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Issue #88
MailPoet - Zeplin 2019-10-25 17-00-44

This week in WordPress

Automattic valued at $7.5 billion

It's been a big year for Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg who dropped a ton of news this week. First up, Automattic is now valued at $7.5 billion after buying back $250 million in shares from current and former employees. The valuation is more than double what it was in 2019 when Automattic raised $300 million at a $3 billion valuation from Salesforce Ventures.

"Giving the opportunity to employees to buy share and to 'share' in the profits of Automattic really gave me a sense of ownership and belonging. I feel very grateful to all the folks at Automattic who made this happen… " tweets Stephane Boisvert, a former director at WordPress VIP, now Director of Engineering at XWP.

Mullenweg also shared that Automattic raised $288 million in a new round of funding in February, welcoming new investors.

It's August, so why has it taken so long to share that news? Well, he's been busy acquiring a bunch of companies, like Parse.ly, Day One, and Pocket Casts, and making big investments in messaging app Element and business email platform Titan.
In an interview with Cheddar News journalist Michelle Castillo, Mullenweg says he plans to use the new infusion of funds to "invest as much as possible" in WooCommerce, with plans afoot for more ecommerce-related acquisitions.
He also addressed speculation about Automattic's IPO plans: "… private markets are able to support very, very mature markets through, as we saw with Airbnb and Uber, to the high 10s of billions or a stripe over a hundred billion valuation. So I think the public markets aren't on our immediate radar but it's fantastic to have the support of new investors…"

Hiring has been a challenge as Automattic continues to scale beyond 1,500 employees. Mullenweg says the company has significantly scaled up its ability to find and hire new people, with 371 accepted offers already in 2021.

As Post Status tweets, "Automattic is not alone in finding their main challenge today is finding and hiring quality people. On the upside, that means great career opportunities are waiting for you..."

WordPress.org experimenting with rejecting plugins using "WP" prefix

This week, Twitter, Post Status Slack, and everywhere else that WordPress developers congregate, lit up after digital marketer Joe Youngblood tweeted a rejection email he received from the WordPress Plugins Review Team after trying to submit a plugin that included "wp" in the name.

Coywolf editor Jon Henshaw offers his summary of the "WP" trademark debate: "The WordPress Plugin Review Team is rejecting plugins that use WP in the name and slug. The messaging and code made it appear like a trademark issue, but it wasn't. A ticket has been created by a WordPress contributor to remove the confusion."

For more, Sarah Gooding at WPTavern explains that WordPress.org is experimenting with rejecting plugin submissions with the "WP" prefix to mitigate potential trademark abuse. As Gooding points out, "for years, the WordPress community has been encouraged to use WP instead of WordPress in plugin names, so the decision to reject plugins with WP in the name is a major, controversial change." She also highlights that "Springing experiments on the community without publicly communicating the intent is a misstep for the [WordPress] Foundation."

Jeff Chandler at WP Mainline adds, "The moral of the story here is to create better and more descriptive plugin titles without using WP or WordPress at the beginning of them."

It's a sentiment Yoast founder Joost de Valk agrees with, tweeting, "For everyone complaining about the fact that you can't use 'wp-' in your slug, please learn from almost every successful plugin out there and create a *brand* yourself, instead of relying on someone else's brand. You're already on WP's platform. Distinguish yourself."

Meanwhile, developer Chris Hardie tweets, "A personal first in the mail today, my very own registered trademark! It's for my WordPress-related SaaS app @LookoutWP, which you should try out at WPLookout.com. (I'm just glad no one has strong opinions these days re the use of ‘WP' in naming WordPress things. 😬😅)"

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StudioPress founder Brian Gardner gearing up to launch new theme project

"Starting to see the first set of @frostwp customers roll in. This *really* is happening, gang. So thrilled to be back in the #WordPress space building products. 🙌"

That tweet from OG premium WordPress themes pioneer Brian Gardner, who, after blazing a trail when he launched the Revolution theme back in 2007, is back, this time with a block-based project in the modern WordPress era.
Frost is a minimalist — dare I say, multipurpose — theme that leverages the power of block patterns and the FSE capabilities that are part of WordPress core. It's a Genesis child theme, naturally, and comes with a powerful library plugin that handles block patterns, page layouts, and starter sites. Gardner tells The Repository the project is aimed at designers, developers and business owners who want to quickly spin up a site for their own use or for clients.
"Whether it's a freelance agency, whether it's a bigger studio, kind of the way Genesis was envisioned back in the day," he says. "We built a pretty big community of people, designers and developers, who built on Genesis and use it as part of their repertoire for their business. I want to do the same thing with Frost, build that same sense of community."

Gardner started demoing Frost to early adopters last month. This week, he quietly added a pricing page to the Frost website so anyone can now buy and try the product. He says after spending the past four months building and designing Frost, it will officially launch soon.

Gardner took a step back from WordPress when he sold StudioPress and the Genesis framework to WP Engine in 2018. He says he was inspired to create Frost after reading about block patterns at WPTavern.

"Without all the changes that have happened with WordPress, block patterns and design controls, I never would have come back to build products again [with WordPress], at least in the traditional sense, because I already did that with StudioPress," Gardner says. "When I started to realise where things were going [with full Site Editing], I was like, okay, I could do this again. I really needed to be back where I was 15 years ago when StudioPress started, back when I was pioneering. So I’m back and I want to completely do it all again."

Tickets now available for WordCamp US 2021

With WordCamp US 2021 just six weeks away — it's happening on October 1 — it's coming together rather quickly compared to previous years.

If you blinked you probably missed it — speaker nominations came and went on August 15. The scope for this year's event is "Connection, Contribution, and Inspiration," with organizers calling for unsung heroes, businesses, educators, and others to share their inspirational stories, innovative technology implementations and design methods. Speakers are expected to be announced on August 31, and talks will be pre-recorded.

The call for sponsors has also come and gone — all three sponsorship levels are sold out.

This year's event was announced on July 26 and while few details have been released about what attendees can expect, tickets are available. At least we know it's going ahead — last year's WordCamp US was canceled due to pandemic stress and online event fatigue.

Honors WP acquires Immerseus

Another week, another acquisition – this time Honors WP, an eLearning community and marketplace owned by creative agency Easily Amused, has acquired Immerseus, a plugin company specializing in eLearning plugins for LearnDash.

Honors WP announced on August 9 it had acquired seven of Immerseus' plugins to expand its LearnDash offerings for its members. Then on August 15, Immerseus founder Jack Kitterhing tweeted that Immerseus had been acquired in full. Kitterhing tells The Repository the original deal was for several plugins, "and then we continued talks and a few days later did a deal for everything." Kitterhing tweets the deal was for all assets and the Immerseus team, excluding himself.

Kitterhing, a project manager at LearnDash, last week tweeted, "… while we're not publishing the number that bought us out I can say the following: 1. We launched last December. 2. We did $100,000+ in revenue all-in since launch. 3. From launch to acquisition in 8 months. Who said you couldn't make money in WP?"

More on the WordPress learning curve

Discussion about the WordPress learning curve that began with developer Chris Weigman's recent tweet continues. This week, Justin Tadlock at WPTavern shared a discussion with Gutenberg Project Lead Matías Ventura on the barrier to entry in the modern era of WordPress.

WordPress Training Team contributor Courtney Robertson, who's also a Web Design and Developer Advocate at GoDaddy, shares her views in WordPress Learning Curve: "While the block editor experience has improved the content creation and even website assembly side of this process, it can be said that the learning curve for developing with code for WordPress via plugins or themes has become more complex."

Adding his voice to the debate, WP Shout's David Hayes writes, "… I don't envy those starting out today. But I do think it's possible. Mostly it just requires two things: more people sharing what they're learning, and being patient while you're learning."

What are WebP images and should you be using them?

Using images in your website keeps the visitor's attention and can help break up large amounts of text. Media can impact your website speed, search engine results, and more. Larger file sizes can mean longer load time. WebP images can speed up your WordPress website.

Google developed and launched the WebP format in September 2010.

"WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs. WebP lossy images are 25% to 34% smaller than comparable JPEG images."

Why is WebP different than other formats?

WebP is an open-source format and offers better compression of images. Google indicates it is the "Swiss Army knife of image formats." All the features from PNG and JPG formats are available with WebP and in a way that does not reduce the quality detectable to the human eye. Still, there are pros and cons to this format type.

  • Supported by all major browsers
  • Smaller file sizes improve site speed
  • Anyone can suggest new features
  • Most image software does not yet support this file type
  • A few web browsers do not yet support this format, notably older versions of Safari
How do you add WebP images to your WordPress site? Learn how in this expanded tutorial.

In other WordPress news...

MailPoet - Zeplin 2019-10-25 17-00-44

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