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From Happiness Gardener to Schmooze Engineer – Fantastic Titles and Unique Perks to Motivate Employees!

Automattic Knows How to Motivate Employees through Karting at meetups

The other day I introduced you to the Stay Interview — learning what makes your employees happy so you can keep them motivated and retain your best talent. Today I tripped across a company that surely knows how to attract and keep their employees motivated. How can I tell? Check out their job titles:

  • Happiness Gardner
  • Schmooze Engineer
  • Lounge Manager
  • Code Ninja
  • Data Wrangler
  • Master of Alliteration.

Who wouldn’t want to work there? In fact, with titles like these, it hardly sounds like work, at all.

So Who is This Company?

Automattic, Inc., (

According to their website, Automattic, Inc.  is “a startup from a handful of people passionate about making the web a better place.” And startup though they may be, in just 7 years, they’ve grown to 139 people in 24 countries and 26 US States.

Perhaps their growth can be attributed, in part, to their great-sounding job titles. But, as I learned through a bit of research, it’s more than just that.

Motivating Their Team

Automattic also attracts talent with benefits that include an “open vacation policy (no set number of days per year). We encourage our employees to take the time they need to take vacation, develop interests, and spend time with friends and family.” Now they’re talking! Few U.S. companies, in fact none that I know of, have such a liberal policy.

Other perks?

  • Work from home, and set your own hours. What matters is “the work you produce, not just the hours you put in.”
  • Once a year paid get-togethers at far-flung locales to brainstorm strategies and as they put it, “hang out and enjoy the company of the people we work with all day.” Past meet ups have ranged from Breckenridge to Budapest, Seaside to San Diego.
  • And there’s more… paid hardware and software, books and conferences.
  • No long waits for your work to be seen – they “push code to the site 30-50 times a day.” You heard right. A DAY!
  • Not to mention, the opportunity to “make the web a better place for more than half a billion people each month.”
  • Oh, and did I mention Karting – which apparently is also an Automattic meet-up tradition? (See photo above.)

But there’s still more. In Chris McConnell’s January 15, 2013 article titled, “Inside Automattic. The Company Behind WordPress, Sara Rosso, Automattic’s VIP Global Services Manager is quoted as saying, “We do a lot of goofy things… We try to eat BBQ whenever we’re in person together, and burritos on Burrito Friday (naturally) wherever we are. We started doing a Worldwide 5k on a specific day so everyone could run together, around the world, and there’s almost always crazy karaoke sing-offs when we do in-person meet-ups.”  

Interesting, fun and motivational – and ideas that any company can put into action.

Interestingly, what seems motivational to most may be just the opposite to others. Take the virtual office concept, for example. According to a Wall Street Journal article, (September 12, 2012,  “Step Into the Office-Less Company”), one Automattic employee actually missed the morning commute, and took to getting in their car and taking a quick ride around the block, just so they could get into work mode.

Back to Job Titles

And regarding those titles… Perhaps Automattic is just trying to be sociable by posting employee photos, titles and profiles on their web for all to see. I’m sure the quirky titles and profiles are a way to attract more great talent. But to my mind, posting this info is just one more way of letting their team know they’re valued. And isn’t showing employees that you care, respect and appreciate them another way of keeping them motivated and happy?

Curious about what I mean? Check out just a few of the profiles below.

Eric Johnson, Automattic employee

Eric Johnson, Mobile Wrangler, Blog: Aerych’s Page

“Eric is a professional coffee drinker and member of the WordPress mobile team living in tornado prone Oklahoma City. He has a degree in Political Science that he has never used because working with technology is way more fun. When he’s not coding he enjoys making a mockery of golf, frequenting coffee shops, and fussing with numerous hobby projects.”

Danny (Lenny) Lenehan, Automattic emplolyeeDavid (Lenny) Lenehan, PollDaddy Engineer, Blog: ZXCode

“Lenny is the Polldaddy. His role involves keeping Polldaddyland king of planet Polling. He likes reading every 8th book he buys, collecting old computers and doing nothing with them, saving every 500th picture he takes, and coming up with movie projects he never starts. He is based in Sligo, Ireland.”

Rose Goldman, Automattic employeeRose Goldman, Accelerant, Blog: Rosemattic

“Rose knows. Rose is a behind-the-scenes magician at Automattic who does experiments and blows stuff up in a secret lab. No one is really sure what she does but we’ve heard that she’s an investor in emacs. She loves to ski, backpack, travel, cook and eat. Other hobbies include internet dating, embarrassing herself in public, and trying to earn a spot on the Systems Team at Automattic.”

Jeff Bowen Automattic employeeJeff Bowen, Data Wrangler, Blog: Get 2 See

“Jeff is a strategic electron lasso artist; a digital plumber; a keyboard cowboy. When he’s not solving data-intensive problems with code, Jeff enjoys live music, seeing the world, brewing beer, hiking, and SCUBA / freediving.”

Want to read more eccentric job titles and people descriptions, just for fun? Then check out

So… Back to the Original Point.

Here’s a company that strives to hire and retain diverse individuals from all over the globe, the best and the brightest, people who are passionate about what they do. In return, Automattic makes the job fun, shows their appreciation, and in the bargain, finds great ways to motivate and keep their talent working for them.

And that’s not just my point of view. According to McConnell’s article, employees — aka “Automatticians” — describe their corporate culture as nothing short of:

Infinitesimal. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Spectacular. Unique. Impassioned. Kaleidoscopic. And Scrumtrulescent.

So… what take-away ideas can you put into action at your company? I’d love to hear from you!

In Case You’re Interested, Here’s More About Automattic

Automattic Logo

Perhaps you’d like to know what exactly Automattic does?

Automattic is a software company, specifically a web development corporation, founded by Matt Mullenweg — a co-founder of (Fun fact: according to Wikipedia®, the Automattic name is a play on Matt’s name.)

Automattic writes and supports the open source coding for — a blogging service, offering the tools, design themes, and support for all you would-be wordsmiths and ranters, photographers, mommy bloggers and self-publishers in the online world.

This blog, (, in fact, is published on’s free blogging platform.

WordPress gives you all the tools needed to start writing, designing, publishing and promoting a blog — whether personal or professional — in minutes. Free of charge. And without having to know a word of code.

Of course, WordPress also offers premium upgrades and services. If you need a custom URL domain or hosting service, they’ll provide one, or you can use your own.

Likewise, Automattic produces a variety of free and paid upgrade widgets and tools to enhance your blog’s functionality. Perhaps you’ve heard of some of their accomplishments:

  • PollDaddy, a polling feature
  • IntenseDebate, a commenting tool
  • and Gravatar, an abbreviation for Globally Recognized Avatar, that “funny” image you see when you post a comment on a blog that required you to provide an email address.

And Now, a Few Legal Notes

All employee and Karting images are courtesy of Automattic’s website and have been reproduced with permission of all involved.  WordPress is a registered trademark of the WordPress Foundation. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. I am not affiliated with WordPress in any way other than I use it as my blogging platform, and WordPress now posts paid advertisements on my blogsite… for which I’ve currently earned $2.05, and counting. Decimals are in the right place. No kidding. Clearly I do this for the fun and excitement of sharing with you all. Likewise, I am not affiliated with Automattic in any way – but am so impressed, I just applied for an opportunity as Story Wrangler. You never know. Meantime, I am a B2B marketing communications specialist, freelance writer and consultant. Learn more at


One comment on “From Happiness Gardener to Schmooze Engineer – Fantastic Titles and Unique Perks to Motivate Employees!

  1. Pingback: So You Want to Engineer Happiness | Kathryn Presner

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