Sara Rosso of Automattic At Spark.Me: Communication Is Oxygen

Sara Rosso of Automattic At Spark.Me: Communication Is Oxygen

After bringing you the best action from the first day of this years’ Spark.Me, it’s slowly time to reflect on the second day of the conference and all the best speakers and presentations that we had the opportunity to see and hear on Sunday in Budva.

The first speech of the day was the amazing keynote by Sara Rosso, in which she talked about the importance of openness in work, and in life. She also shared a couple of thoughts about Nutella, something we can all get behind on.

Open Source Is The Best Source

Considering that Sara currently works as the Director of Marketing for Automattic and someone heavily involved in maintaining, a big part of her speech was about how do people involved in WordPress and Automattic actually work, and from where.

You see, most companies usually have offices. Some have a few, some have hundreds (we’re looking at you, Google!) but most of them have some sort of “fixed” location where you can find their employees in their natural habitat. But that isn’t the case with Automattic.

There are a lot of misconceptions about Automattic,, and WordPress.COM is a commercial platform that lets you host your website, based on WordPress’ technology but with some limitations. It runs on the open source WordPress platform co-created by Matt Mullenweg.

WordPress.ORG is, on the other hand, the WordPress you install onto the web hosting service of your choice, and the one you can have full control of. The only limits are made by your hosting service, regarding the overall size of the page and other technical stuff. Think of it like this: WordPress.COM is the one you don’t download and is fully managed for you, and WordPress.ORG is the one you download and customize and everything else.

While Matt created the open source WordPress platform, Automattic is the distributed company behind as well as dozens of other products that power the WordPress ecosystem – and currently employs a little less than 500 people from all over the world.

Now that those things are clear, it’s important to notice that almost 26% of all websites in the world are powered by WordPress. What is also absolutely amazing is that also manages to power millions of websites, with much, much fewer people working in Automattic than in Twitter, eBay or other big sites. Remarkable. What’s even more remarkable is that Automattic is a fully open company. There’s no 9 to 5 there.

Communication Is Oxygen

You see, Automattic is all about openness. The aim of the company is to let people work out in the open, worldwide. It’s, of course, easier said than done, but they are succeeding in the goal as of now. Sara talked about how it’s incredibly easy to get informed about everything once you work in this environment, and how adaptable the company actually is.

Their creed, communication is oxygen, means that there needs to be a lot of communication in the company for it to work the way it needs to. Without interaction between people from different parts of the company, there is little in terms of success.

We Work Best In The Open

Some of the most important things Sara said are oriented towards how the employees of Automattic really do feel best when they are out in the open. That doesn’t just mean in the physical sense, of course, but in the metaphorical one. You see, most companies tend to limit you with hours you need to spend inside, and the amount of work you need to get done. It’s a little bit different here.

You do have tasks you need to fulfill, and you do need to work hard, but the atmosphere is more supportive and free to let you explore your ideas and ways to improve the company. The great thing about this is that you have access to a lot of blogs about everything WordPress-related that are written by the people from the company, as well as a massive vault of information that is open to everyone working at the company.

This allows you to explore what the company is all about and learn about everything you need to know whenever you want. It’s not just open-source software, it’s a way of life.

Oh Yes, Nutella

You were probably thinking when is Nutella coming up, didn’t you? We know you, and we don’t mind that you love Nutella. We all do.

Sara was also a great lover of Nutella, and when we say “great”, we really mean it. After finding out about Nutella in Italy, she was surprised to see the wonderful chocolate spread wasn’t that known in other parts of the world, namely in the US. That prompted her to start #WorldNutelladay, which is well, a day for celebrating Nutella. What a holiday, right? 

Even though she encountered a few bumps down the road, Sara’s story is a wonderful example of what happens when brands listen to the people. Recognizing the passion and dedication of the community gathered around #WordNutella Day, Ferrero embraced it as an official brand holiday that was, in 2016, celebrated for the 10th year in a row.

Sara also mentioned artist Ai Weiwei and his experiences with building art out of Lego bricks, which resulted in him being denied a bulk order of Legos. We think that nobody should be denied Lego bricks, and that’s what the people thought too. After an enormous backlash from the community, Lego saw the error in their ways and quickly rectified the situation, Ai got his bricks to make amazing art and all was well in the world again.

These examples went on to prove the point that Sara tried to make, which is that brands really should listen to their consumers and that they should definitely be more open to new things, including the new directions in the development of their products. It’s not about policing efforts from the community, it’s actually about policies that make things like Lego art possible without any sort of trouble for the creator. Sara also noted that we may not always agree, but we should always be open to engage our customers and talk with them, something large brands should really try to do more.

In the end, Sara received some Nutella from the organizers, of course, and a box of Plazma cookies. Considering she’s always on the hunt for great Nutella recipes, we are sure she will be excited about this marvelous combination.


Ivan Simic

A passionate gamer, experienced journalist, and a comedian in his free time. A lover of video games, humor and technology, always on the lookout for new trends and ideas.

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