Team Rads in Malta

Two weeks ago, Team Rads of Automattic met in Malta to focus our efforts on launching the inevitable WordAds 2.0 and to investigate unique marketing opportunities. We are an ever-growing distributed team, with three of us in California, one in Australia, one in Iceland, one in Portugal, and our newest team member in Italy, so we try to get together a few times each year to work out things that can’t be done over email, o2, and Slack.

Malta is an amazing country, and I really hope I can go back some time in the future to enjoy it as a vacation rather than just a business destination. We toured the island by bus and boat, and even visited the famous Blue Grotto. I also managed to take a few photos along the way.

Does any of this look interesting to you? Then I have some great news for you! If you want to work at Automattic, we’re hiring!

Team Rads in Malta

Team Rads in Cairns

Last week, Team Rads of Automattic got together in Cairns to work on improvements to WordAds along with a few other surprises. We are a globally distributed team with three in various California locations, one in Iceland, one in Portugal, and our newest team member in Australia, so it’s nice to get together in person a few times each year.

Cairns was lovely in November, and we managed to swim at the Great Barrier Reef, explore a few of Australia’s rainforests including the Daintree Rainforest, and visit a wildlife sanctuary in Kuranda. I also managed to save a few photos from the trip.

Does any of this look interesting to you? Well, if you want to work at Automattic, we’re hiring!

Team Rads in Cairns

Team Rads in Cabo

Last week, Team Rads of Automattic got together in Cabo San Lucas to work on improvements to WordAds and a few additional surprises to be hopefully unveiled later this year. We are a globally distributed team with three in various California locations, one in Iceland, and our newest team member in Portugal, so it’s nice to get together in person a few times each year.

In general, I don’t recommend Cabo in July, it’s quite humid, but I do highly recommend the Buccaneer Queen Pirate Cruise. It’s hard to describe, but it was incredibly fun in a rather ridiculous way, and all of my photos from this trip are from that cruise.

If you plan to go to Cabo, don’t go in July, bring lots of cash, don’t rely on credit cards, and make a reservation on the Pirate Cruise. If you want to work at Automattic, we’re hiring!

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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