I respect a lot of people. I admire many people and I love a few dozen people. But there is only a handful I admire, love and respect and Toni Schneider is one of them. I met Toni a decade ago when working on a story for Business 2.0. I met a quiet, thoughtful and amazingly honest person, a man of principles who enjoyed life and living.
Toni loved technology and over the course of reporting that story we became friends. He introduced me to Tony Conrad and that introduction led to True Ventures (where they are both partners) who in turn funded my company and where I would later join as a venture partner. It is a friendship that has endured. More importantly, my admiration and respect for him has grown in the decade that has passed.
Like Toni, over a decade ago I met a young man named Matt Mullenweg. He was founder of Wordpress — a movement that was akin to a butterfly flapping its wings in Savannah. When Matt moved to San Francisco, he met Toni and there began a great partnership.
Toni later went on to become the chief executive officer of Automattic, the company based on the open source WordPress software and guided the fledgling company with patience that only comes with knowledge that greatness comes with time. A Swiss born engineer, he knows how to fit everything together and make it work like clockwork. On his watch, without much fanfare Automattic has become a billion dollar company.
Today, he hands over the reins of the company to Matt who now is the new CEO of the company he started. For Matt, who just turned 30, this is the best birthday gift, but also a great challenge. Toni is going to work on new products and help spark a new wave of innovation inside the company. Matt has big shoes to fill, but I know he will. Congrats, Matt.
In my life the biggest joy has been watching young friends reach true potential. Matt is one of those people. I could go on and write a million words and they won’t be enough to describe how I feel about Matt. I am excited for him to take the next step in his life journey. On this journey he can have the comfort of knowing, Toni is just an email away — a privilege I have abused many a few times. Thanks Toni.
- Matt’s thoughts on Toni and his new role as CEO of Automattic
- Toni’s thoughts on Matt and Automattic and his new role
Disclosure: Toni and Matt are both friends. True Ventures where I am a venture partner is an investor in both Gigaom and Automattic.