It may be hard to remember, but there was a time before Tumblr, memes, GIFs, and mainstream blogging — back when a LiveJournal account was all it took to earn a seat at the cool kids' table. That was in 2003, when WordPress was the new guy on the block.
Ten years later, WordPress this week celebrates a decade of blogging with a look at the past and a peek into the future.
Built as an offshoot of the b2/Cafelog platform by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, the free, open-source blogging tool launched on 27 May 2003. In the years that followed, WordPress rocketed from "popular" to "can't live without," garnering more than 18 million downloads of its latest version, 3.5. (The next iteration, 3.6, is coming soon, the company promised.)
When it first hit the Internet, WordPress served as an outlet for people to share their thoughts — an online-diary upgrade from the teen-centric LiveJournal. But it also provided simple software for digital publishing: WordPress currently powers more than 66 million websites, including CNN, TechCrunch, and GigaOM.
Co-founder Mullenweg remains proud of his project, talking about the software as if it were his own child celebrating his or her first 10 years of life.
"You're so beautiful ... I'm continually amazed and delighted by how you've grown," he wrote in a sort of love-letter-to-WordPress blog entry. "Your awkward years are behind you. Best of all, through it all, you've stuck with the principles that got you started in the first place. You're always changing but that never changes. You're unafraid to try new things that may seem wacky or unpopular at first."
The site currently hosts blogs written in more than 120 languages, including English, Spanish and Portuguese, and boasts steady growth over the past six years. In fact, the number of monthly page views across all WordPress blogs has risen from 186 million in 2007 to more than 4 billion in 2013, according to an infographic.
"You're my muse; you inspire me, and I've seen you inspire others," Mullenweg wrote. "You become a part of their life and they become a part of yours. I hope we grow old together."