WP Engine rebrands and restructures

wpengine-rebrandingFew brands in tech have skyrocketed in exposure like WP Engine in the past couple of years. WP Engine has experienced massive growth, and they are showing signs of acting very much like a grown up company.

Rebranding WP Engine

Last week, WP Engine carefully and methodically rolled out both a massive rebranding effort alongside a change in leadership.

The new brand is sophisticated, and in my opinion, well executed. I have my critiques, but they are minor. I largely agree with Chris Lema's post detailing what many others in the industry can learn from this rebranding from WP Engine.

Restructuring leadership

What's more interesting than the rebranding though, is that Jason Cohen has stepped down as the CEO to be the CTO, and the COO, Heather Brunner, has been promoted to the CEO position.

If you don't know much about Jason Cohen, check out his blog, and learn about the early days of WP Engine in this Mixergy interview. He's not a rookie to building businesses. He previously built and sold a profitable company called Smart Bear successfully. But even from his previous venture, WP Engine is different. It's more long term, and it doesn't look like they are prepping for any sort of quick exit.

Paving the way to go public?

I honestly wouldn't be surprised if WP Engine is paving the way to go public. Their growth has been rapid, but they aren't giving away their product to get customers. They are winning by selling.

I see so much WP Engine marketing, from them and from affiliates, it's unreal. It dominates our WordPress hosting space. But I'd rather see that than price wars. Price wars have plagued hosting for ages. Selling your brand and your value in the hosting space, successfully, is huge.

Brunner gave some details about WP Engine's size in the post on Venture Beat announcing her hire:

Twenty million unique visitors now interact with WP Engine-hosted properties every day. The company has grown every quarter since it was founded in 2010 and serves 11,000 paying customers…

Cohen also notes in the WP Engine announcement that they have 80 employees now.

Neither 11,000 customers or 80 employees is huge in the hosting industry. But I bet if WP Engine's average revenue per customer were public, it would be huge.

Leading the market

As they angle to further market to enterprise customers and serious website owners, WP Engine is well positioned to be the leader in WordPress hosting. They weren't the first to market in the managed WordPress hosting space, but they have outpaced their oldest competition (namely ZippyKid and Pagely) from a growth standpoint.

Even up against Automattic and WordPress VIP hosting, I think they stand a pretty decent long term shot of being the leader, since Automattic has a lot more revenue sources than VIP hosting to think about.

And I think they see that potential very clearly. They've been beefing up their management team right along side their ground-level employees, and Cohen stepping down into a role he feels most comfortable in helps them all the more.

Hiring an experienced technology executive like Brunner (who was previously COO at Bazaarvoice before it went public in 2012) appears to be an excellent move, and putting her in charge now that she's got her feet wet seems about as smart a step as they could have made, not to mention an extremely humble and character exposing move by Cohen.

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  1. I love WP Engine, and I hope they continue to grow as they have been. But they can only be the premier WordPress hosting. They’re not for everyone because of their pricing (which is still awesome, all things considered). Sometimes, basic shared hosting is all a person/business/blogger needs.

  2. I love WPE. However, I moved all of my sites away from them and onto Flywheel.


    When I found out about Flywheel, I was instantly attracted. The guy who runs the place, Rick, personally went through all the featured of Flywheel.

    That was several months ago. Overall, I’m still don’t regret leaving WPE. I pitted my site up against the same install on WPE and Flywheel was definitely loading faster on first load, and subsequent loads. Not to mention their UI is sexy as balls. On top of this it’s literally half the price.

    I will admit that WPE has a better uptime, as Flywheel has about 4 outages last month totaling about 15 minutes. Rick assured me this was due to the upgrades they were doing to infrastructure.

    Support is lightning fast, and most of my issues are resolved within hours (including one within 10 minutes at 8 am on a sunday).

    Anyhow, just wanted to give a plug for Flywheel since they are new and aren’t listed here. I am BTW a paying customer like everyone else.

    1. Hey Nick,

      There are actually a few managed hosts I didn’t mention. For instance, I didn’t mention the managed host I use for this site 🙂 The intent wasn’t to do a comparison of all the hosts (which is a worthy venture) but to simply highlight what WP Engine has going on.

      But the “plug” is fine. I plan to keep better track of Flywheel anyway, and I’m glad another host is working out in this space. In my mind, there is plenty of room for good competition.

  3. Hi Brian, thanks for the kind words on our service and rebrand. Although in one sense a rebrand is “only skin deep,” as you said it’s a better reflection of what’s *under* the skin, and therefore we’re excited to have a more consistent and genuine way to express who we are, and indeed who we still aspire to be.

  4. I have been with WP Engine since October 2012 (hey, it’s been almost exactly a year!), after meeting Austin at WordCamp Denver. It has been a long process of migrating all our clients from DH to WPE, but given their respective track records in the past 12 months, it was by far the best hosting decision I’ve ever made.

    To be honest, I’m not thrilled with the rebrand (yet) – I suppose it will take some time to get used to. I really dug the drab green and simple gear… oh well! On to bigger and better things!

    I am thrilled with their service, reliability, and the fact they are so clearly succeeding in their goals. It’s reassuring to have such an attentive, and solid vendor.

    Keep rockin’ WPE.

  5. for WordPress Managed Service I will personally prefer Cloudways. One of the best provider in this industry with good security plans and 24/7 support team.

    1. Have you tried Cloudways vs. Flywheel? I’m trying to compare the 2 of them in terms of performance, bang-for-your-buck, scalability, etc.

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