Post Status Notes #501
By Dan Knauss and David Bisset 🗓️ June 3, 2022 • Last Updated: November 3, 2022
Elementor acquires Strattic • WP Engine acquires Delicious Brains‘ plugins 🧠 • When the Cathedrals own the Bazaars and Shopping Centers and you’re in a strip mall with a fruit stand… • Jetpack decouples • InstaWP gets seed funding from Automattic 🌱 • Automattic hire #2000 • World-class FSE, how? 🌐 • WCEU by the numbers • Weglot gives back • RoleUp rolls out • Tadlock exits WP Tavern 🍺 • Why ‘why’ matters most • The Big 2-0 next year • All there is to know about core WordPress email notifications, documented ✉️ • System font stack check • Do not follow by default • Museum of Block Art opens 🎨 • Meet Yvonne Doll • Mostly modest WordPress wishlists • WooCommerce Experts to go global • How to do well in a downturn 📉 • Some things we don’t — but ought to — talk about. 🐘 Silent no longer about Sustainability.
Elementor acquires Strattic
The latest addition to our acquisition tracker was a bit of a surprise to many people — a plugin company acquiring a host for a change. Elementor is a hosted solution and booming platform ecosystem, however, since the debut of Elementor Cloud Websites earlier this year.
In the acquisition news, Strattic founder and CEO Miriam Schwab mentioned the additional challenges facing women in tech when it comes to raising venture capital. Miriam wrote about that at length earlier this year, and it’s worth a read if you missed it. She cites a Bloomberg article about Pitchbook‘s latest report with the following finding:
“Female founders secured only 2% of venture capital in the U.S. in 2021, the smallest share since 2016 and a sign that efforts to diversify the famously male-dominated industry are struggling.”
To move backward like that seems hard to explain as a result of implicit or unconscious bias.
Previously, Strattic raised much more funding than they set as a goal in their first fundraising effort — acquiring Automattic as an investor too, back in 2020.
Elementor is now a full-fledged competitor to WordPress.com with its own product ecosystem and market share (over 7%) tracked by W3Techs against WordPress, even though their market shares overlap.
WP Engine acquires Delicious Brains’ plugins
With our attention diverted to the start of WordCamp Europe, the WordPress community was surprised by the announcement that WP Engine has acquired Delicious Brains’ full portfolio of plugins: Advanced Custom Fields (ACF), WP Migrate, WP Offload Media, WP Offload SES, and Better Search Replace.
WP Engine’s press release notes these plugins are collectively used by more than four million sites globally.
“I wasn’t spending nearly as much time on SpinupWP as I would have liked.”Brad Touesnard
Delicious Brains’ founder and CEO Brad Touesnard noted this sale will allow the company to focus on SpinupWP, which he has wanted to give greater focus and attention. SpinupWP has expanded over the past few years from 10 employees to 34.
Iain Poulson still appears to be involved, but sadly this acquisition has caused at least one layoff.
The date of this acquisition came exactly one year to the day after Advanced Custom Fields was acquired by Delicious Brains. Back then, ACF founder Elliot Condon expected this would be it’s long-term home, and so did we all. Having that expectation disappointed has scared some people, like Rob Howard.
Delicious Brains is the WordPress company most identified with a core commitment to WordPress developers and tools. Selling their entire plugin portfolio may mark a fundamental shift in their identity, but then again, SpinupWP is an exciting platform product for developers with tons of potential. It’s positioned as a more independent alternative to managed WordPress hosting for the developer and agency market. WP Engine is focused on that target audience as well, so they have essentially freed up Delicious Brains to compete directly with them. That’s a fascinating move, and we can’t wait to see what creative and innovative fruit follows from it.
When the Cathedrals own the Bazaars and Shopping Centers and you’re in a strip mall with a fruit stand…
Like the WP Engine-Delicious Brains acquisition and many others before it, the Elementor-Strattic acquisition is the current high water mark for a transition period in the WordPress ecosystem marked by heavy consolidation. As Pippin Williamson noted when his company was acquired by Awesome Motive, “We are getting to a point where WordPress is so big and there is so much money involved in the WordPress ecosystem that it is now very much in large companies’ interests to create their own version of WordPress.”
How we think about markets and market share is bound to change now and needs to. That should also entail rethinking the whole WordPress ecosystem to see if our mental maps still match the terrain. Brian Coords‘ thoughts on When the Cathedral Own the Bazaar offer a useful reorientation using Eric Raymond‘s classic analogy.
As WordPress hosts with burgeoning plugin verticals strive to build their own unique platforms and user experiences in competition with each other, they are still based on a common platform. An open source project. Our commons.
WordPress.org depends on contributors, many of whom are volunteers or connected WordPress’s small independent business ecosystem. As the big players connected with hosting platform absorb the mid-sized plugin companies, the view from below can seem very disadvantaged and precarious.
Riffing on Brian’s idea of today’s WordPress ecosystem as a shopping center, what if the many smaller businesses are still like a bazaar or open air market composed of tents in the parking lot, or a humble strip mall? Some operate according to their own etiquette, the “WordPress way,” as Jason Coleman has written.
Compared to SaaS platforms, serving the traditional self-hosted WordPress market has many disadvantages (and strengths), Kim Coleman wrote this week.
What if looking to actual retailers innovating in simple, ubiquitous, and surprisingly resilient spaces like strip malls offers some creative ideas for leveraging the unique value that’s there? Brian’s post gave me that question, and it led me to Sarasota-based urban planner Daniel Herriges‘ post, “Revenge of the Strip Malls” at Strong Towns.
Granularity. Mutual independence. Low Overhead. Maybe it’s not so bad to be a small shop in a strip mall… [dk]
Jetpack decouples major features as standalone plugins
Jetpack announced this week the launch of six individual plugins containing many of Jetpack’s major features, with more to follow this year. While it’s still possible to install and use all these features within Jetpack, Backup, Protect, Boost, Social, Search, and CRM can now be installed individually.
For years, Automattic was criticized for bundling so many features together in one plugin that’s largely dependent on WordPress.com. (It was once the butt of a Post Status April Fool’s joke.) Many of these features were originally developed as standalone plugins by Automattic or acquired and absorbed by Jetpack. The modularity of these features has varied over time, but it’s always been possible (with effort) to turn many Jetpack features on or off.
For performance (and sustainability) less is always more. But a more decentralized architecture could help fan growth in a way agreeable to Automattic, agencies, developers, and experienced as well as new users.
Initial reception of these changes in Jetpack seem entirely positive.
InstaWP gets Automattic seed funding
As WP Minute reported on Tuesday with guest Vikas Singhal of InstaWP, Vikas’ company has landed a seed funding round from Automattic.
Automattic hires Employee #2000
Congrats to Automattic for reaching 2000 employees. Gary Pendergast reflects on how many came after him as employee number 50.
Getting to a world-class full-site editing experience
Anne McCarthy (via Post Status Slack) shared a Github conversation about Full Site Editing and agencies in the hope of getting more feedback:
“As FSE matures, what needs to happen so it becomes a world-class tool for both DIY website builders and agencies that craft custom sites with more explicit design constraints?”
That’s a key question stated simply but a hard one to answer. Take some time to give Anne a well-considered reply if you have insight in this area.
WCEU by the numbers
As WordCamp Europe 2022 concluded they shared their numbers:
- 2746 tickets sold
- 2304 attended
- 70 speakers
- 91 organizers
- 800 contributors (a record for the event, and likely an all-time record)
- 155k Instagram story impressions
- 65 sponsors
- 164 volunteers
The next WCEU will be held in Athens, Greece. The next large WordCamp event will be WordCamp US, which is coming up on September 9-11 in San Diego, California. WCUS is still looking for sponsors and media partners.
Leonardo Losoviz shared a deep dive into some recaps of his favorite WCEU presentations, and David Bisset picked out a number of key WCEU takeaways — 9 new things he learned, to be exact.
Weglot, WCEU, and the WordPress Community
Thomas Fanchin has shared event, sponsor, and Five For The Future information from his team at Weglot, a global sponsor for WCEU. It’s great to see WordCamp sponsors putting an accent on their part in the community and how they personally value and enjoy it.
On the subject of giving back, Michelle Frechette and Allie Nimmons consider “What’s in it for me?” as a valid question for people new to WordPress or any open source community.
RoleUp rolls out
Steve Burge and Vic Drover have launched RoleUp, a WordPress productivity SaaS tool for simplified user management across multiple WordPress sites. If you need to add, promote, demote, and remove users programmatically across several sites, doing this manually would be an onerous chore. That’s where RoleUp is useful.
A new era and big shoes to fill at the Tavern
All the best to Justin Tadlock who has left WP Tavern. He’s now a member of the WordPress.org division at Automattic, fulfilling part of its Five for the Future commitment.
WP Tavern is looking for new writers now — as in more than one. For years the Tavern has published daily at high volume with only two writers. It would be great to see a bigger and more diverse crew there at WordPress’s “newspaper of record.”
It’s the ‘why’ that matters
Jason McCreary explains why good commit messages communicate “why” a change was made, not “what” change was made. While Jason is writing for developers, his point also applies more broadly — for example, companies explaining recent pricing or design changes in blog posts.
Looking forward to 20
Matt Mullenweg wrote a brief post celebrating WordPress’s 19th anniversary. This year the festivities were a bit quiet, but we can expect big celebrations for the 20th. You can see Matt’s video along with co-founder Mike Little’s message on wp19.day.
Speaking of WordPress 6.0, if you’re ever up for jazz, Joe Simpson Jr. has a Spotify playlist that features the artists in major WordPress releases.
All core email notifications documented
John Blackbourn has written and shared documentation for all the situations when WordPress core sends an email. He covers how and when they’re sent, and how to filter or disable each one.
Check it out! All about
wp_mail — newly updated for WordPress 6.0.
System font stack check
Need to quickly confirm the basic system font stacks? There’s a site for that.
Do not follow by default
Joost de Valk continues his dive into web crawling, this time talking about XML sitemaps and IndexNow while proposing a change to how we approach indexing:
“What if search engines only crawled URLs that we explicitly allowed?”
The Museum of Block Art is open
The Museum of Block Art is now open for submissions. The site accepts art created using the block editor with core blocks with very limited custom CSS. You should be using the latest version of WordPress — as of now, 6.0 — for any work you submit.
Automattic Women: Yvonne Doll
On the Automattic design blog, Jeffrey Zeldman featured Yvonne Doll, an oil painter, musician, and the Design Director for Jetpack. Yvonne also fronts an alt-pop, indie-rock band in Chicago called The Locals. (You’ll probably like them if you enjoy powerful vocalists like Neko Case.)
Mostly modest WordPress wishlists
Brian Coords at MasterWP provoked a lot of interesting discussion at Hacker News and additional wishlists for WordPress after sharing his own.
Following WCEU, Rodolfo Melogli shared a similar list for WooCommerce in 10 Crucial Issues That Should Be Fixed Right Now.
What’s striking about both lists and the conversations around them is how they’er not focused on big, shiny new things for the most part but maintenance and community. Things like public roadmaps, WooConf, and WP-Notify — which entails setting a standard for admin notifications — are mature, ‘we’ (rather than ‘me’) oriented asks for a maturing platform and community.
WooCommerce Experts to go global
Looks like the WooCommerce Experts program will soon be broadened to include agencies and freelancers beyond the United States.
How to do well in a downturn
Pete Flint has some suggestions for surviving and thriving in an economic downturn. His three part framework: manage loss, gain ground, and manage psychology.
Know this — crises always end. We have seen repeatedly how economic shocks drive efficiency and accelerate automation, which in turn drives tech adoption. They are a cyclical part of our market economy and there are black swans that inevitably occur.
Some things we don’t — but ought — to talk about
PHP conferences put an emphasis on celebrating experts and leaders. WordCamps try to make all attendees feel welcomed, valued, and entertained. Each could use a little more of what the other does well, writes Milana Cap in a thought-provoking post.
Does the WordPress community value the advice and recommendations of its own experts and mentors enough? She feels some “elephants in the room” aren’t being discussed or are being ignored, specifically PHP and the WordPress back end.
Focusing on Full Site Editing and Gutenberg at the expense of other core areas has been a growing criticism in the community, especially as fears about possible market contraction increase.
There are other areas suffering from neglect as well. Milana has commented on a Post Status Excerpt episode about having only four sponsored volunteers and fewer than 10 volunteers making up the Docs team — a team that is assigned to manage documentation for software that powers over 43% of the web.
Silent no longer about Sustainability
#sustainability channel in WordPress Slack was created on the spot during the Q&A between Matt Mullenweg, Josepha Haden, and Nora Ferreiro at WordCamp Europe 2022. It had over 55 members by the morning of June 6th and is currently approaching 100. As conversations began in the channel, Nora shared her hopes for it:
“Tech sustainability means for me, as a designer, creating digital products that help people to easily understand that consuming less or in another way is possible, progressive and it’s beneficial for us as individuals and as community. I believe sustainability is education as we have “educated” people to believe they need things they don’t, so far. I expect from this initiative to make any significant change in that 455 million websites (I have just googled it ) are using WordPress. And hopefully also in the people that manage them.
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