Matt Mullenweg

Entrepreneur

Matthew Mullenweg is an entrepreneur and web developer living in Houston. He is known for developing the free and open-source web software WordPress, now managed by The WordPress Foundation.

After dropping out of the University of Houston, he worked at CNET Networks from 2004 to 2006 until he quit and founded Automattic, an internet company whose brands include WordPress.com, Akismet, Gravatar, VaultPress, IntenseDebate, Crowdsignal, and Tumblr.

Book Recommendations


Homo Deus

by Yuval Noah Harari

Okay. Last, I promised you the authors that I read, literally everything they publish, no matter what it is, and these are Besides Tim, of course, because if you’re listening, you probably already read all his books. Two folks I’m going to recommend here. I apologize if I mispronounce their names, but the first is Yuval Noah Harari. He’s probably best known for Sapiens, which is, I say Yuval is an author who can synthesize a ton of information across history, both modern and older, and present it in like a really compelling way. So I loved Sapiens like everyone did. I read Homo Deus, but I would say my favorite, if you’re going to pick one book of his was his last one, which is 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. Super fascinating. Very cool to see a historian look at the contemporary things and I thought he was spot on in many of his thoughts.

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Buy 21 Lessons for the 21st Century on Amazon

21 Lessons for the 21st Century

by Yuval Noah Harari

I would say my favorite, if you’re going to pick one book of his [Yuval Noah Harari] was his last one, which is 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. Super fascinating. Very cool to see a historian look at the contemporary things and I thought he was spot on in many of his thoughts.

Matt Mullenweg, source

The Black Swan

by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The second is a much more controversial author, but I would say ever since I was exposed to one of his early works, Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan, I will probably always be a fan of Nassim Taleb and he is, you know, a writer who is not humble, who, you know, is not afraid of sprinkling tons of obscure references and non-obscure references. You could easily take one of his books and then read 20 or 30 others, but he is a provocative thinker. He is an original thinker in many ways. He’s a fun writer and he writes in a very engaging style and whether you agree with or disagree with him, I think your mind will be sharper for having read his work and considered it. The Black Swan was, I think, the very first one I read of his and a wonderful introduction. But all of his books are quite fun and funny and I will continue to keep reading everything that he publishes.

Matt Mullenweg, source

Fooled by Randomness

by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The second is a much more controversial author, but I would say ever since I was exposed to one of his early works, Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan, I will probably always be a fan of Nassim Taleb and he is, you know, a writer who is not humble, who, you know, is not afraid of sprinkling tons of obscure references and non-obscure references. You could easily take one of his books and then read 20 or 30 others, but he is a provocative thinker. He is an original thinker in many ways. He’s a fun writer and he writes in a very engaging style and whether you agree with or disagree with him, I think your mind will be sharper for having read his work and considered it. The Black Swan was, I think, the very first one I read of his and a wonderful introduction. But all of his books are quite fun and funny and I will continue to keep reading everything that he publishes.

Matt Mullenweg, source

Sapiens

by Yuval Noah Harari

I say Yuval is an author who can synthesize a ton of information across history, both modern and older, and present it in like a really compelling way. So I loved Sapiens like everyone did.

Matt Mullenweg, source

Conscious

by Annaka Harris

What is consciousness? Where does it come from? Who is… Who’s listening to me talk right now and who is it that listens to you talk to yourself? All of these questions I find endlessly fascinating and is an area of in some ways a lot of study and in some ways much less than you would expect. So this was a very short book. You can actually get through it in just an hour or two. So I feel actually even better recommending it because it packed a huge amount of information and value into a very kind of tidy package. I always love when books are just as long as they need to be and no longer. So, this will definitely give you lots to talk about at parties or with friends. And I find just, it’s good from a philosophical point of view to sometimes think about and ponder these bigger questions.

Matt Mullenweg, source

The World Is Sound

by Joachim-Ernst Berendt, Fritjof Capra

I learned about things like the harmonic series or the overtone series, which is a beautiful set of whole number of ratios that sort of govern Western music and the 12-tone scale and things. But I didn’t know as much about just versus, even intonation, and how also these ratios show up kind of everywhere in life, be it, you know, from how plants—for them—to the orbit of the planets to lots of things.

Matt Mullenweg, source

The Great Mental Models

by Shane Parrish, Rhiannon Beaubien

You’ve probably heard about mental models if you follow Warren Buffett or Charlie Munger at all. And I’ve had previously, there’s this great book called Poor Charlie’s Almanac, which was a collection of Charlie Munger speeches where he really laid out a lot of his, sort of very heterodox thinking, things that have made him very successful as half of the pair that’s been probably one of the most successful investors in history alongside Warren Buffet.

These speeches were not terribly accessible though. They had a lot of extraneous material. They were repetitive in some ways and the book itself was a little hard to access. So these Great Mental Models is a one if you can’t buy the hardcover, like it’s, it’s one of the most beautiful books I’ve actually interacted with in a long time. And if you’re able to build what they call this latticework of mental models, it can make you essentially approach all sorts of situations much faster or more effectively than you would if you were trying to figure out things from scratch every single time.

Matt Mullenweg, source

Metaphors We Live By

by George Lakoff, Mark Johnson

Going to go a little esoteric for this next one and talk about a book, which is a little more academic, which is by an author named George Lakoff and it’s called Metaphors We Live By. There’s definitely a writing theme here. So many people don’t know this, but a lot of how we talk is actually in metaphors. What this book breaks down is what these metaphors are. Many of which you probably use day-to-day without even realizing it and how you can change how you use metaphors to basically say what you’re trying to say and not negate what you’re trying to say.

Matt Mullenweg, source

On Writing Well

by William Zinsser

Writing is so key and you might be detecting a theme here and the book that’s been most influential my entire life there was called On Writing or is called On Writing Well by William Zinsser. Writing to me is not just something for communication, it’s also something that really helps me learn how to think better. And I would point pretty much anything significant that I’ve done in my life to something that I sat down and wrote and really worked through it in a written form first.

Matt Mullenweg, source

Remote

by David Heinemeier Hansson, Jason Fried

I found that it completely leveled up all of my communication where that was in family relationships, personal relationships, and where it probably had the biggest impact was in my work relationships.

Matt Mullenweg, source

Buy Nonviolent Communication on Amazon

Nonviolent Communication

by Marshall B. Rosenberg

I found that it completely leveled up all of my communication where that was in family relationships, personal relationships, and where it probably had the biggest impact was in my work relationships.

Matt Mullenweg, source

Buy Principles on Amazon

Principles

by Ray Dalio

I wish it had come out a decade before because I could have saved a lot of trouble. It’s called Principles by Ray Dalio, who’s one of the most successful hedge fund investors and he runs his company in an extremely interesting way. And this is the first of I think several books he’s planning on doing where he spells out the things he’s learned. He’s one of these folks who has an extremely analytical mind, writes down everything and checks it later. So if your mind is not as analytical like mine is not quite there. Actually, I think probably a few people in the world are quite as analytical as Ray Dalio is. It can be, I would say provocative and challenge you to think in different ways.

Matt Mullenweg, source

Why Buddhism is True

by Robert Wright

I found that this book, which takes kind of a neuroscience view of text and Buddhism, Hinduism that go back sometimes thousands of years, is really, really fascinating. And it is an interesting juxtaposition of kind of how older wisdom intersects and interacts really well with the latest findings of science and how you can apply that to your life to quiet your monkey mind, to be able to focus. So this, regardless of your religious leanings or non-religious leanings I would say is excellent and a great read.

Matt Mullenweg, source

When Breath Becomes Air

by Paul Kalanithi

And this one is probably going to make you cry if you read it. It is called When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. And this is also a little bit of a posthumous book that was sort of a professor who tragically found out that he was not going to make it. And so what he did with his last bit of life and how he acted and his family and everything. Beautifully, beautifully, beautifully written, very, very special book.

Matt Mullenweg, source

Becoming Wise

by Krista Tippett

All right, the second category I’m going to call life things. So the first and foremost I’ll put here, which is actually someone I recommended that Tim had on the podcast named Krista Tippett. It was a great podcast. It’s called “On Being,” and has a book called Becoming Wise that covers a lot of her, kind of like a best-of almost of her work. And I would say if you’re only going to [read one] in the life section, that is the one I would recommend.

Matt Mullenweg, source

Foundation

by Isaac Asimov

The third and the fun section or fiction section that I’ll recommend is actually kind of a secret weapon in that I’ve met a ton of other CEOs and founders and folks who ultimately told me they were highly, highly influenced by this book and that is Foundation by Isaac Asimov. It’s actually a short series and yeah, it’s just so wild how I’ll meet people from all walks life, including CEOs of companies worth tens of billions of dollars that say this is one of their most influential books, especially when they were young.

Matt Mullenweg, source

Sum

by David Eagleman

I love actually reading one of these before I go to bed. I find that it kind of resets my brain a little bit and also sometimes gives me really cool dreams. I’ve also even read them to people as gifts at Burning Man. That’s how cool the stories are.

Matt Mullenweg, source

Buy The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories on Amazon

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories

by Ken Liu

The first is called The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, which is by Ken Liu. This is kind of SciFi, but honestly, I recommend this to a ton of people and couldn’t get a copy for Tim before and they’ve loved it. It’s just a huge variety of stories that really make your mind think differently, and Kin Liu is honestly, one of the authors, new authors, at least new to me authors I’m most excited about.

Matt Mullenweg, source



Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things

by George Lakoff

I might point them to George Lakoff, like he has a great Seminolework from the ‘70s called Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things. Or just other books about framing and language.

Matt Mullenweg, source




Buy How Proust Can Change Your Life on Amazon

How Proust Can Change Your Life

by Alain de Botton

But for example, I've given a few times a book called How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton

Matt Mullenweg, source

The Year Without Pants

by Scott Berkun

There is a book about Automattic and WordPress.com called The Year Without Pants, written by a great author, Scott Berkun. It tells the story about how we work

Matt Mullenweg, source