Black Magic? Holding their families hostage?
Seriously though: I'm very interested in how they manage this company and the distributed employees as they are obviously doing a lot of things right.
'm sure working from home helps limit turnover too. Also, they work in teams, and I'm sure that's fun. And I've never noticed anyone mention things like logging time either - I think they get assigned work and as long as you get it done, time isn't an issue.
And finally the people that work for Automattic tend to be really really passionate about WordPress in the first place, so I'm sure working for the most influential company to the WordPress.org project(Automattic / wp.com), doing WordPress stuff all day, is pretty awesome.
Also, I get to work with really smart people that are driven to improve themselves, their co-workers, and the company's products. That's the #1 reason for the low turnover.
What's hiding behind that revenue number. The co. is "profitable". Is the company going to make $10 in profit or $10 million in profit this year?
I'm not sure what they get paid, but I tend to doubt it averages $160k, because if I were Automattic I'd probably pay relative to where the employee lives. And even though I'm sure most of them could command top dollar where they live for what they do, I'd bet in most parts of the world it comes out to less than $160k / year, because most parts of the world just are not as expensive as SF.
Also, I'm pretty sure they have thousands and thousands of servers. I have no idea how much that costs, but an uneducated guess would be that it's not as much as the $16 million in salaries you mention. So... $45 million - $32 million for salary and servers is indeed a hefty profit.
They both use Quantcast, so the numbers have to be pretty accurate.
Mullenweg has said before he pictures Tumblr as more of a social network than a blogging platform. I wish I could find that right now. Either way, WordPress.com is definitely learning some things from Tumblr. The new wp.com dashboard and quick posting mechanism is enough proof of that.
"West will be in charge of all things financial and operational. “When you see this much usage, you know there’s an extraordinary revenue opportunity,” he told me."
You could also see it as a magnificent $0.65 per page. After all, a blog is just a dynamic page outputting database records, right?
Well...no. Not at all. It isn't semantics at all, anymore than saying that The McClatchy Company operates 30 newspapers.
Further the other comment opines that they're focused on growth. That seems incredible given that the blogging industry is on decline.