After the Foundation / new WordCamp organization article last week, I had some followup with Matt Mullenweg regarding several details.
For one, the new organization will indeed be a subsidiary of the WordPress Foundation, and it will be a public benefit corporation. Matt said the point of the structure was, “make the foundation’s finances much simpler, infinitely smaller, and remove some weird restrictions that event sponsors had.”
Also, Matt said that he doesn’t think companies can deduct sponsorship dollars, “because the benefit they receive is equal to the sponsorship.” He compared it to how you wouldn’t buy something from the Red Cross and then deduct the value of your purchase. So since there is a value trade, and it’s not a strict gift, it’s not a deduction. He did say he’d followup to confirm Automattic doesn’t deduct theirs, but was pretty sure they don’t.
In regard to my comments about whether Joyent was WordPress.org’s first host, and I thought maybe the author of the article meant WordPress.com, Matt said Joyent actually was .org’s first hosting company, and it was simultaneously the host for many other open source project. Today, he clarified, WordPress.org is the last of Matt’s properties on Peer 1 (and sounds like maybe it won’t be forever).
In a related story, Matt said WordPress.com’s first hosting setup was actually 8 Dell servers he bought and he and Donncha set them up. He called it “a huge mistake” and they didn’t buy servers again for around eight years. Automattic now controls their servers again, “from power up,” colocating across a dozen datacenters or so. This was a fun aside to our conversation and a topic I plan to do more digging into.
As to the WordPress Foundation board, he says Mark and Jason were invited to be on the board in 2009, but they didn’t get around to doing the actual paperwork until 2015. That’s baffling to me, but goes inline with what I’ve heard from a couple of other people that said they knew those two folks were on the Foundation board (or were intended to be).
I was surprised (like I said in my original article) that he hadn’t brought up the existence of a formal board before, considering the various calls over the years for one to be made. He said those calls were primarily for an elected board, which he doesn’t foresee happening as long as he maintains his health, as the current structure for the foundation “results have been excellent.”
I’m thankful to Matt for providing me with these answers, and for Rose Goldman’s help as well. I definitely had a couple of inaccurate assumptions in the original article, and I’m still glad I posted it, because we’ve all come away with more knowledge in the end and I was pretty transparent with what I knew and didn’t know in the first go around. Let me know if you have any additional feedback!