Over the past 24 hours, I’ve read countless tweets, blog posts and general commentary on Mark Jaquith’s new commercial plugin, Velocity Page. By every conceivable metric, it will be a phenomenal success. Mark is one of the smartest guys working in open-source software today and the WordPress community is (or should be) acutely aware of how lucky we are to claim him as one of our own.
To say that the plugin will be successful should be a foregone conclusion. Most of the commentary I’ve read can be summarized with the following idea:
Mark is a big deal. He’s doing a commercial WordPress plugin. They have, therefore, arrived. You should be doing the same thing.
It’s an apt point, and these days, every one is launching some kind of product. Or at least has an idea for one. But Mark is a more or less unique case. He is, at the time of this writing, the only project leader for WordPress whose sole source of income comes from consulting. He’s not employed by Automattic or Audrey Capital. He’s running his own show. By his own admission, the reality that he was the release leader for WordPress 3.6 had a significant and negative impact on his revenue in 2013. While it’s great/revolutionary/fancy/whatever that he has launched a product – and it certainly has implications that are important – the biggest implication is for you and me.
See – if Mark has a source of recurring revenue, a successful product – he doesn’t have to be billing for his time (at least not as much). If that’s the case, he has more time to contribute to WordPress – creating an even better system to build the internet upon. See where I’m going here?
Mark and others should absolutely be encouraged to create ridiculously successful products. Not just for their own gain – because once they’re (we’re) able to stop trading time for money, we can spend more time on democratizing publishing on the web without worrying about how the bills are going to get paid. And that’s pretty special.
If you’re not working on a product, or planning to, why not? I’d love to hear your perspective.
More importantly – if you do have a successful commercial WordPress product, and you’re not contributing to WordPress core – why not?