The problem with Automattic’s 100 year plan

Many bloggers and web creators want their work to persist after their death. But can they really pay $38,000?

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Automattic, the company behind WordPress, announced a plan earlier in the year, that keeps your content online for 100 years, for a one-off payment. Sales have not been stellar, according to an X post from Matt Mullenweg:

Sales of the 100-year plan so far: 0. Hundreds of people filled out the form, though. I think we really messed something up in the follow-up, including not making it self-serve to start. Will review and try again. It's an important promise to us.

I don’t think they’ve messed anything in the follow-up. I think they’ve messed up the price: it’s $38,000 for 100 years. Yes, you read that right. It’s the price of a car.

Even at $380 per annum for a personal site, that’s already on the top end of what you would expect to pay for hosting. And this is for a service that you won’t be actively using for at least part of that period. Few people create content from beyond the grave…

What personal creator has a spare $38,000 lying around to drop in one go on preserving their legacy? Sure, some companies do — but they have better ways of arranging this. And they have a different level of investment in their content outliving them than a personal creator does.

The marketing video makes it plain that they are going for the personal audience:

This seems like a massive mismatch between price and target audience.

A legacy plan, not a current one

Perhaps a better option here would be a much lower-priced offer, that essentially keeps a static version of your site online after your death. That’s what I’d be interested in paying for. I’ve ploughed 20 years of my life into this site and, despite a few wobbles over the last couple of years, right now I don’t intent to stop. I’d like the site to persist after my death, not least so my daughters could come back an read it if they ever wanted to, but there’s no easy way to arrange that.

When I first heard about the 100 year plan, I was excited. But then I saw the price. As a middle-aged father of two who spends half his week working in academia, I do not have anything like $38,000 lying around to preserve my legacy. Right now, this is a way of rich people assuring their precious content lives on after their death, not the ordinary web creator. And, as they’ve discovered, that market is basically non-existent.

In essence, what they’ve come up with is a plan to use WordPress now, and then preserve that after your death, for an eye-watering up-front cost. What we really need is a plan to preserve your website for 100 years after you die. Much less work, much less cost.

The Winer solution

Dave Winer has come up with a solution that seems to work:

I'm very much a customer for this service. It would be worth $10K for to buy 100 years of persistence for my web writing. A simple easy to understand service that helps get the process started.

And he then outlines a process that allows him to keep writing his site in the way he does now, but keep a version of it on Automattic’s servers that becomes the default once he dies.

$10k is still an “ouch” price, but it’s moving into the realms of achievable for people. If you let me spread the cost a little, I’d be up for that.

There’s a market here. I’m part of it. But not at $38,000.


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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.