Private equity firm invests $US50 million in WordPress

Private equity firm Tiger Global has purchased around $US50 million worth of shares in Automattic, the developer of the popular WordPress content management system and owner of WordPress.com.

News of the deal broke on the blog of WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, who is keen to point out that the deal came about because of existing shareholders selling some of their stock in the company, rather than through Automattic raising more capital.

“Lee Fixel at Tiger Global [is] one of the behind-the-scenes quiet geniuses that has previously invested in SurveyMonkey, Facebook, LinkedIn, Palantir, Square, Warby Parker,” Mullenweg says.

“Automattic is healthy, generating cash, and already growing as fast as it can so there’s no need for the company to raise money directly – we’re not capital constrained. The minority of stockholders that elected to participate are holding on to the vast majority of their shares.

“We’re building an independent company that’s going to be a growing part of the fabric of the web for many years to come, so allowing early investors to lock in some returns releases any short-term pressure there might be on the company for a liquidity event and allows us to focus fully on the long road ahead.”

In a separate blog post, Automattic chief executive Toni Schneider claims the deal is indicative of the growing importance of WordPress to the internet.

“After many years of being backed by a great team of investors who have been with Automattic since the early days – Polaris Partners, True Ventures, Radar Partners, and the New York Times Company – Tiger has joined this illustrious group by purchasing shares from early Automattic investors and employees,” Schneider says.

“Along with the ongoing growth of WordPress (now powering over 18% of sites on the internet) and the amazing Automattic team (now over 170 employees), this investment is another milestone in our journey towards building a great company.”

The news comes as Automattic celebrates the 10th anniversary of the original release of WordPress.

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