Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, Polldaddy, and Akismet, announced on Wednesday that Stuart West will serve as its first full-time chief financial officer. It has also appointed its first General Counsel, Paul Sieminski.
In the new role, West will be responsible for leading Automattic’s global financial strategy, and will provide operational and strategic leadership as WordPress.com continues to grow by expanding product offerings and building its community of publishers and bloggers. WordPress.com currently serves 18 million publishers, and is responsible for ten percent of all websites worldwide. The number of WordPress websites has increased from 35 million to 70 million in the past year alone.
It is somewhat surprising that Automattic has been around since August 2005, and is behind what is the most popular blogging platform and CMS in the world, and West is its first official CFO.
What this appointment may mean for web hosts is an opportunity to reach even more customers through tailoring web hosting services to WordPress users. In February, WHIR editor Liam Eagle investigated what WordPress hosting customers want through an interview with WP Engine CEO Jason Cohen. Cohen says it works with Automattic to preload some of its plug-ins like JetPack to create a more robust WordPress hosting solution.
“WordPress has been doubling in scale every twelve months and we are positioned for further growth and development. Stuart and Paul’s experience will help manage the coming critical stages of intense expansion,” Automattic CEO Toni Schneider said in a statement. “Both understand the vision of Automattic and our commitment to grow the company in a way that supports our users and the open source community at large.”
Prior to Automattic, West served as executive in residence at Andreessen Horowitz, where he advised the firm and its portfolio investments.
For the past four years, West served as vice-chair of the board of Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit behind Wikipedia. West previously worked as CFO for Kno and Tivo, and as CSO and head of corporate development for InfoSpace.
Siemenski has been practicing law as a corporate and securities associate at Gunderson Dettmer. He specializes in representing emerging growth and technology companies.
Talk back: Are you tapping into the growing WordPress market with your hosted offerings? Does WordPress’ growth surprise you? Let us know your thoughts in a comment.