I have recently been watching a TV series on the BBC called “How we got to now” with Steven Johnson and it is essentially a history of how incremental changes combined with lots of base work ends up with what can appear to be massive and dramatic changes. That is to say that there are really not many Eureka moments except that these are the instances when a realisation is made of all the pieces slotting together.
In one sense this a very perceptive insight however it is not one that I am unfamiliar with, especially as there are many examples of this in the IT and software world; think Facebook and Twitter both of which were never originally intended to be what they have now become.
All this is very interesting however the more relevant question is where do we go from now since that is what will define our collective future. So I am now going to give you my take on how we got to now with WordPress and then where do we go from here. This is a personal journey rather than any ‘official’ history and relates to my perspective. It will happen over a few posts…
The Way We Were
Back around the year 2000 I had a web development company based in London. We had grown from me and two others in 1995 to about 25 strong and were developing sites for some of the biggest household UK names. Somehow we caught the attention of a company called Vignette
At the time this was a company that was rocking the CMS world and was running many of the world’s largest news sites and according to Wikipedia had a market capitalisation of $9 billion in the year 2,000. They offered to invest a significant sum for a minority share in our company and we would then have become what is now the equivalent of an Automattic VIP partner with a charge out rate well in excess of £1,000 per man day. For some reason we turned it down which was a bit of a shame as the dot com crash was just around the corner and all the projects disappeared together with the hard built company.
This was not however my last dalliance with Vignette as I became associate web producer for the International edition of TIME.com
and guess what, the site ran on Vignette and to be honest it was OK. I do know however from my previous dealings with the company that it did not come cheap in that a single server license was was in the multiple tens of thousands of dollars. That is to say they had the equivalent of a straight WordPress install for which they were paying top money and needed to pay top rates for developers. Ouch!
Unsurprisingly this did not last and Vignette fell on hard times ultimately being bought up by Open Text.
These days TIME.com runs on WordPress and are an Automattic customer. In fact someone I know of who worked at TIME in New York ultimately moved to Automattic and has now left to go freelance.
That’s it for today but the story will continue.
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