As you should already know, this year we’ve been actively supporting the Open Source communities by sponsoring and attending different community events like JoomlaDays and WordCamps all over the world. Last week, few SiteGround pals and me embarked on a journey to fly us to the beautiful San Francisco for the biggest WordPress community event – WordCamp San Francisco. The event was amazing and without any further ado I’ll try to share the highlights of our experience there!
What’s so special about WCSF?
Just to mention for those of you who have missed our previous posts about WordCamps, they are usually community-organized events gathering WordPress enthusiasts to learn how to get the most out of it, and more importantly meet and get to know one another. WordCamp San Francisco is special though – first of all, Automattic – the company behind WordPress, organizes it and second - it brings together all the WordPress community key players and Matt Mullenweg himself – the co-founding developer of WordPress who delivers his annual “State of the Word” address (which is THE WordPress talk, most inspiring for the community, but about that later!). Unlike other WordCamps where the attendees are more or less beginners or intermediate WordPress users, in San Francisco I met mostly people who run their own WordPress-based businesses, many Automatticians and a ton of core WordPress developers and influential contributors. In that sense, mingling with the best and brightest from the community was an extremely valuable experience for us as a company as we were able to present our business model and gather insightful feedback from all those great users. Speaking of presenting our business, leads me to my next thing I wanted to tell you about – the sponsors and the booth experience!
Having a booth as a hosting sponsor
The other different thing about WCSF compared to other WordCamps, is that it’s sponsors get a booth area to showcase their offerings, so it really feels like a real conference. The booth experience, as I expected, was really great and super busy - we got a lot of traction there! We met a ton of interesting people, talked to a lot of potential clients and met some existing ones as well. I can’t really describe you how rewarding and motivational it feels to hear people’s positive feedback about what we do. We have a special position on the WordPress hosting market and our goal was to put a very clear and structured message to demonstrate that position. Luckily enough, our message appealed to the attendees and we were able to make a difference among the other hosting companies that were there. So what is it all about you’d ask? On one hand there were the traditional hosts that offer pretty much standard hosting package that is in no way optimized for WordPress but affordable, and on the other were the so called managed WordPress providers that offer hosting optimized for WordPress only, but at a rather high cost. We see a growing gap between the two types of providers and believe that users should not face a dilemma which one to choose. We believe that both have their advantages and disadvantages and our message was that with us, users can have the best from the two hosting worlds – fast and reliable servers optimized for WordPress performance, 24/7 professional support and all that at a reasonable price.
“The State of the Word”
The highlight of WCSF is always Matt Mullenweg’s annual “The State of the Word” speech where he talks how has WordPress performed throughout the year and where it is going in the next one. Matt is a huge inspiration for the whole WordPress community and the WordPress lovers always anticipate his WCSF talk with lots of excitement. Here are some of the highlights of his talk:
- 51 WordCamps were organized in 2011, 31 happened in 2012 up to now and 44 more planned – a clear sign that the community is growing
- WordPress has been downloaded over 145 Million times, powering 16.7% of the entire internet
- 13 000 people were making a living from WordPress in 2011, and that number is growing to 20 000 people in 2012
- WordPress 3.5 will be released on December 5th
Matt also shared quite a few insights of what is coming to WordPress in the following year: turning WordPress into an app engine, broader internationalization, automatic updates, and real-time editing. The speech was really interesting and I recommend checking out the recorded video.
Of course, no cool event ends without an after party and so was with WordCamp San Francisco! I’ve always told you that an event is never as good if it’s not fun, so WCSF totally scores high in my events funometer!
Well, that turned out to be a rather long post, so if you made it to here – congrats and thanks! Now you can go and check out some pictures of our WordCamp San Francisco experience! Oh, and since Tenko is such a passionate and really good photographer, I dared to share some of his San Francisco shots too!