Revenue, Ads, and Team Switching

Three years ago, I became a Happiness Engineer at Automattic, focussing on WordPress.com. I had a lot of fun with my colleagues, helping folks learn to use the greatest free blogging platform ever. Fun fact, WordPress.com is both free and a business, we have bills to pay, and businesses need money to operate. A few months back, I made a big switch from our Happiness Engineering team to a team we call Rads (Revenue and Ads), so that I can both have a hand in the financial stability of WordPress.com and keep the terribly horrid, tasteless, and distracting ads that have become all too common elsewhere away from your free blog.

Rads is led by Jon Burke and features the talents of Egill Erlendsson, Marcus Kazmierczak, Derek Springer, and our celebrity designer shared amongst teams, Joen Asmussen. As part of the team, I provide support for WordAds, our advertising program for WordPress.com bloggers, and work directly with ad networks for a variety of things. That last bit is fun and worth a whole post itself. Let’s just say that some networks are very good at what they do, while others have absolutely no clue.

Part of the work I do with ad networks is handle bad ad reports. We strive to provide only family-friendly advertising on WordPress.com, and we have contracts with our ad networks to provide just that. If we ever receive a complaint about an ad that is not family-friendly, I make sure that the ad (and sometimes the ad network itself) is immediately removed from WordPress.com.

Now, I know some of you who are reading this, and you’re going to ask, “Hey James, didn’t you just tell us how you never use ad blockers last month? Are you trying to trick us into viewing the ads on WordPress.com?” Goodness no, and shame on you for asking. You should know me better than that. I have never used ad blockers, because there are free sites that I rely on whose only source of revenue is from ads. I want them to stay in business, so I don’t block their ads, or I purchase some sort of ad-free subscription if available. Anyway, there’s also an advantage to this for my job now. As a daily “consumer” of ads, I know what kind of crap is out there, I know how annoying that crap is, and I can make sure it never winds up on WordPress.com. I can also immediately investigate the possibility of running newer less-distracting ads on WordPress.com as newer ad technologies make themselves known.

So, now you know where I am. I spend every day working with these awesome people to keep WordPress.com free and to keep lame ads away from your free blog.

Rads 2013

Photo by Jeff Bowen

Gallery

Automattic Meetup 2013

Automattic is a globally distributed company with over 200 employees, so it’s nice to get together once a year as a company to build great things. This year, we gathered in San Francisco and later migrated down to Santa Cruz. That may sound odd to many of you, so I highly recommend this book. Many of the things we built this week are already live on WordPress.com, some are performance tweaks that you might have already noticed, while others may be announced in the future.

Here are the rest of the photos from the week that didn’t make the cut to be posted on their own in my sfomeetup2013 tag.

Those fire dancing photos sure are amazing, but this video of the fire dancing and this slow-motion clip are even more amazing!

Now that you’ve seen all that, make sure that you apply, and maybe we’ll see you here with us next year!

Photo by Ash Rhodes

Photo by Ash Rhodes

Image

Photoblogging at WordCamp LA

20130921-100440.jpg

Bryan Villarin discussing how to roll your own photoblog on WordPress.com and WordPress.org at WordCamp Los Angeles 2013.

Video

Sarah’s Bastion: The Life of a Composer

Sarah was working hard on her next piece, when a familiar narrator decided to stop by.

Image

Working in Coronado

20130709-145406.jpg

Last day of the Team Rads Coronado mini-meetup with Jon and Derek. Photo by Jon, with Derek on the left, and myself on the right.

Home Decor by Joen

A very long time ago, prior to us both working at Automattic, Joen Asmussen sent me a gorgeous print of one of his works as a “thank you” for help on an amazing project which unfortunately never saw public release. A few years later, he graciously requested to I add a nostalgic touch to my office with a second. Both sadly sat in tubes for an unjustified amount of time, but the wait is over! Now that we have completed our move, these pieces from Joen were the first to be hung.

Finale #1 is (for lack of a better word) part of an interactive art project that Joen did in May of 2007.

framedfinale

I Want to Believe is, of course, a recreation of the iconic X-Files poster. Just as it once graced the wall of Fox Mulder’s office, it is now the centerpiece of my office.

framedbelieve

Folks who cannot figure out the nostalgic reference on sight need not remain in my office.