who owns wordpress

Who Owns WordPress and How to Make Money using WordPress?

Beginners on WordPress argue about who owns WordPress? Even some SEO expert get confuse on who really owns WordPress?

If you have ever wondered who owns WordPress and how does WordPress make money, then you’re in the right place. In this beginner’s guide, we will answer these common questions along with covering how does that impact the ownership rights of your WordPress site and blog content.

Definition of WordPress

Either you are using WordPress.com or WordPress.org, it has only one definition and is, it is an open-source content management system (CMS) that makes it easy to create and manage a website. It is the most popular CMS in the world. Millions of business owners, bloggers, and publishers use WordPress every day to maintain their online presence.

WordPress is licensed under GPL, and it’s important that you understand the benefits of the GPL license because that will help you better understand the ownership.

Differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two fundamentally different products with different owners.

So we need to explain them differently;

WordPress.com

This is a web hosting service that offers a stripped down version of WordPress to make it easy for you to blog. You don’t get all the WordPress goodies like plugins, custom themes, etc.

WordPress.org

This is the popular content management system (CMS) that you always hear about. This is the real WordPress, and it is 100% free. It is often referred as self-hosted WordPress. When you hear things like you can create any type of website in WordPress with plugins and custom themes, this is the WordPress people are talking about. For more understanding, you can read the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

Who really owns WordPress.org

As we have stated above, it is an open-source software. This means that anyone can see the code and contribute to the software to make it better. It’s the contributions by thousands of independent people from across the world that built WordPress to what it is today.

WordPress is licensed under GPL, and it’s important that you understand the benefits of the GPL license because that will help you better understand the ownership.

The GPL is the free and open-source software license used by WordPress. This license was chosen because it supports the philosophy behind the WordPress project.

If you’ve ever installed a software application, then you’ve been asked to agree to an end-user license. That long and complex document is normally there to protect the rights of the software company. The GPL is different.

Unlike many other software licenses, the GPL isn’t trying to restrict what you can do with WordPress. It’s there to ensure you can use it freely.

We will summarize the GPL in three main benefits:

  • You can use WordPress in whatever way you like without any restrictions.
  • You can customize, add or remove anything in WordPress that you don’t like without any restrictions.
  • You can repackage, rebrand, sell and distribute WordPress without any restrictions except that it is also released under the GPL license.

The WordPress trademark and the WordPress.org domain is owned by the WordPress foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, whose sole purpose is to ensure that WordPress is freely available, maintained, and developed.

Who owns WordPress.com

WordPress.com is owned by a privately held company called Automattic.

You have to understand a little bit of history of the open-source WordPress project to understand Automattic’s contributions and the reasons why they get favorable treatment such as the ability to use the WordPress trademark and the coveted WordPress.com domain as part of their paid product.

Automattic was started by the co-founding developer of the open source WordPress software, Matt Mullenweg.

Matt created Automattic in 2005, almost two years after WordPress, with the primary purpose to make WordPress hosting easier and allow people with little technical knowledge to start a blog with WordPress.

Since WordPress.com platform was powered by the open source WordPress software, Automattic had a vested interest in the further development of the free WordPress software.

Several of the early Automattic employees were contributing developers of WordPress prior to the company, so it should go without saying that financial interest wasn’t the only reason why Automattic invested in WordPress.

Because the open-source project didn’t really make any money in the beginning, Matt first registered the WordPress trademark through Automattic.

As WordPress grew in popularity, Automattic donated the WordPress trademark to the WordPress Foundation in 2010 to ensure long-term sustainability of the non-profit project.

It’s important to note that Matt Mullenweg is the CEO of Automattic and also serves in the board of the WordPress foundation.

How does WordPress.com owns by Automaticc and WordPress.org owns by WordPress foundation makes Money

Automattic makes money on WordPress.com by selling advertising on your free sites. If you choose to pay for their hosting plans, then you get additional premium upgrades such as the ability to hide ads, purchase domains, additional disk space, commercial themes, etc.
In other words, they sell WordPress products or services (custom plugins, themes, web development, consulting, etc.)

Also, they work for a company that sell WordPress products or services.
In other words, they are making money, but they are not getting paid by the WordPress foundation.

There are multiple companies hiring dedicated staff who contribute in the development of WordPress because they understand as the WordPress project grows, so will the revenue opportunities.

WordPress foundation is a non-profit organization, so it’s primary source of revenue is through donations.

These donations are made by individuals like yourself and also corporations who’re using WordPress to make money.

While you are not directly paying for WordPress, you could be indirectly paying for it.

For example, if you host your website on Namecheap, Siteground, BlueHost, or any other major WordPress hosting company, then you are indirectly paying for WordPress. Because all these companies regularly contribute back to WordPress.

I think this has helped you to understand the WordPress business model and clear up all the concerns regarding that matter.

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