Automattic pumps $4.6M into New Vector to help grow Matrix, an open, decentralized comms ecosystem
(Source: techcrunch.com)

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(Original link: techcrunch.com)

Automattic pumps $4.6M into New Vector to help grow Matrix, an open, decentralized comms ecosystem Natasha Lomas Reblog Automattic, the open source force behind WordPress .com, WooCommerce, Longreads, Simplenote and Tumblr , has made a $4.6M strategic investment into New Vector -- the creators of an open, decentralized communications standard called Matrix . They also develop a Slack rival ( Riot ) which runs on Matrix. The investment by Automattic, which is at a higher valuation than the last tranche New Vector took in, extends an $8.5M Series A last year , from enterprise tech specialists Notion Capital and Dawn Capital plus European seed fund Firstminute Capital -- and brings the total raised to date to $18.1M. (Which includes an earlier $5M in strategic investment from an Ethereum-based secure chat and crypto wallet app, Status ). New Vector's decentralized tech powers instant messaging for a number of government users, including France -- which forked Riot to launch a messaging app last year ( Tchap ) -- and Germany, which just announced its armed forces will be adopting Matrix as the backbone for all internal comms; as well as for the likes of KDR, Mozilla, RedHat and Wikimedia, to name a few. Getting Automattic on board is clearly a major strategic boost for Matrix -- one that's allowing New Vector to dream big. "It's very much a step forwards," New Vector CEO and CTO and Matrix co-founder, Matthew Hodgson, tells TechCrunch. "We're hopefully going to get the support from Automattic for really expanding the ecosystem, bringing Matrix functionality into WordPress -- and all the various WordPress plugins that Automattic does. And likewise open up Matrix to all of those users too." A blog post announcing the strategic investment dangles the intriguing possibility of a decentralized Tumblr -- or all WordPress sites automatically getting their own Matrix chatroom. "This is huge news, not least because WordPress literally runs over 36% of the websites on today’s web - and the potential of bringing Matrix to all those users is incredible," New Vector writes in the blog post . "Imagine if every WP site automatically came with its own Matrix room or community? Imagine if all content in WP automatically was published into Matrix as well as the Web?... Imagine there was an excellent Matrix client available as a WordPress plugin for embedding realtime chat into your site?" Those possibilities remain intriguing ideas for now. But as well as ploughing funding into New vector Automattic is opening up a job for a Matrix.org/WordPress integrations engineer -- so the Matrix team has another tangible reason to be excited about future integrations. "One of the best and the biggest open source guys really believes in what we're doing and is interested in trying to open up the worlds of WordPress into the decentralized world of Matrix," adds Hodgson. "In some ways it's reassuring that a relatively established company like Automattic is keeping its eye on the horizon and putting their chips on the decentralized future. Whereas they could be 'doing a Facebook' and just sitting around and keeping everything centralized and as locked down as possible." "It's a bit of a validation," says Matrix co-founder and New Vector head of ops and products, Amandine le Pape. "The same way getting funding from VCs was validation of the fact it's a viable business. Here it's a validation it's actually a mainstream open source project which can really grow." New Vector co-founders, Matthew Hodgson and Amandine le Pape While the strategic investment offer from Automattic was obviously just a great opportunity to be seized by New vector, given ideological alignment and integration potential, it also comes at helpful time, per le Pape, given they've been growing their SaaS business. "The business model that we're looking at with New Vector to go and drive -- both to fund Matrix and also to keep the lights on and grow the projects and the company -- is very, very similar to what Automattic have successfully done with WordPress.com," adds Hodgson. "So being able to compare notes directly with their board and our board to go and say to them how do you make this work between the WordPress.org and the WordPress.com split should be a really useful tool for us." While Matrix users can choose to host their own servers there's obviously a high degree of complexity (and potential expense) involved in doing so. Hence New Vector's business model is to offer a paid Matrix hosting service, called Modular , where it takes care of the complexity of hosting for a fee. (Marketing copy on the Modular website urges potential customers to: "Sign up and deploy your own secure chat service in seconds!") "Some of our highest profile customers like Mozilla could go and run it themselves, obviously. Mozilla know tech. But in practice it's a lot easier and a lot cheaper overall for them to just go and get us to run it," adds Hodgson. "The nice thing is that they have comp...