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A few bits

There are 3 million active WordPress.org blogs (!) This is quite a bit higher than the 500k-1 million we had estimated in the past (the ability to track the exact number is relatively new – since WordPress 2.3). If we add that number to the over 4 million blogs we host for people on WordPress.com, we can now quote total WordPress blogs in the world: 7 million. And since the average WordPress.com blog has 50 readers, one could extrapolate that all WordPress blogs combined have 350 million monthly readers.

Matt and I will be speaking at a Startup2Startup dinner in a couple of weeks.

I usually don’t talk politics here, but wanted to mention that I watched some of Sarah Palin’s ABC interview last night. As far as I can tell she makes Obama look like an elder statesman, which would seem like a good thing.

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From the archives…

I was moving my home office around and found this old picture:

winhec

That’s me setting up our Virtual Reality demo at a WinHEC conference (I’m guessing 1994). I remember the show because later that day Bill Gates came by and I gave him the demo 🙂 The setup was designed to show off our 3D audio software (us being Crystal River Engineering, the 3 person startup I joined out of college as a software engineer). We used to have long lines of people eager to put on the headphones and head mounted display to experience flying through a virtual world of simple polygonal objects that barely looked like, but sounded exactly like helicopters and airplanes buzzing around your head. Everything was rendered in real-time and your head and hands were tracked using sensors, so you could hear a plane behind you, turn around to face it, blow it up and then fly through the explosion. I think I have a CD-ROM with recorded 3D audio demos somewhere… maybe I’ll try to dig it up one of these days.

Update: Found the demo CD-ROM.

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Simplicity

Interesting article about voluntary simplicity.

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Famous

Mark is famous in Muncie.

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Back on WP

Nice to have Marcus back in the fold 🙂

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Bandcamp

It’s so good to see Ethan and Shawn back in action with their new venture Bandcamp. We worked together at Oddpost, and I’m excited to help out at Bandcamp via True Ventures. Here’s more on the Bandcamp team.

Update: Om writes about the partial Oddpost reunion

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Mexico pictures

We spent spring break in Mexico – a good excuse to try out our new photo gallery feature:

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AOL buys Sphere

Big congratulations to the Sphere team for selling their company to AOL (and to AOL for a smart acquisition). It couldn’t have happened to a nicer and more talented group of people. I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Sphere as an adviser for several years. My main early contribution was to bring together the founding team – Tony Conrad, Steve Nieker, and Martin Remy (they generously give me co-founder credit as well). I knew Tony, Steve and Martin from my Oddpost days (Tony was a VC investor in Oddpost; Steve and Martin had an RSS/blog search and recommendation product called Waypath that we were thinking of integrating into Oddpost). Tony had left his VC job and Steve and Martin were looking for a business person to help them grow their company. So I introduced them and they hit it off. I helped out with the initial Sphere launch as much as my job allowed (I was at Yahoo at the time) and they went on to build a great team, create a series of innovative content matching services, and sign up over 60,000 sites to use their products. I’ll also note that Sphere is one of a new breed of 100% virtual companies (everyone works from their own home offices and meets up in person every few months) – good to see a virtual company build a strong business and get acquired by someone like AOL.

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WordPress.com bloggers get book deals

The New York Times reports that two WordPress.com bloggers, Stuff White People Like and I Can Has Cheezburger, have received book deals. “Stuff” apparently got a $300k advance. The books based on their blogs are due out this Fall. Congrats!

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The last two months

Time’s been flying since we announced our fundraising. That news ended up getting a lot of attention, followed by even more attention on subsequent developments like the release of Prologue and the addition of BuddyPress creator Andy Peatling to the Automattic team. And now we have a major WordPress 2.5 release that’s getting lots of buzz and great early reviews.

At the moment, we’re working on the 2.5 roll out and some promising post-2.5 features, we’re growing our team (in addition Andy, Marianne and Nick have recently joined), our traffic continues to grow impressively (I just checked our Quantcast numbers: 144 million people visited a WordPress.com blog in the last 30 days – that’s a double digit percentage of the internet population!), and after a week in New York I’m happy to report that large media companies are continuing their embrace of the WordPress platform (150 WP blogs at the New York Times, dozens of new WP blogs at Fox and CNN, Fox also run their entire election coverage on WP, and many more). And then there’s of course Stuff White People Like, a break out new WordPress.com blog that’s been burning up our charts, giving CNN’s Political Ticker and the venerable Lolcats a run for their money.

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Thinking about Om

Om, my friend, I’m thinking about you and wish you a very speedy recovery!

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May I ask for your vote?

My platform is free biodiesel for all!

Please vote for me: Best Startup CEO.

And for WordPress: Most likely to succeed.

Here’s how the respective nominees compare on Alexa: CEOs, products. 🙂

Also, if you are into that kind of thing, check out how much money each company has raised (follow the Crunchbase links from the first two links above). Our growth-to-money-raised ratio is completely off the charts.

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Dvorak?

Now that I know at least three very smart people who use Dvorak keyboards (Andy, Iain, and Matt), I thought I might try one:

dvorak.png

It’s been sitting in my office for a few days. Maybe blogging about it will make me give it a try?

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The tyranny of unread items

A few weeks ago, I decided to do something about the hundreds of unread emails and RSS items staring me in the face every day. Even though I was diligently filtering less important emails and feeds away from my inbox and into sub folders, I was still getting too many “holy smokes! 273 unread items, oh wait it’s just my Swim Cap Fashion News folder” moments. My theory was that even though I was not checking those items very frequently, just seeing the folders bolded and the unread items count nagging me was a adding up to a significant distraction.

Here’s what I did about it:

  • For email, I unsubscribed from every newsletter I could find, I added a bunch more filtering rules to send email that doesn’t require my immediate attention to a subfolder (which also keeps them off my Blackberry), and – most crucially – I started hiding all subfolders from view so I don’t even see anything other than the inbox. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • For RSS feeds, I noted which feeds I was looking forward to reading and then unsubscribed from everything else. I went from 137 to 42 subscriptions. We’ll see how long that lasts.
  • I’ve also changed my LinkedIn and Facebook accounts to never send me emails under any circumstances – Facebook has 28 email different settings to turn off! – which probably means I’ll forget to ever check those accounts again.

The end result? It feels like I got back an hour or two of uninterrupted time every day. I know I’m not literally getting that much time back, but the effect of reducing (or simply hiding) my unread items has been clearly noticeable.

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Sad statistic

Last night, I went to a small Human Rights Watch event (check them out if you are looking to help out a good cause – they are truly working to make the world a better place). Here’s a saddening statistic that someone mentioned: Apparently there are 12 documented cases of children serving life prison sentences without the possibility of parole outside the United States. Inside the US, there are over 2,000 such cases.

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The new incubators seem to be working

Some of the most interesting new web projects seem to be coming out of a new breed of incubator. Obvious has released the widely heralded Twitter. Y Combinator has had several hits, including currently buzzed about companies like Scribd, Justin.TV and ImInLikeWithYou. Yahoo’s Brickhouse launched Pipes to great reviews. Another new incubator, Ooga Labs is hoping that GoodTree will be a hit (disclaimer: I’m an adviser). Seems like too many successful product launches to be a coincidence.

I’m calling the companies behind these products incubators because they work on multiple projects at once in a more experimental fashion than regular companies. However it might be a misnomer. The infamous incubators of the late 90s were VC driven and more focused around optimizing the business side of running lots of small businesses in one batch. The new incubators are more like product labs where smart product engineers and designers get to iterate quickly through new ideas without marketing people, executives or VCs breathing down their necks (actually, kind of sounds like Automattic fits this model as well). Whatever they’ll be called, they seem to be growing in popularity and they releasing very interesting products.