GiveWP Acquired by Liquid Web! Interview with Matt and Devin

May 11, 2021 00:17:41
GiveWP Acquired by Liquid Web! Interview with Matt and Devin
WP Review
GiveWP Acquired by Liquid Web! Interview with Matt and Devin
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Hosted By

Joe Casabona

Show Notes

GiveWP, makers of the extremely popular WordPress donation plugin has been acquired by Liquid Web. I got to interview the founders and co-authors, Matt Cromwell and Devin Walker. We cover questions like how the acquisition came about, what this means for current customers and nonprofits, plans for the future, and even some sage advice regarding the acquisition process.

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Episode Transcript

Joe Casabona: Hey everybody, Joe Casabona here. And I want to welcome you to a very special episode of both How I Built It and WP Review. This is a bonus episode I am talking to Matt Cromwell and Devin Walker of Give WP to talk about a little bit of breaking news. But before we get into that interview, I do want to mention that Matt and Devin will also be doing an AMA for the Build Something Club. And so if you want to join in, learn a little bit more about them, and become part of the community, you can head over to [build.something.club] and sign up. It’s just five bucks a month or 50 bucks a year, and you will get access to add free extended episodes. AMA is like the one we’re doing with Matt and Devin, live streams, and lots of other bonus content. So again, that’s [buildsomething.club]. Now let’s get on with the interview. Welcome everybody to this very special episode. It’s a combined episode of WP Review and How I Built It. It’s going out on both feeds and that’s because we have a little bit of news. I’ve got Matt Cromwell and Devin Walker. They are the founders and coauthors of Give WP. And if you have been paying attention to the news today, then you know that Give WP has been acquired by Liquid Web. And I’ve got Matt and Devin here to talk about it. Guys, how are you doing today? Devin Walker: Very well. Joe Casabona: Awesome. Well, first of all, congratulations on the acquisition. I’m obviously a big fan of Liquid Web as they have generously supported several of my endeavors. And so I know that you’re joining an excellent family of growing WordPress products. Matt Cromwell: Pretty sure that we’re big fans too. Joe Casabona: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. Now, this is not the first time you’ve been on the show. If you want to know how Give WP got it start, you can head over to [howibuilt.it.54], that’s episode 54 all the way back in 2017. But today, let’s talk a little bit about the acquisition. So I guess my first question is how did, you know, how did this come about? And why? Devin Walker: Yeah. So I can answer the how, and then Matt, I’ll let you take over on the why. So, late last year around October, November, got an email from Chris Lema, you know, we’re good, we’ve been in contact. We’ve been in friends pre-Give WP. Matt and I are here in San Diego. I remember the first time I met Chris was at a WordCamp or actually WordPress Meetup like 2011 or 2012. So it’s been about 10 years now we’ve known him. And, you know, he’s always been sort of a mentor for me and myself. And I’ve always looked up to him, and went to Cabo Press. But long story short, got that email and said, “Hey, you know, would you be interested about talking about working together with Liquid Web? You know, this could be in a variety of things” And you know, that piqued my interest. So, through that conversation, we got talking more about what does this looks like for us as a company and for Liquid Web? What does it look like for our brand and our team? And you know, during that time, that was a really busy time where a donation plugin, fundraising plugin. So at the end of the year is really busy for us, but we continued throughout the end of [Inaudible 3:39.79] like an acquisition could be the best situation for everybody involved to take our brand to the next level, you know, continue on our mission. And, ultimately through this announcement this week, we’re wearing toxin and getting all, you know, buttoned up to the end. So, here’s a lot of work involved in that. We didn’t know going in how much work, but we made it through it. You know, everything happened in a way that we expected. So, yeah. We’re really happy with it. So, Matt, wants you to talk about the why of it. Matt Cromwell: Yeah. So, we definitely have also had conversations in the past with other folks who were, you know, casually shopping around and looking for a nice donation plugin to swoop up and whatnot. So, when they first started talking with us, some of the things that we really wanted to make sure we’re in the cards were all in their case. And that’s really that we want to make sure that we get to continue doing what we’ve been doing with all the people that we’ve been doing it with. Our team is just like, they are a crazy important part of everything that we’ve built. And so we will want to make sure that they’re all coming up with. And Liquid Web was right up front and said that we’re buying you because of your product, but also because of your team, like they see those two things as synonymous with each other. That was super important to us, for sure. Also, they wanted to make sure that, Give continues to grow and continues to evolve, which is what we have been wanting for so long and we’ve been working towards for so long. And if they wanted to see it grow and get better, then we’re all about it. So their ability to complement what Devin and I have been doing for a long time is just really, exactly what we were looking for. Those are kind of the two big ones. So we’re excited and expecting to see a lot more happening with Give WP in the future. Joe Casabona: Yeah. That’s I mean, that’s absolutely fantastic. And I can definitely vouch for your team. I’ve interviewed several of them here. Taylor, a while back, and Michelle. And her interview is coming up in a little bit, a couple of months probably. But, yeah. So, I mean, that’s really great to see. And again, you know, I think Liquid Web has a really good track record for that. They’ve made several acquisitions over the last few years, and many of those teams are still intact. The products are running almost as if they weren’t acquired. Right, yu know, at least from the outside. So, I think that’s really, really important from, a founder’s perspective, certainly. And then, of course, from the customer’s perspective, they have this product that they know and love. I used it to raise Crowd Fund, my project last year, the WP, a WordPress Year in Review. And, so, what does this mean exactly for your customers? Are they gonna see changes or anything like that? Devin Walker: No. They shouldn’t see any changes at all. They should, you know, the changes that they’ll see are positive. So, you know, increased support team, development team, faster response time, more features, faster iteration. So all good things. I can’t think of a single negative thing that they’re going to see. Matt Cromwell: Yeah. I don’t, I can’t, I have a hard time thinking of anything that they will see actually physically. I mean the receipts are all going to be the same as can be. Still gonna say Give WP when you purchase it, things like that. We don’t have any intention of like, when you install the free plugin, you get a giant pop-up about [Inaudible 7:35.06] or whoever. And it’s like, none of that’s gonna happen. They’ve said from the beginning that they know that we’re the experts when it comes to a donation plugin, and they trust us, and they want us to keep running. So they’re not coming in here trying to say, like, “We know how to change everything about you, and make you better.” That’s not the case. Joe Casabona: Yeah. That’s great. It’s almost like you’re running like a subsidiary Liquid Web. Right. So, again, that’s really great because there is a lot of trepidation there. And so, that’s I’m happy to hear that we’re not going to see, as customers, we’re not going to see a lot of changes except for the good ones. Right. How, how big is your team? Devin Walker: We’re around 23 people. Right. Joe Casabona: And, is that, I know that the customer success support team is up in Rochester? Matt Cromwell: Yes. They’re all there. Joe Casabona: Nice. And then is it, I know that from what I understand, and I think you’ve developed most of the plugin, but not all of the plugin. Do you have a big development team as well? Devin Walker: Yeah. So our development team is around eight folks right now. And, just a caveat. I built most of it up into like 2017. And then, we got a lead developer, and built out the entire team. So right now, I don’t do too much development and I find myself doing more product direction and design. But yeah. I don’t want to give too much credit to myself for building. Now, I think they’re untangling some of the things I did. But Matt also helped alongside building it as well. Joe Casabona: Awesome. And so I guess the question I’m kind of teeing up here is, it sounds like you and your team’s focus will still remain on the plugin. Will you get additional development resources from Liquid Web for that purpose as well? Devin Walker: So there’s going to be, we’re going to hire more developers to work directly on our team. But then we’re also gonna look into cross-collaboration, just more like on a thought process, and how to optimize and knowledge sharing between the folks at TEC and iThemes, and also Cadence and, Restrict Content Pro. I mean, there’s great developers all in those products, and I’m sure they’ve learn from their mistakes. And so, if we can come together and lift each other up, you know, right now, that all that looks like is, you know, meeting or two a month, but, in the future, that might expand. Matt Cromwell: Yup. Joe Casabona: Yeah. Awesome. And that’s like, that’s perfect. Right? Cause I can definitely see, you know, Cadence getting, you know, maybe better native support for Give WP or you know, Crowd Funding event through TEC. And full disclosure, Restrict Content Pro and the Events Calendar are both sponsors of How I Built It, just to mention that right off the bat. But, that sounds great. And so, looking to the future of, you know, maybe like six months a year down the road, what can users expect there? right. Devin Walker: For sure. Yeah. So, you know, this next couple of weeks, we’re going to be a little bit in this transition process. We’ve gotten through the bulk of it. But as far as our product goes, we’re extremely dedicated to delivering a peer-to-peer solution within the next couple of months. So we’ve already gone one cycle through on that development, and the product’s already looking really great. This has been coming for a couple of years now, and we thought it through so thoroughly that really excited to deliver that before the end of the summer at the absolute latest. Joe Casabona: Wow! So peer to peer. So something like an open-source version of Venmo? is that what we’re talking about here? Where like one user can pay another user or, can you describe that a little bit more? Matt Cromwell: More like when you’d go to those big, like marathon fundraisers where you sign up, run on behalf of the organization and you get a bunch of team members to join with you, so are you signed up to just to have a page on the organization’s website, just on raise on behalf of the organization. So, I would say, you know, support me in my efforts to support San Diego refugee tutoring. So, everyone who is in my network, I find them all on my page on that website. And they get to support me there. Or I’m like, I’m running for diabetes and, I’m putting together the team here’s where you could sign up to be on my team, And every team member is going to commit to raise a thousand dollars. And altogether our team raises $10,000 altogether. So those are, it’s kind of like a tiered system fundraising on behalf of an organization. Joe Casabona: Awesome. That makes, as I said, that first part, I realized that that made no sense cause that’s basically what give WP is anyway. but that’s, that’s super cool. So I’m really, that’s congratulations on rolling that out as well. It sounds like you’re still working really hard on everything. And I’m really excited and happy for you guys and for Liquid Web as well. One more question. If I can, I’ve heard a couple of people on the show talk about how hard it is getting everything in order for an acquisition. I’ve heard that mostly from people who have multiple products that have to kind of untangle the thing that’s getting acquired from the things that don’t impress is the kind of the parent organization of Give WP. So did you have a lot of untangling to do? Devin Walker: There’s some of that untangling going on now post-acquisition. But pre-acquisition, there’s a really fun exercise called due diligence. And, essentially that’s a large spreadsheet. Well, it can have all sorts of other forms, but they want to know, you know, understandably, what’s going on with your business, right? So that’s everything from, are you filing your taxes properly? You’d be surprised how many businesses don’t. Are you doing proper accounting? you know, what, how are your payments being accepted? What’s your lifetime value? These are just like the high levels, but we can get into some of the nitty-gritty. Going into it, you know, and we thought it wouldn’t be that difficult. And in the end, I don’t think it was terribly, you know, too tough. But it is very time-consuming. Matt Cromwell: Oh yeah. Very time-consuming. And it’s not those yes or no questions. Those are like, do you file your taxes? Now, show them off. No problem. [Inaudible 14:34.70] now give it all too. So it is a lot for sure. And it’s for a big purpose, so it takes time and effort. And by the time it’s all done in your life, {Inaudivle: 14:48.88]. Devin Walker: But the Liquid Web’s credit, you can tell that they’ve thought the process through and made it as easy as possible. It’s not like their first go-around and having that expertise from their side really helped us answer the questions they wanted to know the answers to. Matt Cromwell: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, I could have imagined it being like, oh, and one more thing, and instead, they knew every single thing that they wanted. And so we just got to go down the list instead. Joe Casabona: Yeah. That’s awesome, and wild. I realized like earlier today I had a call with somebody who’s like, “So what’s your monthly recurring revenue?” I’m like, “Oh. It’s about this.” And I’m like, I should probably know exactly how much that is. So, if I were ever to go through an acquisition process, it would be a disaster for me. But it’s really nice that you have somebody there, right? Cause you hear about like acquisition brokers,. And if you have a bad one, things can go bad. But, yeah. Liquid Web has been around the block. So, I’m glad they made it as smooth as possible. Devin Walker: Yeah. Absolutely. Joe Casabona: Awesome. Well, you have maybe folks you’ve heard it here first. Liquid Web has acquired Give WP, another addition to their fantastic offerings. And of course, they got a great company. I’m not just saying that because Matt and Devin are on the column of big fan of Give WP and their team. So, guys, congratulations! Once again, do you have any parting words for the audience, a trade secret, or anything like tghat? Matt Cromwell: No. It’s a Joe Casabona so we are… Devin Walker: Yeah. We’re going to be doing a town hall as well. So if anybody from our users, our customers, our fans, anybody. Our friends and our WordPress space want to join that and answer all their questions. And, basically just be there for, to do the town hall and make sure everybody knows that we’re not going anywhere. Our mission is still staying the same. Matt and I are still as dedicated as ever. And our entire team is still in place. So, come over to that if you’re interested. Joe Casabona: Awesome. Matt Cromwell:: Yeah. It’s gonna be on Tuesday, May 18th. Joe Casabona: All right. I will be sure to include that information and links in the show notes, which you’ll be able to find over at [howibuilt.it/givewp], all one word. Thanks so much for joining me today and answering a few questions about the acquisition. Devin Walker: Thanks, Joe. Joe Casabona: And thanks to everybody out there listening to this very special episode of How I Built It and WP review. For all the show notes, you can head over to [howibuilt.it/givewp]. And until next time. Get out there and build something.

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