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WordPress powers at least 19 percent of the Web. Now we can finally call its creator, Automattic, a billion-dollar company.

Automattic is valued at $1.16 billion thanks to a new $160 million funding round today. This news follows reports last month that estimated Automattic was out to raise $100 million.

Automattic runs WordPress.com, the commercial sibling of the open source WordPress.org CMS project (VentureBeat is a customer of WordPress.com).

In his announcement blog post, chief executive Matt Mullenweg candidly explained that Automattic needed the money following “a number of infrastructure and product investments.”

Things were and are going well, but there was an opportunity cost to how we were managing the company toward break-even, and we realized we could invest more into WordPress and our products to grow faster. Also our cash position wasn’t going to be terribly strong especially after a number of infrastructure and product investments this and last year. So part of my 100-day plan as CEO was to figure out what new funding could look like and we found a great set of partners who believe in our vision for how the web should be and how we can scale into the opportunity ahead of us, though it ended up taking 110 days until the first close.

The most important catalyst for the new round was growth, according to Mullenweg. In funding rounds, growth statements are typically a dime a dozen. But, given WordPress’ already incredible reach, growth is an interesting concept for Automattic; with fresh capital, it could take over the entire Web soon enough — with Mullenweg at the helm.


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