WP Engine was founded in March 2010 by Jason Cohen after his experience of working and founding startups for many years. The idea for the startup, which has been developed to boost the speed of WordPress to make it more scalable and secure, initially came to Cohen after noticing sites crashing due to high traffic.
Speaking to Techworld, Jason Cohen, CTO and founder of WP Engine said: “I found that by doing customer interviews that those were the four things; speed, scale, security and service for WordPress were something people would pay 10 times more for than they would pay just to have the site somewhere in a cheaper situation.
“So it was originally born out of a need that I had, so the spark of the idea was something I had but it took some research to figure out whether it was actually a good idea,” Cohen added.
This is how Cohen brought the idea to life, and as the years progressed and the company widened they began to do more to provide advanced digital experiences for WordPress users.
“One of the things we do is contribute a lot to the WordPress community, so WordPress is open source that means a lot of people contributed to it and still do so it’s part of our ethos. We have five core values that drive the culture of the company and the last one is being committed to give back.
“I mean it’s great that we’re successful but what are we going to do with our success? What happens next, how do we contribute back to the communities that fuelled us and made it possible for us to be successful? That means a lot of things, that means lots of personal communities and places like London, Austin and so on. It also means the WordPress community,” said Cohen.
For WP Engine, WordPress is a community of freelancers and career people alike and giving back to the original starting point is its core aim. “There’s a reason why it’s 30% of the internet, it’s not all us it’s this whole community so how do we give back to that?
“So for example, we have full time engineers whose job is only to contribute code back to WordPress and even though all our competitors get it, that’s what open source means. It is that we all contribute and we all benefit and that’s what it is and we just think it’s the right thing to do,” he added.
Thousands of people around the world make their primary living from WordPress freelancing, and the majority of them do not live in the Western world.
“WordPress is a way for someone to make a living and so we make sure that we do our part to help make WordCamps exist and very cheap, maybe even free to attend so that people can maybe start a career like that and earn money on the side,” Cohen said.
WordCamps are conferences located in around 65 countries around the world and have been running since the first event in San Francisco in 2006. The event is built to cover everything related to WordPress. WP Engine sponsors the WordCamps in order to enable people to attend at low cost, giving more people the opportunity to learn about WordPress.
“If we do good for the community then some people will choose us or stay with us because of that, because they see us as being good citizens in the world and in particular in the WordPress community.
“When you give back, the way you treat employees and each other and the opportunities that you create for people, these are part of the answers to how you get customers or employees. So for example 65% of our executive team are women and that’s pretty unusual for tech,” he added.
This also encourages more employees to join the company, increasing the scale and diversity of the web hosting industry.
“Once you have a critical mass of diversity that means many different things, then you become known for that and then folks want to be there. It’s not word its actions and now we’re here that’s important for some of our customers,” Cohen said.