With over a decade, millions of blogs are using WordPress, the platform has arguably became an undisputed leader in providing a robust Content Management System (CMS) software.
WordPress software is free and is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). GPL allows you to install, use, modify or distribute WordPress without any restriction.
Without restriction means you can customize, add, remove, modify, re-brand, sell or distribute WordPress in any manner.
That means the blogs/websites using this open source software is completely (100%) owned by you, the content, images, videos, etc. uploaded to it is also 100% owned by you.
Even the WordPress Foundation or its affiliates has no right to add, delete or edit it in any manner.
Over the years, thousands of WordPress lovers, developers and volunteers are thriving to make this platform robust and unbeatable.
To keep our blog safe, secure and bug free, WordPress releases its version updates or upgrades from time to time.
Any one whether its you or me can use it to build unlimited number of blogs/websites without paying any single dime to WordPress Foundation or any of its affiliates.
Even though numerous websites using WordPress as their CMS are making millions of dollar through it, WordPress is not charging any thing from them.
Then it is obvious for anyone to raise multiple questions like –
How WordPress is making money and what are they doing to earn it ?
What is there Business model that helps them to sustain?
What is the point in flourishing this software for free?
Why hundreds and thousands of developers are contributing their efforts to develop WordPress, without getting paid?
In this article I will discuss the whole mechanism on which WordPress works and how the foundation is making money through it.
It will give answers to almost all the questions that are popping up in your mind.
As majority of us especially the beginners may not know the exact difference between both and many times they wrongly co-relates each other.
Hence for that we have to dive a little in to the history of WordPress.
The name WordPress was suggested by Christine Selleck Tremoulet, a friend of Matt.
WordPress.org is an open source self-hosted CMS provider owned, managed and controlled by WordPress Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization founded by Matt.
WordPress Foundation was established with a sole purpose to ensure that WordPress would be freely available, maintained, and developed for web publishing for generations to come.
Needless to say that the WordPress trademark is also owned by the WordPress Foundation.
On the other hand, WordPress.com is a powerful hosting platform owned, managed and controlled by Automattic, a privately held company created by Matt in 2005.
The prime motive of this company is to provide an easy platform for non-technical people to start a blog with WordPress.
At the initial stage when the open-source project was not making any money, Matt registered the WordPress trademark through Automattic.
But later on in 2010 Automattic donated the WordPress trademark to the WordPress Foundation to ensure long-term sustainability of the non-profit project.
WordPress.org and WordPress.com are working on two separate business models and have nothing to do directly with each other.
Matt Mullenweg is the CEO of Automattic. He also serves as a director in the board of the WordPress Foundation.
Since this article relates to WordPress.org and WordPress Foundation we will not enter further into the details about Automattic and WordPress.com.
By now your confusion may have been cleared and if not, you may click here to know more about Automattic, WordPress.com and their business mechanism.
How does WordPress Foundation makes Money?
Since WordPress Foundation is a non-profit organisation it is obvious that their primary source of income is through donations. You may make donation to WordPress from here.
Here you may ask questions like –
Why should I donate?
Who are donating money to the foundation and for what purpose?
The answer to these questions are some how tricky. Let me explain them in detail.
With the increasing popularity of the WordPress, hundreds of businesses got involved in developing WordPress related products and services like building custom themes, plugins, providing consultancy, etc.
These businesses are not getting paid by WordPress Foundation but are actually generating revenues by selling those products and services.
They goes on adding new or advance features to their products on continuous basis. And for that many times WordPress also requires some updates. In such situation they often make or suggests updates in WordPress.
These companies or developers make donations to WordPress Foundation on regular basis. The whole system some how works on give and take relationship.
Furthermore, even you and me, if not directly, could be paying to the foundation on regular basis.
This can happen in many ways like for example, if you are hosting your WordPress website with any of the reputed WordPress hosting company like BlueHost, HostGator, WPEngine and more, these companies in return contributes some part of their revenues to WordPress Foundation.
Similarly if you are using themes of StudioPress, Themify Me, MyThemeShop, etc. or plugins of Yoast SEO, Sucuri, OptinMonster, etc. then you are paying indirectly to the foundation. As these companies sponsor WordCamps and/or contributes to WordPress on regular basis.
Many big sites using WordPress also support the open source project by the way of donations.
As of now you may have understood the whole business model of WordPress Foundation. If you have any query please feel to ask me through the comments below.