This weekend marks the 15th anniversary of WordPress.

What started with the release of open source publishing software by Matt Mullenweg, then a freshman at the University of Houston, and a friend has grown to power over 30% of the top sites on the web.

Gates, Bezos and Zuckerberg are known by nearly all for their disruption. But Mullenweg, with WordPress, is right with them.

Fifteen years ago ago, I was six months away from toying around with web publishing (blogging) in my garage. The concept of publishing to the web by everyone had been realized by few back then.

Little off the shelf publishing web software was available. Heck, I’m not sure many folks could see why they would even need it.

Few people were publishing blogs, mainstream publishers kept their monopoly with expensive proprietary publishing software and marketers and public relations agencies had yet to coin the phrase “content marketing” to save their jobs.

A short fifteen years later and Mullenweg’s original goal has been reached, publishing has been democratized. There’s other publishing software, much proprietary, but without WordPress, digital publishing, the heart of how we publish today, would not be at the disposal pf everyone.

WordPress powers 30% of all Websites in the world. WordPress powers 70% of all websites with a “content management solution” – that’s sites that are publishing.

No matter how you cut, that is extraordinary growth. Start from zero and run 70% of all web publishing in fifteen years.

Did Bill Gates and ‘Word’ close on “WordPerfect” word processing software that fast?

We’re going to see the day when WordPress is ubiquitous. When virtually all web publishing will be run on WordPress. Those who doubt it think back to those saying WordPerfect was better.

I may not have started LexBlog on WordPress but we’d not be empowering legal professionals, students and legal tech companies to shape the future of legal reporting and publishing without it.

LexBlog is but a drop in the WordPress bucket. Per Mullenweg:

There’s so much: A group of high school students bands together to build a national movement on WordPress; a president builds the foundation for his own next chapter on WordPress; the current WhiteHouse.gov switches over; or when someone like Hajj Flemings brings thousands of small businesses onto the open web for the first time, with WordPress.

And the key to it all is open source. WordPress, the legal profession and the web would not where it is today without Mullenweg’s and WordPress’ commitment to open source development.

Many in the open source world are like Moses in that they speak of the Promised Land but will never set foot there. If I spend the rest of my life working and we don’t reach almost all websites being powered by open source and the web being substantially open, I will die content because I already see younger generations picking up the banner.

LexBlog has the best WordPress development team anywhere upgrading and adding features to our core product. New aggregation and syndication products are being developed on WordPress. We’re being challenged by bar associations to develop a do it yourself website solution to sit on our WordPress platform.

All on WordPress and the best may be yet to come from WordPress’ Gutenberg release later this year.

Thanks for fifteen years, Matt. Here’s to the next fifteen.

  • It’s a really compelling story, which I hadn’t ever heard until I read Scott Berkun’s “The Year Without Pants”. Mullenweg not only changed the entire foundation of publishing– he also revolutionized the idea of how organizations function (ie: decentralized, remote, team-based rather than top-down, etc.).

    Pretty revolutionary on many levels. If law firms trend in the same direction, maybe there’s hope for the profession after all.

    • Spent a couple hours with Matt two or three years ago. Down to earth, life need to be complicated, helpful and carrying just about everything he needed to work and live in a napsack.

      When we all started reading year without pants, we moved the whole company into WeWork.

      • The only reasons I’m not at WeWork is that I don’t have a staff, my home office has a 1Gbps internet pipe, and the people who work for me are scattered around the world anyway. Oh, and I get to work without pants.

        (But when I travel abroad, my pracrtice goes with me in the form of an 11″ Chromebook weighing less than 3 pounds. Man, I do love the 21st century!)