WordPress CEO and founder, Matt Mullenweg, confirmed earlier this month that parent company Automattic has raised $160 million from investors. The investments, including those by Insight Venture Partners, Chris Sacca and Endurance, brings the company’s reported value up to $1.16 billion.
This funding drives comes at a time when rival blogging and website platforms are also looking to invest substantial amounts. Squarespace recently raised $40 million while Weebly raised $35 million. “WordPress is in a market as competitive as it has ever been, especially on the proprietary and closed side,” Mullenweg states in a blog announcing the news. “I believe WordPress will win.”
Ironically, Mullenweg, who took over as CEO from long-time business partner Toni Schneider in January, noted in an earlier blog post that he didn’t think additional funding was necessary. Since taking on his new role, he has changed tactics.
“Things were and are going well, but there was an opportunity cost to how we were managing the company toward break-even, and we realized we could invest more into WordPress and our products to grow faster,” Mullenweg wrote in the post. “Also our cash position wasn’t going to be terribly strong especially after a number of infrastructure and product investments this and last year.”
According to statistics compiled by W3Techs, WordPress software powers 22% of the world’s top 10 million websites. More than 40 million WordPress blogs are posted each month, with more than 400 million readers. Automattic has sought to build on this platform this year, making a number of exciting acquisitions to strengthen WordPress’ offerings, including the purchase of premium service Longreads, which curates longer articles from around the web.
According to a report by Recode, interest in the funding round was high and WordPress could have taken up to $220 million. The round is now closed, however, and Mullenweg has stated that he will use the funds created to expand the number of WordPress employees – they currently employ a small team of 240 – grow the business and focus more on marketing. He also wishes to release a new version of WordPress.com.