Acquisitions, mergers and closures are all part of the day to day business world, online business and specifically the WordPress Eco-system is no different – we have seen many sites come and go and be bought out by competitors and other parties wanting to establish a foot-hold in this lucrative area.

Why would someone acquire a business rather than creating their own from scratch ? The barrier to entry for starting new websites has never been lower and working with WordPress especially makes it even easier. One of the reasons is traction: It takes a while to get a brand new website off and running – Google doesn’t especially like new websites until they are more established. It takes time to build an audience, when a site is in it’s infancy is when you have to put the most work in – making connections, emailing bloggers, reaching out on Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels all takes time that could be spent on improving the product or service. When you buy an existing website, the audience is already there – you just have to maintain the relationships and expand on them.

Another reason and one that Automattic seems to use is to buy out complimentary products – rather than build your own product from scratch, you acquire a business which already has this product to save you the time of doing so. This is also sometimes a talent-acquisition so you can add staff to your team which are experienced in this area instead of hiring or investing in training.

Just lately it seems we have seen a larger amount than usual being acquired which is what sparked this blog post – I’m going to be looking at what businesses and websites were acquired for and by whom, it makes for interesting reading …

Publications

WPMods

One of the first publications specifically about WordPress that I know that was sold was WPmods. Created by Kevin Muldoon it featured lots of news and roundup posts and was monetised with affiliate links. It was bought by Terran Marketing, now called tactical and was merged with an existing site WPHub.

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WPDaily

WPDaily was a newly created WordPress news blog by the people at 8Bit, unfortunately the site didn’t fit the business model so was sold off to WPEngine who merged it with their new publication TorqueMag where you can browse the archives there.

2

WPTavern

WPTavern was first closed by Jeff, the founder and chief writer, then it was announced that it had been acquired by a mystery third party which was not revealed at the time. Finally Matt Mullenwegg titled a post on there called “Secrets Revealed” where he announced that his venture capital company Audrey had acquired it. Since the acquisition Jeff is back blogging there with added staff on the payroll of Audrey Capital.

4

Weblog Tools Collection

Same deal as WPTavern, Weblog Tools Collection was also acquired by Audrey but this site seems to have been shut down for the time being.

3

WPShout

WPShout is one of the better WordPress blogs, started by teenager Alex Denning, real-life got in the way of him running the blog correctly and so he sold it to web consultancy Press Up.

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Products

Standard Theme

StandardTheme was a fairly popular WordPress theme created by 8Bit, it was acquired earlier this year by WooThemes and who added the customers to their business and continue to provide support for them but have discontinued the theme itself.

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  • Sale Price: Unknown | More Details

WPAdCenter

This was one of my own WordPress products that I have sold, it was acquired via Flippa by Humming Bird Web Solutions, the people behind Chimera Themes so I was confident the plugin would be in good hands and see continued development.

7

WPReview Site

WPReviewSite was a plugin created by Dan Grossman and was actually one of the first premium WordPress plugins I came across when I was researching my own WP-Answers plugin years ago. It sold on Flippa for a respectable $90,000 with monthly net profits of over $10,000.

8

PandaThemes

PandaThemes was a WordPress theme business which sold themes via their website and also on ThemeForest. It reached monthly revenues of up to $4,000 and sold via Flippa auction for $80,000

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Squeeze Theme

SqueezeTheme is an internet marketing theme created by the people at Unique Blog Designs, at the time of the sale it had generated $176,864 in revenue which mostly came in a big spike at the start of trading and tapered off. It sold on Flippa for $65k.

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Proud Themes

All the way back in 2011, one of the first examples of a theme company buying out a competitor was when WPZoom acquired Proud Themes for “a four figure sum”. WPZoom then folded the 6 themes from Proud Themes into their existing business.

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  • Sale Price: Between $1,000 – $9,999| More Info

Theme ID & “Responsive” Theme

The free “Responsive” theme on WordPress.org created by ThemeId is one of the most popular themes on there, clocking in with 869,000 downloads to date so it made great business sense when CyberChimps acquired it and added to their existing portfolio of themes to drive traffic and earn revenue from a newly-created pro version.

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BlogDroid

Managed WordPress hosting company Page.ly bought out it’s competitior BlogDroid in June of this year, final sale price was not disclosed in the announcement.

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NextGen Slider

The NextGen Slider was the most popular free gallery plugin on WordPress.org with over 5million downloads so it made sense when Photography Theme company Photocrati acquired it and added it to their portfolio.

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Automattic Acquisitions

As Automattic have the biggest check-book and have bought many businesses over the years I thought they deserved their own section. These are just some of the products and businesses they have acquired over the years.

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Author:

Oliver Dale is the founder of Kooc Media, An Internet Company based in Manchester, UK. I founded WPLift and ThemeFurnace, find out more on my Personal Blog. Thanks!

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20 Comments

  1. Great round-up Oli,

    Its quite surprising that more top level WordPress blogs have not come up for public auction – will be interesting to see whether any do in the future!

    • Cheers Sam,
      Would you ever consider selling up ?

      • Probably best not to say never, but at the moment I am enjoying building our website from the ground up – Its enjoyable seeing something you have started gaining traction.

        Have you ever considered selling? Perhaps during times of decreasing traffic due to a Google update?

        I can’t imagine you ever doing so!

        • I would never sell when income / traffic is decreasing – you have to do it at the right time when it’s increasing :)

          I have thought about selling and I probably will at some stage, I have sold loads of websites over the years for various reasons – boredom, needing startup cash for something else etc.

          I agree though, blogs are probably one of the most satisfying to grow and see results as they are one of the hardest types of sites to get going – probably why sales multiples are 3x what they are for other sites.

          • I cant even imagine what the sale price for WPLift.com would be – would be really interesting to see!

            But, hopefully you wont be making that move anytime soon :)

          • Great article Oli. It’s an interesting topic.

            I am not sure of WPLift’s traffic/income levels but I’d hazard a guess that this blog is worth at least $150,000 to the right buyer.

            For me, the most surprising sales were WP Tavern and Web Tools Collection. To this day it surprises me that the founder of WordPress snapped up the two main sources of news for WordPress. They should have remained independent. Not to mention the fact that both websites have their news on millions of websites through the admin area …whilst websites such as WPSquared and WPLift do not.

  2. Very interesting article Oli.

    It is good to see people making money out of the “bricks and mortar” of the internet.

  3. It must be hard to make the decision whether to sell or not.

    Exchanging a regular income for a lump sump doesn’t sound like a good idea, but you never know what’s around the corner in terms of market conditions or Google updates.

  4. Oli, nice summary.

    It’s probably worth mentioning WP Designer as well. It was probably the first such sale, for $65,000, way back in 2008.

    Also, Jeff has said the sale price for WP Tavern before on the DradCast. He sold it for $14,000. You can listen to his story here. It’s pretty interesting.

  5. Just wanted to make a correction,

    Since the acquisition Jeff is back blogging there with added staff on the pay role of Automattic.

    Myself and Sarah are not on the Automattic payroll. Audrey is a completely seperate company from Automattic. I am on the Audrey payroll.

  6. Great post!

    Just a couple of things: Matt Mullenwegg paid $14.000 for the WP Tavern, it’s not unknown. And Jeff is not working for Automattic, but for Audrey Capital, like Sarah Gooding.

  7. Very interesting post Oli, I love monitoring such acquisitions myself.

  8. Great write up Oli.

    Being in the plugin sales space, I’d be interested to see another post detailing some plugin acquisitions.

  9. Fun read. Thanks for gathering these sales together Oli. Looks like products affiliate marketers can use are the most lucrative.

    (On WPTavern, “pay-role” –> “payroll”)

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