A couple more notes on the WooThemes acquisition

Thank you to all members for your patience on the newsletter, as I spent a great deal of time on the WooThemes acquisition post.

I have a couple of thoughts I thought I’d leave specifically for you.

New space in the WordPress eCommerce market

Automattic will likely mean big growth for WooCommerce. But it also leaves room for non-Automattic owned eCommerce providers to step in as more independent providers.

I bet a lot of people have been talking to Pippin Williamson (EDD), Corey Miller (Exchange), and Justin Sainton (WP eCommerce) in the last twenty four hours. These eCommerce options, and others, may have an opportunity with yesterday’s news.

One reason for opportunity is the simple fact that some folk will always seek options that are not under the Automattic umbrella. It’s just a fact of life in the WordPress world.

Also, change is a difficult pill to swallow for many eCommerce store owners. The move to Automattic will inevitably bring about some change, and in the meantime — uncertainty. Uncertainty, and the potential for change, is where the opportunity is for others to step in.

If an existing product can be the stable option, it can make gains from WooThemes’ sale.

Adii’s exit from WooThemes, following up

One thing that came up after the news was a general consensus that Adii sure missed out with his early exit. Perhaps he did, but a number of things are assumed with that mindset.

One, WooThemes may not have sold at all if Adii stayed. He is a different kind of entrepreneur than Mark or Magnus, and they may have stayed independent if he was still there — though I don’t really like speculating on that.

Two, Adii did okay even with the earlier departure. I’m relatively confident he cleared between $2 million and $3 million in cash, which is not chump change. It’s not $30 million, but it’s not nothing.

Three, Adii tells me he would’ve left even if he knew they could be acquired by Automattic in two years time. He says staying longer would’ve meant losing time being the kind of entrepreneur he wants to be, and he has, “no regrets whatsoever. I left the comfort of Woo to challenge myself as an entrepreneur and have been enjoying myself incredibly with Receiptful. The only difference to my exit and this would be the financial terms and timing. If I had waited in the hope of more money, I would’ve lost time.”

A small update on teams

Yesterday, I discussed the future team structure for WooThemes at Automattic. I have some confirmation today that they will start out as simple the WooThemes team and the integration will be slow, but steady to bring their teams and Automattic’s other teams together.

Automattic’s end game

Many may wonder what Automattic’s end game is. Personally, I think most of us think of Automattic the wrong way.

It’s easy to think of Automattic as the corporate arm of Matt Mullenweg’s endeavors monetizing WordPress. At one point, that was true. But I think his goals — and his investors’ goals — are bigger than that.

In the New Yorker profile of Marc Andreessen, one paragraph really stood out to me. In it, Andreessen describes a time he advised Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg, when he was under pressure to take a deal:

Yet he’s also energetic and decisive, which makes him a valued counsellor. In 2006, Yahoo! offered to buy Facebook for a billion dollars, and Accel Partners, Facebook’s lead investor, urged Mark Zuckerberg to accept. Andreessen said, “Every single person involved in Facebook wanted Mark to take the Yahoo! offer. The psychological pressure they put on this twenty-two-year-old was intense. Mark and I really bonded in that period, because I told him, ‘Don’t sell, don’t sell, don’t sell!’ ” Zuckerberg told me, “Marc has this really deep belief that when companies are executing well on their vision they can have a much bigger effect on the world than people think, not just as a business but as a steward of humanity—if they have the time to execute.” He didn’t sell; Facebook is now worth two hundred and eighteen billion dollars.

I’m not saying Automattic is the next Facebook. I don’t think Automattic is a social company, really. If I had to compare their potential to any mega-tech company, it’d probably be Yahoo, actually.

But the point is this: Matt is close to people like Andreessen (and probably Andreesseen himself). I think he is thinking much, much longer term and way bigger picture than we tend to on our WordPress ecosystem side of things. I think this helps think of the goal for 50% of the web and WordPress as a platform with a bit better perspective. Or I could be completely full of crap; that’s for you to decide. 🙂

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