ManageWP’s AMAs are back after a long absence for season two. The long-awaited series returns with James Farmer, an Australian entrepreneur who co-founded the business side of WPMU DEV and edublogs.com. “(He) has had a crack at (and often failed) pretty much every WP business under the sun,” Farmer said in his intro.
He was asked questions about starting a company, his problems with the community, and as always, the future of WordPress.
Here are five takeaways.
Farmer Hasn’t Been Invited To Any WP AU Events Lately.
In July, 2015, Farmer wrote a blog post describing the events and actions that led him to being “blacklisted” from the WordPress community for ten years and counting. The post had a lot of buzz at the time and there were bound to be questions dedicated to the topic in an AMA.
Today it is clear he is still at odds with the community. When asked about the differences between the community in Australia versus America, Farmer mentioned that he set up the first ever WordCamp Southern Hemisphere, but fell out of favor soon after.
“I was pretty quickly pushed out of (for good and bad reasons, mea cupla, etc.) the WP community en large, especially in Australia, and I haven’t been invited back.” Farmer said. “So I can’t tell you.”
Never Ask For Donations.
Farmer is no stranger to starting a business and after more than ten years in WordPress, he’s a learned a thing or two. One of the biggest is, don’t ask for donations. It just doesn’t work.
Along with this, don’t ask teachers to pay. They don’t make enough as it is and you will be hard-pressed to find someone willing to give you money to do their job. The key is starting enterprise and institutions from the very beginning.
Farmer Has Big Plans For Upfront.
WPMU DEV recently released Upfront 1.0, and according to Farmer, it is way better than the original, but there is still a long way to go. The team is working on redesigning the front-end posting experience, the builder, a new UI, and more.
Farmer wants to make it more accessible to the everyday WordPress user, by making sure it is easy to use and free.
“Fundamentally though, and above all else, I want to make using and customizing WP far, far better and more accessible experience for authors, admins and developers alike,” Farmer said.
Squarespace Is The Biggest Threat To WordPress.
The future of WordPress is something that is always on our minds. According to Farmer, the biggest threat to the WordPress way of life are sites like Squarespace.
These platforms are becoming easier and more powerful, while WordPress still needs to be hosted. This doesn’t spell certain doom for the CMS, however.
“I think wp.com has a strong future, I think Calypso is a big part of that,” Farmer said. “But the individually managed self-hosted WP that we know and love, in 5-10 years I think we’ll be the CMS equivalent of an Ubuntu user.”
If Not For WordPress, Farmer Would Still Be An Entrepreneur.
It’s always interesting to think about where we would all be without WordPress. For Farmer, he would still be running his own business, whatever that may be.
“I’ve been focused on running my own business since I was a kid, so that was always going to happen,” Farmer said. “I used to think about starting my own school.”
Check back every other Wednesday for another AMA with a WordPress influencer!