Mike Isaac

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Automattic’s Matt Mullenweg on the Importance of Working Remotely

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As we’ve seen unfold over the past two weeks, not everyone is into Marissa Mayer’s workplace ideas.

That includes Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automattic, the company behind the giant blog-hosting platform WordPress.com. Unlike Mayer’s recent mandate “asking all employees with work-from-home arrangements to work in Yahoo! offices,” most of Mullenweg’s employees work from home, spread out all over the world.

“130 of Automattic’s 150 employees work outside of our San Francisco headquarters,” Mullenweg said in conversation with Kara Swisher at the South by Southwest conference on Saturday. “Why are so many companies stuck in this factory model of working?”

To be fair, Mullenweg’s company is much smaller than Yahoo, which employs thousands in different offices around the world. And he readily admitted, “Are there some things you can’t do remotely? Sure.”

But Mayer isn’t being as flexible as she could, Mullenweg said. The rule was company-wide, and makes it much more difficult for many who may now face time-consuming commutes or reduced time spent at home with their families. The issue struck a national chord, going viral across the Web in a matter of days.

Mullenweg’s approach: “We focus on two things when hiring,” he said. “First, find the best people you can in the world. And second, let them do their work. Just get out of their way.”

Words sometimes easier said than done. We’ll see if that scales as you keep hiring, Matt.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google