Who Owns WordPress and How Does WordPress Make Cash?

  • January 15, 2023
  • elkenz
  • 9 min read

There has all the time been confusion amongst inexperienced persons about who owns WordPress? It’s a bit unreal to assume one thing might be 100% free. If in case you have ever puzzled who owns WordPress and the way does WordPress become profitable, then you definitely’re in the fitting place. On this newbie’s information, we’ll reply these frequent questions together with protecting how does that impression the possession rights of your WordPress website and weblog content material.

Understanding the Variations between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

Earlier than we will reply the query concerning the possession of WordPress, it’s essential that you just perceive which WordPress you might be speaking about.

The #1 root trigger for confusion is that always folks don’t know that WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two essentially completely different merchandise with completely different homeowners.

The difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

WordPress.org is the favored content material administration system (CMS) that you just all the time hear about. That is the actual WordPress, and it’s 100% free. It’s usually referred as self-hosted WordPress. Whenever you hear issues like you may create any sort of web site in WordPress with plugins and customized themes, that is the WordPress individuals are speaking about.

WordPress.com is a hosting service that provides a stripped down model of WordPress to make it straightforward so that you can weblog. You don’t get all of the WordPress goodies like plugins, customized themes, and so on.

To maintain this text centered, we is not going to go into the function comparability of the 2. You’ll be able to be taught extra about that in our WordPress.com vs WordPress.org chart.

Understanding the distinction between the 2 is important for understanding the possession and enterprise fashions behind the 2 merchandise.

Who owns WordPress.org and the favored WordPress software program?

WordPress is an open-source software program. Which means that anybody can see the code and contribute to the software program to make it higher. It’s the contributions by 1000’s of unbiased folks from internationally that constructed WordPress to what it’s as we speak.

WordPress is licensed underneath GPL, and it’s essential that you just perceive the advantages of the GPL license as a result of that can make it easier to higher perceive the possession.

We’ll summarize the GPL in three foremost advantages:

  • You should use WordPress in no matter approach you want with none restrictions.
  • You’ll be able to customise, add or take away something in WordPress that you just don’t like with none restrictions.
  • You’ll be able to repackage, rebrand, promote and distribute WordPress with none restrictions besides that it is usually launched underneath the GPL license.

The final half normally blows folks’s thoughts away. Sure, you may certainly take WordPress, change the emblem and the identify, and begin promoting it (100% authorized).

In different phrases, the code base of WordPress belongs to the neighborhood (you). The 1000’s of people that contributed to this non-profit mission did it with none direct compensation. We’ll clarify this in additional particulars within the enterprise mannequin part of this text.

Abstract: Any web site you create utilizing the self-hosted WordPress software program is 100% owned by you. The content material you add to those websites can be 100% owned by you.

The WordPress trademark and the WordPress.org area is owned by the WordPress basis, a non-profit 501(c)(3) group, whose sole goal is to make sure that WordPress is freely obtainable, maintained, and developed.

Who owns WordPress.com

WordPress.com is owned by a privately held firm known as Automattic.

It’s a must to perceive just a little little bit of historical past of the open-source WordPress mission to grasp Automattic’s contributions and the the explanation why they get favorable therapy equivalent to the power to make use of the WordPress trademark and the coveted WordPress.com area as a part of their paid product.

Automattic was began by the co-founding developer of the open supply WordPress software program, Matt Mullenweg.

Matt created Automattic in 2005, nearly two years after WordPress, with the first goal to make WordPress internet hosting simpler and permit folks with little technical data to start out a weblog with WordPress.

Since WordPress.com platform was powered by the open supply WordPress software program, Automattic had a vested curiosity within the additional growth of the free WordPress software program.

A number of of the early Automattic staff had been contributing builders of WordPress previous to the corporate, so it ought to go with out saying that monetary curiosity wasn’t the one motive why Automattic invested in WordPress.

As a result of the open-source mission didn’t actually make any cash to start with, Matt first registered the WordPress trademark by way of Automattic.

As WordPress grew in recognition, Automattic donated the WordPress trademark to the WordPress Basis in 2010 to make sure long-term sustainability of the non-profit mission.

It’s essential to notice that Matt Mullenweg is the CEO of Automattic and likewise serves within the board of the WordPress basis.

Now that you’re aware of the historical past, let’s speak about possession of content material on WordPress.com.

Whenever you construct a website utilizing WordPress.com, you must adhere to their Phrases of Service coverage. Though it clearly states that it’s designed to provide you as a lot management and possession of your content material, somebody can nonetheless shut down your website in the event that they imagine it’s in violation.

Whilst you have 100% management over your website, you’re restricted to the feature-set that’s supplied to you which of them doesn’t embody plugins, customized themes, and so on.

Hopefully by now it’s best to have the reply to your query about who owns WordPress.

Now let’s check out how does WordPress become profitable.

Enterprise Mannequin of Automattic vs Enterprise Mannequin of WordPress

The enterprise mannequin of Automattic is to promote WordPress associated providers equivalent to internet hosting, backup, and others, so we gained’t spend an excessive amount of time on that.

Briefly, Automattic makes cash on WordPress.com by promoting promoting in your free websites. In the event you select to pay for his or her internet hosting plans, then you definitely get further premium upgrades equivalent to the power to cover advertisements, buy domains, further disk house, industrial themes, and so on.

Our objective on this part is to clarify the enterprise mannequin behind the open supply WordPress software program and reply frequent questions like how do WordPress builders become profitable in the event that they’re voluntarily contributing to a free non-profit mission.

Let’s begin with the query on why do builders contribute to WordPress in the event that they aren’t getting paid?

Whereas there might be altruistic causes, we’re going to concentrate on the 2 main financial causes:

  • They promote WordPress services or products (customized plugins, themes, net growth, consulting, and so on.)
  • They work for an organization that promote WordPress services or products.

In different phrases, they’re earning profits, however they aren’t getting paid by the WordPress basis.

As WordPress has grown in recognition, there have been a rise within the variety of companies that promote WordPress associated merchandise / providers. This has elevated the industrial curiosity within the additional growth of the open-source WordPress software program.

Consider what Automattic was capable of do to start with, besides now there are a number of firms hiring devoted employees who contribute within the growth of WordPress as a result of they perceive because the WordPress mission grows, so will the income alternatives.

So the place does the WordPress basis match within the image?

WordPress basis is a non-profit group, so it’s main income is thru donations.

These donations are made by people like your self and likewise companies who’re utilizing WordPress to become profitable.

How does this all apply to you because the person?

If you are indirectly paying for WordPress, you would be not directly paying for it.

For instance, when you host your web site on Bluehost, Siteground, WPEngine, or some other main WordPress internet hosting firm, then you might be not directly paying for WordPress. As a result of all these firms commonly contribute again to WordPress.

If you’re utilizing Yoast web optimization, BackupBuddy, Sucuri, or any of WPBeginner household of merchandise (OptinMonster, WPForms, MonsterInsights, and so on) then you might be not directly paying for WordPress. As a result of all these firms commonly sponsor WordCamps and/or contribute to WordPress.

Hopefully, this helps you higher perceive the WordPress enterprise mannequin and clear up all of the issues concerning that matter.

What can we do to enhance and clear up a number of the confusion?

There’s little or no that may be finished concerning the area state of affairs as a result of enterprise fashions concerned.

The one actual option to resolve it’s by way of training which needs to be two half.

The at the beginning is the function of media.

Main tech media shops like TechCrunch, Recode, TheNextWeb, and so on must do a greater job at fact-checking to keep away from articles that declare Automattic because the mum or dad firm of WordPress. It might be so simple as saying the mum or dad firm behind WordPress.com.

You’ll be able to merely google the time period “WordPress mum or dad firm” and also you’ll discover tons of articles from main tech media shops that report false data (instance: right here, right here, right here, right here, and right here).

The second function is enforcement by the WordPress basis in addition to Automattic.

These media shops are normally pitched these press releases, so if there have been some re-enforcement with the highest shops, the remainder will comply with.

Usually at running a blog occasions whenever you see a WordPress sales space, it’s normally an Automattic (WordPress.com) sales space. Whereas the advertising verbiage might be improved, having personally seen the staff answering questions on the sales space, they’re extraordinarily useful and nearly all the time clarify the distinction.

At TBEX North America 2015, whereas we visited their sales space, no less than two folks requested the query concerning of possession of WordPress and the Automattic staff did a wonderful job clearly explaining the distinction.


We hope this text helped you reply the query about who owns WordPress, how does WordPress become profitable, and what that basically means in your web site’s management and possession. You may additionally wish to learn our article on 15 most steadily requested questions by WordPress inexperienced persons.

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