Why Acquisitions are Good for WordPress

The WordPress space gets ever hotter with the latest acquisitions being Strattic acquired by Elementor and The Delicious Brains product suite including Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) WP MIgrate DB and more being acquired by WPEngine.

Like with all acquisitions there’s the general outpouring of support from the community and congratulations all round. 

Look deeper though and customer sentiment is nearly always the opposite, at best nervous at worst downright angry. 

But is there any justification in those feelings?

Speaking From Experience 

LearnDash was acquired in 2021 by StellarWP, the WordPress arm of Liquid Web. And we’ve seen the same customer sentiment, worry, in fact we still see it today. 

But is it justified? In my opinion, no

In fact LearnDash has grown leaps and bounds since being acquired by StellarWP. We’ve more than doubled our development team and continued hiring in other strategic positions including marketing, and support. 

Not only that but we’ve saved 100s of hours on projects where we can tap into the minds of other brilliant minds on the broader team including GiveWP and The Events Calendar, and that’s without even mentioning our friends at Modern Tribe, iThemes, Kadence, IconicWP, WP Sandbox, Restrict Content Pro, and of course Nexcess and Liquid Web itself. 

It’s a cliché and the term is always a red flag to me, but StellarWP really is more like a family. We support each other, colleagues drop what they’re doing to help with things, even when it’s not related to their own direct brand. 

We kept our identity as LearnDash whilst growing the team and gaining from the wealth of knowledge throughout StellarWP. 

So why do a small subset of people think acquisitions are bad? 

For me it comes down to understanding. When a plugin company is smaller and run by the original founders often they can do things that are maybe not the best for business but that keeps the crowd happy. 

Naturally at larger companies, there are processes, executives, boards and all the usual corporate goals you’d expect. That means sometimes decisions have to be made, and those decisions have to be the best for the business. 

I can confidently say all the decisions at LearnDash have only improved both our product and processes. We have more assurance than ever before that what we’re building is best in class, supported by the best in class. 

Our goal is always customer success, after all if the customer isn’t successful neither are we. 

Maybe you think this is propaganda, a love letter to Liquid Web? I can assure you it isn’t. Anyone who truly knows me will tell you that I say exactly what I think. 

From the perspective of LearnDash we’re releasing more than ever before, have made some major new additions including course cloning, the setup wizard, the course creation AI and a ton more, and we aren’t even scratching the surface. 

Can acquisitions go bad? Sure, of course they can. But for me that’s either one of two things, a small team (sub 5 people) buys a plugin that needs a lot of work and they expect they’ll be able to spruce it up but end up getting in too deep and abandon the project. 

Or a company buys a plugin in a declining market and has to make a business decision to shift the narrative or sector which impacts existing users. 

In my view acquisitions are a good thing, whilst they do consolidate the marketplace they also provide a level of comfort in my mind that the plugin isn’t going to disappear. 

I can’t even begin to tell you how many plugins I’ve used over the years from WordPress.org that are then just no longer developed and I need to find an alternative. 

So next time you see an acquisition, maybe take a step back and think about the people behind the product and that no one in any acquisition ever sets out to purposefully make a bad experience for anyone involved. 

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