Who Owns WordPress and How Does WordPress Make Money?

By WP Saviour •  Updated: 12/05/20 •  9 min read

There has all the time been confusion amongst saviours about who owns WordPress? It’s a bit unreal to assume one thing might be 100% free. When you’ve got ever questioned who owns WordPress and the way does WordPress earn cash, you then’re in the precise place. On this saviour’s information, we are going to reply these widespread questions together with masking how does that affect the possession rights of your WordPress website and weblog content material.

Understanding the Variations between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

Earlier than we will reply the query concerning the possession of WordPress, it’s vital that you just perceive which WordPress you might be speaking about.

The #1 root trigger for confusion is that always folks don’t know that WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two essentially completely different merchandise with completely different house owners.


WordPress.org is the favored content material administration system (CMS) that you just all the time hear about. That is the true WordPress, and it’s 100% free. It’s usually referred as self-hosted WordPress. If you hear issues like you possibly can create any sort of web site in WordPress with plugins and customized themes, that is the WordPress persons are speaking about.

WordPress.com is a webhosting service that gives a stripped down model of WordPress to make it simple so that you can weblog. You don’t get all of the WordPress goodies like plugins, customized themes, and so on.

To maintain this text targeted, we is not going to go into the characteristic comparability of the 2. You may study extra about that in our WordPress.com vs WordPress.org chart.

Understanding the distinction between the 2 is important for understanding the possession and enterprise fashions behind the 2 merchandise.

Who owns WordPress.org and the favored WordPress software program?

WordPress is an open-source software program. Because of this anybody can see the code and contribute to the software program to make it higher. It’s the contributions by 1000’s of impartial folks from the world over that constructed WordPress to what it’s in the present day.

WordPress is licensed beneath GPL, and it’s vital that you just perceive the advantages of the GPL license as a result of that can make it easier to higher perceive the possession.

We’ll summarize the GPL in three principal advantages:

The final half often blows folks’s thoughts away. Sure, you possibly can certainly take WordPress, change the brand and the title, and begin promoting it (100% authorized).

In different phrases, the code base of WordPress belongs to the group (you). The 1000’s of people that contributed to this non-profit undertaking did it with none direct compensation. We’ll clarify this in additional particulars within the enterprise mannequin part of this text.

Abstract: Any web site you create utilizing the self-hosted WordPress software program is 100% owned by you. The content material you add to those websites can also be 100% owned by you.

The WordPress trademark and the WordPress.org area is owned by the WordPress basis, a non-profit 501(c)(3) group, whose sole goal is to make sure that WordPress is freely obtainable, maintained, and developed.

Who owns WordPress.com

WordPress.com is owned by a privately held firm known as Automattic.

You must perceive a bit of little bit of historical past of the open-source WordPress undertaking to know Automattic’s contributions and the the reason why they get favorable therapy corresponding to the flexibility to make use of the WordPress trademark and the coveted WordPress.com area as a part of their paid product.

Automattic was began by the co-founding developer of the open supply WordPress software program, Matt Mullenweg.

Matt created Automattic in 2005, virtually two years after WordPress, with the first goal to make WordPress hosting simpler and permit folks with little technical data to start out a weblog with WordPress.

Since WordPress.com platform was powered by the open supply WordPress software program, Automattic had a vested curiosity within the additional growth of the free WordPress software program.

A number of of the early Automattic staff had been contributing builders of WordPress previous to the corporate, so it ought to go with out saying that monetary curiosity wasn’t the one motive why Automattic invested in WordPress.

As a result of the open-source undertaking didn’t actually make any cash at first, Matt first registered the WordPress trademark by Automattic.

As WordPress grew in reputation, Automattic donated the WordPress trademark to the WordPress Basis in 2010 to make sure long-term sustainability of the non-profit undertaking.

It’s vital to notice that Matt Mullenweg is the CEO of Automattic and in addition serves within the board of the WordPress basis.

Now that you’re conversant in the historical past, let’s speak about possession of content material on WordPress.com.

If you construct a website utilizing WordPress.com, you need to adhere to their Phrases of Service coverage. Though it clearly states that it’s designed to present you as a lot management and possession of your content material, somebody can nonetheless shut down your website in the event that they consider it’s in violation.

Whilst you have 100% management over your website, you’re restricted to the feature-set that’s provided to you which ones doesn’t embody plugins, customized themes, and so on.

Hopefully by now you must have the reply to your query about who owns WordPress.

Now let’s check out how does WordPress earn cash.

Enterprise Mannequin of Automattic vs Enterprise Mannequin of WordPress

The enterprise mannequin of Automattic is to promote WordPress associated companies corresponding to internet hosting, backup, and others, so we received’t spend an excessive amount of time on that.

In brief, Automattic makes cash on WordPress.com by promoting promoting in your free websites. In the event you select to pay for his or her internet hosting plans, you then get further premium upgrades corresponding to the flexibility to cover adverts, buy domains, further disk area, industrial themes, and so on.

Our aim on this part is to elucidate the enterprise mannequin behind the open supply WordPress software program and reply widespread questions like how do WordPress builders earn cash in the event that they’re voluntarily contributing to a free non-profit undertaking.

Let’s begin with the query on why do builders contribute to WordPress in the event that they aren’t getting paid?

Whereas there might be altruistic causes, we’re going to deal with the 2 main financial causes:

In different phrases, they’re earning money, however they don’t seem to be getting paid by the WordPress basis.

As WordPress has grown in reputation, there have been a rise within the variety of companies that promote WordPress associated merchandise / companies. This has elevated the industrial curiosity within the additional growth of the open-source WordPress software program.

Consider what Automattic was capable of do at first, besides now there are a number of firms hiring devoted workers who contribute within the growth of WordPress as a result of they perceive because the WordPress undertaking grows, so will the income alternatives.

So the place does the WordPress basis match within the image?

WordPress basis is a non-profit group, so it’s main income is thru donations.

These donations are made by people like your self and in addition firms who’re utilizing WordPress to earn cash.

How does this all apply to you because the consumer?

If you are circuitously paying for WordPress, you can be not directly paying for it.

For instance, when you host your web site on Bluehost, Siteground, WPEngine, or every other main WordPress internet hosting firm, then you might be not directly paying for WordPress. As a result of all these firms repeatedly contribute again to WordPress.

In case you are utilizing Yoast website positioning, BackupBuddy, Sucuri, or any of WPSaviour household of merchandise (OptinMonster, WPForms, MonsterInsights, and so on) then you might be not directly paying for WordPress. As a result of all these firms repeatedly sponsor WordCamps and/or contribute to WordPress.

Hopefully, this helps you higher perceive the WordPress enterprise mannequin and clear up all of the issues concerning that matter.

What can we do to enhance and clear up a few of the confusion?

There’s little or no that may be performed concerning the area state of affairs because of the enterprise fashions concerned.

The one actual option to remedy it’s by schooling which needs to be two half.

The at the beginning is the function of media.

Main tech media shops like TechCrunch, Recode, TheNextWeb, and so on have to do a greater job at fact-checking to keep away from articles that declare Automattic because the father or mother firm of WordPress. It may very well be so simple as saying the father or mother firm behind WordPress.com.

You may merely google the time period “WordPress father or mother firm” and also you’ll discover tons of articles from main tech media shops that report false data (instance: here, here, here, here, and here).

The second function is enforcement by the WordPress basis in addition to Automattic.

These media shops are often pitched these press releases, so if there have been some re-enforcement with the highest shops, the remainder will comply with.

Typically at running a blog occasions while you see a WordPress sales space, it’s often an Automattic (WordPress.com) sales space. Whereas the advertising verbiage might be improved, having personally seen the workers answering questions on the sales space, they’re extraordinarily useful and virtually all the time clarify the distinction.

At TBEX North America 2015, whereas we visited their sales space, at the very least two folks requested the query concerning of possession of WordPress and the Automattic staff did a superb job clearly explaining the distinction.


We hope this text helped you reply the query about who owns WordPress, how does WordPress earn cash, and what that basically means on your web site’s management and possession. You might also need to learn our article on 15 most ceaselessly requested questions by WordPress saviours.

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WP Saviour

I am a WordPress specialist. My mission is to help you create beautiful websites with ease!