I am Morten Grauballe, the Chief Product Officer at group.ONE, and always has been a product person, deeply rooted in the software world. I started working with operating systems on the B2B side of things before moving to middleware and B2C.
I grew up north of Copenhagen and ended up attending Copenhagen Business School from which I went out into the world, gravitating back to Denmark in between living and working in the UK, Japan, and Israel.
I moved back to Denmark to start a family and joined the first Danish company I’ve ever worked for, one.com, three years ago.
I’m obsessed with building good stuff for the benefit of the user, so there’s no place I’d rather be.
The Journey Began
The first time I encountered WordPress was when I was working in B2B and owned a WordPress-powered storefront. I was fascinated with its ecosystem of plugins, very similar to that of Symbian and its apps, which I’d worked with before.
I was intrigued by the benefits of a large ecosystem backed by a vibrant and committed community delivering solutions to virtually any problem in real-time.
The democratic model paved the way for adoption through high availability and an astonishing level of community engagement.
At the same time, I noticed that manageability over time would be, and still is an issue. I thought to myself that this could be addressed with a holistic approach that embraces the entire ecosystem for what it is.
Only then can you tap into the immense potential of WordPress.
The Need to Join one.com as CPO
When presented with the opportunity to join one.com, I didn’t hesitate a bit. Jacob Jensen, the founder of one.com, had a vision that fit me like a hand in a glove.
He wanted to build extraordinary products for non-technical people rather than taking the common approach of integrating third-party ones – typically designed for technical users.
This vision was expressed through a culture of usability and the incessant aspiration to solve real problems for real people which really appealed to me.
Of course, it’s not all smooth sailing. The hosting industry is going through a massive consolidation phase where size has become a prerequisite to gain momentum.
This is a serious challenge when building from the ground up and a hindrance to innovation.
Increasing complexity is ever present, once you think that you’ve solved a problem in WordPress, you instantly realize that you’re just getting started, as ten fresh ones emerge.
But with every challenge comes an opportunity to grow and magic happens when you make WordPress easy to users who typically lack the ability to maintain a WordPress site.
By embracing the WordPress ecosystem while being obsessed with our customers, we’ve created a managed WordPress offer that is as feature-rich as that of most market-leading WordPress first hosts.
This was achieved largely thanks to our greatest assets – our customers. Their feedback has been instant and truly Scandinavian in nature.
They’re knowledgeable, pragmatic, and honest, which really helps to make things simple for them. My next goal is to feed their wisdom back to the WordPress community.
The WordPress community is our major product drivers, why it’s imperative to use every opportunity to interact with its members and give back.
WP Media & one.com Sharing Booth at #WCEU22
#WCEU2022 was an incredible event in that regard, with thousands of passionate stakeholders exchanging ideas and solving problems together under one roof.
Being part of that from a shared booth with WP Media was one of my professional highlights of this year and made me feel like we have arrived on the WordPress scene.
Myself with my Brilliant Team
As a CPO, you’re nothing without your team. They’ve built everything. We’re obsessed with customer needs, driven, and love delivering products. I can’t credit them enough for everything we’ve achieved.
Morten With Team Members
Advice for Business Owners
Do your research! In my opinion, understanding pricing and GTM strategy exceed the importance of having every technical detail done to perfection. Do the research on your competition.
Is anyone else doing what you want to do? How would you do it better? Build your MVP and let experts validate it. Go to WordCamps and talk to people. Let experts try your product and take their feedback in.
In general, I’d say the highest growth can be seen in plugin development, but anything that can contribute to the user’s monetization of their online presence has strong potential.
We saw a large wave of traditional brick-and-mortar businesses coming online during the pandemic, the time has now come for those companies to scale up and if you can build products that help them to do just that, then you’re on the right track.
Morten in Meeting
WordPress & Beyond
As a CMS, WordPress is unparalleled, and I’m a firm believer in its growth. Within the next 5 years, WordPress will surpass the 50 % internet market share threshold, thanks to current ongoing development in full-page editing.
There will be less dependency on themes and the editing experience will be smoother which is likely to attract the non-tech-savvy masses needed to grow in market share.
Here’s where WordPress hosts come in. We need to provide value beyond hosting and start viewing ourselves more as SaaS providers.
We need to build relationships with the major plugins to really harness the benefits of the ecosystem and deliver true usability for non-techies to win.
The only threat I see is that of an emerging aggressive acquisition culture that builds barriers between WordPress service providers and the ecosystem.
There is the Swedish concept of “allemansrätt”, the right to roam, where it’s codified that every person has the right to access nature even when it’s private property.
This hasn’t harmed ownership or had a negative impact on the use of natural resources for profit, while it has enriched the lives of people who always have access to lakes, forests, and beaches.
In the end, one can even argue that profitability goes up this way – the more people gain access to say.. a beach, the bigger the audience for local businesses to cater to.
This reminds me of the WordPress project and should be everyone’s end game – an ecosystem of knowledge sharing, trust, and mutual interest, in the end, we’ll all benefit from it.
My Love for the WordPress Community
I’m pretty new to the WordPress community scene but can already say that community events are the ultimate way of learning WordPress.
I’m very excited that we’re hosting local meetups in our HQ in Copenhagen again and are working on building a local community in Malmö, Sweden.
When this community congregates, innovation happens and it’s extremely valuable to all of us.
The community itself is very welcoming, anyone with an interest in WordPress will be accepted and the veterans are eager to exchange ideas.
Not only did I learn a lot about WordPress, but made a very nice connection with JB and realized how little WordPress is about products and revenue and how much it is about relationships and shared values.
How I Keep Myself Updated
And of course, in-person events like WordCamps and Meetups is where you really learn. Don’t miss out on those!
I Have a Life Other Than Work
When not engrossed in product development, I lead a completely different team – kids’ soccer! I started by coaching my kids’ teams, and have now ventured into coaching the coaches who coach youth teams aged 5-10.
I Reward Myself by
Every now and then, I unwind with a glass of nice red wine, and of course, spending time with my family and our dog.
We enjoy traveling a lot. Just having returned from Jordan, visiting Petra among other places reminds me about how much this world has to offer. The one region we keep returning to is Provence in the south of France.
Connect With Me