Restrict Content Pro has been acquired by iThemes. Originally built by Pippin Williamson in 2012, RCP was early to the membership space and kept its promise of simplicity and stability throughout its tenure to date.
A couple of years ago, the Sandhills Development team put new energy into RCP, and in 2019 the product made nearly $500,000 in revenue. 2020 is set to outpace those numbers. While the sale price is not disclosed, it is a seven-figure deal, likely somewhere between two and four times annual revenue. No members of the Sandhills team are moving over to iThemes and Liquid Web (the iThemes parent company), but there is a multi-month transition plan in place.
In our interview, we talked a lot about the process of the deal, the transition expectations, the past and future of the product, and the emotions surrounding the sale — particularly for Pippin.
Strategically, selling RCP enables Sandhills to better focus on their other products and free up several team members' energy. RCP was profitable and fun for them to work on, but they knew it was the right fit with iThemes and were excited to be able to better share the workload on Easy Digital Downloads, AffiliateWP, and their other products. Pippin compared it to hiring multiple full time team members, by simply transitioning what they are working on.
Additionally, the sale enabled them to put some cash in the bank, a comforting thing for a relatively small company in an extraordinarily uncertain time. Sandhills is very much an employee-first company, and this safety net lets them approach the future with confidence.
For iThemes, Matt tells me that the acquisition excites them in part because it gets them on the front-facing part of websites once again. For years now they have focused on the utility side through backups, security, etc. Now they can offer more than peace of mind to their customers by helping them make money.
Restrict Content Pro makes a lot of strategic sense for both Liquid Web and iThemes. Sandhills has always had a great audience, but it is most popular among developers and tinkerers — people ready to get their hands dirty a bit. iThemes opens up a much more user-centric audience, and it expands the base of potential customers through cross-marketing. Liquid Web has put a lot of energy into optimizing for eCommerce, and RCP offers a much more niche eCommerce product for their eCommerce audience that is not selling physical goods.
All around, this deal just makes sense. Thanks to recent energy reviving the product, website, and RCP community, Pippin and his team were able to receive a compelling offer for Restrict Content Pro. Thanks to a well-established marketing plan, and a well-established roadmap for furthering the product's success, iThemes should be able to nicely capitalize on the opportunity.
I'm glad to see a win-win and the opportunity for two companies I admire to take a new step in their respective journeys.