy workaholic, I say, well, I would like us all to be locked in a conference room or a bunch of conference rooms with whiteboards. And I want to get up on the whiteboards and problem solve and design products and think about features and yeah, workshops and just work, work, work, build, ship, ship, ship, go. And the people organizing the event who are wonderful and very smart and great at their jobs, they go, we're really tired and we never get to see each other. Can we do more social things and just can we do a boat ride? Can we do this go cart racing thing and all this stuff? And I'm like and in my heart I'm dying. I'm like, oh my God, I can't believe they're asking for this. No. What about the whiteboards? Come on guys, let's work. And so one of them stepped in and said, look, I know you're worried that we're not going to get any work done, but these are all like programmer nerds. They all have laptop. They're going to be on the boat ride talking about work. 80% of their time they're going to spend talking about work. And so it's important to have these downtime experiences when you build a remote team. This is actually a really good point. When you build a remote team, when you build a local team, you're only going to get the talent who's within an hour commute of your city, wherever your office is, your expensive, overpriced, wasteful office. And they're going to spend 2 hours every day commuting to this dumb office and it's going to suck the life out of them and they're going to be miserable. And you can only get the talent that geographically exists in a circle around that city. You're casting a net for talent that's just this. And if you think about what WordPress has done and then what I've done in my career across four or five, six companies is I've cast a much wider net. And I said, look, I want to look across the whole planet or at least the whole country, but I'm not going to limit it to just this circle around some city where I have a lease on an office space. I'm going to look at everywhere. Can I get the best talent to build this thing with me? So my co founder for my last company, I was living in New York at the time. He was in Kansas, right in the middle of America. We didn't meet each other for a long time, working together right teams before then we were all over the place. We had one product that had eight people in seven time zones, right? So you're casting a much wider net geographically to get talent. But what you have to do is cast a narrower net psychologically to get people who are driven, people who are going to show up, people who communicate really well, people who collaborate really well, who aren't jerks and are team players. So you can say, I want anybody on Earth to work for me and come join me for this thing or work with me or build this thing with me. But really you have to find people who are, who are very responsible because you can hire somebody and disappear for two weeks and you don't hear from them and that's terrible. They don't communicate and then you don't know are they going to show up and something's built or are they going to show up and say, oh, I was stuck and I did nothing. And I learned that early on through trial and error, through hiring the wrong people to find them. And so what happens is you want to find somebody who's probably run their own business. They've had to hustle, they had five customers, they were juggling them and they wanted to add a 6th customer. But what without dropping one of the first five? So if you can find somebody who is built like that, who's driven, who's going to wake up and even if you're not paying them, they just want to get up and work on something. They want to build something, even if it's a hobby, right? So you try to find these people psychologically who are built differently and then you can hire anywhere geographically. So that's like the first thing that Matt and I are completely aligned on, which is building remote teams. I've been doing it for a long time. He's been doing it for a long time. We absolutely agree on that one. The second thing that he and I are aligned on is building great tools for creators. If I was building a podcasting platform for you or anything, I would say, what does it take you seven clicks to do? I'm going to get that down to two and then one, and then I'm going to get that down to zero clicks. I'm going to do it before you get there. Right? So I want to build these tools that make you very powerful, very strong, very effective and productive. And that's not art, that's not science, that's just I want to make you more productive, I want to make you better at your job and I want my software to be doing that for you so you would never think of someone else's software. So I build software to do that. And so Matt, same thing, build WordPress built all this stuff, this big ecosystem. So we absolutely align on remote workforces and on building, building great products that make people more powerful. Where we don't align is after you build the product.

Brian Alvey [00:40:04]:

I'm waiting for this.

Maciej Nowak [00:40:06]:

No, it's good. So on the third one, after Matt builds this amazing product, I built an amazing product. Matt goes, and now I'm going to give it away to the planet for free forever.

Brian Alvey [00:40:16]:

Exactly. I will want to dive deeper into this.

Maciej Nowak [00:40:19]:

I'm like, no, you hoard it. You put it over here in the closet and you sell it to the highest bidder. You go to the biggest customer with the biggest, most amount of money, and you only do that. So I'm built differently on that. I've done things with open source, but I was never like, WordPress is a leader in open source. When you look at things that have been successful and now 20 years later, what I realize about that, that's right. It's still not how I work. Which is why I'm running the enterprise part. I'm doing the part for those high end customers, the highest bidders. But what I've realized about that is it just makes WordPress inevitable. If there are millions and millions of people whose careers, whose everything depends on this product still existing, it'll be very hard for this product to vanish. I can imagine a lot of other CMS disappearing in a year or two. I can't imagine WordPress being gone in ten years from now, 20 years from now. And that was his vision and he did it right. So I love that. I get it. I'm still not built that way. I still don't want to give things away for free. But I'm happy to work in this small pocket within his company. On the part where we do work with the people who have bigger, more extreme needs, government customers who need more compliance and more security, more and more and more. That's me. So we align on remote workforces and building tools for creators. We do not align on giving away for free. But now that I've been watching this for 20 years, oh, my God, he was right.

Brian Alvey [00:41:50]:

Again. I have like seven paths to follow now. I cannot decide which one because you have Opens. Really. I mean, I'm trying to decide which which path I would like to follow, but I would like for also our listeners to understand the context a little bit better you mentioned, because I would like to follow this rabbit hole of open source as much for free as possible, instead of guarding behind Paywalls and everything. And I would like you to tell me a little bit more because you've built a couple of CMS, I count at least two, right? One for Blogging platform, which was now I forgot the web. Blocks. Blocksmith, sorry.

Maciej Nowak [00:42:47]:

That one was called Blogsmith, right? And AOL bought that and it still runs in some version. There was another one called Crowdfusion, which was something that we did with TMZ, MySpace, Best Buy, a bunch of other companies. And then there was another one called Saros, which Crowdfusion acquired. But then we invented a new product, bought a company in London, kept their name, and that company raised, I think it was $100 million, like three years ago. So that's a billion dollar platform. So those are probably the three most popular. But I also built a website for an NFL team football team in America called the Kansas City Chiefs. That was a CMS. I built one with a team for Netscape.

Brian Alvey [00:43:22]:

From scratch.

Maciej Nowak [00:43:24]:

Yeah, those are all from scratch. So I think I built about two dozen CMS. And that's the joke. I built two dozen CMS. They've raised and made millions and millions of dollars. Matt built one CMS has given away for free for 20 years, and it will never die. And it is a multi, multibillion dollar industry. So, again, he was right. But yes. So I built a few dozen CMS, but there are three popular ones.

Brian Alvey [00:43:48]:

Yes, because for me, this is crazy that Brian Alvi created two dozen of CMS, and this is just, like, amazing. How are you even building this, again, from scratch? I'm thinking about design patterns, drawing conclusions from the previous CMS, what was working, what was not working. And yet, for so many years, WordPress was not the way to go for you. So I'm really curious because this also a Crowdfusion, from what I read later, under a different name, it was Enterprise. Great, enterprise focused CMS, a lot like.

Maciej Nowak [00:44:34]:

What I'm doing today. So if you think of, like, TMZ those sites, those are high traffic websites. They break news when Michael Jackson dies. When Whitney Houston dies. A lot of celebrity deaths, of course, which is sad, but they have just record breaking traffic numbers. When Michael Jackson died, the TMZ kept working. Right? I was very proud that our system stayed up, but I would still get phone calls from Harvey Levin, the guy on TV who runs TMZ, screaming at me because the site was down. But the site wasn't down. Bitly was down. So all the links that were on Twitter were failing because they couldn't redirect. But the website was there. We were never down. It was all the other services on the Internet were crashing. All these other things were failing. And so our stuff stayed up. So that was sort of my background, was like building high scale, high traffic things that stayed up. So then if you look at what I'm doing now with VIP, that's exactly what we're doing, too, is we're not doing, we're not doing Tumblr, we're not doing the other things Automatic does. We're not doing regular sized websites. Right? We're doing all of this high end stuff. What was your question on that?

Brian Alvey [00:45:45]:

Yeah, I'm thinking about the background. You have the huge amount of experience in building CMS platforms for clients, and why WordPress never like, because blocksmith started when WordPress started. This is the same year, and this is like a coincidence? Not coincidence. I'm curious now, the year WordPress started, you started your own thing and then WordPress was gaining a little bit more of traction.

Maciej Nowak [00:46:23]:

I get that. Yeah. In the 90s, in 95, I built some websites that didn't have a CMS, right? They were just HTML, right? So Businessweek, TV Guide, big brands, but they were just a static website that would fit on a floppy or whatever. Back in the day, somewhere in the, a couple of years later in the realized, oh, you could put a database behind a website and you could have a dynamic website that was changed and like, this is cool. And then how do you edit those things? Oh, well, let's make screens for them to edit those things. So we didn't know they were called CMS or content management, right? We just knew like we needed a way for photo editors at businessweek to edit things and do it in a web application and then have it all work for them. I ended up building CMS, and so around 2000 I was building conference websites for conferences to take $1,000 ticket orders and stuff like that in New York for big events and a bunch of other things. But was it always the right CMS for that brand? Right? So one of them was on investor deals, so it wasn't a blog, it was company name amount, which company invested in which company databases of stuff like business data, things like that, right? So we're building CMS for business data. And so when you say WordPress 2003, but I knew of it in 2004, but by 2004 we already had Engadget, we already had Autoblog, we already had all these blogs running on our platform. And so I built the CMS the way I did, which was Microsoft ASP from the was still doing that around 2002, 2003. Somewhere in there we hired a team and we rebuilt things in Lamp, so PHP and Apache and on Linux and that was all fantastic. But even then, by the time we were doing that, by the time we sold Engadgets on all those other blogs to AOL, WordPress was only two years old. It was very new. And so when I met Matt, I was on stage at south by Southwest in 2004 in Austin, Texas. And I was up there with some like these famous web design people, jeffrey Zeldman, and I think it's like Contact Chalk, all these early very famous web design people. And I was the one person doing back end stuff and I was up there giving a talk and Matt was in the audience and his product was a year old, maybe it wasn't two years old. So it's very early. So there was no opportunity for me when I was building those things and then selling them and being very successful with CMS to then decide, oh, let's go try WordPress, because WordPress is very new. So WordPress 18 years ago, very different than WordPress today, right? So now you look at all the things I built, even the last thing I did, that social video platform where you share a link and you get videos back from your fans. If you're Shakira, you're getting 800 videos back from your fans in a matter of minutes, right? All of that came into a custom CMS. Not WordPress, right? Not something else. So I built with my co founder, who I still work with today, Max, the one from Kansas. I'm very happy that he's with me. He's on my VIP team and I get to see him in Istanbul and all over the place, and I love him. We built a custom CMS and we built it in React. We had a React native app. We did a lot of custom iOS code. None of this was a fit for WordPress because it was a social video platform. And all those videos that would come in for Shakira had to be we didn't work with Shakira, we worked with Little NASA because we worked with a bunch of other stars. But all those videos that would come back in had to be transcoded. They had to be transcribed because we wanted to give you a CMS where you could look at 15 hours of video in five minutes. How do I scan through and find all the good ones? How do I just read what they say? That person looks like a crazy person. I don't care about that video. This one looks nice. Oh, it's a kid. Oh, let me see. It's a very nice person. This is a very good video. Let's see what the person has to say. Oh, these words are good. Now I'll watch the video. So we gave you a way to quickly speed through a lot of content, and it could have been done in WordPress, but we got it done really quickly. And other stuff, we actually had it. We had a CMS that worked in Chinese and English because we were working with Digitas in Taiwan on things for the Olympics in Japan. So we built a very custom specific thing for that business. Now I'd say the big so. So that's why I've done two dozen of these, and then each time it's been sort of the right, very specific thing for what we did now with WordPress. I think what's changed with WordPress, especially in the last five years, is Gutenberg and Gutenberg blocks. So back at 20 years ago, when we were doing ours and WordPress was starting, everybody said, oh, I wish I had blocks. I wish I just had blocks of content that I could take, change the order, remix, go in. I want to be able to change the design on a block, on a block and have it change everywhere. Right? All of these things were not possible before three, four years ago, as gutenberg has matured. So what I feel like is I built all these two dozen CMS. And at the right time WordPress just not only was big in terms of 43% of the web or 30 something percent of the top 10,000 websites not only got even better fit and was inevitable and is only growing but also the Gutenberg project really meant oh, that thing we wanted to do for 20 years is finally possible. And the Gutenberg project matured. And so it's just a phenomenal time to be involved with it. And I couldn't believe in it more like I couldn't be happier with it. So now I look back at, okay, that video thing I just did two, three, six years ago, or something before that, oh, I know how I would do this in Gutenberg. I know how I would pull all of this together. WordPress could be how I would have done something that I did in Crowdfusion ten years ago. Crowdfusion was a structured data CMS. So if you had to edit product pages with really complicated data points and really complicated structured data on a camera, a number of lenses, a pull down, all these kinds of menus, Crowdfusion was perfect for that. WordPress at the time was not. WordPress today with Gutenberg could absolutely do a lot of that. So I think that's what happened is WordPress got good.

Brian Alvey [00:52:37]:

Yeah, I think I understand the difference now because when I was thinking about this, I was thinking that behind the scenes, all of those CMS were based on the same principle, executed a different way. What I'm understanding from you is that every CMS you have created was created for purpose, very dedicated solution to match the huge platform that you were building and one through them all, like general fit, generic approach as WordPress provides, wasn't possible at that time or still probably now, not in every case. This is best way to go.

Maciej Nowak [00:53:26]:

That product database. So Engadget and Autoblog or blog posts, right? That's easy. That could have been a fit for WordPress if WordPress had existed maybe two years before it started, right? But you think about Seros, it's like a drag and drop canvas for it's almost like Flash, but in HTML, and it's almost like Google Docs. You and I can be in there real time, collaboratively editing, multi page magazine layouts with columns of text and stuff. That's a very specific, very radical, very interesting thing for brands, right? That's a really cool product. But for the football team, the Kansas City Chiefs, the NFL team site we did back in 2003 or four or whatever, you know, what they cared about was the cheerleader pages. Nothing else mattered. News scores, none of that mattered. What did the cheerleader gallery look like? So they had a very specific need for very specific kinds of data. Here's a funny thing, too. Around the same time, I built a CMS with two other people for Capgemini, the big global financial services company. And today Capgemini runs on VIP. One. Of our blogs we had way back when within Gadget and all those things was called Hackaday, which is a daily hack project. Hackaday runs on VIP. I've actually built a lot of things that when I got to VIP, I was like, oh, that old thing I used to work with works here. It's now on VIP. So you see how things that had maybe a more bespoke, maybe more custom CMS 20 years later, ten years later, they work really well on WordPress at VIP.

Brian Alvey [00:55:03]:

Yeah. That's amazing. One thing that we have in common is that we also work with Calgemini. So this is fun accident coincidence, but since we are talking about the platforms you have built, you have created blocksmith with Jason Kalakanis, and this is a very interesting character. And I wonder maybe how did it happen and what are the learning lessons, like lessons learned from this experience of working with a very strong character?

Maciej Nowak [00:55:49]:

Yeah. So Jason and I met when we were in high school in Brooklyn. And so he's the middle of three brothers. I was best friends with his older brother, who I met my freshman year of high school. But I met Jason because he was the younger brother, the middle brother. And Jason and I are actually closer in age. I was the second youngest kid in my high school class. So his brother, who was my best friend, was like 1112 months older than me, almost twelve months older than me. And so Jason and I were actually closer in age. And so after high school, during college, and then after college a bit, we would meet a lot on the subway and we'd hang out together. And then it turns out our personalities are a lot the same. We're both very driven, we both want to conquer the world, and so we fit really well together. What do you want to do this weekend? What do you want to do on a holiday? I want to work. So we would just work together, and we ended up doing that a lot. And so we worked together a bunch and it was fun. Magazines, print magazines. And then I worked for him a couple of times. So if I worked for him five different times, I think I quit on him five times. Not easy to work for.

Brian Alvey [00:56:57]:

May I, may I ask a follow up question? You quit five times, work for him five times, quit five times. What were you thinking when you were joining him for the first time?

Maciej Nowak [00:57:10]:

I know so early on, it was side project, it was hobbies. We would do a magazine in my house. And I had a good color printer and I had a Big Mac, and I knew how to do layout. So he ran editorial and did ad sales and stuff, and I did the layouts. And then he would stay with me. And we would stay up overnight waiting for the printer to print. Because it took a long time back then. And then we'd turn all the stuff in and we'd have a print magazine. It was really working together as Hobbies. Later on, when he had a company, I would go work with him, and it would be for whatever reason, it wouldn't work, and I'd go work on something else. I also had other jobs the whole time through all of this. So it wasn't a lot of full time jobs quitting on him, but it was a lot of like, hey, I need you to be my art director for this thing, and I'd be it for two months. Then it was a disaster or it was just wrong and I would stop. So he'd get a new art director, and then that one would quit and he'd say, hey, I want you back. So we work together on and off a lot, a lot of times in very few years. But he's fun to work with, and I love him, and I feel like he's my brother. I feel like I'm the fourth Calicanist brother in some ways, so that was good. But he definitely has a strong personality. Everything you see or hear on his podcast or when he's on TV or all these different things, I mean, that's him. I don't think he has a public persona and a private Jason mode. I think there's just one Jason, which is very nice. So I've worked with him. I've worked with a bunch of other people. Like I said, Harvey Levin at TMZ. He's on TV all the time. He's a character he would call screaming when things were when some AOL data center was down or something. That wasn't my fault and my sites were down and his site was down, but I had the CMS, so he blamed me. So he's looking for me to solve it. I'm like, Actually, Harvey, if you can get off the phone, I can call Columbus, Ohio data center and see what's going on and try to get our stuff working again. So I've worked with a lot of characters like that, and I wondered because Matt is very famous and he built something really big, and he is that level of character in some ways, but he has a very soft spoken demeanor when he's on a podcast. When he's doing, he sounds very thoughtful. He takes a long time to answer things. I speak really quickly. He's very thoughtful. He's very measured. He's really smart. And so I was wondering, oh, no, is he going to be another crazy, driven, screaming lunatic like Jason or like Harvey Levin from TMZ? And it's not like that at all. He's just as driven. He wants this thing to be the biggest thing ever. He wants it to last 100 more years. He really, really believes in what he's doing, but he doesn't flip out on people and use screaming and fear the same way that other characters do. And I have a high tolerance for the screaming and the abuse, that kind of stuff. So I've done well with that. But I'm happy to not have to even think about that now. And there's more characters, there's more famous people, great, really famous investors and all that. But for the most part, I tolerate that really well, and I just want to get things done and solve problems. And so it's all worked out, but I don't really worry about the characters anymore, and I don't have to.

Brian Alvey [01:00:24]:

Yeah. Does this come with the experience? Because the tolerance because I'm thinking also there are maybe two modes of operation. You either acquire the qualities of the environment you work within or from your superiors, your bosses and so on, or you take the stance totally opposite. Like, this is the this is the anti, anti character. I don't I never want to be this person. So I I will see those mistakes, you know, ways of doing things I will avoid when I move or I get promoted. So I'm thinking no, because CTO is also this level of position also involves a lot of leadership skills. That's why I was asking, is this more art or science? Because there is that leadership component that goes into sea level positions of managing your division, arm, leg, or whatever you call it, of people. So I'm wondering what is you have learned from this experience versus what's your leadership style and your opinion on the leadership on the CTO role in general.

Maciej Nowak [01:01:54]:

Sure. Okay. So there's a few questions in that. So one is back to that idea of these crazy characters that you have to work with, right? I think there are I like to oversimplify things, and I use a lot of extreme language, so I use Kill and Died and Fire and Fail and Success. And there's no language for me that you'll get that's just in the middle.

Brian Alvey [01:02:17]:

And I overcomplicate my question. So I want to ask and I ask three things, and then when I ask one thing, you answer four.

Maciej Nowak [01:02:30]:

I'll do that, too, and I'll tell somebody. So the question you didn't ask that I'd like to answer is this because I'm more of that? Well, no. Here's the thing on leadership styles, right? So if you think of something and it's been a long time, maybe never, that I've thought about how this applies to me because I don't think of my leadership style. I don't think I'm the guy who's going to come in and do a reorg and the guy who's going to come in and change process. But in the year and a half since we got there, we've changed a lot of process and we've reorganized things a bit. But it's not like I come in with a playbook. Here's what worked for me at my last ten companies, and here's what I'm going to do here. I think people who do that fail. That's like the book what got you here won't get you there. Whatever worked for you last time probably not going to work here. Yeah. Or what?

Brian Alvey [01:03:15]:

Or 90 days. So what's your 90 day plan for new position? You are taking over new position, whatever you do.

Maciej Nowak [01:03:23]:

My 90 day position was to just not break things, not mess things up. My 90 day plan was not to break things. So I did not break things and mess things up. A lot of people are very happy with how it's going, which is good. I think there's a lot more to do. There's a lot of unfinished business. But back to the leadership thing, I oversimplify it, and I think of two kinds of leaders. I think of Captain America and Darth Vader. So I think of those two. If you're a Darth Vader style leader who screams at people, who creates all this urgency at work, when maybe it doesn't need to be so urgent, it doesn't need to be so crazy, you don't need to do an overnight, you don't need to scream at people, you don't need to be miserable. The second that that leader walks away, what do all the employees do? They want to get an escape pod and leave. They want to flee. They want to get away. When Darth Vader is not on the Death Star, everybody there is like taking a nap when he's there. They're scared. They're freaking out. They're working hard. They're doing 18 hours, days. They're doing all this crazy stuff. So the Darth Vader style of leadership is very good. Short term, if you need to get something built in a month or three months, you will work people to death. It's miserable, but they're scared, and they have no choice, and they're going to do it, and they're going to keep doing that, and they're not going to wise up and realize that they can get away it. But when Darth Vader leaves, those people are not going to do what Darth Vader wants. They're going to run. Right? Captain America, the other side is kind of leading by example. So Captain America is going to explain things, do them. But when Captain America is not there, you still want to do the right thing. You want to make him proud. You want to do what you would be doing if he was standing there. So you don't want to run. You don't want to flee. You want to finish the mission. You want to do the right thing. So I think there's two ways you can work with people. And I think the people who use fear and who use a manufactured sense of urgency and who create terrible working environments, I think they can get a lot done in a short amount of time. But I don't think in the long term and WordPress thinks very long term, I don't think in the long term that you're going to be successful, because the second people can leave, they leave. And if you can do it the other way and lead by example and lead by hope and lead by creating the idea of a mission with people, then when you're not around to tell them what to do, because I have 70 people to talk to and then another 300, and too many customers. There's just too many. So I have people, again, sadly, that I talk to once or twice a year, and I can't talk to all of them. So I'm not going to be there when they're making decisions. I want to make sure that they make the ones that they would have made if I was in the room. So that's probably how I lead. And it feels like that's how Matt and all of WordPress works, which is it's a mission. You understand how to do the right thing, what to do. The company has a creed. They talk about helping people even when it's not your job. So one of the neat things that I see that a lot of our people do is when something's going wrong, when something's breaking on Tumblr, when something's breaking on or WooCommerce or some other thing under some security event or something. I have people on my teams that have a lot of stuff to do for really important, really big famous clients, very important websites that go and they jump in and they go help and they spend their days and their evenings and their nights helping solve some problem somewhere and fixing things and going through repos and pushing changes and looking at just helping. They just help. And so we definitely have that leadership culture here. That is the one I'd like to hope that I do. I definitely don't scream at people. I think I don't scream at people enough. I don't scream at people at all. But I don't want to be that kind of leader. I don't even think of this leadership. Why there's no 90 day plan for me is because in 90 days, I could not wrap my head around everything that was going on enough to say, wait, what if we go this way a little bit, right? What if we try this next? Okay, stop that thing you're working on and go, do this. I can't just come in and tell them, stop, change, do this. I have to look at it, figure it out. We have to figure out the business goals. There's a very profound thing that one of our customers said to us recently. We had a little event in New York City a few weeks ago, and he mentioned when he came in to do his job to build websites, he told his bosses, I'm not here to build a website. I'm here to build a business. So you tell me what your business goals are, and I'll build the website that makes those business goals happen. And I think that was very profound. I think we're not really here to build a product necessarily. We're here to build a business and our business is to make other businesses better. And if you can keep that in mind the whole time, then that's a great like you don't need a leader to tell you what to do. What should I be doing today? What helps my customers grow? That's what you should be doing today. Do you need somebody to tell you how to do that? Maybe, maybe not. I hope not. We have a bunch of very responsible, driven people who communicate really well and collaborate really well. And as long as you have them pointed in the right direction to make your customers grow, if your customers grow, you're going to grow. So that to me is leadership. Tie those things together, help your customers grow, you'll grow.

Brian Alvey [01:08:28]:

Yeah. I really like it. I really like it. It's more like a pull instead of push of this approach. Sure. When I'm listening to you. There is an article on Ink that I read recently. The author Steve Jobs famously said that we don't want to hire a bunch of smart people to tell them what to do to do. We want them tell us what to do. Right. And from this tempt a lot of different things. Like we are hiring bunch of smart people and lock them in the room and see what happens. And this is like or let them do what they want to do. And on Twitter I read something to the effect that this is the dumbest idea ever to lock down those smartest guys and let them lose. Back to that ink piece. The opinion was that right now we are like 20 years after this huge boom in it. Like websites are now mature. You mentioned that grandmas know how startups operate. We are not in the mode of this is all new. We are in the mode that 40 years old. People are in the mode that this is the way to operate using PC smartphones is the status quo. And the younger generations, millennials that are coming to the, let's say professional market, they are in a coping mode, in a catching up mode with those people. And this is no longer the case of they are teaching us, let's say the older generations, they are catching up with us and they cannot catch up because there is so much to learn. And the idea is that it's not the case of letting everyone lose, but rather taking those very smart people and training them in what business want or wants or what are the results. And I'm curious, what's your opinion on this? On hiring people, letting them lose versus hiring people and training them to be very professional and very taking their talent and capitalizing on this talent, but with a lot of training and giving clear expectations. So very long question with a lot of background, but I hope this makes sense.

Maciej Nowak [01:11:20]:

Yeah. And the Steve Jobs part. The way that I'd always heard it was you don't hire if you need seven people or whatever, you don't hire specific roles. You're not putting together a Dungeon and Dragons crew with one archer and one strong person and one wizard. You don't hire for those specific roles. You get really smart people who can kind of do, especially in an early days, early startup, first ten people, they all wear a lot of hats, they all do a lot of things. So the way I've heard it phrased was you don't hire these specific people to get on the bus with you. You get the smartest people you can on your bus and you go off because in three months you're going to change directions. And you might not need somebody who's created this one weird database or this one weird front end thing or something like that. So you want to get the smartest people to do things. What you don't want to do though, is just to have them work on whatever they want. This is not a university lab where they can just do whatever crazy thing they feel like, right? So there's a balance of what's the overall business direction and then what do people work on? And some people confuse the two and they think that the way the business runs is your OKRs and your to do list for your team. And when you have like finance, write a to do list for your engineers, you have a terrible workplace, that's a horrible thing to do, right? That's not probably not going to go very well. But the flip side is you can't have these really smart people doing whatever they want with no business direction. So there's a balance between the two, right? You can't let one of those two modes run how things work. So we just went through this exercise with the Parsley team because they have a very organic, very mindful product thinking way that they work. And they work in bets. They don't have a roadmap for enterprise customers to look at, they don't do all these things and they work on bets. They pitch literally. If you want to change what you're working on every two weeks, four weeks, six weeks, whatever the next pitch session is, you make a video or you make a case for, like, I think I should stop working on reporting, and I should now work on a way to do attribution for conversions or something, right? You pitch it and if you pitch it really well and you can get a few other people to join you, now you're working on that. So they really do dictate what they work on. The downside is if they're just working on things that they think are the next thing to do, that's not good. Yes, they're customer informed, but the business has a direction that it wants to go. So what you actually have to do is say, look, you can pitch your bets, you can work on anything you want to work on. You can make a case for why your solution is going to work. We're not going to tell you exactly what to do. We're going to tell you the outcome we want and we're going to say that roughly we want 60% of you working on this, 20% on this, 20% on that. But within that, once we've set the overall direction, what we're trying to do, what customer problems we're trying to solve, we'll tell those to the product team. And then the product team can say, look, I think this is all about a dashboard or reports, or maybe it's an email. Maybe it's real time, maybe it's not real time. Doesn't matter. It's up to them to figure out here's a problem to solve for the customer. So the business has to rank those problems to solve customers, the business has to rank which customers it wants to go after because you can't work in isolation as a product. So you can't say, you can't tell the product team, hey, we'd like to solve these things and have them only solve it for one kind of customer. Or maybe they solve it for consumers, but not enterprise. Maybe they solve it for enterprise, but not consumers. You actually want it. You have to make sure that the product that gets built is the one that your sales team is going to sell, is the one that your marketing team is going to market, is the one your support team is going to support. So if you look at us, we are clearly enter prize. So sometimes we get asked, hey, can we make Parsley, the content analytics engine work for every blog on Earth? All of, all of anything? And the answer is, well, you could, but it's not really a fit for that. It's really good for big newsrooms with a lot of editors, with a lot of like, it's built to be perfect for those things. And the other way to look at it as is, if you're having your product team build something that isn't sold by an enterprise sales team and supported by enterprise support team and marketed by an enterprise marketing team, your enterprise product team should not be building that. So there's interesting ways to do these tests to figure out what you can do. But at the end of the day, if you can set a broad, loose set of priorities and say, here's what we're going after, here are the business metrics we're trying to change. We get a 30% conversion rate in sales of this kind of product and a 4% in this one. We need the 4% to go up. If you can tell them that and hand that to your product team and not say I need you to build a better filtering tool, pull down, screen some mechanism, don't tell them how to do it or what it is. Tell them what your business goal is and they'll build the right thing. So we have a very interesting thing that just went on where we had a gap between the business goals and what the product team was doing and it wasn't their fault. It's probably mine. I'm the one in between the business goals and the product team, right? It's my job to make sure that the overall direction of that bus is set and anybody on the bus is smart, talented, creative, doing the things that they think are going to solve the problems. But don't ever tell your product team, go build X. Tell them, go solve this problem for the customer and then let them surprise you. So it's a mix. You want those smart people that can do anything, but they can't be directionless. This is not a research lab.

Brian Alvey [01:16:50]:

I will complicate the picture right now because I would like to introduce now the open source and the community, those two actors comes into the scene. So it probably doesn't involve you, involve you as WP VIP directly. But this is a little bit I'm referring back a little bit also to what you said that you're not totally aligned with what Matt wants. Like everything for the community for free versus let's lock it behind the cashier desk, let's say. But how to include this component of community working for free, huge, enormous community, yet there is also for profit component and the whole vision for WordPress and so many voices to manage community also needs to be made happy because they also need rewards, not financial, but recognition, reputation. It's like yet another customer to which WordPress as a thing has to sell, right? So I wonder how to manage it. It's been done for 20 years. With every new Word camp, like Europe level, there is always like community voice coming to the scene, grabs the microphone and voice their concerns. So I really want to understand this big picture and I will have follow up questions if you let me.

Maciej Nowak [01:18:30]:

I have a better idea, a better idea today of how it fits in than I did a few months ago. So the open source question is really interesting because it's not my background, right? It's not my thing to give things away. And so it's taken me a little while to wrap my head around what things because we do build things. So overall we don't build WordPress, right? WordPress, our parent company or the world builds WordPress, right? We don't even really sell WordPress. We sell this promise that if you bring us your WordPress thing that you invented, whether it's got a huge database or the most files or it's under attack or whatever your challenge is, it's a WooCommerce site, whatever, we will make sure that it scales, that it runs. So the promise that VIP gives to the world is you build it, we scale it. Like that's it. We don't build it, we don't change anything. We don't change code, we don't get to do a lot weirdly. In my previous CMS, my goal was to build an authoring interface, some kind of content management system that dazzled the creators, right? The people running it, the editors, whatever they are. And here I don't get to do that at all. I literally don't get to change WordPress very much. That's changing a bit with one of our AI projects. But in general, I don't change the interface you use to do your job. That's WordPress, you're using WordPress, we're making sure that that scales that that works. So we do have a lot of people building things, but they're building things to make sure that that works. And so when I look at that and that idea, we are building things. We're building things that make gutenberg work really well at an enterprise level. We're building things that make search work really well at an enterprise level. And so in the last year and a half, talking to people throughout Automatic and talking to my team, I've realized that there was something I started to tell people and I finally wrote it down and I said, oh, I understand what the promise of WordPress VIP is. I understand what this is. What it is, is in WordPress. If you download WordPress and you put it on your laptop, it has a whole bunch of features. It has search, it has security, it has an authoring interface, it has backups, it has a bunch of different features. Maybe it has analytics, right? A bunch of different things. But they're the free version that runs on your laptop. How fast is WordPress search on your laptop when you download the free version? It's not very fast. How good is it? It's a full text search with percents and a like statement or whatever. It's not spectacular, but it works. It's fine. Everything in there works. You have a media library, it's cute. It works. If you have bigger needs than just running WordPress on a laptop or for a two person little thing, you go to the professional level. So the second column, right, the first column is all the features for the free level. The second column is professional. What does professional mean? Oh, you go to a hosting service or you use Jetpack, which works wherever you're hosting. And if you use Jetpack, guess what? You get real time backups, you get enhanced security, you get a bunch of different features, you get better search, you get all these different things. So every one of those features that you got for free in WordPress, there's now a professional level. And that's like 25, $50 a year. That's not very expensive, right? It's tens of dollars. It's hundreds of dollars to get the professional level of WordPress. What if you are a company that has even bigger needs and you've outgrown that? You're not a consumer or a small business, you're enterprise, you're a government. Agency. You're a giant media company, you're a big brand. You have enterprise needs. So who's going to fill in that enterprise column of enterprise search? Enterprise analytics, enterprise security, that's VIP and a number of other hosting companies, right? There are a bunch of people out there that are doing this, but that's our job is to fill in that enterprise column. And so we built an enterprise search. So when you come to us, you get a different version of search than you would get somewhere else. And you're able to go in and hand move search rankings to the top and change different things, right? It's the enterprise tool for search. We have partners to do enterprise asset management, digital asset management, right? Videos and photos and things like that. If you want Enterprise analytics, something better than Google Analytics or Chartbeat or one of these little pro type things, premium professional type things, you want enterprise that's parsley. So we are filling in each of those things in that category. The promise of VIP and the promise of WordPress though, is if you want to leave us, your site still works. There are a lot of platforms that you go to. If you go all in on one of these platforms, if you leave, your site doesn't work anymore. You need to move to another CMS, you need to migrate. Things don't work anymore. So with us, the promise is we're going to give you those features and if you leave, okay, your search will be a little slower. It'll still work. Your site doesn't break, nothing breaks. But we're building those tools. And so one of the tests that we have for whether something that we build is something that we keep and we sell to only our customers and it's a service that you pay for, that we provide, or it's just part of being on our platform. One of the tests is if you leave and you don't have that anymore, will your site still work? And so if, if it, if it won't, that's something we contribute back to open Source core. That's something we contribute back to regular WordPress or we let you take with you. So we look at this all day long in terms of is this thing that we're building to make migrations of gutenberg content work not for a six page website, but for a 6 million or 600 million page website. Is that something that we should give away? Is it something the world needs? Or is it something only for our customers? And we spend a lot of time thinking about these things because we try to give away as much as we can. And the easiest way to sort of decide which does that fall under? Is this something that we just built that's now free and open and give to the world, make part of WordPress? Or is it something that, it's a service that we run, that you pay for like we don't give away parsley for free. You pay for it. It's great analytics, it's doing a lot, a lot of people and a lot of servers, a lot of code doing a lot of great work. And so that's really the test. If you leave us, will your site still run? It'll run slower, it'll be less secure. I think you're a fool to leave, right. And if you stay it's better. But you can leave if you want to do that. But it's still going to work. And so I feel like we picked that up from WordPress more than anything else. Because in the rest of my career, if you leave Sarah's, your stuff doesn't work anymore. If you left Crowdfusion, your stuff doesn't work anymore, good luck. But now we're a little better to people.

Brian Alvey [01:25:05]:

Yeah. So funny you wrote this up again because I was just going to ask you, is this like an irony that after building so many CMS also as a platforms for commercial use, not one off but commercial, is it an irony that you are now with WordPress VIP or is it destiny?

Maciej Nowak [01:25:30]:

Wow, destiny. So it's a bit destiny in that I feel like I finally realized WordPress is inevitable. Everybody might think PHP is a joke in 2023, nobody would want to. Whatever you think about it, it's still like the biggest thing on earth and it's growing. It's crazy, right? It's so big. So I do think it's destiny. I do think it's inevitable. They did a really good job building it and scaling it and pushing me, literally adding gutenberg. It's only gotten better and better and better. I don't know if it's ironic that I'm here. I think it says a lot to these customers, doesn't that I believe does so much to be here, right. That I'm not the first person who's going to say oh, let's launch a WordPress site. And the fact that I'm here says a lot in terms of trust and all of that and confidence from customers.

Brian Alvey [01:26:20]:

Yeah. And don't take it aggressive, I'm just.

Maciej Nowak [01:26:26]:

Trying I don't think anything like that. You are right. I wasn't born in WordPress. It wasn't my first CMS I ever used. It wasn't how I discovered the web. It wasn't any of these things. I've used it for a bunch of years. It's good for certain things, but it's gotten like so here's the thing. So you mentioned this earlier, you said something along the lines of something I used to tell people was if you build something for everyone, it works for no one. Right? That's absolutely true. If you try to build a thing that solves every youth oh, it's a store and it's an auction platform and it's a social network and it's email and all this stuff, odds are you're going to build something for everyone and it's going to work for no one. But if you build something and you let it roll for 20 years and you get the smartest people involved. And at some point half the web runs on it. Odds are most things that you're going to build on the web are going to work on WordPress really well. If WordPress runs half the web and you have something you're going to build that needs to be on the web, there's a 50 50 chance that what you're building, and maybe it's a 90% chance that you can do it in WordPress. You cannot say the same about other CMS that have different kinds of opinions that aren't built on a big collaborative ecosystem and big plugins and things like that, right? You can't say that. I feel like if you're going to have something that has longevity that can last 20 years and then another hundred years, if you're going to do that, it's got to be open source. It has to be a collaborative effort. It has to be owned by the world and it has to have plugins, has to have a plugin architecture. Like you can literally snap in anything that you want to have. So it was just a lesson I learned a long time ago, that idea. Like you could tell early on in WordPress this is going to work, but it's not ready for me yet. And then now, ten years ago, I still was building other things, but now I would say if it runs half of the web and it could probably run the other half of the web, there's really nothing that you couldn't do on this. It's pretty impressive.

Brian Alvey [01:28:41]:

So again, half of my next question was already answered. But I would like to ask you about if you Google for popular CMS out there, you end up on G two and at least like over 300 different CMS. Also with transfer, is there funny, but let's say there is roughly 300 CMS. So what do you think about this? Also for platforms like coming from huge organizations like Adobe, those corporate environment CMS was the future in front of the CMS, let's say ecosystem, how do you see those movements? What would be the outlook in a decade or two decades? I know you don't have that magic ball, crystal ball.

Maciej Nowak [01:29:44]:

I'll give you my opinion though, I definitely have the magic eight ball of opinions. The crystal ball, I guess. The crystal ball of opinions you were saying? I think there will always be really interesting, cute little things that look like a cool CMS that you can try, that you can run your three person startups website on that has six pages on it or whatever. And that's great. I think those things are interesting. I think it's neat to learn from them. I'll look at things that are sort of like static site generators or it's like a little repo and you do all your stuff and you just rebuild and you go and it builds its own dashboards and builds the CMS and structured data type things. I think those things are interesting to look at, at least for me. I don't think if you were a large government agency or a large enterprise or a bank or any of these things that you would want to be betting on something that's a year old that looks really cool on two authors making 20 pages, that's cool. But what happens when you have 200 or 2000 authors? What happens when you have 2 million or 2 billion pages? We've worked with sites that have like a billion articles. It's a lot of content. Is that going to run in your cute little repo that you generate your static site gender? How long does it take your static site generator to regenerate that? It's a long damn time. That's why static site generators were really cool for a minute. And now a lot of those are like, oh wait, also we're dynamic, we rehydrate, we're not just static. Right. It's a funny thing. There's some good things to be said about static sites. They are very secure because they don't do anything, right. It's cool, right? So we solve that in other ways. It's fascinating. I don't know if you were to look at I don't know how you compare it, right? Like car companies or something. MercedesBenz has been around for a long time, right? Like certain Toyota, they've been around a long time. And you have another car company that's a year old. Like, which one would you buy from? I don't know. I think I'd pick the one that has figured out how to last for decades and decades. Maybe there's something interesting to look at in some cute little electric car company or something that's out there. But don't you think that the smartest giants will stay nimble and be able to adapt? So I look at this and I think there's a lot of learnings in those. But I just don't know how a business would choose to go all in on something one of their developers thought was really neat on product hunt.

Brian Alvey [01:32:17]:

Yeah, but on the other hand, there is that constant battle, david and Goliath. David becomes next. Goliath, the huge organization, and then the little small startup comes and takes over that position because someone got rest on their laurels and gets lazy about something.

Maciej Nowak [01:32:47]:

No, I have an answer for that. So watching this organization so this is an interesting thing because I've worked at companies with a lot of people and we sell businesses and work with big companies and all that. And there's a reason why they're old and slow and you can tell they're just slowly going to die. They're not going to last. Right, I get it. So when you're small, you try to say yes to a lot of things and hope that one of those catches it's the right time, the right moment, the right team, the right whatever, it resonates and you ride this giant wave up and you get really big. Once you get really big, especially if you're like a publicly traded company, your whole goal is to say no to everything. You don't want to do something risky. You want to hold on to what you've got. You play defense when you're young, you do offense, and when you're old, you just play defense. You try to hold on to that stack of stuff you have, and that's a terrible position to be in because you've admitted that you're done growing. You're no longer trying to do anything. You just want to hold on to what you've got. And inevitably, the world will pass you by like you're going to be gone. You just want to be gone as slowly as you can. And there are some companies, like Microsoft has done a remarkable job. A lot of companies are terrible at acquiring. They acquire brands and then they kill them, right? It's where brands go to die, that kind of thing, right? Microsoft has done a very good job recently, for the last five, six, seven years, whatever it is, of buying things and not killing them. So getting GitHub, great example, right? That's thriving. That's amazing. The video game stuff they're doing. But LinkedIn, whether you love it or not, they've kind of left it alone. It's doing its thing. Minecraft. That's incredible, right? It's still huge. So they've done a really good job of buying things and not breaking them, not making them bad. Google has done a really good job. What I see in terms of being a company that still is like a startup that still has good ideas, maybe not maybe having ten chat apps or whatever by ten different teams is a terrible idea. But overall, they've consistently had a good new product every few years. That's going to be around forever. Like Gmail, right? Like bought YouTube, right? They have a bunch of things. Automatic thinks a lot, from what I can tell. About being anti fragile, about being something that's going to be hard to break, about being something that's organic, about being something that is just going to keep going and is built the right way with the right kinds of people, so that the system itself can be eternal, can be ongoing, and it's not just built around one moment. It's really not built around blogging. Because blogging was cute from 2002 to 2007 or whatever. And when Jason and I got to blogging, people who had been blogging for a while thought we were late to the game. We just got there right as it was over, we were intruding and crashing their party, and they were pissed. And like, why are you paying bloggers? That's not the spirit of blogging. And then when you look back, like, at our Wikipedia pages, it's like, these two guys invented blogging. It looks like we were original. Like we were in there for so long. When we got there, people thought we were late. When you look back, we were still kind of early. So how do you stay nimble like that? As your business gets big and as you have an expense policy, as you have all of these crazy rules that businesses get when they grow? How do you have enough of those that you don't lose what you're doing? That you don't have people spend too much or people do crazy things. There are some rules, but you still foster this really creative place where things can happen and you can do things. And I watch I think a lot of that works because especially for Automatic works because it was born in open source and born in the web. And so when I look at movements that were really big and AI being this big explosion and AI being the most recent one, automatic has done a very good job of saying like, we are all in on open source, we are open. It's going to be very hard to get rid of something that's popular that the whole world uses. It's open source, right? Like Linux never going away. WordPress, I don't think it's ever going away. And then you look at the web and open web and owning your own content and having your own destiny. You watch all these cycles of people who build on AOL and then AOL goes away and then you build on Facebook if you're zynga and then Facebook shakes everybody loose and they all have to figure out how they get money and get traffic. Again, you look at people who build on other people's on YouTube, build a business on TikTok, who's making money on TikTok, right? You look at people building money on these, building businesses on these things and you go, you know what the one constant is owning my own audience, having my own website, and having all the email addresses of my customers. That's a really big thing. So who makes that possible? Oh, automatic with WordPress and WooCommerce Here you go. Right? So they've tapped into open source, they've tapped into the web. They have a really powerful cloud for hosting all of this stuff that is completely underrated, that the world doesn't know about, run by a bunch of geniuses. They do sick, sick stuff at a level of Amazon and in some ways beyond in terms of running your site and making it run the same way it runs on your laptop and it runs in the cloud. So they've done some optimizations around WordPress and around hosting that are incredible. The Edge network, the traffic shaping, they do incredible, incredible stuff. Very hardworked systems, team, but very smart, innovative. You think of mobile, WordPress adopts that right now. You think of AI and they're like they're very well positioned to just keep iterating and keep absorbing each of these waves as they come. And actually, here's a different answer to the question, which is really funny. We have kind of like the Netflix policy for vacation. It's like unlimited vacation, unlimited AFK. And so at any given time, you look across all your teams, and like, one in every seven or one in every six people is gone. They have a three month sabbatical. Every five years, they're just gone, sorry, I'm not going to be here the next three months. Good luck without me. This is crazy. There's parental leave, sabbaticals, AFK, all this stuff. Tons of meetups, right? People are constantly traveling, so you're constantly having to deal with, I have a team of eight, but one, two, or three of them isn't going to be here. Be here on a certain week. Right. And if you think about that in terms of data centers and cloud hosting, this is what Google proved out with, like, commodity servers. They're like, we're not going to run $10,000 PCs. We're going to run $500 PCs, and we're going to run millions of them, and we're going to build our software such that if one of those dies, because every day, if you have a million servers, 50,000 servers are dying, like, they're gone. Memory is bad, hard drive goes bad, power supply goes bad, something goes bad. If you can build your product in such a way that it can handle lots of failures and things, and it can withstand that, you're going to be around for the long haul. Now you look at automatic. If you can build your business in such a way that if I go away for two weeks, things still run. If I go away for three months, things still run. If I had another kid, if it wasn't old, if I had another kid, I go away for six months, things still run. So they built a business in which very smart people are attached, but they might or might not be here on a given week, and the company still runs. That's genius. It's very powerful.

Brian Alvey [01:40:12]:

Yeah. The objective I'm thinking is organic, because when you are explaining all of this, I'm thinking about organic structures that are tolerating a lot of failure on every level, you tolerate a lot of failure. And wrapping this conversation, which is very long, for which I'm very grateful, I would like to end this on a little bit of a philosophical note. So my last question to you is, do you feel like as a father.

Maciej Nowak [01:40:49]:

Of CMS, do I feel like that?

Brian Alvey [01:40:54]:

Would you call yourself that?

Maciej Nowak [01:40:57]:

No. Sure. Yes. People come to me with CMS questions. People ask me what's out there? People ask me things about that. And I built a lot of things. So if you want to get philosophical, I don't think of a CMS as a product, and it's probably why I built so many of them. I don't think of it as a thing or a brand or here's my CMS. I don't think of it as I roll into your company and I tell you, I've got a CMS. It does these five things you need to do these five things. Here, take my CMS. Actually, I would say so to be philosophical. My tagline for everything when I look back on what I've done is I build software that makes creative people more powerful. That's it. So that could be a video app on your phone, but that could also be a CMS. Often 18 out of 20 times it's been a CMS. That's what I built. Because those are the people that I'm trying to build software for that make them those creative people and how I make them more powerful. But at the end of the day, it's not about that. And so one of the things I love is when you think about content management, so I do philosophically try to unpack content management and think of what the job is. And if you think of, okay, a website is our product. You look at, okay, well, what things need to be changed once a year? The copyright date on my website needs to be changed once a year. Should I build a tool for people, creators to manage that content? Probably not. Do it once a year. Just put it in code. We'll just push new code once a year, it's fine. But if I'm going to change a part of my website every day, every week, a couple of times a day, well, then there should be a tool for that to make that possible. So it's really about finding what things people need to do the most, those strongly repeated loops, and then taking that process and making sure it goes from really hard to really easy to go from really slow to really fast. So I don't think of myself as a content management person. I think of myself as a person who will build tools to make creative people more powerful so they don't hate their jobs and so they can be more effective, so their businesses can grow. And if all my customers businesses grow, my business grows. And this happens to have been content management. But also I've built brands that I've owned, right? Like, I've been on both sides of the table a lot, so don't think of myself as that. But I am definitely a software guy. I'm not building hardware things. I'm not doing any of that. I'm definitely working on other people's hardware. So, yeah, I build software that makes creative bit more powerful. And often that's been CMS's, and some of mine have done really well, and I know a lot of other people who have CMS have done way better.

Brian Alvey [01:43:38]:

All right, thank you very much. Thank you very much for this conversation. I love it. That's really nice. Yeah, I appreciate this. Thank you very much again. And our, our today's guest was Brian Alvi, city of work with VIP. Thank you, Brian.

Maciej Nowak [01:43:56]:

Thank you.

Brian Alvey [01:43:57]:

If you like what you've just heard.

Maciej Nowak [01:43:59]:

Don'T forget to subscribe for more episodes.

Brian Alvey [01:44:02]:

On the other hand, if you've got.

Maciej Nowak [01:44:03]:

A question we haven't answered yet, feel free to reach out to us directly. Just go to awesome forward slash contact. Thanks for listening and see you in the next episode of The awesome to Know podcast.

Building the Perfect CMS with WP VIP CTO - Interview with Brian Alvey
Broadcast by