Listings, forked from WP Job Manager, goes generic

The Look And Feel — an agency that includes Scott Basgaard and Coen Jacobs — have forked WP Job Manager into a plugin called Listings, with the intention of enable generic “listings” with WordPress, that can be specialized for nearly any industry.

WP Job Manager was acquired by Automattic around the same time as the WooCommerce acquisition. Mike Jolley created and ran the plugin as a side project, though it was successful enough to be a full time project for nearly anyone. At the time of sale, I predicted Mike was able to sell it for at least half a million dollars, having generated $35,000-$40,000 per month in revenue at its peak.

Since acquisition, WP Job Manager has languished a bit, with less direct attention, and no real feature releases. Meanwhile, WP Job Manager was a platform a few other businesses built their very successful product bases on, most notably Astoundify.

Astoundify's Jobify and Listify themes — both built on WP Job Manager — have a cumulative ~17,500 sales on ThemeForest, which has resulted in around $1 million in revenue since July 2013. They are making more money with their products than WP Job Manager makes itself, and the future of WP Job Manager is important to them.

So Scott and Coen actually talked to Adam Pickering of Astoundify to discuss the potential fork of WP Job Manager. The two parties were, however, unable to agree on what the direction of the product should be, and who should have final say on branding and decisions, so The Look And Feel decided to move forward alone.

It's possible that WP Job Manager will see yet further disruption, whether from Astoundify or others, unless Automattic can prove that the product is an important part of their future.

So now Listings is on WordPress.org, and has already seen a decent bit of change from WP Job Manager. The strategy Scott and Coen are taking is to make it more generic, capable of being a listings plugin for nearly anything, and they'll release a series of add-ons that makes it compatible for specific genres, starting with jobs of course.

We like to think about Listings as being a platform, where you can install just the functionality that you need. Having this shared platform via the core plugin, this gives us a unique opportunity to make our add-ons compatible across the platform.

Say you buy an add-on for having people pay to post a job on your job board. You can use that same add-on to make people pay for posting on your Craigslist like website.

Not only do we make it more attractive for end users to invest in the Listings platform, it’s also a lot more efficient for us to maintain. Instead of having to maintain, support and continue development on a payments add-on for each separate use case, we can now maintain one plugin that supports all these use cases.

I think this is a great direction for The Look and Feel to go with a listings plugin. I think it would be nice if WP Job Manager could have a future of its own, but that's just difficult to tell if it can be a reality right now. And if WP Job Manager does get renewed attention, Listings won't be a fragmented product without a place, but a viable option for a more general listings market.

I look forward to seeing how Scott and Coen move forward, and we can expect their jobs extension soon. I also hope that Automattic takes this move as a bit of a wakeup call and either decides to invest properly into the product they purchased, or responsibly transfer it to a better caretaker in Astoundify or other interested party.

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