We interview pillars of the Business of WordPress space, luminaries from peripherally-related technologies and accomplished domain experts who can help teach you powerful ideas to get ahead in business and in life. Brought to you by Pagely, NorthStack, and PressNomics.

Ep 2: Brian Krogsgard. Building the leading WordPress news & community site while raising 2 kids

Ep 2: Brian Krogsgard. Building the leading WordPress news & community site while raising 2 kids

Host: Joshua Strebel | Published: September 9, 2019

Today Joshua Strebel interviews Brian Krogsgard, founder of Post Status. Post Status provides top tier industry analysis, an excellent community chat for WordPress professionals, a high quality WordPress job board, exclusive deals for subscribers, and more. Their goal is to cater to people that know and love WordPress so they can do what they do better and more informed.

In today’s episode Josh and Brian discuss:

  • The state of the WordPress space
  • Trends they’re seeing developing into the coming years
  • The role of peripherally related tools and frameworks like Gatsby and Laravel
  • How things will change if the economy goes into recession
  • What Brian sees as being the major opportunity for how people can capitalize on domain expertise in the realm of WordPress
  • And much more…

Enjoy.

Show Notes

0:00:50   Welcome and context
0:02:23   What’s your sense of what’s going on in the WordPress market space right now?
0:03:33   “You’re seeing exits and consolidation at three different levels”
0:07:24   Do you think these rollups are a good thing?
0:08:05   “Yoast is a great example of how this consolidation is great.”
0:09:41   “Now if you’re doing freelance most of the time it’s through one of these bigger agencies”
0:10:59   “We’re not building up the dev community like we did in 2004-2010”
0:12:42   If you look out 5 years do you see the continuing consolidation a net positive?
0:14:51   Pros/cons of the corporate benefactor revenue model with tools like a WP-CLI
0:17:11   “There’s tons of opportunity to build verticals like “WordPress.com for the construction industry.””
0:19:08   “A recession forces hustle and creativity in business.”
0:22:38   What opportunity do you see around Gatsby, static site generators and javascript frameworks?
0:24:24   “Laravel now feels the way WP did when it was 3-4% of the web.”
0:26:44   “We’re still trying to squeeze things into the standard tables and architecture that exists in WordPress.”
0:29:15   Have you experienced friction pushing back against WordPress dogma and if so what is that like?
0:30:51   “We should approach this ecosystem as a relationship-first one.”
0:34:05   WordPress deserves credit for doing a better than average job at fostering a thoughful, open ecosystem.
0:35:37   On Google’s agenda with WordPress…
0:39:48   “You’re looking to the good people within an organization to bring integrity to the organization.”
0:42:15   You’re a Dad. I’m a Dad. Let’s talk 😉
0:45:45   How do you raise children while working full-time effectively?
0:52:03   Matt Medeiros’ new mini van (aka swagger wagon)

Show Transcript

Joshua Strebel: 00:50 All right. Welcome to this week’s podcast. I’m with Brian Krogsgard a post status and today we’re just going to catch up and talk about all things. Awesome. All things awesome.

Brian Krogsgard: 01:02 Hey, thanks for having me, Josh. Hey, thank you Brian. Um, you know, you’ve interviewed me three or four or five times and I figure it’s my turn to return the favor and I’ll be straight with you. I’m a really big fan of your work, the work that you write it, post status to community, curate the podcasts that you’ve done. Um, you’ve been in this wordpress industry by eight, nine, 10 years now.

Joshua Strebel: 01:28 Um, I’ve been actively in the space since 2010 was when I started like blogging about wordpress. I was introduced to wordpress more like, oh seven oh eight when I was trying to figure out how to build websites. [inaudible] so yeah you’ve seen, you’ve seen the rise of the beast.

Brian Krogsgard: 01:49 Yes. All the way since like, uh, well, well below 10% of market share. So we’ve, uh, more than quadrupled market share since I’ve been involved in wordpress. Maybe that’s how we should measure, uh, how, how wordpress o g are you? What percentage of the web was wordpress whenever you got involved?

Joshua Strebel: 02:08 What if we did it backwards and said, a wordpress has three career, three Krogsgard career’s worth of market share.

Brian Krogsgard: 02:16 There you go. That works.

Joshua Strebel: 02:19 Make, make your career the unit of measurement. Um, give me your, give me your 2 cents. What’s going on in the market place in this ecosystem right now? What’s interesting to you?

Brian Krogsgard: 02:30 Oh man, there’s so much stuff that might as well use this as my, my draft for my big ideas. Um, but there’s a lot of things that I think are pretty consistent in the market right now. I mean, you’re in the hosting industry, you’re seeing a good bit of what I’m probably thinking, but there’s another element of it. I think hosting is representative of it, but you’re seeing consolidation, which is a theme that talked about in 2017 to be on the lookout for a, in fact, back in, I don’t remember which Pressonomics you gave me a platform for, but it was one of them. It was the first time I did kind of a business of wordpress type of big fat overview. And then I did it again about a year later. And some of those themes have definitely come true. Some of the opportunities have are still out there, which is interesting.

Brian Krogsgard: 03:24 But that big theme of consolidation has definitely been super thorough and across kind of all fronts. We’ve seen big hoax Scoble up smaller hosts. That’s been, that’s not just a wordpress thing though. That’s like a business thing. But you’re seeing the, you know, you’re seeing the medium and small wordpress hosts start to say, Hey, what’s my angle out? Like what’s my, what’s my game plan for when this is all done? You’re seeing the bigger hosts either point towards an IPO or a, you know, private equity, things like that, which is their own type of exit and consolidation. Uh, people don’t think of an IPO as an exit, but it is like that’s the opportunity for the primary shareholders to take some off the table. Um, when that works its way all the way down in my mind to people who are historically freelancers able to, um, you know, churn and burn, client work, contract work.

Brian Krogsgard: 04:22 And I think more of those folks are seeking the comfort of fulltime work and, um, at a different pace, a different stress level. Um, and I think they’re finding that under the umbrellas of large plugin companies, many of which are making the move towards, uh, SAS, uh, where selling software one time is not cutting it anymore. And also towards large consulting companies that are primarily maintenance driven or like retainer based, uh, and large hosting companies who are trying to pull in the various, uh, bifurcated experiences of wordpress under one umbrella so that the, uh, large host x or large hosts y experiences are kind of all encompassing within their own ecosystem. Yeah. So those are some of the burdens. Yeah. A lot of walled gardens. And so that’s the kind of the three levels I would point towards. And what you’re seeing squeezed there in my mind is I think you’re seeing, uh, you’re seeing the middle market developer, like the self-supported talented freelancer, you’re seeing them get squeezed out a bit because the market for saying, Hey, I want you to build, you know, I don’t know, seven or eight 15 to $30,000 websites in a year, maybe with some contract partnerships or whatever.

Brian Krogsgard: 05:47 You know, you own yourself with six figure living and it’s, it’s nice. That’s a harder route to go these days because, uh, it’s that middle zone. And I, I don’t say that as an $15,000 website cheap, but you know, now people are getting $2,000 websites that look a lot like those 15 and $20,000 websites and they’re done by site wranglers or you know, someone in their second career or doing it on the side for a hustle or they’re able to pump out a hundred of these a year or something. And then you go the other route, which is the human maids and the tin ups in the modern tribes where they’re not hardly looking at anything that’s under six figures and they have a lot of seven figure clients that are carrying large portions of their staff to be able to create seamlessness in their payroll processes.

Brian Krogsgard: 06:37 And I think what gets lost are the small, smaller companies like the Niche, a web development agency that does higher end work or the, you know, talented freelancer. I think it’s just easier for them to do other things or to like sub specialize and go even more narrow for what they’re seeking rather than selling a website to someone that comes after them to kind of provide the whole development experience. That was a long answer, so I apologize. But that’s some of, that’s the types of consolidation that um, I’m seeing.

Joshua Strebel: 07:10 Yeah. So certainly in the market changes as it matures. You know, things, things are gonna happen, some work that was there before it’s going to dry up. And market pressures are gonna drive, um, customer basis in certain directions. Do you think this is a good thing? And I know that answer depends on which stakeholder you are. It’s a good thing for a big conglomerate to wrap up a bunch of small competitors obviously. So take it, take it from a view of a couple of stakeholders, say you know, a, a big dog, a small dog, and then like the platform, like what’s the, the platform is a stakeholder too, you know, wordpress itself.

Brian Krogsgard: 07:47 Yeah, I think there are dangers for the platform. A lead with that. Um, let me express one. Uh, someone that’s, I think it’s really good for and I’ll use, uh, a pretty good, uh, pretty thorough example. So like Yoast is a great example of a company that I think really benefits in this scenario because they’re able to hire people. They have the scale of wordpress, this large percentage of the Internet services that they could provide that are a value add, but obviously not a core experience. So they’re not going to get gobbled up into the platform itself. They’re really outside the scope of what any hosting company would think is reasonable. It’s just a really nice fit for kind of a product plus service in some ways where they can scale nicely and people can come in under that Yost umbrella and they can grow to be a really nice, uh, sustainable scalable company.

Brian Krogsgard: 08:39 I think that’s great. That’s what we want. That’s what we would dream of in 2012. You know. And um, the other side of that is I think, you know, not everybody wants to go work for a a hundred person consulting, but it’s harder now to be part of a three person or a five person agency. I’ve seen some of the, some of the best overall full product design Dev agencies that are two or three people I’ve seen some of them just not be able to make it because people don’t want to go to them and say, we’re going to give you this large amount of money when they can go to somebody that they kind of know they’re going to get the job done. There’s not the risks, the same type of freelancer risks that you can, they still see with the two or three person agency.

Brian Krogsgard: 09:25 I think it’s really hard to be in that line of business. I don’t think that’s a very good thing. I also think the, um, we had this path where it was like, I’m interested in wordpress. I like wordpress and it’s really easy to pick up freelance work that’s independent. Now, most of the time if you’re going to do freelance work, you’re going to do it contractually through one of these larger agencies that’s using freelancers to kind of scale up with seasonality or something. And I don’t like that as much because it’s a little harder for that person who’s an entrepreneur to take that and turn it into their own business because you don’t have this pipeline of work that’s independently developed, uh, some of those types of challenges. So I don’t think that’s as good. And then for the platform itself, I think the developer interest and the developer community has got to be strong.

Brian Krogsgard: 10:15 And in some ways we’ve upped the requirements from a development perspective. We’ve said, hey, you gotta be a Pro Java script person at the server level. So, you know, like interfacing with complex frameworks, whether it’s react and uh, view and backbone and all these tools that we have built in the wordpress now and built into the majority of the plugins. Um, and really you don’t need a lot of that entry level code where you were going in and taking a theme, ripping it apart, putting it back together, teaching yourself how to do things, but you’re not breaking anything pivotal. You know, like you’re just, it’s mostly the display portion of a website. Now we’re doing most of that through page builders and stuff that’s more wrangler ish. Yeah. I think you’re not building up the developer community like we did in 2004 to 2000, uh, 10 or so.

Brian Krogsgard: 11:06 And I think that, that, that limits our pipeline and a lot of that interest, the people, the hack, you know, the true indie hacker type, they’re not coming into the wordpress landscape. People that are coming into the wordpress landscape, maybe they’re a DIY wire or if they’re a developer, they’re coming because they have one of those in demand skills that maybe they are a react developer. And there’s a lot of business in the wordpress landscape because wordpress is a big ecosystem, but they’re not like learning here. They’re not growing up here the way they did at one time. And I think that that’s a risk for the platform.

Joshua Strebel: 11:39 So the analogy that comes to mind is kind of like, um, uh, populations in developing countries. Like if you look at the population of a up and coming country, you know, the age is like a pyramid. You’ve got some old people then really fat group of youth coming up where if you look at the population graph of like Japan, it’s an inverted triangle. You have a lot of old people and not as many new people coming up. So your, if that analogy applies, you’re saying there’s this like baby boomer middle area of a lot of developers in wordpress, but there’s not a bunch of new births happening below it.

Brian Krogsgard: 12:14 Yeah. And I mean, maybe you know, Josh, our generation, you’re a little ahead of me, but maybe we’re the boomers of wordpress.

Joshua Strebel: 12:24 Okay. Yeah. So, so the, the ecosystem certainly changing. You’re seeing it, um, in, in your day to day work? I think everybody’s kind of experiencing it in their own way, depending on what industry or segment of the industry they’re in. Do you think it’s, um, gonna end? Well, I mean if you had to look out five years, uh, the continuing consolidation of things, do you think that’s a net positive or?

Brian Krogsgard: 12:52 I think that’s a natural evolution in a lot of ways and I think that there is an opportunity for some of that developer interest and I’m really focusing on one core component of people of stake holder, which is not fair. There’s a lot of new stakeholders that can benefit in a great way. Um, but I think that it can move towards other things. Like I think the opportunities with wordpress and ecommerce are still gigantic, uh, gigantic and there’s a lot that people can do, entrepreneurs can do in that landscape. Um, I think there’s just, there’s some risks I guess for whether it’s a net positive. Um, I think from a business perspective, I think wordpress will continue to be a tool that a lot of corporations like that that’s part of what they have in their line of business. I think a GoDaddy as an example, they’re not really a competitor of yours, but they’re in your realm.

Brian Krogsgard: 13:52 They probably look at, Hey, we’ve got all these people that want wordpress and they self host it and you know what, we’re really good at offering cheap self hosting for people and we can build some tools on it to make it a little easier. That’s good for GoDaddy’s bottom line. That adds a, a a lane for them to have revenue that somewhat independent of, you know, their domain services or whatever else they do that makes money. And I think from a business perspective that that can be, that can be pretty good. Um, I talked to Matt about this, Matt Mullenweg about this at one point, but I think one of the risks that we run as people do try to like professionalize what they’re doing is there’s fewer like free and available fully featured tools. And it’s like, well, everybody’s got to have a monetization angle to be able to sustain it.

Brian Krogsgard: 14:42 That didn’t always, that wasn’t always the case in the land of wordpress. Like there were things that just existed and there were awesome, fully featured. Take WP Cli for example, open source even. Um, and I think oftentimes now we approach something and we’re like, yeah, but how is this going to be sustained? And if those can’t be sustained by their own business model and if, even if they are, now you’re kind of pulling in this, you’re going this onesy twosy route of charging people left and right for all kinds of stuff. So you end up paying thousands of dollars a year for your website and Dev tools and stuff. Or, uh, those have to be sustained by, you know, benevolent benefactors. Like Pagely has to say, you know what, we’d spend $10,000 a year supporting WP Cli because we use WP Cli and that corporate benefactor model, it has got pros and cons too, but a lot of its cons because you don’t know when that can go away and you know, some of those types of things.

Joshua Strebel: 15:37 Well you and Daniel, the, the original, um, author of WP-CLI, that’s exactly what he did. We contributed as some other hosts contributed. And I don’t know, maybe that gave him about eight or nine months worth of runway runway to, to, uh, build out this stuff. But then he got tired and he just got over it and he didn’t want to have to come back and keep shaking down or asking for more corporate sponsorship. So it sounds like what you’re saying is yes, in the early days it was easy and free and people would kind of do it out of love, out of passion and like, Oh, look at this cool thing I made and get adopted and get popular. Then quickly reality sets in and it’s like, okay, I got plug in with 10 million installs and no one’s paying me a damn thing to care about it and I got to put food on the table. And so the knee jerk reaction now today is okay, we have to charge for everything. We’re not even going to start something unless we know how it’s going to put food on our table. So, you know, I could, if that trend persists, I could certainly see it kind of drawing out the, the talent pool and the product pool at the low end and the whole ecosystem before we know what we’re going to be sales force and everything’s that got $100,000 integration just to add a button, you know?

Brian Krogsgard: 16:51 Yeah. And in that scenario, you’re never going to get away from the, the corporate ownership, you know, it’ll, everybody will think of wordpress and they’ll think, oh, a wordpress is either automatic or go daddy or AIG or like these people that are basically funding every component of it or Google, like they’re bigger and bigger in the landscape. Um, I want us to hit on one thing I think is that there’s tons of opportunity and that’s, there’s a lot of people in this ecosystem that are now really good with wordpress stuff, building stuff with wordpress that we’ve always just built for other people. And you don’t just have to choose the path of build the tool or do the consulting or you know, like, you know, do the a picks and shovels side of things. You can also be the explorer, you know, you can take these skills that you have and go use it to build a business or a service. And I think that’s what we’ll see is people realize, you know what, I have the talents between development and design and marketing and, and uh, all these things that are part of building a business. And now I can go build a business. I can, you know, uh, no matter what it is and have long advocated for people to say, go build the wordpress.com for a particular niche, for the construction business, like on, you just really nail it with construction businesses. Yeah, yeah.

Joshua Strebel: 18:12 No, I see that being even more likely if the headlines of the impending recession play true. You know, we started Pagely in 2009 2008 we all remember the economy back then, and it was not necessarily me saying, oh, I have this great idea that I think is going to be very profitable and, and you know, the world needs it. It was me saying, I gotta eat. I better think of something. I, you know, I’m running out of contracts. Uh, there’s not the work that are used to be, what skillsets do I possess that I can try to make a business out of. So from that, um, uh, not scarcity, but you know, from that lol in an economy, people get more creative on what can I build, what can I create that can get me out of this, uh, position I’m in financially.

Brian Krogsgard: 19:03 It’s the need. It’s the need to hustle. Um, you know, a recession forces organizations who typically have large payrolls and whatnot, they trim the fat. Um, many of us came into our careers or were early enough in our careers where the recession, uh, provided some uncertainty for sure because you don’t know if you’re going to get a job. I had friends who uh, you know, they lost their job before they started it because they graduated in 2008 and like the job they had secured, they told them no, and many people in wordpress, uh, they were around that same zone too. So then they say, okay, well how can I go make some money? And like you could do the Gig economy route now I guess it’s going to be a little less profitable. It’s like you’re, you’re basically a commodity, but if you can take skills and then you see a ripe opportunity of this emergence of the web and whatever is the ripe opportunity, that next recession you create, you create the next line of entrepreneurs through hard times like that. You don’t just go make incredible businesses because it’s like a great time for the economy. That’s when stupid businesses get made, you know. Exactly. That’s when stationary bikes with iPads try to IPO with like a zillion dollars of losses every year.

Joshua Strebel: 20:26 Oh, we’ll put it, we’ll put it in the show notes, but there’s a Twitter thread I saw where a guy was making like bs Peloton ads and he was like critiquing every photo he’s like, and I took my Palatan and built a $9,000 solid oak framed stand for it in front of my beautiful window looking out over my cactus garden. Like it’s a great thread. It’s silly. Yeah. Yeah. So anything

Brian Krogsgard: 20:53 there, there will be opportunities, I guess is the point. And people in the, in our landscape, you know, they’re web developers, they’re application developers, they’re expert marketers. They’ll be able to take those skills and, and build something. I think that’s where some of the great opportunity we have in our space lies. Got Using wordpress as that application framework and as that base layer tool for your business that you make. But you got to be good at something else too. You know, like it can’t just be that the tech, you gotta find an area that’s ripe. The economy doesn’t disappear in a recession. It just is harder to make the buck. Yeah. Yeah. So you know, you look in your tool belt, figuring out what you can build with that tool, with that tool set and hopefully something works out for you and you ride the wave back up.

Joshua Strebel: 21:38 I mean, that’s right. It’s essentially what I did to some degree.

Brian Krogsgard: 21:42 Absolutely y’all did, I mean you converted the consulting business into a hosting business, but it was the same thing. You took the skills that you had and you put it into a business that could have some monthly recurring revenue. And then when the economy moves back to an expansion phase, you’re taking advantage of that the whole way up.

Joshua Strebel: 22:00 Hmm. Wow. I wish I would have had this conversation with you 10 years ago and knew what to do. I had it, you know, could we act like another recession is imminent and it’s really hard to call these things. But I think it’s, a lot of people would say like, we are mid to late cycle and that, I mean, we, you can’t not be, it’s been 10 years of an expanding economy. So, so let me, let me shift gears just a little bit. Um,

Joshua Strebel: 22:27 I’ve been seeing a lot of momentum and maybe it’s just because I’m looking for it, right? Because of our new product line, I’m kind of looking in and in lanes next to wordpress and it seems like Gadsby and some of the other javascript frameworks and static sites, you know, but not, not necessarily them in a vacuum, not Gaspe by itself, but how it works with the content management system behind it, you know, a wordpress or contently or something like that. What do you see and kind of as an opportunity in that kind of what I think may be the next couple of year arc?

Brian Krogsgard: 23:02 I think it’s really interesting. Um, I think, I definitely think there’s a lot going on there. And I think it’s purely because people are, are wanting to explore developing with those tools that are in vogue, but in vogue for a reason. Uh, because there are some inherent advantages from a developer perspective or performance perspective, a security perspective. And people are exploring that and that’s great. The danger is if wordpress can’t adapt, if there are better tools, if there are things like eventually you just squeeze wordpress out, right? Cause people say, you know what, we don’t need the templating engine or you know what, we don’t need the, some of these dynamic components or, uh, we just want to turn stuff on or off as we want. We don’t want all of this right out of the box. Well we need to adapt to, if we want to be the application framework, we need to be able to adapt to enable people to use wordpress as a quick plug and play tool so that someone can get things like, uh, really structured taxonomies, uh, in their content management system or user systems for authentication or, you know, whatever like things they need inside their application.

Brian Krogsgard: 24:17 And I think we’re at risk of losing the benefits there other than the fact that wordpress is so ubiquitous for websites. Because when I look at which tools are serving that need, well I would look at like a layer of l or something that to me feels like wordpress felt when wordpress was, you know, three or 4% of the web in terms of the way it, the way people kind of hack around it and use it for those like easy to plug and play things, but they’re using it for applications. They’re not using it just for how do I build my blog or my corporate website? You have, there’s all this um,

Joshua Strebel: 24:50 um, history inside of wordpress on what it was, what it wants to be, what it’s been used for and whether that, um, legacy is, is valuable in five years from now as it is today. Or if that legacy needs to be smashed up and reconfigured into something that is valuable in five years, that’ll be very interesting to kind of see this art to see how it plays.

Brian Krogsgard: 25:14 Yeah. I mean if you think about what is wordpress in the first place, right? It’s an interface between an administrative view, a database and a presentation layer. And when you try to think which of these is wordpress particularly good at, um, it can be pretty good at all of them, but, and pretty much any one of them, you can point to half a dozen other tools that are uh, quite a bit better. But if you want to use wordpress all in one, you can get a lot done for a very small amount of money. The more and more you want to cater it very specifically, the harder it gets. And that’s our great challenge to me is because I think it should be much easier to cater it very specifically. Um, whether that’s defining the way content is structured, like woo commerce for example, great tool, but it is totally hamstrung by the fact that it’s built into the posts table.

Brian Krogsgard: 26:11 You know, like people were like querying, you know, price and order data and all this crap out of the Meta table that’s supposed to just be like fun little notes attached to a blog post. And we’re not approaching the architecture of the database to create this dynamic relational situation. To do that from core, like not to do it in core, but to make it possible from core in a very easy, straightforward way to then you can interface with the framework as a whole all together to where it all just works well. We’re not really accounting for that very well. We’re still trying to squeeze things into the little tables that exist and the, yeah, the the, the architecture relationships that exist and we’re trying to say, you know what, every wordpress site needs pages. It needs comments, it needs a blog. It needs attachments with attachment views. Like why do we even have those, why there’s an attachment page in wordpress and like you go to it and it’s just a picture with a comment box and it’s like, yeah, cause this, literally nobody wants that. But that’s default out of wordpress and everything you build, that’s the last, you don’t think about that

Joshua Strebel: 27:18 in the, in the Google result. You know, like, oh wow, nobody’s styled that page.

Brian Krogsgard: 27:23 Yeah. I, that’s, that was always my number one trick. Whenever I was reviewing other people’s like theme work that I worked with, I always hit those dumb URLs that we have in wordpress and I’m like, did you pay attention to this or did you hack it to make it look good on that one view of template? Like what’s your default look like if I go hit, you know, some random archive that nobody thinks about. Yeah, don’t do that on page three. So

Joshua Strebel: 27:49 you know, I remember that whole conversation about the database architecture because in the 2007 eight, nine era, there was a few plugins that were creating a custom tables inside the database. And then there was the argument of like, well, if you store your data in that table and then you change plugins, or if you delete the plugin, now you and I is bloat like database. So the wordpress way became, everything goes in this standard tables set, and that was the worst decision I think that could have been made in terms of the extensibility and the scalability of wordpress.

Brian Krogsgard: 28:27 I deserve to be called out on this too because I, I helped perpetuate that being the word dress way. I, I’m, I’m to blame for part, for some of that, at least from a, from a like dogma stance. I can explain why if you want to have that conversation. Um,

Joshua Strebel: 28:44 something you just said really struck with me: dogma. So much of our existence in this community is around dogma, the dogma of the GPL. But Dogma of open source, the Dogma of word camps, the Dogma of, uh, you know, um, the wordpress way to do things in a database. Do you, do you find that there’s any, um, have you experienced any friction going against some of that traditional kind of dogma? Like if you ever thought, okay, well that’s, maybe that’s the way it is, but it’s not the way I think it should be anymore and I’m going to try to push against that prevailing opinion. If you had that experience, and if so, what is that like?

Brian Krogsgard: 29:32 I think if you approach things rationally and respectfully, then the pushback is minimal and it’s for the most ends up being healthy. And at the end of the day we’ve run into scenarios where one side doesn’t get their way and you say, you know what, we’ll find out whether that was the right call or the or the wrong call. And we’d go from there. And if you leave it to no hard feelings, you respect, you respect one another throughout the process, uh, then that goes pretty smoothly. If I had to say, one thing I’ve tried really hard to do is to not burn bridges in the wordpress space. Um, and even the ones where I have burned them or they’ve been burned over the years, like one of the most infamous for me was with James Farmer where I didn’t feel at fault, but then even with us, we, you know, we kissed and made up five years later.

Brian Krogsgard: 30:28 Um, so like I think always, even if like something really comes down to personal, like personal feelings, always looking for a way to like, let those go under the bridge if you will, and uh, and, and makeup later and figure out how to get past your differences is so important. And I think if you approach it, if you approach this ecosystem as a relational first one rather than being such a purist or such in a, I don’t know, like a countertrend type of person, like if you just zoom in to those feelings and just refuse to be flexible, that does not work well in an open source ecosystem. And I think the flexibility in your relationships and your decision making and understanding that things will happen that you don’t agree with, but you roll with it and you let it go and maybe you mix it up in the way you do your own implementations, but like nothing in the wordpress landscape and this software is that serious to where it should get in the way of personal relationships. And I’ve tried really hard to maintain those personal relationships and um, I’m glad that I have because I’ve been here a long time now and if I burned all the bridges that I crossed, then I wouldn’t have anywhere to walk. You know?

Joshua Strebel: 31:47 That’s a good point. I, I myself, I’m certainly guilty of burning some bridges and you know, please don’t ever Google my name and go back and look at some of the things I’ve written. Uh, but in this context, I think that was a valuable lesson for me to learn was that the tone in which you present your argument will absolutely under mine your argument validity. Absolutely right, absolutely. Cause you know, and not to use myself as an example, but use the random track ticket or the random, uh, proposal for, um, some change in the ecosystem and, and if you can cut through the bullshit, you’re like, that’s a really good idea. We should do it that way. But then when you sit back out and look at how that was delivered, you’re like, wow, dude, you’re, you’re not going to get anywhere with that attitude. Wow. ABS. Absolutely. So about it, I just, I wonder how many good ideas in our ecosystem, we’re just flat out ignored. I mean like really good valuable ideas that had they been adopted would’ve made like big differences but were just flat out ignored or dead pan because the person delivering them did so in such a way that it was just like nobody wants to talk to this person.

Brian Krogsgard: 33:04 I mean tons, tons of ideas have gone that route, no doubt about it. And that’s a natural consequence of open source relations and a remote relations. Like there are things that we say online if we’re not careful, if we’re not cognizant that if we said that in person, we would be like immediately we’d say it and then we’d go defensive ready to get slapped in the face. You know like it’s fighting words if you were to actually speak them, but when you type them, you know, you can throw it out there and there’s no punch coming back at you, you just let it hang. And that can be a really toxic online environment that it takes real commitment to avoid. And that’s certainly not a unique wordpress community. That’s everything everywhere. Everybody’s a, a nom non a manatee and not everybody feels super strong and powerful behind the keyboard.

Brian Krogsgard: 33:57 Yeah. And I think actually wordpress deserves a little bit of credit for being not good enough, but better than most in terms of making an open ecosystem where we’re trying to be thoughtful and open and how we embrace new ideas. But I’ve seen a lot of, a lot of people come in guns a blazing a sand the way wordpress does. This is so stupid. You should just change it, blah, blah blah. And they’re like, go off firing about a how it should be. And they could be totally right, but when you just come in guns blazing, like people put the shields up and they s j just block you right out, you know, like it’s just too bad. But good idea. You got to get out of here. Nothing. No code change is worth this level of personal toxicity within the ecosystem.

Joshua Strebel: 34:43 Yup. Well, so the more of the moral of that story I guess what you’re sharing is, you know, uh, flies with honey versus vinegar. You know how you approach something to try to get your, your change set or your, your, your commit, uh, accepted really goes a long way, you know, and just how you package it.

Brian Krogsgard: 35:03 Absolutely. Absolutely. 100%. And I think that’s, that’s from a business perspective too. Like if you wanted to come in and figure out like how am I going to dominate the wordpress landscape as a business? Let’s use Google as our example because they’re big enough to pick on from any perspective. Uh, like if Google says, you know what, wordpress is a big percentage of the web, how can we come in and have a piece of that pie and figure out how to make it better for Google? You know what you’re going to do is you’re gonna come in and you’re going to be nice. You’re going to hire people, you’re going to throw millions of dollars at it, an ungodly amounts of money to what the ecosystems used to. And you’re gonna, you’re gonna, you’re gonna trap the flies with honey like you just said it. And strategically, that’s what you were going to do. Whether your intentions are good or evil, you’ll approach it in the exact same way. And you know, that’s a lot harder to fight off. But if your point, if your reasoning was to come in and like change things, that’s a really effective way to do it. I’m not trying to say Google is trying to be evil with their, with their contributions to wordpress, but they have their own ends, uh, in mind, you know, like they, they have business goals with, with what they do.

Joshua Strebel: 36:13 Yeah, absolutely. I think, um, Google GoDaddy, the eig conglomerate automatic, you know, few others. Yeah. A few others. They have the pers, they have, they have the money and they have enough, uh, stake in the game that if any one of them or any two of them want to team up and want to push the project or the ecosystem in a certain direction, they certainly can. And if they do it with smiles on their face, no one’s going to be the wiser. And that’s just kind of the, um, it’s just what comes with playing an ecosystem. When you have a half dozen or a dozen huge dominant, well funded players.

Brian Krogsgard: 36:59 Yeah. And I don’t think it has to be a bad thing, but at the end of the day, the importance, the importance of it being an open source ecosystem is, is why it’s successful. Like wordpress is not successful because of automatic. Uh, it’s certainly successful because of a lot of what Matt Mullenweg has done as the leader of the project. Uh, but not because of automatic the organization. Now has it benefited as a piece of software because of automatic the organization? Absolutely. Uh, they have committed dozens of people for 10 years. Like the, that’s an, that’s an incredible financial sum that they’ve committed to building tools that are good for both wordpress.com. Uh, and for wordpress the project. And, uh, that’s, you need to find this symbiosis. But if that symbiosis gets out of whack, like if something looks like it’s done because it’s good for automatic, but it’s not good for wordpress or if it’s good for GoDaddy but it’s not good for wordpress, or if it’s good for Google but it’s not good for wordpress in, then you put strain on that good natured relationship and that becomes a challenge and it becomes the responsibility of all the open source contributors to be able to identify, hey, this isn’t good for wordpress and how do we, what’s our governance look like in that scenario to be able to come to conclusion and if you can’t come to conclusion, that’s where the real threats to the longterm viability of the project come into play.

Brian Krogsgard: 38:27 In my mind, because this is not near as valuable of a platform for the next 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years. If, uh, you know, a single person or organization just has their way with it, with every little decision, uh, when it’s not good for the project. [inaudible] yeah. You know, short term it would be very beneficial, but longterm they just essentially be knocking the pillars out of their own building. That’s right. Absolutely. Yeah. And I to be, to be fair, I think Matt Mullenweg absolutely knows that. Um, from at least his perspective in terms of the other business entities that have a significant stake in wordpress and a big, uh, ability and capacity to make change, you know, I don’t a hundred percent know, like I don’t, I don’t know what the biggest decision makers at GoDaddy, what they truly think about or care, uh, with the wordpress project yet they can make changes to what percentage do you know what percentage of websites go? Daddy hosts? Probably like, I don’t know, 15% enough. Yeah. Enough to, enough to where if they make a like evil change if you will, like is significant and it means something and it matters. And I don’t know whether they ever do that or not. Now I know they employed some really good people. So that’s what you always want to see. You want to see your really good people going to work for those places because you’re looking to the good people within an organization to bring integrity to the organization.

Joshua Strebel: 39:54 Yeah. So that’s a, I love that idea. In practice at scale, that can be very hard. Um, I had the opportunity at some point in my career to work for a large company like that, and I was not naive enough to think that me, some level down here would have any influence on the actions up here. And so while there’s some very smart people working on the wordpress aspect of this company, you know, it’s $1 billion organization, their bottom line is to drive shareholder value. I mean, at the worst, maybe someone like Aaron Campbell can kind of like not commit something, but at the end of the day, it’s either he quits or he does what he’s told. You know what I mean?

Brian Krogsgard: 40:38 Yeah. But I, you know, depending on the organization, I think that good people with a pretty solid understanding of the wordpress space are higher up than people that are, um, heavily involved with wordpress folks who have some particular role. Like, uh, I mean Aaron actually is doing a lot with wordpress over at GoDaddy now, but at GoDaddy for example, it runs up to Gabe Mays who is very knowledgeable about the wordpress ecosystem and what is the ethos of the ecosystem. And you know, he reports to the executive team directly. So that’s great. I wish every, I wish every corporate infrastructure was as nice as GoDaddy’s. I don’t have a significant fear that go daddy will do those things. I just said we’re a threat.

Joshua Strebel: 41:27 And to be clear, I was trying to use a faceless, evil company example. They’re not good at it in because Aaron’s a wonderful man. I know Gabe, he’ll be at PressNomics in a couple of weeks. He’s a wonderful guy too. And I believe that

Brian Krogsgard: 41:41 you gotta use somebody as your example. And we know enough people there. They know we, we know, they know that. We know that they’re all right.

Joshua Strebel: 41:48 Yeah. Yeah. So, um, let’s just wind down here in the next five, 10 minutes and I want to shift gears. Totally. We’ve had a great conversation with wordpress. That’s awesome. User, our recent father, myself and my recent father, my kids just started second grade and kindergarten, uh, Monday regrets. Let’s talk dude. We’re dads, we got work responsibilities, we have a spousal responsibilities. It’s hard to get everything done. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem like there’s enough hours in the day to work, to be a good dad to, to spend time with my wife, let alone just get some alone time. What’s your, how are you managing work life balance and you know, with small children in the house? What’s that feel like to you?

Brian Krogsgard: 42:41 Yeah, so I have a, a four year old and a brand new two-year-old. So it’s been, it’s been a journey and a lot has changed in the way that I handle things. The way I got into the wordpress space was actually a total like nights and weekends type of thing while I was doing other work. And actually I was traveling a lot so I would, you know, do wordpress stuff at night in a hotel. Um, and even when I was home and before I got into like full time wordpress, but even once I got into fulltime wordpress, I was doing post status nights and weekends, you know, and I always called it, uh, when my, when I’m with my wife, I always called it like 10 to two times, like 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM cause she’s an early riser. She worked

Joshua Strebel: 43:24 Say Hi to Brian’s dog, everyone.

Brian Krogsgard: 43:30 That’s my dog UPS just came. Um,

Joshua Strebel: 43:34 yeah as you were saying, your, your dog is very vocal, but as you were saying, you had to rebalance your kind of nights, weekends around the new schedule of the baby.

Brian Krogsgard: 43:44 Yeah. I had to figure out like how can a do the stuff that I was doing but without that like middle, like late evening time where I used to be able to really knock out what I had to do in the day. Um, and I always have considered the daytime. Like, I try to give myself the wiggle room to go explore conversations, especially doing post status where, so, uh, communicative. Like I, I don’t get a story or something interesting to write about or talk about unless I go talk to people. So I need that time to like wiggle into a chat. And then like when you got to get the business done or the administrative stuff done, I would get a lot of that done at night when it was less of those disturbances. So now it’s like, how do I freaking fit all that into the regular day? And that’s been a challenge for sure. You know,

Joshua Strebel: 44:32 I’ll tell you something. Um, my first son was born in, uh, 2012 and Pagely was two full time employees into contractors. And so we had a newborn. I was basically development and Dev ops for the entire company. And you know, it was, it was madness. It was just pure madness. You know, I’d help Sally, uh, nurse and get the baby settled and then I’d go try to work for an hour and then have to go get the baby back up for a nap or what not. And then, you know, finally get everybody to sleep about nine, 10 o’clock. And then I start working and work and then just exhausted baby gets up, got to feed them. And I don’t know how we made it through that year. What we finally ended up doing was we had to, um, we brought a nanny into the house to, uh, into the house to be with us while we worked and, and, you know, kind of assist with the, that the baby. I just, this economy, I don’t know how parents didn’t in the old days because it’s, it’s the expectation now that both parents are working, both parents are co-parenting and yet how do you raise children?

Brian Krogsgard: 45:47 Yeah, well we send ours to daycare. We ran into the same problem. And you know, some people say like, okay, well you’re working at home. Uh, why don’t you just keep the kids at home with you? And I’m like, are you crazy? Have you ever had kids in your house full time? Do you know what it’s like to work? And I know people in the wordpress space that do that. And like I am in all of what they do. Uh, Sarah Gooding who my friend and me at WP tavern, um, her kids don’t go to daycare. She, she does a ton with their kids, her and Maryanne both. And she’s full time, right in the tavern. She’s like squeezing it into all sorts of random times. And I admire people that can do that because they’re saving thousands of dollars per month. You want to take care of. But I couldn’t [inaudible] expensive. It’s so expensive.

Joshua Strebel: 46:33 Yeah. You know, so I, we, Sally and I worked from home and we had the nanny and up until about two years ago, so I had a, had a five year old and a three year old. Finally I was like, okay, I need to go like full time back into the company and really focus and, you know, grow with what we’re doing. So I got an office, like I’m in my office, uh, eight minutes from my house because especially during the summer, you know, the kids are older now and it’s a lot easier, but during the summer you still can’t get anything done if they’re in the house so you can’t work and be a parent at the same time. And I wish there was a way we could because I love doing both, but you just simply, I couldn’t figure it out. So we have to actually like have separate workspaces and then separate parenting time and all that. Now

Brian Krogsgard: 47:16 I was similar actually. And for y’all it’s harder because you have two people working from home or you know, self-employed or running your own business. Whereas with us, my wife goes to work. Um, but it was me at the house and I needed a break too as a combination of having worked remotely for a little, I don’t know, five years. But MV at that point, uh, combined with working for myself co combined with the kids being born and like my whole life was in the house in just a couple of rooms. And I just had to get out. So I actually rented an office for two years, uh, and just in the past couple months I decided, you know what, I think I can come back for a bit and I’ve already started to realize some of the stuff that I hated. Like, um, like you never really feel like you get out to go to lunch.

Brian Krogsgard: 48:01 Like you just find that for three weeks straight, you ate a sandwich like every day because the fridge was right there. Or my dog who just said hello to everyone a few minutes ago. Um, she does that now. Whereas when I had my office, even if I took her there, it was on the second story and she wasn’t distracted by the ups man. So I didn’t have these extraneous noises or when my kids get home at like four 45, five o’clock, well I might not be done. I might not be done until five 35 45 before we really get kicking, making dinner and stuff. That last 45 minutes is tough. Whereas when I was at my office, like I could focus until the very minute I left. And then I had you said you had an eight minute commute. My commute from office to home was two minutes by car.

Brian Krogsgard: 48:44 I could walk like half a mile. So, um, I loved it. But at the same time, like for me being one person and a couple of contractor help business like that cost is real and you add it on top of all these others with daycare and everything else, I’m like, you know, I just don’t know, like spending almost a thousand dollars a month to be able to go half a mile away from home. I didn’t really want to justify it again and I had a nice break. So I was like, I can come home and I can handle it at the house for another year or two.

Joshua Strebel: 49:12 Yeah. Well and when they’re in school full time, it’s a little easier. Like this is the first year we have both kids in school for a full day. And so Sally and I are like, Oh wow, this is, this is new. Yeah. You know, and one thing I learned was how to be hyper productive. You know, because when you, when you had no responsibility outside of the work you were working on, you could dink around and Twitter and this and that and eight hours would go by and maybe you got three hours in on something important. Now it’s like, okay, I got exactly four hours and 17 minutes till I got to pick up from school and you just crush it. Right. And I’ve just learned to focus and I think that’s like, it’s been good for work to have kids because it forced me to be so focused in on what needed to be done and productive poked. Yeah.

Brian Krogsgard: 50:04 There’s been some studies that people are, uh, people are like no more than 50% productive in their day on average. Something like that. I totally believe that. Uh, and I think that’s why when I was getting at earlier, I would have my whole day and then I would have nighttime to, to try and get stuff done because I needed the 11 or 12 hour day to get a seven or eight hour day of productivity. And now like you, I to, I’m either not productive and I don’t get as much done as I want and then that starts to build up until I have like some makeup time or I give in and work on a weekend or a couple of nights or something or I have to be productive. I forced myself to do that and structure my time better. And that is a lesson I am learning every single day and I don’t think it’ll a be solved right away, but I’m still dealing with that all the time. I want, I want to go and explore those places, like go dig into the unknown. Um, that’s part of the fun of working for yourself and you know, doing what I do.

Joshua Strebel: 51:06 Yeah, the focus is always a challenge. And while I have you, let’s together give a shout out to Matt Modaris who works for us. He just had his third son, so he’s on paternity leave right now and he’s checking in with beautiful pictures of his little baby. But you know, congratulations to him. But wow, he’s got three boys under four years of age at home. Now. Three more little modaris is running around waterworld. Oh, I mean that’s, the iTunes library is just going to be full. Uh, when they come of podcasting age there, that’s just, you won’t be able to sort them out. It’s just going to be like, which Madera’s podcast are you talking about? Oh yeah. Well it’s kind of like the Jonas brothers or something. Yeah. And that’s great. I’m happy for him. It’s got to be a little family. And he just bought a sick new minivan, which I got to teach him for a swagger wagon, you know, cause minivans are certainly prior to, and they have their use, but it’s the, it’s the function of having the third child, like say I and I stopped it to not, because we don’t love children.

Joshua Strebel: 52:13 We absolutely love our children. But from a practical standpoint, your entire life changes. Again, when the third trial is added, right. You, you can’t sit together in an air, in an airplane row, you can’t take as standard four door car. Obviously you need a minivan or big SUV, you know, there’s always the two parent up to pick on the third. So, you know, I think, I think two kids or like six kids, but anything between two and six is chaos. Dude. I’ve said that exact justification, like per reason. I don’t dozens of times in the past year as people ask us if we’re going to have a third. And I’m just like, no, no, no. Well, hey man, I want to thank you so much. This is the first podcast that I’ve done, but it’ll, it’ll show up probably number 11 or 12 in this series, but I just want to thank you so much for taking the time this afternoon to sit down and catch up with me and let everybody know out there where they can find you. Mr Krogsgard. Yeah, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

Brian Krogsgard: 53:13 Uh, they can go to post status.com. That’s the website where I do wordpress news and community stuff. If you want continuous education, post a job kind of stuff, you can go to post status and do that. Or follow me on Twitter at Krogsgard where there’s a periodic ranting.

Joshua Strebel: 53:37 All right Brian, thank you so much and good luck finding some that work life balance and thank you again for everything you do. I just love being a part of your community at post status cause you kind of get the unfiltered industry side of things. No, not the community side, the industry side, which is much more interesting to me. So thanks a lot. We’ll see you again soon bud. All right man. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it. Cheers.

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