Cutthroat software development in an open source world

Episode 25 September 30, 2021 00:19:44
Cutthroat software development in an open source world
WP Review
Cutthroat software development in an open source world
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Hosted By

Joe Casabona

Show Notes

It's been 10 years since WooCommerce was forked from JigoShop and turned into the giant of the ecommerce space that is it today. And while it was maybe a little cutthroat, the problem doesn't necessary lie with the fork. It lies with the way you position your product, and your business. Plus, thoughts on all the aquisitions from last week! 

Show Notes

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Episode Transcript

Real quick before we get started. I wanted to let you know about a free weekly newsletter I have called Build Something weekly, where I talk about WordPress and podcasting news. It's free. It comes out every Monday morning. And you can sign up over at buildsomething.email. Once again, it's free, it's weekly. And you can sign up over at buildsomething.email. Hey, everybody. And welcome to WP Review, a show that provides analysis on what's happening in WordPress, and what it means for users and business owners in the ecosystem. I also tell you about helpful tools to build better WordPress websites. This podcast is brought to you by GoDaddy Pro. My name's Joe Casabona. Now let's get into the review. Now, I am recording on and off week because all of the news happened last week with all of the acquisitions and with WordCamp US happening tomorrow as I record this. Well, I guess I rolled the dice for a slow week. But there are a few things I want to talk about here and it's mainly around the acquisitions. So if you hadn't heard, LearnDash has been acquired by Liquid Web. Also, Motive acquired Sandhills Development which includes Easy Digital Downloads, Sugar Calendar, and Affiliates WP. And WP Landing Kit joined the Themeisle family of products. Now, I use a product in each of these acquisitions. WP Landing Kit is great. LearnDash is my LMS of choice. And I use Affiliate WP to run my affiliate program. You know, I don't want to be one of those people. I tweeted this, I don't want to be a doom and gloom person. When somebody reacts to an acquisition, they are generally reacting based on how they feel about the company that is doing the acquiring and not necessarily the future of the acquired company. But again, as I said on Twitter, acquisitions generally don't happen as hostile takeovers especially in the WordPress space right now. And for smaller companies, generally acquisitions are happening because the owner is ready to sell because these aren't publicly traded companies, right, where the board like forces the owner out. Like this is not a Steve Jobs Apple Circa 1985 situation. These are small companies. Some are pretty big, but they are privately owned companies. And in each of these cases, the owner was ready to move on. And so when acquisitions happen like this, the acquisition actually gives the product that maybe you love, maybe I love. It gives it the best fighting chance because when the owner is no longer in a position to run the company, whether it's because they personally can't anymore or because they just don't want to, well, that's going to be a lot worse for the company. So passing it off to somebody who can afford to take on the product, and do right by the product and their customers, well, that's the importance of the acquisition, and that's up to the owner to do their due diligence, to the seller, to do their due diligence to make sure they're selling it to a reputable company. And, well, you've heard me talk about Liquid Web and Nexus and their brand of products. I basically use all of their brands of products in Stellar WP. And so I'm excited to see LearnDash join the Liquid Web family. People have opinions about Awesome Motive and Syed Balkhi who's the founder of…an owner of Awesome Motive. But what you can't say is that they ruin products. They grow those products and they do a very, very good job of it. So maybe Easy Digital Downloads will become an even more formidable opponent to the current WordPress Ecommerce champion of Woocommerce, which we'll talk about in the main segment of today's show. And finally WP Landing Kit, this was irrelevant. I think this was, well, this was definitely the smallest of the three I'm talking about here. But WP Landing Kit, relatively a small plugin does a very specific job. I think that the Themeisle family of products will continue to grow this. There's a few features I would love to see. For example, like automatic mapping based on regular expressions. That, I don't know if the previous owner was able to, or wanted to do that. But anyway, so those are the acquisitions. The real reason I'm talking about these things is because everybody gave all of their thoughts last week, Is because I think a lot of people in the space feel what's going on with all of these acquisitions in the WordPress space. And Matt Mullenweg actually tweeted today as I'm recording this, in Axios, a story that talks about how mergers and acquisitions hit an all time high. This is not just in the WordPress space. This is in general. So, I'll link the Axios story in the show notes over at wpreview.io/25. This is episode 25. And so it breaks it down really nicely. It's very, it's a very short read, but driving the news global mergers and acquisitions is shattering all time records for the first three quarters of this year, deal volume topped 4.3 trillion, nearly double the year to date for 2020. And they talk about what's happening in animal spirits. I don't really get that. But what's the fear? Did you miss this? The reference to 2007? I guess I did miss that. Oh, 34% higher than 2007. The prior record holder. So 2007, 2008, 2009, these were years of economic uncertainty. We're coming off of a pandemic that was also a year of economic uncertainty. And so I think it's probably right, because this is not just the WordPress space. But I think a lot of business owners saw the trials and tribulations of running your business in an economic downturn. The businesses that survived have the money that they're ready to invest and grow and diversify. And so it's the perfect storm for acquisitions inside and outside the WordPress space. So those are the top stories. LearnDash joined the Liquid Web family of brands. Awesome Motive acquires Sandhills Development, WordPress products and services. And WP Landing Kit is joining Themeisle family. All because MNAs are at an all time high across all industries. So before we get into the main segment, I do want to tell you about these episodes. And this shows sponsor GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro is an experience tailored specifically to the needs of web designers and developers and helps them more efficiently manage their work and deliver results for their clients. Combining website, client, and project management, GoDaddy Pro is an integrated solution made by, and for Web Developers. Whether you're new to web design or looking to grow your business, you'll find tools, products, guidance, and support to help you deliver results for clients. At the heart of GoDaddy Pro is the Hub from one intuitive dashboard. The hub seamlessly brings your sites, clients, and projects together. Manage and monitor all your clients WordPress sites from a single place. No more juggling multiple client passwords. With one click, perform bulk updates, backups and security checks no matter where your clients are hosted. You will save time and free up your day. Integrated project management makes it easier to keep track of your client communications and deliver projects on time, electronically signed, notarized, and store documents. You can create a visual timeline to break down projects into smaller tasks and stay on track and on time. So from start to finish, project management, get the contract signed, notarized, and stored, nd then create a timeline of those projects. Access all your client accounts with a single sign on through their tailored shopping experience by products that help clients grow their business like powerful Ecommerce stores using Woocommerce. You can always reach dedicated, knowledgeable customer support 24/7. And on top of that, you'll find a thriving community of web designers and developers who share advice, insights and learning opportunities. GoDaddy Pro is free to join. Head over to go.me/wpreview to get started. That's go.me/wpreview. Thanks so much to GoDaddy for sponsoring this and every episode of WP Review. Okay. So let's talk about the main segment, right? And this week, Woocommerce has celebrated its 10 year anniversary. There's a nice post on the Woocommerce blog about it. And then over on WP Tavern, they put a different spin on it. So this week, like I said, Woocommerce celebrates its 10th anniversary. And thanks to the pandemic. It's been a banner for a couple of years. Woocommerce is a force to be reckoned with, and has created a whole subsection of businesses for hosting content plugins and more. It really did make Ecommerce a lot easier at a time where Ecommerce required time, money, and willingness to accept liability. It was a lot harder when I started making websites to make an Ecommerce site than it is today. But as WP Tavern covered in its story about Woocommerce, the past isn't as rosy as the marketing and PR version of the 10 year anniversary announcement. Woocommerce started when WooThemes, before WooThemes was acquired by Automatic. Forked, the popular Jigoshop plugin from Gigawatt. Then they hired away 2 Jigoshops developers to work on the project. Cutthroat? Maybe. But that's a risk of living in the open source world probably. Now, before I get onto my main point, I do want to say this. Woocommerce blew up and got bought by Automatic and then blew up some more. It's easy to think that if WooThemes hadn't forked Woocommerce or Jigoshop, that Jigoshop would have been in the same position where instead Jigoshop would have blown up, and then got acquired by Automatic. But as my favorite sportscaster, Michael Kay likes to say, that's the fallacy of the predetermined outcome. Who knows what Gigawatt would have done? Or if they would have even sold to Automatic. The point is that Woocommerce made its own perfectly legal path. And on a quick note there, what I'd really like to talk about is how legit is the GPL? That's the real question I want to answer. It's very seldom been challenged in court with Google vs Yahoo earlier this year, being the highest profile open source court case that we've seen to date. But I'm not a lawyer. And my intention is to talk to one for the next episode. So instead, I want to talk about another important lesson in business here. Understanding your value proposition. Now, I'm not going to pretend like I know what went on 10 years ago. I'm not even going to pretend like I am a premier business analyst or person with amazing business acumen. The WP Tavern covers what happened 10 years ago pretty well. And it includes insights from Brad to Nard of delicious brains regarding employee retention. And he knows a thing or two about that. They've had a lot of really great employees stick around for a long time also living in the open source world. But even back then, there were several Ecommerce platforms. Heck, there were a handful of Woocommerce or Ecommerce WordPress plugins specifically. I got my start with WP Ecommerce and really, none of them were that fun to use if I recall correctly. But the product is not the offer. The product Is not the solution. People buy solutions. So it's easy to think that the WordPress world is shrinking for the little guy, especially with the huge acquisitions that happened last week that we just covered. But there's also opportunity. Chris Lema has a pretty good post about that on his blog that I'll link in the show notes. What you need to do if you are a plugin developer, if you are living in the open source WordPress or WordPress world…Gosh, I'm very tongue tied today. What you need to do if you're living in the open source world is solve a problem and sell the solution. Position yourself the right way. Speak to your customers, and you can succeed. Don't focus on the features because anybody can build those same features. We've seen it time and time again. As a matter of fact, Give WP is a fork of Easy Digital Downloads. That didn't kill Easy Digital Downloads because they were selling the right solution. Just like Give WP is selling the right solution. And you shouldn't just launch for the sake of launching either. This is another thing that's been on my mind lately. Just because it's easy to do something, especially these days, it doesn't mean you should do it. You have an idea and you just throw up a landing page, and then decide to build a business off of it without talking to anybody. You should do the research, release an MVP, a minimally viable product, make it a beta, send it to a few people, use it, and see how it does. And on that same token, when you do the research, don't say, “Would you use this or would you pay for this?” Ask them about the problems they have. Remember, you are in the business of selling solutions which means you need to know and understand the problem. So am I saying that 10 years ago, Jigoshop and Gigawatt didn't understand the problem they were having and they just had a product? No, I don't know the people from Gigawatt. I've never talked to them. I don't really remember everything that went on back then. But what I do know is Woocommerce did manage to sell a solution. And that solution is sell online easily. Easy Digital Downloads which competes with Woocommerce, sells a solution. Sell digital goods easily. Shopify and other Ecommerce platforms. They are solving problems for specific niches or niches. So solve your problem for a specific niche. And I'm not going to say you don't have to worry about someone stealing your product. But, you'll probably have to worry a bit less. Okay. So that's it for the main segment. Let's roll into the recommendations for this week. First of all, WordCamp US starts tomorrow as I record this. So it probably already happened as you're listening to it. You can find everything over at us.wordcamp.org. Scheduled recordings will be up on wordpress.tv. Also, as I record this next week, October 6th is the 2021 Holiday Ecommerce Summit by Nexus. I'm mentioning it because I'm speaking. My talk is called…Gosh. My talk is called something to the effect of slaying sales. Slaying traffic. It's a holiday pun using podcasts to boost holiday views. And I got to tell you, I'm pretty excited about this talk and this topic. So, this is also a free event. You can head over to nexus.heysummit.com to get your free ticket. And the last thing. I want to tell you about the last recommendation I have is a safari iOS extension called Amplosion that's what's called.It is a safari extension. It's $2.99, $2 and .99 cents. And it will automatically redirect any amp pages to their original canonical page. So I bought it. I installed it. Now that iOS and iPad, iOS 15 support extensions for safari. You can use it on your iOS devices and I am extremely happy with it because I do not like amps. So there you go. Those are the recommendations. WordCamp US, the 2021 Holiday Ecommerce Summit by Nexus, and Amplosion, which I will link to in the show notes over at wpreview.io/25. Thanks so much for listening. To get even more WordPress insights, and to subscribe to the show, you can just head over to wpreview.io/25. Everything you need will be there. You can find all the show notes there as well. And if you liked this episode, share it with a friend. Thanks to GoDaddy Pro for sponsoring. Until next time. I'm Joe Casabona, and I'll see you out there.

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