Why I joined Automattic

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Now with 232 employees

It’s official – I’m now a Happiness Engineer for Automattic. I’m immensely proud to be employee 231 of this growing and unique company of truly passionate individuals.

Automattic provides WordPress.com, Jetpack, VaultPress, Simplenote, Gravatar, CloudUp… and the list goes on. I’ll be mainly providing support for users of WordPress.com, with some feature testing and bug tracking thrown in there.

It’s a company I’ve admired for a long time, and been interested in working for since I met Lance Willett back in April 2012 at WordCamp San Diego. We had a great chat about the company and the roles they offered. Fast forward to October 2013 and I bumped into Lance again at Pressnomics. We only had a brief chat them but it re-ignited a spark in me, so I investigated further.

Automattic don’t hire the traditional way (in fact, hardly anything is traditional about them/us). You have an interview (via text chat). Then if you’re good, a second interview. Then if you’ve even better you do a 4 – 6 week trial doing the job you’re interviewing for. This is paid at $25/hr regardless of what job it is you’re doing.

I did this in the evenings and weekends, as I had a full time job and didn’t want to disrupt/delay my clients I was working with. I already had long enough delays due to a large workload and didn’t want to make it worse for my clients. This can be the hardest part for most people – juggling two jobs and switching gears between them, and I was no exception.

If you’re successful in the trial you go to a final interview with Matt Mullenweg (online of course). If you’re successful then you’re hired 🙂

There are many companies that have tough application procedures, and I’ve been through a couple in my time (both successfully and not) but this was something very impressive. I’m extremely pleased and excited to have started my new role.

I’ve been asked a lot of questions about changing role, so I’ve summed up the answers here.

Why give up being an entrepreneur?

I haven’t given up being an entrepreneur, I don’t think that’s a job, more a way of thinking. It was over six years of working in my own business that I loved, and it felt like time for a change. I wouldn’t have stopped doing it for just anything or any company, it took something special.

Why do “help desk” support?

I’ve been providing support all my business life. Whether that’s been helping people sell more by analyzing their market, providing people with the tools to do their job more effectively or setting up people’s blogs and websites. Whether you make coffee or design buildings, you’re helping people achieve something that they want to achieve. How you provide that support varies but this way people have questions, and I help answer them.

You’re going to be trapped in 9 – 5 corporate hell!

Well first I reject that all corporate life is hell. Those selling certain online courses to “teach” you how to make a million dollars working from home will have you believe working for anyone but yourself is hell. But it’s simply not true. There are massive pros and massive cons to working for yourself. As a father of two young boys it was time for something without the incredibly long hours I used to put in and the stress and health issues that come with it. No job is free of stress and pressure but there are ways of managing it better in a structured framework. Such as working for a company that also does something you’re passionate about.

Why WordPress.com and not WordPress.org? I thought you said WordPress.org was better!

It’s not a competition 🙂 Both have their strengths and weaknesses, so it simply depends on what you need and what restrictions you can live with. If you are wondering how WordPress.com differs from WordPress.org, this support article explains the distinction.

How’s the new commute?

Still about 6 seconds down the hallway! We’re a distributed company, so while we have a head office in San Francisco that you can work out of, we have people in 190 different cities around the world.

Hey that sounds cool, can I join you?

Sure, we’re hiring!

There are lots of further reading about Automattic and trials if you’re interested, such as:

Step Into the Office-Less Company

Hire by Auditions, Not Resumes

My experience on Trial at Automattic

Also feel free to ask me any burning questions you may have.

12 thoughts on “Why I joined Automattic”

  1. Congrats on your move to Automattic. How has the transition from entrepeneur to employee been so far? Honestly, it is something I dread, the stuff that my nightmares are made of…lol.

  2. This is great Joel for you. I am really happy for you and your family. With kids the years go fast and the more time you can spend with them while they are young the better chance you have to survive those teen years. LOL

    Are you still going to be doing your blog? You always have great info to share.

    1. Thanks Debbie! I’ve been slack on the blogging front, I will get back into it I’m sure 🙂

      Hope all is well!

  3. Congrats on joining what sounds like a great team that appears to work in an unusual way. Doesn’t sound like corporate hell to me, I think sometimes the 9-to-5 has a lot going for it, I reckon you’ll get to spend more time with your kids than you probably have before.

    Hope it works out well for you Joel, although I know it will, having received your help on many occasions in the past I already know you will be good at it.

    Cheers, Bob

    1. Thanks Bob! Definitely have had more time with the kids already 🙂 Hope all is going well with you, all the best!

  4. Thanks for the advice through the years. Having had my site hacked and dealing with back pages, etc. I have been thinking offing back into the wp.com arena. I realize that I have better things to do with my time. And I read somewhere that Matt is proudest of Jetpack. Seeing how he’s made sure that transferred to both com and org is truly great; having a front row seat even better. Best to you and family!

    1. Thanks for listening to me over the years Lee! There are definitely pros and cons of both WordPress.com and WordPress.org, it’s not a cop-out to say “it depends”!. All the best to you and yours 🙂

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