You do. Or, all of us do because WordPress is not owned outright by anyone specifically.
Design is Philosophy shares their perspective on this interesting tension between ownership, copyright, and development:
This begs an obvious question: If WordPress is not owned outright by any one entity or even a definable group of entities, and anyone can get a copy, modify it and add to it any way they want, and pretty much treat it as their own, who calls the shots?
The answer: The contributors. And chief amongst them Matt Mullenweg. Matt is by an large the originator of WordPress and the driving force behind the application, and he is also one of the chief contributors to its code. Around Matt sit several concentric rings of developers, separated by their level of contribution.
The first ring containing the lead developers is heavily populated by employees in Matt’s company Automattic and/or employees of the WordPress Foundation which holds the WordPress name and logo trademarks. Next sit more developers and around them even more developers. These are the people that by committee call the shots through a democratic-ish process.
Remember how I said “the copyright to WordPress is held by thousands of individuals”? This is the result.
What’s cool about this is that you can be part of the decision making and application building process. And if you’re good, you might end up at the very top of the pyramid.
What’s disturbing is that because of this structure you can easily get infighting, clique building, branching, and there is even room for of something resembling a coup or hostile takeover. Think politics and you’ll see what I mean.
At present the evolution of WordPress is very much influenced by Automattic and Matt himself, and there is no reason to think this will change any time soon.
As the owner and operator of WordPress.com Automattic has a vested interest in WordPress, and by investing heavily in contributions to the core of the application the company is in essence controlling its evolution and future development.
Morten Rand-Hendriksen continues to also share how this creates a lot of tension (as we’ve experienced recently with WordCamps, GPL, and Envato as well as his suggestions on how to profit and build a business around GPL wisely.
Read more of his thoughts here as it’s comprehensive and well-worth it.
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