Matt Mullenweg revokes Patheon’s WordCamp US sponsorship

WordCamp US took place last week at the Philadelphia Convention Center. If you thought WordCamp US was free of unnecessary drama, you’d be wrong. Pantheon, a managed WordPress, and Drupal hosting provider had its sponsorship revoked and its booth removed from public view. WordCamp US refunded the $100,000 Pantheon paid to sponsor event.

What vile act did Patheon commit to get treated in such a dramatic fashion? Patheon purchased advertising at the Sheraton Downtown Philadelphia Hotel, located across the street from the Philadelphia Convention Center and WordCamp US organizers didn’t like it.

The advertising:

Matt Mullenweg revokes Patheon's WordCamp US sponsorship - Bent Corner
Pantheon’s Elevator Advertising (WP Tavern)

It’s a large graphic in the hotel’s elevator featuring Pantheon’s name and logo. Evidently, this breaks the WordCamp US Code of Contact (CoC), even though there’s nothing in the CoC that prohibits this type of advertising away from the Philadelphia Convention Center.

When WordCamp US organizers learned of the Sheraton advertising, they contacted Pantheon and requested they remove it. There was a back and forth exchange between WordCamp US organizers and Pantheon’s management team. Things got heated, and at one point, the organizers threatened to remove the advertising themselves.

Matt Mullenweg revokes Patheon's WordCamp US sponsorship - Bent Corner
WordPress God Emperor Matt Mullenweg

The issue was then escalated to WordPress God Emperor Matt Mullenweg. He ordered Pantheon booted from WordCamp US and to have their $100,000 sponsorship refunded.

I feel sorry for Pantheon. It doesn’t seem they did anything wrong, yet the way they were treated by WordCamp US and Matt Mullenweg was ridiculous. Although they were refunded the $100,000 sponsorship they paid to WordCamp US, they spent thousands of dollars on other expenses related to WordCamp US. If I weren’t already locked into a one-year managed hosting plan with GoDaddy for this blog, I’d make the switch to Pantheon immediately.

WordPress has a problem. Too many times it seems like WordPress is run by petulant children. What happened to Pantheon at WordCamp US is one of those times. There appears to be too much unnecessary drama in the WordPress ecosystem going all the way up to its highest level.

WordPress and drama seem to go hand in hand. I wonder, does Drupal have so much unnecessary drama attached to it? Would something this petty happen at a Drupal event? Would a major sponsor at a Drupal event get banned from the event for purchasing advertising space at a hotel near the event?

It’s things like this that make me realize why Squarespace and Wix are getting so much market share.

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