#6 – Cory Miller on the WordPress Mergers and Acquisitions Landscape – WP Tavern
So in 2016 or so I started to think, what does the future look like? It feels like one day somebody at all the hosting companies goes, I wonder how much this thing called WordPress, what kind of footprint is it in our customer base, in our stack and somebody came back and probably said 40%, 50% or something like that, I’m sure way back in the day. And it seemingly overnight a bunch of money and attention from particularly the hosting space turned to WordPress and rightfully so, I mean WordPress is a huge CMS and its footprint on the web is enormous. So around that time, I’m seeing all these players kind of come in and, big money, start to come in, and we’re talking about billion dollar companies or billion dollar valuation companies or companies with private equity in the billions coming into the space and really turning their attention, and I thought, my job as the leader is to fast forward the movie and see where we’re going and make sure, you mentioned in our pre-talk about Monopoly, the game Monopoly, and I thought, wow, we are definitely the David versus Goliath now. We’ve been bootstrapped from the beginning from 2008 on, and what does the future look like, and our toolset, the software we’re offering at the time, it was very utility, backup security, and maintenance. GoDaddy had bought Sucuri, ManageWP. Automattic was already kind of our competition from the beginning anyway, with Jetpack and at one point their backup service VaultPress. And so Jetpack is another behemoth out there. And, I just go, I think it’s time for us to figure this out, what’s the next step in a big way, and really that ultimately came down to being acquired. We had a partner in Liquid Web. So they were obviously the first people that had been partnered with him for like a year and really appreciated their leadership team. Eventually my friend, Chris Lema joined them and then my friend AJ Morris was the one that put us on the map for Liquid Web. And they were doing some, wanting to really do some big things and WordPress and long story short that just all worked out. But for us, it was like, at what point do you just need to pull up your stakes and tents and move on and see what you can get? And two reasons, one is financial, of course, but the other is my team. You know, we had about 25 people at that time and I want to make sure our team has a place to land and a great career, and that up until that point, it was either Matt Danner and I, and we had to leave for anybody to have upward mobility really well. When we joined a Liquid Web, at the time, they were like 600 people. So there was a lot of opportunity, career opportunity to move within the company. And they were also doing some great stuff. Now, maybe early in my worries, you know, Mark from Wordfence a great founder, co-founder over there told me, he said, great book called only the paranoid survive. I spent about 10 years in paranoia, like insecurity. But it was time it’s turned out to be everything Joe Oesterling and the C Suites team over at Liquid Web, everything they said to me, they have been to the letter of their word. I have really great respect for them. And so iThemes is under the leadership now of Matt Danner is killing it. There have been on the acquisition tear in the last year.
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