Automattic tumbling

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I’d like to take the time and muse on this tweet by my friend Andrey with a few screenshots out of the top 30 Google results of news coverage on Automattic and Tumblr. Pics, citations, and some commentary. 👇


The Verge: ‘Automattic the company behind WordPress’
(Automattic is one out of many contributors to WordPress, and the company behind WordPress.com.)

Also The Verge: ‘Verizon is selling Tumblr to WordPress owner’
(This made me check my emails because according to GPL logic afaik I’m an owner of WordPress too, as is pretty much everybody.)

The Wall Street Journal: ‘Verizon to Sell Tumblr to WordPress.com Owner’
(Props, they got it right!)

9to5mac: ‘WordPress owner Automattic to acquire Tumblr for nominal amount’
(Inaccurate: Automattic is not the owner of WordPress. Trademark-wise, the WordPress Foundation is.)

Forbes is killing it: ‘Automattic is the company that runs WordPress, the software that powers no less than a third of the web. Created by Matt in 2005 when he was aged 20…’
(The second link goes to a WordPress.org page.)

Search Engine Journal: ‘WordPress’ Parent Company Acquires Tumblr…’
(WordPress doesn’t have a parent company. If anything, WordPress is the parent OSS project of Automattic.)

FortuneMagazine: ‘Tumblr… to Sell… to WordPress Owner Automattic’
(See above.)

Vox: ‘Automattic, the parent company behind… WordPress’
(Guess they couldn’t decide between ‘parent company’ and ‘company behind’. Hard choice, both inaccurate.)

Shout-out to TechCrunch for getting it right this time: ‘Verizon is selling Tumblr to WordPress.com Parent, Automattic’
(Not meaning to brag but I might have a tiny bit of merit in this.)
(Update: apparently they had to be corrected again, this time by Brian.)

Another accurate one from Ars Technica: ‘Verizon selling Tumblr to WordPress.com owner…’

Don’t anyone capital-P SPIEGEL ONLINE here when we can be glad they’re getting the message right: ‘Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com’

And finally Reuters: ‘Verizon to sell Tumblr to WordPress owner’ 😭

(However, they’re getting it right in the article: ‘Automattic Inc, the owner of… WordPress.com’)


(Btw, if you’re completely in the dark about what the darn problem of this post is, I’ve made this little site years ago.)

So, some get it wrong, some get it right – aren’t there small wins? Sure there are, but there shouldn’t have to be. That’s why Andrey says it’s an actively maintained marketing frame – and I agree. At some point, ‘actively maintained’ includes what you don’t do to fix a false frame.

Based on the historic decision to name a blogging platform after its parent open source project, the bulk of mainstream media continue to cover WordPress as a product owned by one company: Automattic.

27 reactions on “Automattic tumbling

  1. If there was no value in the confusion, the commercial product would not share its name with the open source product. If there was no value in the confusion, there would be no need for trademark protection.

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