WordPress turns 21

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14 min read

WordPress is having a birthday! As we mark the 21st anniversary of WordPress, let's take a moment to appreciate its incredible transformation from a simple blogging tool to a significant force across the web. GoDaddy has been on this exciting journey, growing and evolving alongside WordPress since 2003. Together, we've been breaking down barriers in digital publishing and shaping how communities connect online.

Our adventure with the WordPress community kicked off in 2013. Recognizing past hurdles, we've enhanced our services and forged deeper community ties. From launching our Managed WordPress Hosting to integrating brands like ManageWP, Sucuri, SkyVerge, Re:Amaze, and Pagely, our path has been about more than just business—it's about making a meaningful, lasting impact.

Over the years, GoDaddy has moved from participating to leading the charge with tailor-made hosting solutions for WordPress professionals. Our commitment goes beyond products; it’s about supporting the ecosystem through sponsorships, contributing to core development, and launching initiatives empowering web designers and developers.

Come join us on a trip down memory lane, revisiting the milestones that have defined WordPress and GoDaddy’s roles in this remarkable journey. Let’s celebrate the spirit of open source, the strength of community, and the vast possibilities WordPress continues to unfold.

A look back: Major milestones

The story of WordPress is one of relentless innovation and growth, beginning in 2003 as a straightforward blogging platform. It’s a comprehensive CMS powering 43% of the internet today. Check out these pivotal moments that have played an enormous part in shaping its path:

  • b2/cafelog forked into WordPress (2003)Mike Little comments on Matt Mullenweg's blog proposing forking b2, which became WordPress.
  • WordPress 1.0 (2004)The first version, dubbed "Davis," introduced the architecture underpinning future developments, including the plugin system that allows for extensible customization, setting the stage for a flourishing ecosystem.
  • Themes and More (2005): The introduction of themes allowed users to change the design of their websites without altering the underlying content, sparking a new theme development and design industry.
  • Persistent Caching (2005): This year also saw improvements in speed and efficiency with persistent caching, which is crucial for scaling WordPress sites as they grow.
  • Rich Editing and Widgets (2006)Enhancements such as rich editing, better administration tools, and widgets made WordPress more user-friendly and versatile, catering to a broader audience beyond just bloggers.
  • Custom Post Types (2010): This feature expanded WordPress from a blogging platform to a more robust CMS capable of handling various content types, making it suitable for virtually any website.
  • Responsive Admin (2013): As mobile usage grew, WordPress responded by making the admin area responsive, thus supporting the burgeoning number of users accessing websites from mobile devices.
  • REST API (2015): The integration of the REST API was a significant milestone that decoupled the front end from the backend, enabling developers to build complex applications and interfaces on top of WordPress.
  • Gutenberg (2018): The introduction of the Gutenberg editor marked a significant shift in how users create content. This block-based editor provided a more intuitive and flexible way to build posts and pages.

As WordPress evolved, so did GoDaddy's support and involvement. Our milestones reflect a deepening commitment to the WordPress community:

  • Managed WordPress Hosting Launch (2014):
    Recognizing the need for specialized hosting solutions, GoDaddy launched its Managed WordPress Hosting to provide optimized resources, security, and support tailored for WordPress users.
  • Acquisitions and Innovations:
    GoDaddy has strategically acquired companies like ManageWP, Sucuri, CoBlocks, SkyVerge, and Pagely to integrate powerful tools and security into our offerings, enhancing the overall WordPress experience for our customers.
  • Global Sponsorship (2019):
    By joining the WordPress Global Sponsorship program, GoDaddy solidified its support for the community, facilitating our active participation in WordCamps and meetups worldwide, further demonstrating our commitment to the platform's growth and success.

GoDaddy Gives

GoDaddy sponsors 44 staff contributors and three individual contributors, who dedicate nearly 200 hours per week across 18 teams to the WordPress project. This substantial investment in human resources demonstrates our commitment to moving the WordPress project forward, ensuring it remains a cutting-edge platform that meets the diverse needs of users worldwide.

Through these contributions, GoDaddy supports the WordPress community and aligns its broader goals with the principles of open-source software and community engagement. Our ongoing support and active participation in the WordPress ecosystem underscore our dedication to empowering entrepreneurs and contributing to a more inclusive, equitable digital economy.

Remember when?

We asked our team to look back on when they discovered WordPress:

Nada ElSharkawy, Sr Marketing Manager, Commercial Strategy team

I first heard of WordPress around 2014 when one of my friends quit his full-time job and started working as a freelancer building and maintaining WordPress sites. A few years later, I started a job where part of my responsibility was maintaining a blog on WordPress, so I started using it for the first time ever.

Usage and Development

It's part of my workday to examine marketing and the experience of WordPress in International markets.

Contributions

To the training team, the photos team, a speaker in WC Asia 2024, and starting an Arabic meetup!

When WordPress began

I was 10 years old, studying in school!

Tijana Andrejic, Content Developer, Content Development team

My friend from college owned a blog for which I would occasionally write. Through that project, I met her friend Filip, who created that website and became a lecturer at WordPress Academy. In time, I became more and more interested in WordPress, so I signed up for the Academy.

Usage and Development

I cover WordPress content in our Help Center, meaning that by transferring my WordPress knowledge to our customers, I help them and their businesses thrive.

Contributions

I love WordCamps, so I volunteered several times. Participation in Translation Days and being a speaker at local meetups are additional ways for me to get involved with the community.

When WordPress began

I was at college in 2003, and I had no clue that something so extraordinary was launched that year. It took me 12 years to discover WordPress, but it has become a part of my life and career since then. I was a fitness trainer when I first started learning WP.

David Smith, Senior DevOps Engineer for the Pagely brand

I remember hearing about WordPress in 2007, but I didn't start using it until 2009. I had written a VERY basic CMS for a personal site in 2000, but I'm not a professional developer by any means, and I had neither the skill nor the time to maintain that code, much less add features. Migrating several years of old content was tricky, but I didn't look back once I had everything in WordPress. (That site is still online and coming up on its 25th anniversary. Without leveraging WordPress, there's virtually no chance it would be up today.)

Usage and Development

As an engineer for GoDaddy's Pagely brand, I work hard to make our customers' WordPress sites resilient and performant. Before GoDaddy, I did similar work in higher education for several years. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I wouldn't be where I am today without WordPress

Contributions

I've served as an organizer for both my local (St. Louis) and national (US) WordCamp events. WordCamp US, especially, is an enormous undertaking - many events with 1500-2000 attendees would have professional event organizers, but as a community-run event, we're all unpaid volunteers.

When WordPress began

In 2003, I had just started working at a small dial-up ISP. (Yes, the Internet used to come in through your phone lines, and it would take 20 minutes to download a single MP3 song.)

Kira Schroder, Engineer and WordPress Core Contributor

I was looking for a CMS to build my personal website, and it was available as a one-click installer at my host! It made it easy to spin up a new personal site, and I've used WordPress for my site ever since.

Usage and Development

As a sponsored WordPress contributor at GoDaddy, I help make WordPress and love teaching folks how to contribute. WordPress is one of the primary communication methods used to post information for the rest of the open-source project and leave feedback.

Contributions

I've been contributing to WordPress, primarily as a developer, for about 13 years. During that time, I helped redesign the media backend of WordPress, helped start the hosting community team (https://make.wordpress.org/hosting/), and was in leadership positions for several WordPress releases.

Most recently, I had the privilege of being a mentor in the WordPress Contributor Mentorship Program. Please check it out if you're interested in mentoring or being a mentee the next time!

When WordPress began

I was in college at the time and learned how to use subversion (SVN) for the first time.

Predrag Zdravkovic, Marketing Manager for ManageWP brand (GTM)

I first found out about WordPress in 2013. Back then, I was studying to become a speech and language pathologist. I wanted to share what I was learning efficiently, so I started a blog. Even though the blog never happened, I learned a lot about WordPress along the way, which was pretty cool!

Usage and Development

While my current role may not involve me as much with WordPress as my previous roles, its influence still resonates in my daily work. Since ManageWP is a dashboard where people manage their WordPress websites, marketing that platform includes me keeping up with WordPress.

Contributions

I've done a few things to help out in the WordPress community. I've talked at meetups, helped translate WordPress and some plugins into different languages, and attended a bunch of WordCamps.

When WordPress began

When WordPress started in 2003, I was finishing high school and thinking about becoming a special education teacher or a speech therapist. It's funny how things work out!

Matthew 'Clancy' Clancy, Sr Product Manager for Website Designer and Developers Experience

I first discovered WordPress in 2006 when building an e-commerce site on Joomla. A fellow developer found a PayPal plugin for WordPress, and I quickly changed to WordPress.

Usage and Development

I help build the experience Website Designers and Developers use to manage WordPress and non-WordPress websites. I also help small businesses learn how to work with their WD&Ds when faced with WordPress and relationship challenges.

Contributions

I'm all in on Community contributions. I'm a meetup organizer, WordCamp organizer, volunteer, and speaker, and I help mentor other WordCamps when possible.

When WordPress began

I was still in high school, hand coding and building sites on Microsoft Frontpage.

Evan Herman, Software Engineer on the WordPress Experience team

In 2013 I was working on a project in college where we were building a local news company a website. There were several requirements, such as the ability for users to upload videos/news stories, editors to manage user-submitted content, and a way for admins to upload videos directly to YouTube from their WordPress site. We decided WordPress was the best tool and built a fully functional site for the client. We also built out a plugin directly leveraging the YouTube API, which allowed admins to upload videos to their YouTube account from the WordPress dashboard. This was my first experience with WordPress, and when I hit roadblocks, I would post on the WordPress.org support forums, and people were always happy to help or answer any questions. I fell in love with the community and started contributing to WordPress Core and helping others on the WordPress.org support forums. From there, I began attending WordCamps and developing plugins.

Usage and Development

On the WordPress experience team, we build out the tools that help our customers succeed. We try to make WordPress easy to use so our customers can worry about managing their business instead of figuring out all the intricacies of building a website.

Contributions

I have several WordPress core contributions across multiple WordPress releases. I am also on the plugin review team, where I help review new incoming plugins to WordPress.org and maintain the tens of thousands of plugins already there. I have spoken at and volunteered at many WordCamps and helped build the first WordCamp US site.

When WordPress began

In 2013 I was working on a project in college where we were building a local news company a website. There were several requirements, such as the ability for users to upload videos/news stories, editors to manage user-submitted content, and a way for admins to upload videos directly to YouTube from their WordPress site. We decided WordPress was the best tool and built a fully functional site for the client. We also built out a plugin directly leveraging the YouTube API, which allowed admins to upload videos to their YouTube account from the WordPress dashboard. This was my first experience with WordPress, and when I hit roadblocks, I would post on the WordPress.org support forums, and people were always happy to help or answer any questions. I fell in love with the community and started contributing to WordPress Core and helping others on the WordPress.org support forums. From there, I began attending WordCamps and developing plugins.

Accessibility initiatives

As part of our commitment to making the web more accessible to everyone, GoDaddy proudly sponsors initiatives like WP Accessibility Day and supports the WordPress Accessibility Meetup Group. These platforms are crucial in advocating for and implementing accessibility standards within the WordPress community.

WP Accessibility Day is an important event that focuses on enhancing the accessibility of WordPress websites worldwide. By sponsoring this event, GoDaddy helps facilitate discussions and workshops that are pivotal in educating and equipping developers with the necessary tools to build more accessible digital experiences.

Additionally, our support for the WordPress Accessibility Meetup Group includes sponsoring closed captions for the group's meetups. This effort ensures that all discussions are accessible to a broader audience, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing. By providing closed captions, we help ensure that accessibility practices and knowledge are shared widely within the community.

Through these initiatives, GoDaddy not only supports the widespread adoption of accessibility standards but also promotes a more inclusive internet. We believe that everyone, regardless of ability, should have equal access to the technologies that power our digital world.

GoDaddy's ongoing investment in WordPress is about more than technology; it's about building a sustainable and inclusive digital future. By supporting WordPress, we support a platform that offers limitless possibilities to users across the globe, from budding entrepreneurs to large enterprises.

Celebrate with us

Are you looking to kick off a new WordPress project or revisit your website development journey? If you’re a freelance WordPress designer or developer, this is your chance to explore GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress platform, designed to help keep your sites up to date.. 

Experience a platform with page times up to twice as fast as the competition*, providing you and your clients with a seamless experience.  

To celebrate this significant milestone in the WordPress community, GoDaddy is extending an additional up to 10% discount on top of all existing promotions for their Managed WordPress services.**  

Don’t miss out on this limited-time offer!  

Get your discount here.

Disclaimer: This content should not be construed as legal or financial advice. Always consult an attorney or financial advisor regarding your specific legal or financial situation. 

Happy 21st birthday, WordPress!

As we wrap up our celebration of WordPress's 21st birthday, it's clear that this platform has done more than grow; it has thrived and revolutionized the digital landscape. From a small blogging tool to the backbone of the internet, WordPress has proven that open-source technology can change the world. And we at GoDaddy are proud to have been a part of this journey, championing and contributing to its ecosystem every step of the way.

This anniversary isn’t just about looking back at what has been achieved. It's also about looking forward to the future—more innovations, more growth, and more opportunities to empower individuals around the globe. As WordPress evolves, GoDaddy will support every update and celebrate every milestone.

To everyone who has been part of this journey—developers, designers, bloggers, contributors, and entrepreneurs—thank you for making WordPress what it is today. Here’s to continuing to celebrate this incredible platform and the community that makes it all possible. Happy birthday, WordPress! Here's to many more years of success!