Why I Want To Be An Automattic Events Wrangler

My Future Automattic Job

The past three Sundays’ posts have taken a look at different parts of the Automattic hiring process.

automattic logoToday’s post take a look at the Automattic Events Wrangler opportunity from a different viewpoint. And that viewpoint is:

“Why I Want To Be An Automattic Events Wrangler”

The main reason: “Because it IS an Opportunity, for me!” 🙂

Not The Best Job For Everyone

Not everyone views working for Automattic as the best possible job. Or even next to best. I’ve read online threads by coders who vehemently dislike the trial project part of the hiring process. There are also numerous comments about WordPress developers being paid significantly less than developers, e.g.:

The WordPress Talent Shortage Might Be a Pricing Problem
Why Drupal Developers Make x10 More than WordPress Developers
The 7 Reasons Why WordPress Developers Are Paid Peanuts

WordPressIn a future post I’m going to take a look at why highly talented developers and designers DO want to be on the Automattic team and DO want to work on WordPress even if they get paid less. Salary isn’t the top priority for everyone. To a certain extent, I fall into that same type of situation. I’m a chemical engineer and would get paid quite a bit more for being a chemical engineer working for a large corporation than I will as Events Wrangler. In a very distant way (I’m sure Mike is waaaay more intelligent than am I), my goal to work at Automattic is like that of Mike Adams, one of Scott Berkun’s team members, as mentioned in “The Year Without Pants.” Mike was working to get a PhD in quantum computing, and he decided to work for Matt Mullenweg instead, becoming a WordPress developer at Automattic.

For now, I’ll just stipulate that WordPress developers (and probably designers) earn lower hourly salaries than they could in other languages, on other web development platforms, and in other industries.

Fantastic Coworkers

The Year Without PantsBut in spite of that lower pay, there are a lot of superlatives and an endless amount of gushingly effusive praise used to describe coworkers at Automattic.

  • Scott Berkun says of a member of his team: “He was self-taught, brilliant, collaborative, and, at time, hysterically funny.” Scott heaped similar praise on other members of his team and on other Automatticians.
  • Davor Altman appreciates being part of the Automattic team: “The people I work with are the best colleagues one can wish for. Everyone’s friendly and we had lots of fun. I received an incredibly warm welcome and I felt like a part of the family. Thank you, folks!…I am extremely thankful to be a part of the Automattic family.”
  • Rachel Squirrel is where she wants to be right now: “Automattic is the coolest company on the planet. I think they must have adopted the hiring equivalent of Baba Binkman’s, Don’t sleep with mean people, because everyone who works there is so nice and clever too.”
  • Anne McCarthy puts it this way: “…you join an incredible team…I have found “my people”. I have found friends in coworkers. I have found life lessons in my work…I am accepted for who I am and couldn’t be happier that this job doesn’t feel like one.”

Let my people go surfingYou may feel the above too-good-to-be-true pictures of Automattic colleagues are some sort of an astroturfing campaign, part of the company’s marketing department and hiring team’s effort to portray it as the best possible place to work, or just the writings of deluded or not-too-bright people. But there are companies like that in this crazy, mixed up, and far-from-perfect world. I’m sure Apple was like that in its early days (unless you were involved in a Steve Jobs rant), and I’m betting it was like that for Google’s first 500 employees, when people used Google simply because it was so much better than the previous search king, Alta Vista. If you think there are no companies in which most employees love their jobs, read “Let My People Go Surfing” by its founder Yvon Chouinard. No person, and no company, is perfect, but I totally believe the Patagonia employees truly enjoy working with each other, in much the same way that Automattic employees say they respect and enjoy their coworkers.

Reasons Automattic Events Wrangling Is For Me

So the starting point, for me, of WHY work at Automattic, is because:

Automatticians are passionate about what they’re doing, they’re highly skilled at their jobs, and their fellow team members love working with them.

The second reason I’m pursuing the position of Events Wrangler was eloquently but accurately captured by Darnell Dibbles when he stated that, for the right people, working for Automattic is a job that is:

“…both life giving and financially freeing for them and their family.”

Like most people, I want a job that is both life giving and financially freeing. From everything I’ve read and heard, the best job opportunity like that, for me, is Events Wrangler at Automattic.

Here are a few of the other reasons I want to be an Automattic Events Wrangler.

  • Matt Mullenweg’s goal is to have the best company with the best product, not to make the most money. He’s totally focused on the WordPress users, the Automatticians and doing the Right Thing, not on becoming personally wealthy or having Automattic maximize profits at the expense users and employees.
  • I love being an events wrangler and have had that as one of my primary activities for the past ten years. Doing that will only get more fun and more rewarding doing it at Automattic.
  • Automattic is a distributed company, i.e. primarily a team of remote workers. I believe that’s the “future of work” for a significant number of people in the 21st century. A couple years ago, I was encouraged to write a book about coworking and remote and independent workers — I’ve got quite a bit of background research for it organized in a Google Doc. Maybe I will write that book after Automattic hires me, and I’ve worked a year or two as an Events Wrangler. For parts of my job, I can work from home or I can work from pretty much anywhere in the world with decent internet access. Including coworking spaces or coffee shops and other community third places.
  • Although Automatticians are distributed workers, they meet up several times a year in different parts of the world so they can, as Scott Berkun said, “learn things about working together we could reuse the rest of the year when working apart.” I will enjoy that combination of distributed working and periodic meetups.
  • Automattic uses open source to maximize the value of WordPress to the largest number of people in the world, letting them earn a living, make their voices heard, or build websites for many other purposes.
  • Automattic uses open source to provide the ability for any skilled developer to develop their own fork of WordPress if the current project team stops developing it, or takes the development in a direction that skilled program thinks is wrong.
  • The Automattic creed fits me to a T.
  • innovators dilemmaThe future of WordPress and Automattic is both bright and challenging. There will be opportunities for them to make a huge impact, and the reward from making that impact will be deeply satisfying and rewarding.
  • Part of that bright future is the possibility for innovative changes. Most people don’t work at companies that are really interested in innovation. Those companies just want to keep doing what got them where they are. For more on that, read Clayton Christensen’s “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” Work is more fun when a company and its leaders are interested in innovation and facilitate that innovation.
  • Matt M says he wants to continue leading Automattic for another 20 years, and the company is unlikely to do a lucrative IPO in the near future. To me, that means Automatticians won’t have their jobs ruined by bad management or Wall Street greed for the foreseeable future.
  • Being an Events Wrangler will introduce me to interesting people and unusual places around the globe. I’ve only worked or spent a significant amount of time in three countries outside the USA (Argentina, Canada/Québec, and Italy), but I enjoyed every minute of it and look forward to building a global network and better understanding the world I live in.
  • In many ways, it seems like Automattic events will be participant-driven events, with some of the flavor of unconferences. I’d much rather be involved with participant-driven events than be responsible for a manufacturing industry annual conference, or a pharma gala event, or other gatherings focused on money or marketing instead of on providing the most value for the participants of the event.
  • Being an Events Wrangler is likely to have opportunities for me to be a community builder. I’ve spent most of the past ten years building various types of communities, especially tech-related one, I enjoy it tremendously, and I look forward to doing more of it.

I could add at least ten more reasons, and I’ll update this post if I think of important ones I forgot, but you get the general picture. I have researched Automattic extensively. I think I’m a good fit for the job and company, and vice versa. One never knows what the future holds, but I can easily see myself spending the next ten to twenty years having the time of my life wrangling events and doing other things to help make Automattic the best company in the world! 🙂


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