WPtouch — the mobile WordPress theme company — wants $1.39 million

WPtouch is a mostly pointless product. Well, it’s not pointless for everyone, but it the base version of the product gets more and more pointless every year. Yet, they are still making $730,000+ in revenue per year. The product is also for sale, and the WPtouch team wants nearly $1.4 million — or two years of revenue.

It’s an unimaginable cost to me.

Dale Mugford gives the pitch for WPtouch in a recent blog post:

Although responsive themes promise to adjust their display to fit all device sizes, many site owners find that they require too many compromises and lead to large, slow pages on mobile devices.

WPtouch and WPtouch Pro are recommended by Google for WordPress websites looking to provide a rich, mobile-friendly experience.

I understand the sentiment for some websites. But mostly, I think websites have bigger problems if they can’t find a way to be performant in both mobile and desktop environments, and mobile themes are often a stopgap.

The market, at least to some extent, disagrees with me. The free version of WPtouch has 300,000+ active installs. And if all $730k of their pro version revenue is new customers (likely not, as they say in the listing they have “loyal, multiyear customers”), that would mean they have more than 8,000 pro customers.

Then I looked at my old post from February 2015, when WordPress active plugin installs were in beta, and I listed WPtouch then at 410,000 active installs. So they are losing their free customer base.

I think WPtouch is worth something, but not $1.4 million. And probably not $750k. Every day they hold on to it, it gets a little less valuable.

The brand is valuable. The .org install base is valuable. The customers, assuming they have them on an active email list, are valuable. But the product is not particularly valuable. Also, Jetpack has a mobile theme too, and while it’s not as customizable, it’s a decent stopgap for a mobile website too.

This would be a nice gateway product for moving deeper into the mobile app space, but even then I don’t know if it would ever have the potential to make up the difference, or be worth the upfront cost of the acquisition. They already offer what appears to be a pretty basic app-wrapper solution, so maybe that could be better marketed. They also have an AMP extension that could be useful. Still, I’m far from sold.

I hope we find out more if a deal goes through.

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