Issue #210
Happy Saturday! May the 4th be with you. We're covering a lot this week, including Envato and AccessAlly's acquisitions, the Media Corps and Data Liberation roadmaps, and Future of Teams.

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Five big headlines

1. Shutterstock snaps up Envato for $245 million


If you've ever bought or sold via ThemeForest or CodeCanyon, there's something almost nostalgic about this week’s news that Shutterstock is acquiring Envato for $245 million.

As Startup Daily reports, the deal marks the end of an 18-year journey for co-founders Collis and Cyan Ta'eed, and their friend Jun Rung, who launched the creative marketplace in a Sydney garage in 2006.

Envato is best known among WordPress folks for its poor code quality spring-boarding the careers of many theme and plugin developers — and even making millionaires of some. ThemeFusion has sold over 960,000 copies of Avada, Envato’s highest-selling WordPress theme ever. (In 2019, the company celebrated selling its 500,000th license and surpassing $25 million in total sales revenue. You do the math.)

On X/Twitter, Ollie co-founder Mike McAlister paid tribute to Envato, posting, "ThemeForest was an important part of my journey as a creator. I earned nearly $1m there selling templates and used it as a spring board to do so much more."

"Flashden paid my mortgage there for a bit in the early days!" adds Reid Peifer, VP Creative at Liquid Web.

The Australian Financial Review notes that Envato is one of Australia's most successful bootstrapped private tech companies. The company was valued at more than $1 billion before the post-pandemic devaluation of many tech companies. The broad volatility also saw Envato lose around 100 staff during a restructuring in 2022.

Collis stepped down as CEO in 2020, handing the reins to former HotelsCombined CEO Hichame Assi, before relocating with Cyan to Darwin to pursue philanthropic interests. On the Envato blog, he said the time was right to sell the company, which has generated more than $1.3 billion in earnings for its author community.

But as Lawrence Ladomery writes at WP BizDev, selling via Envato Market isn't as easy as it used to be. According to Igor Ligay of Stylemix Themes, success as a seller now requires investing thousands of dollars in product marketing.

2. Automattic-backed team to lead Media Corps as marketing takes a backseat


The community has been eerily quiet this week following Josepha Haden Chomphosy's news that an Automattic-sponsored team will lead WordPress' new experimental Media Corps, and the WordPress Marketing Team will be "temporarily archived."

Announcing next steps for the Media Corps on Monday, the WordPress Executive Director said Reyes Martínez (who joined Automattic as part of Frontity's acquisition, she was their Communications Director) had been tasked with leading the initiative. Josepha said current plans had "a lot of Automattic involvement, which is not desirable long term" but would help "limit variables." The Media Corps will spend the rest of this year testing the hypothesis that getting accurate information more quickly and effortlessly to WordPress media outlets and their audiences will contribute to growth in the project.

Reyes quickly followed Josepha's post with an initial WordPress Media Corps roadmap. The roadmap details how the experiment will work, including its scope and implementation.

This year, the focus will be on getting information to media partners — gathering and curating news, hosting calls, answering incoming questions and funneling requests. For now, media partners won't have access to embargoed information or the ability to request interviews, and the media corps won't engage with non-WordPress media outlets.

Fellow Automatticians Nicholas Garofalo, Dan Soschin, Lauren Stein and Brett McSherry have also been drafted to work on the experiment.

The existing WordPress Marketing Team and Slack channel will be archived while the Media Corps experiment is in progress. Only the team's GitHub account will remain active for continued work on the WordPress Showcase and amplification requests.

Former marketing team co-rep Jenni McKinnon continued to voice her opposition to the plans this week on Make WordPress Slack and in response to Josepha's announcement.

Reyes has asked for feedback on her roadmap by May 10 and hasn't yet received any comments. Her roadmap comes after Josepha announced plans for the Media Corps in March. At the time, Josepha said a "dramatic shift" was needed to address WordPress' stagnating growth.

3. Project plan released for Data Liberation project


Jordan Gillman has unveiled a detailed project plan for the Data Liberation project, which includes the development of a plugin to help users migrate to and from WordPress.

The Automattic-sponsored contributor, who's been tasked with shepherding the Data Liberation project through 2024, also wants to develop a solution to import HTML page/files into WordPress pages/posts with block content and create platform-specific guides and tools.

Jordan has set May deadlines for the early work outlined in his project plan. More intensive work, including the development of the plugin, is scheduled to be completed by November 30, 2024.

The project plan comes after Jordan spent two months reaching out to folks to figure out how Data Liberation might work across the WordPress project. He shared a recap of his outreach efforts shortly before posting the project plan.

Jordan's now looking for folks to help contribute to design and development for the Data Liberation project. Conversations are happening in the #data-liberation channel in Make WordPress Slack.

4. MemberPress parent company acquires competitor AccessAlly


Caseproof, the company behind popular membership plugin MemberPress, has acquired competitor AccessAlly. The deal brings AccessAlly into the WPBeginner Growth Fund and Awesome Motive's vast portfolio of WordPress businesses.

Announcing that AccessAlly is joining the Caseproof family of products, founder Nathalie Lussier said her entire team, including her husband and lead developer Robyn Li, would remain on the company's board. Nathalie is leaving the company to spend more time with her aging parents and young children and run her permaculture farm.

Nathalie and Robin created the first version of AccessAlly in 2012 during a "frantic weekend to solve a problem caused by another plugin." Their quick-fix code is now a fully-fledged LMS and membership management business powering the learning of more than 2.5 million users.

Caseproof founder Blair Williams launched MemberPress in 2013, later joining the WPBeginner Growth Fund in 2021. AccessAlly is his third acquisition of a competitor in recent years following deals to buy MemberMouse and Wishlist Member in 2023.

In Post Status Slack, Jeff Chandler, Mindsize's Director of Outreach, mused "The Syed Balkhi Growth Fund is like Shark Tank for WordPress."

On LinkedIn, Awesome Motive founder and CEO Syed Balkhi posted, "Super proud of Blair Williams and everything he's doing at CaseProof -- one of the original WPBeginner Growth Fund companies."

"Is Blair Williams human? He is doing so much sometimes I wonder how he does it. Congrats sir!" added Awesome Motive Project Manager David Bisset."

5. TeamWP evolves into Future of Team with new co-founder and expanded services


James Giroux's team experience project TeamWP has relaunched as Future of Team, bringing on WordPress veteran Remkus de Vries as a co-founder. The business has also expanded its scope beyond employee engagement surveys to offer people operations services focused on recruitment, onboarding and leadership development.

James shares more in his announcement, TeamWP Rebrands, Brings On New Co-Founder & Expands Services.

And Remkus offers his perspective in I'm Joining Future of Team, revealing that he worked in human resources before discovering WordPress.

James has also launched a new podcast with former Human Made and XWP project manager Dee Teal, exploring concepts of leadership, culture and people operations. James and Dee met in Australia when James worked at Envato. Dee is a long-time WordPress organizer based in Melbourne and is a WordCamp Sydney 2024 organizer.

"You're going to want to listen to @thewebprincess's new Future of Teams' podcast, she's an amazing people first leader," posted Dee's former boss, Human Made CEO Tom Willmot.
Correcting a correction: So this is embarrassing... Last week we printed incorrect dates for WordCamp Europe 2024 a second time. Yikes. WordCamp Europe is scheduled for June 13–15 in Torina, Italy (we quadrupled checked the dates this time, promise). Tickets are still available.
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In other news

WordPress project

> Anne McCarthy has shared a roadmap to WordPress 6.6 detailing features being actively pursued. With a slightly shorter release cycle, this release will build on the foundation of the last with some new features, like section styles and overrides in synced patterns, and enhancements to the Font Library and Interactivity API. Data Views, the first taste of the admin redesign work introduced in WordPress 6.5, will evolve with new layout options, a combined template part and pattern experience, and more readily accessible management sections. Design tools will also be prioritized with grid layout support, section styles, and improved style variations. WordPress 6.6 is scheduled for release on July 16 (Make WordPress Core)

> The WordPress.org Plugin Directory has a new theme and a refreshed design. Automattic-sponsored design contributor Nick Diego says the changes standardize the site's layout, fonts, spacing, and colors with other newly updated sections of WordPress.org, including the recently updated Pattern Directory and the Support Forums. While the refresh doesn't fundamentally change the directory, he says they "set the stage for future, more consequential improvements." Minor iterations and follow-ups are planned in the coming weeks, including updates to address accessibility issues (Make WordPress.org)

> A new Patterns chapter has been added to the WordPress Theme Handbook. Automattic-sponsored contributor Justin Tadlock says the chapter covers everything from introducing patterns to more advanced concepts, like using PHP in patterns, starter patterns, locking, and more. "I'm pretty sure I sprinkled a few tips I've learned in my own theming journey throughout the documentation," he adds (WordPress Developer Resources | X/Twitter)

> A release candidate for WordPress 6.5.3 is now available for testing. The RC features 11 fixes in WordPress core and eight fixes for the Block Editor (Make WordPress Core)

> Contributor confidence grew from 57% to 82% amongst the second group of folks who took part in the latest WordPress Contributor Mentorship Program, according to pre and post-cohort surveys. He says the mentorship program will host a new cohort alongside WordPress 6.7 in October-November, and there are plans to host the program at least once a year (WP Briefing)

WordPress community

> On the Human Made blog, WP Includes co-founder Siobhan McKeown unpacks why she's launched a survey on gender equality in WordPress businesses. She says WP Includes recognized the need for a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by women and gender-diverse individuals in WordPress workplaces. The survey will inform the Gender Equality in WordPress Businesses 2024 report, due out later in the year (Human Made) | Bob Dunn also discusses the Gender Equality in WordPress Businesses Survey, emphasizing that participation is encouraged and welcome from all genders (Do the Woo)

> Does WordPress need "a year to loop back on already implemented things and iterate, bug-fix, and simplify before moving onto a ton of new functionality"? James Giroux muses on WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg's recent X/Twitter comment, suggesting that pausing active development could perhaps allow time for improvements in training and education, documentation, UX and UI, and onboarding new contributors, and also give theme developers and business owners time to catch up and move away from Classic themes (James Giroux) | Automattic-sponsored design contributor Rich Tabor also wrote about iteration this week. Rather than advocate for slowing down WordPress development, he asks, "Is software anything but constant iteration?" He writes, "The fundamental objective of iteration is not deciding whether to iterate, but rather prioritizing the most impactful ideas—whether new features, enhancements, or bug fixes. The challenge lies in prioritizing the big wins and minimizing those distractions that divert focus from those wins." (rich.blog)

> Freelance developer Nahuai Badiola says a 10-minute lightning talk about web sustainability at a WordCamp profoundly changed how he views internet use. He joined Nathan Wrigley on the WP Tavern Jukebox podcast this week to discuss ideas like reducing code in plugins, and highlights the WordPress Performance Team's efforts to make WordPress greener (WP Tavern)

> Do the Woo's Community Voices series continued this week, featuring folks from Portugal. The fourth episode brings together Alvaro Gois (Development Coordinator at Empower), Carlos Moreira (plugin developer), Jose Freitas (CEO at Kaksi Media), Marco Pereirinha (Senior Engineer at XWP) and Carolina Osório, a newcomer to the community (Do the Woo)

Business, enterprise & acquisitions

> The WPShout and CodeInWP websites have been united under WPShout's brand and name. Announcing the "under-the-radar merger" this week, ThemeIsle's Sabina Ionescu says the website now provides a single resource for advanced WordPress users, with more than 1,400 articles on development and growth topics. ThemeIsle acquired WPShout back in September 2022. At the time, co-founder Ionut Neagu said it was "an honor to build upon the strong foundation that @AlexDenning, Fred & David set." Alex Denning launched WPShout in 2009, writing around 180 articles before selling the site to Press Up founders Fred Meyer and David Hayes in 2013. Alex now runs Ellipsis Marketing, Fred is the Director of Writers.com, and David is freelancing as a PHP/web developer (WPShout)

> Shop Plugins announced its acquisition to users this week — two years after WP Overnight bought the business. In an email announcing the "recent" acquisition, users were reassured that active development was continuing. In Post Status Slack, Shop Plugins founder Daniel Espinoza said he sold the business to WP Overnight in August 2023, adding, "They chose to take some time to announce it 😅." (Post Status Slack)

Plugins, products & themes

> Enterprise agency Big Bite has partnered with human rights group Amnesty International to release Humanity, an open source WordPress theme. Chief Operating Officer Sarah McCormick says the theme has been built using Gutenberg and is already in use on over 30 websites (Big Bite)

> Elegant Themes has announced a new Divi 5 demo website. Founder and CEO Nick Roach says a public alpha will be released soon after his team wraps up work on a few more features and fixes some bugs (Elegant Themes)

> WordPress.com is teasing ‘Big Sky,’ a new AI-powered website builder for WordPress. The company is seeking early testers for a private beta program (WordPress.com)

> Elementor has launched AI Copilot, a new AI-powered integration for creating layouts, wireframes, containers, and even elements within those containers. Described as a "website-building assistant," AI Copilot comes after the company released AI Context, an AI-powered writing tool, in February (Elementor)

Conferences, events & awards

> WPCampus organizers have put a call out for speakers. The annual conference will be held from July 31 to August 2 at Georgetown University, Washington D.C., and will focus on the growth of higher education, accessibility, WordPress, and its people. Speaker applications close on May 15 (WPCampus)

> WordCamp Sydney 2024 organizers are also calling for speakers. Organizers are inviting submissions on any topic but are especially interested in ones that align with this year's theme, "purposeful connection." Speaker applications close July 22. WordCamp Sydney will be held from November 2-3 at the University of Technology, Sydney (WordCamp Sydney)

> Gravity Forms has an open call for panelists to join a one-day livestream event during the first week of June. The event will focus on informing, educating, and entertaining at the intersection of WordPress and nonprofit organizations (Gravity Forms)

WordPress Community: Ryan McCue

A photo of Ryan McCue.
This week, what’s inspiring Ryan McCue, Director of Product at Human Made, Product Director for Altis DXP, and creator of the WordPress REST API.
A podcast worth listening to: This might be a cliché, but 99% Invisible is a fantastic podcast diving into the hidden design of everything around us. It's a great reminder that the world doesn't end up this way by chance, and the way it evolves is down to decisions made by people — which we can influence and design.

A concept worth understanding: A quote I like to live my life by is "unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." Making change happen starts with us, from the smallest things like bugs to grander changes in the world.

A X/Twitter account worth following: I'm no longer on Twitter, but over on Mastodon everything that Julia Evans (@[email protected]) creates or writes is amazing. Computers are just sand we tricked into thinking, and Julia's work really highlights that software isn't magic.

An article worth reading: Ben Thompson's writings on Aggregation Theory are an excellent approach to understanding the economics of the web age. (Although, I don't always agree! I highly encourage reading things that challenge your thinking.)

A habit worth forming: Start reducing your carbon footprint with small steps like meat-free Mondays — you might find it's easier than you expect! Consider also offsetting your emissions using platforms like Ecologi.

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Meanwhile...

Read

👍 Rich Tabor highlights a Reddit post about WordPress development getting good (rich.blog)

🗣️ Nada Elsharkawy shares her career journey as she's navigated WordCamps and started a meetup for Arabic speakers (HeroPress)

🧪 Karol K compares 15 hosting providers following 14,000 tests between 2021-2024 (WPShout)

⏩ Matt Mederios says it's never been faster to start exploring WordPress than it is today (The WP Minute)

Listen

💰 Brian Rotsztein talks about his book, The Psychology of Pricing: WordPress Edition (Do the Woo)

🪨 Rafal Tomal talks about his journey from working at Copyblogger and StudioPress to founding an agency and eventually creating the new Rockbase theme (The WP Minute+)

🧡 Shanta Nathwani talks about the challenges faced by folks with neurodivergent traits (Do the Woo)

🎡 Joost de Valk talks about how he's working on things he finds fun to do (WPCoffeeTalk)

🎙️ Jason Tucker, Sé Reed, Jason Cosper and Courtney Robertson unpack Ari Stathopoulos' recent post about the complexity of the Gutenberg codebase (WPwatercooler)

🚀 Jason Tucker and Jason Cosper delve into the fallout from Jetpack Stats' recent pricing changes (WPwatercooler)

🎻 Courtney Robertson talks about her life story, her love of teaching, and playing the mandolin (Seriously, Bud?)

🤓 Alex Standiford joined Woo Dev Chat for a geeky conversation about coding practices, PHP Nomad and ChatGPT (Do the Woo)

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