WP Trends

                   

 
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Buy and Sell.

Welcome back to WP Trends. June has been a busy month in WordPress - let's get into it.

What's covered this month:

  • 💸  Recent acquisitions
  • 🛒  Marketplace changes
  • 📈  Diving into the age of large plugins on the repo 
  • 💰  4 WordPress businesses for sale

Acquisitions

There recent trend of acquisitions in the WordPress space has continued this month - some very close to home!

The biggest news was Delicious Brains acquiring Advanced Custom Fields. I've used and loved ACF since 2013, and been working with Brad Touesnard and Delicious Brains since 2014, so seeing this happen, and now working on ACF is a proud moment for me.

It's interesting from an ecosystem point of view too, as Cory Miller discusses on the Post Status Draft podcast episode with Brad - this is a sizeable deal and it's both great and suprising that it's been done by a bootstrapped company rather than a large host or VC-backed company. There's room in the marketplace for non-host large players.

My friend James Kemp and his company of WooCommerce plugins, Iconic, has joined the Liquid Web family of brands, under the banner of StellarWP. Liquid Web aren't slowing down here!

Like their acquisition of GiveWP, this is a full team deal - with James and his team coming along too. Acquiring the team as well as the product is essential for Liquid Web, something Chris Lema alludes to in a recent tweet thread.

Extendify have added to their collection of WordPress products by adopting EditorsKit from Jeffrey Carandang. Blocks are once again proving they are a good play for WordPress businesses.

On a personal note, I sold Plugin Rank to Awesome Motive. I wrote an indepth post about creating a SaaS app and selling it within 12 months.

This month also saw the launch of my new project - FlipWP, the private acquisition marketplace for WordPress.

Marketplace Changes

Yesterday at the annual Shopify developer conference, Unite, Shopify announced they are dropping commission fees for developers on their first million in revenue. For developers buidling Shopify apps this is huge news. Reducing 20% commission to 0% for the first million in revenue every year is a big incentive and draw to the platform. 

Something that WooCommerce could benefit from doing also, as Dave Rodenbaugh notes in Post Status Slack:

WooCommerce commissions

WooCommerce currently takes a 40% cut of sales from developers selling exclusively on their marketplace, and an eye watering 60% for non-exclusive sellers. The WooCommerce plugin ecoystem is flourishing despite this, with plugins on WordPress.org or for sale privately, like Iconic, doing good business.

In other marketplace news, in preparation for Full Site Editing (FSE) landing in WordPress, the WordPress.com theme marketplace has communicated with theme partners its plans to retire themes that aren't FSE compatible:

"...we will be ending the current Premium Theme program. We are actively working to develop themes with headers, footers, and sidebars that can be updated directly within the editor with Blocks and Global Styles. Without the ability to use the full-suite of FSE design tools and interfaces, we expect that non-FSE block based themes will result in a divergent experience for premium theme users on WordPress.com (once FSE has fully shipped). With expected maintenance, code review, and support required for maintaining and updating older premium themes on WordPress.com, we plan to stop offering them to our customers as premium products."

This is major news from theme developers who rely on revenue from WordPress.com. As of the 1st September, no existing themes will be promoted and all seller contracts will be terminated. For sellers who sign a new agreement, they will continue paying out $0.0411 per day ($15/year) per active theme for any existing premium theme that is used by existing WordPress.com customers on Premium, Business, and eCommerce plans. Brutal.

The opportunity here is to get in early on FSE-compatibile themes. This is where WordPress is heading, and if you are in the theme business, going all-in here could prove fruitful. Think back to the early days of Blocks - how companies and individuals who forged ahead saw returns for being first through the door.

Trends

I was chatting with my FlipWP co-founder, Alex Denning, the other day about plugins on WordPress.org with large active install numbers. We were pondering the typical age of the large-to-really large plugins - is it possible for plugins to grow really quickly and amass 100,000s of active users.

The angle here is, would it be far easier to acquire an existing plugin instead of growing one from scratch? And I don't mean acquire any old plugin with a large install base and use it for your plugin (see the cautionary tale of WP User Avatar). 

Let's dig into the numbers. 

Here are the large plugins by the year they were added to the repo:

Large plugins by age

I didn't expect to see many plugins with 1M+ active installs in recent years, but there is quite a spead of those. It's interesting to see the rise and fall around 2014 of the number of plugins over 100K. Here's the raw numbers:

Large plugins by age - numbers

My first thought was to look at the 2 plugins with 1M+ installs added in 2019 - and after seeing them it's no surpise that they are both plugins that integrate with largest platforms on the web:

  1. Site Kit by Google – Analytics, Search Console, AdSense, Speed
  2. Facebook for WooCommerce

In terms of fastest growth, let's look at the 2 plugins that were added most recently with 500K+ active installs:

  1. Creative Mail – Easier WordPress & WooCommerce Email Marketing
  2. Google Ads & Marketing by Kliken

The numbers of 100K+ plugins does suggest that it's possible to grow a plugin to this size in a couple of years, and still is valid option for building a plugin business.

Acquisition Opportunities

I've not seen any acquisition opportunities of note on the usual websites this month. I'm assuming this is due to the launch of FlipWP, where we currently have 4 listings on the site, and 4 more being added each Monday where we have them.

They range from a free plugin with 30k active installs to a plugin with $600K annual recurring revenue.  

A premium membership ($299/year) is required to get access to the listings. 

That's all for now. Thanks for reading. If you have any feedback about the newsletter or want to chat about the WordPress ecosystem, I'd love to hear from you - just hit reply.

Till next time 👋

Cheers,

Iain Poulson avatar    Iain Poulson
Founder of WP Trends