Industry Analyst & Strategist
This isn’t going to be a recap, summary, or slideshow of CloudFest, but there were over 6,000 attendees … so for those CloudFest recaps, summaries, etc. check out some of the links below:
But for today, I’d like to focus on how WordPress isn’t changing the cloud business. It is the cloud business world. Let’s start with the obvious, while it was added late to the agenda, there was a day dedicated just to WordPress. That alone says that if you’re not paying attention to what’s going on the WordPress ecosystem and for your cloud focused business, you should. For very WordPress centric readers, I think it’s important to note which companies were represented that you may or may not traditionally think of as WordPress:
These aren’t your typical web hosting companies or WordPress plugins, these are firms focusing on the infrastructure of what runs and secures WordPress. Some of those represented are easily $250 million firms, but because they are privately held it’s hard to pin down valuation details. I don’t think it would be out of reach to say that one or two are billion dollar companies.
Apart from WordPress day, there were many firm present or sponsoring that most of you recognize:
All of these companies, and many others, were super networking about business. Business! Partnerships were literally being formed, agreed to, and signed at just one conference. Large customer deals were created or expanded. We are talking 1,000s to tens of 1,000s in dollars of valuation. Open source was critical, WordPress was critical, there was a community engaging and supporting each other and itself.
To take a twist on a phrase, “money corrupts, absolute money corrupts absolutely.” But has that really been the case with open source? In my 20+ years of being in open source communities, one finds that there is a knee-jerk reaction anytime money enters the conversation for project support, sponsorships, etc. Back while heavily involved with Open Source Matters aka Joomla, there were raging arguments regarding including even an affiliate link to external products within the core CMS. The “Google Deal” collapsed due to undue pressure from a community willing to sacrifice funding for principle. But what really is the principal?
In open source we want folks to be empowered, made stronger, faster, better, to control their own destiny. It does take resources to run a project. Period. Linux, WordPress, Drupal, and others would not make the difference they do today without cold hard cash behind the scenes. Heck, WordPress includes Akismet in the download from wordpress.org:
Akismet checks your comments and contact form submissions against our global database of spam to prevent your site from publishing malicious content. You can review the comment spam it catches on your blog's "Comments" admin screen (emphasis mine).
I don’t think there is a single WordPress hosting company, which on top of regular hosting charges, doesn’t bundle / include / upsell WordPress plugins. Did the world collapse? Nope. Did the community get stronger. Yup.
While the heading may be an oversimplification, I can certain share the WordCamp Europe has been and will continue to be an excellent catalyst for business, it is my opinion that for local WordCamps we are giving up on too much commercial activity in the name community. The WordPress ecosystem is huge, but not everyone can make it to CloudFest (and now CloudFest USA) or WordCamp Europe or WordCamp US. What is holding WordCamp.org or local organizers from leaning more into the day-to-day business that is invigorated with in-person connections? What can we as a community encourage in planning to drive this kind of networking? Over many discussions with first time WordPress folks at CloudFest, there was a common theme. Why can’t we do this at WordCamps? “It feels like a club not a conference,” is a singular quote that can apply to multiple statemens. Listen, I don’t want to lose the camaraderie and Joie de WordPress that helps folks in WordPress connect and grow personally. We don’t need to lose any of the friendly gather of WordPress minds feelings either, but to drive innovation, and financial success, we need to strengthen the idea that it’s not just about holding hands but shaking hands when closing deals. Companies shouldn’t feel that they will be disapproved of for taking a more business forward approach. We can all learn and succeed with the rising tide.