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More WordPress Acquisitions, Layoffs in WordPress, GoDaddy Drama, WCEU 2022 Recap 🗞️ July 2022 WordPress News w/ CodeinWP

📆  This is the July 2022 edition of “This Month in WordPress with CodeinWP.” 

Hey, WordPress fans. We are back with the latest WordPress news and events from the past month.

While we’ve had a quiet few months before this, the previous month had a lot going on, primarily in the WordPress business space.

As has become the norm, there were a number of major acquisitions of WordPress plugin and hosting businesses. But at the same time, there were also some signs of business slowdowns at big WordPress brands.

Beyond that, WordCamp Europe 2022 was back in person after a long break, there was a bit of drama with Matt Mullenweg’s comments about GoDaddy, plus plenty more.

Let’s get to all of the news from the past month.

July 2022 WordPress News with CodeinWP

Elementor acquires Strattic, a static WordPress hosting service

There’s nothing that’s certain in this world except for death and taxes…and WordPress companies getting acquired. 🤷‍♂️

Yes, we are once again leading off with another big acquisition in the WordPress space (and it’s not even the only acquisition from this post).

On June 8th, Elementor announced that it had acquired Strattic, a popular static WordPress hosting service.

Both companies are based in Israel, so it makes sense that they would be familiar with one another.

But that’s not the only connection – both companies are also in the WordPress hosting space.

Wait – isn’t Elementor a page builder/website builder? Well, yes…but Elementor has also recently launched (and heavily promoted) its Elementor Cloud service, which offers an all-in-one approach that includes hosting and all the Elementor tools in one premade package.

I’ve been describing it as what would happen if Squarespace and “WordPress + Elementor” had a baby.

Strattic uses a slightly different approach though – static hosting. With static WordPress hosting, Strattic decouples your WordPress install and the frontend of your site to create a headless approach.

On the backend, you can manage your site using the familiar WordPress dashboard. But once you go to publish your site, Strattic converts it to static HTML and there’s no connection between the frontend site and your backend WordPress install/database. This can lead to all sorts of benefits when it comes to performance, security, and so on.

With Elementor’s acquisition, it seems very likely here that the end goal is that you’ll be able to use Elementor to build static HTML websites – which sounds pretty dang cool to me.

One of the issues that has always dogged Elementor has been performance. While Elementor has made a lot of strides in that respect (by optimizing and slimming its code), it’s still tough to shake that reputation.

By going static, Elementor users would be able to serve up quick-loading HTML pages directly from a CDN, which should lead to blazing-fast global load times.

By moving further into hosting, Elementor will also be able to build a new source of recurring revenue, which will help it justify the $15 million in funding it raised in 2020.

Side note – Elementor already worked on Strattic hosting even before the acquisition. But with the acquisition, I’m guessing the integration will get a lot tighter.

Elementor acquires Strattic, a static WordPress hosting service

WP Engine acquires Delicious Brains plugins (including ACF)

In another big acquisition this month, WP Engine acquired Delicious Brains, the makers of a number of plugins that are primarily popular with developers and advanced users including:

  • Advanced Custom Fields – a massively popular toolkit for working with custom fields (which Delicious Brains itself only acquired in June 2021).
  • WP Offload Media – an easy way to offload your Media Library files to Amazon S3, Digital Ocean Spaces, or Google Cloud Storage.
  • WP Migrate – a plugin that lets you push/pull sites from one WordPress install to another. Great for developers working on sites.
  • WP Offload SES – lets you send all your WordPress site’s emails using the affordable Amazon SES email sending service (which we compared here).

Notably, however, WP Engine’s acquisition did not include SpinupWP, a WordPress-specific hosting control panel from the Delicious Brains team. At a high level, it uses a similar approach to Cloudways. However, you own your own cloud hosting servers, instead of Cloudways’ all-in-one approach. The pricing is also much friendlier at SpinupWP.

This acquisition will actually let the Delicious Brains team focus exclusively on SpinupWP, so expect some cool things there! I think that this approach for hosting sites has a lot of room to grow, so it doesn’t surprise me that they held onto it (it would also compete pretty directly with WP Engine).

So what’s in the future for the Delicious Brains plugins?

Well, we don’t really know yet, though WP Engine did publish a post to clear up some common questions.

However, WP Engine has been investing heavily in building a platform for developers with tools such as their new Atlas headless offering.

Given that the Delicious Brains plugins are primarily popular with developers, I’m guessing that WP Engine will use them to further build on the value of its developer-centric offerings.

There are some overlaps with existing WP Engine offerings, though, so it will be interesting to see how WP Engine handles things. For example, ACF has some overlap with WP Engine’s Genesis Custom Blocks solution (formerly Block Lab, another acquisition).

WP Engine acquires Delicious Brains plugins

Layoffs come to the WordPress space

It’s no secret that the outlook for the global economy is a bit…shaky, to say the least.

A lot of tech companies have been feeling the pain of economic uncertainty (and the end of free money).

Sadly, this uncertainty has reached the WordPress space.

First off, Envato laid off over 100 staff at the beginning of June, despite logging a 76% increase in operating profit between 2020 and 2021 (to a record $36.5 million operating profit on $228.5 million in revenue).

Envato cited a number of factors including inflation, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and increased competition, such as increasingly available stock images.

The layoffs happened across all businesses and locations. Envato had around 700 employees in total, so the layoffs represented about a 15% reduction in workforce.

Sadly, Elementor also laid off a similar percentage of its workforce, letting go of around 60 of its ~400 employees. Most of these employees are from the marketing department, where Elementor has invested heavily in content including tons of written tutorials and a very active YouTube channel.

As part of this, you’ll notice an abrupt slowdown in Elementor’s content production – there haven’t been any new blog posts or YouTube videos since the layoffs.

Elementor also cited inflation as the cause for its layoffs, in addition to a “pending recession.” The goal is to “ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of our business.”

It remains to be seen whether these trends will continue and to what extent the WordPress industry will be hit.

My guess is that leaner teams and solo devs will pull through ok, while larger enterprises that have invested more heavily in growth and/or raised large funding will need to pull back in a high inflation and interest rate environment. This is true for the economy as a whole, where unprofitable growth tech stocks have been taking a beating.

Layoffs come to the WordPress space

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Matt Mullenweg sparks drama and debate with GoDaddy comments

I won’t spend too long here because it’s more drama than news. But drama there was near the end of June as Matt Mullenweg called out GoDaddy in a series of tweets (many of which were deleted).

This included calling them an “existential threat to WP’s future” and a “parasitic” company.

The fight mainly seems to be about GoDaddy pushing its own GoDaddy Payments solution for WooCommerce stores, rather than Stripe or PayPal (where Automattic gets a cut of those transactions).

For a deeper look, you can check out these two posts from WP Tavern:

Both posts have active comments sections as well.

WordCamp Europe 2022 concludes – back in person after a long break

After a long hibernation without any in-person WordPress events, WordCamp Europe was back with a bang in Portugal from June 2-4.

If you want to catch up on everything that happened, here are some recaps from various publishers:

WordCamp Europe 2023 will be in Athens, Greece

Keeping with the WordCamp Europe news, we now know where people will be headed for WordCamp Europe 2023.

It will officially be in Athens Greece from June 8-10, 2023.

There’s a philosophical connection here, as Athens is known as the birthplace of democracy, while WordPress’ mission statement is to democratize publishing. Or, it could just be because Athens is a cool city!

If you want to play a role in WordCamp Europe 2023, the team has already put out a call for organizers. You can become an organizer by filling out the form here.

Automattic invests in InstaWP

If you haven’t heard of InstaWP yet, it’s a really cool tool that lets you spin up a new sandbox WordPress install with a single click. You can use this to test things, start developing sites, and more. Plugin/theme developers can also offer real demo sites to prospective customers.

While InstaWP isn’t the first service to offer these types of one-click testing sites, it has one of the slickest implementations that I’ve found. This is why I’ve personally moved to it as my tool of choice for testing WordPress stuff (which I have to do a lot because I write about WordPress for a living).

Apparently, I’m not the only one whose attention InstaWP captured. In June, InstaWP attracted seed funding from none other than Automattic.

Vikas, the founder of InstaWP, wants to use this money to grow InstaWP beyond just temporary WordPress installs and into the “AWS for WordPress.” I’m not 100% sure what that means, but it sounds pretty interesting!

Awesome Motive acquires the WP Charitable plugin

Let’s finish things off with one more bit of acquisition news.

Near the end of the month, Awesome Motive announced that it had acquired the WP Charitable plugin, which is the main competitor to the popular GiveWP plugin (which itself was acquired by Liquid Web about a year ago).

This sets up a battle between two heavyweights going forward.

While GiveWP certainly has the lead right now (100,000+ active installs at vs 10,000+ for WP Charitable), I’m sure we’ll start seeing WP Charitable’s active install counts shoot up as it gets plugged into the Awesome Motive marketing machine.

You can learn more in this acquisition post from WP Charitable.

That sums up our July 2022 WordPress news roundup. Anything we missed?

Don’t forget to join our crash course on speeding up your WordPress site. Learn more below:


Layout and presentation by Karol K.

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