Issue #193

Happy Friday! It's November 3 and we're covering Woo's rebrand, WordPress 6.3 RC3, WP Data Dashboard, and more. First time reading? Sign up here.

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This week in WordPress

1. WooCommerce rebrands as Woo

Do the Woo's Bob Dunn kicks things off for us this week with his scoop on the Inside Woo podcast that is now According to David Callaway, VP of Creative and Communications at Woo, the rebrand is part of a strategy that streamlines the company's product naming system: "Many of our loyal customers have referred to us as Woo for years. It's a brand name… Woo is how we're referring to our brand and our company. While WooCommerce is our core product."

Sarah Gooding has the full story at WP Tavern: WooCommerce Rebrands as Woo.

Analysis of what the rebrand means for WooCommerce developers quickly followed the upbeat announcement. Agency owner Phill Savage praised the move, posting, "Makes sense to me. We already abbreviate to Woo so often, that it's a very natural transition." Motivations AI CEO Chris Lema says he's also a big fan of the rebrand and focus on Woo Express, the company's managed hosting product: "Why? Because Woo is easy, fun and already being used. And Express solves problems for the end users / merchants. Great work to everyone involved!" he posted.

Others were more critical. DevriX founder Mario Peshev posted that it's a "definite move against Shopify" and "a horrible hit to the FOSS (free and open-source software) plugin." Barn2 CEO Katie Keith questioned Woo's focus on Woo Express on its website: "It's their right to do that as they literally own WooCommerce, but I feel this could lead to decreased market share as you have to read carefully to see there's an open source version," she posted. It's a sentiment Mark Zahra explores in WooCommerce 2024: Innovation or Alienation? "By giving [WooExpress] more prominence on their website, it's clear that Woo is pushing for a more user-friendly, streamlined ecommerce experience, similar to what we've seen for years with Shopify," he writes.

At The WP Minute, Matt Medeiros, a vocal advocate for "blue collar digital workers," added, "[The rebrand] continues that unfortunate trend where professional services, at least those offered by the same WordPress professionals that promote hosting platforms, are being obfuscated and rolled into the hosting experience."

We'll give the last word to WordPress veteran Remkus de Vries: "Doing a rebrand and domain migration of one of the biggest names in WordPress, namely WooCommerce ➡ Woo, can't be easy with all the developers watching along to see if you fuck up 😅"

2. WordPress 6.4 RC3 out now, final release next week

WordPress 6.3 RC3 is now available ahead of the final release scheduled for Tuesday. Since the RC2 release on October 24, more than 25 issues have been resolved in Github and Trac.

For more on the upcoming major release, Yoast has published A sneak peek at what's coming up, and Kinsta writer Carlo Daniele has put together a comprehensive overview of What's new in WordPress 6.4: block hooks, improved workflow, new design tools, a new default theme, and much more.

Meanwhile, the upcoming major release will disable attachment pages for new installations, reports Sarah Gooding at WP Tavern. Yoast founder and core contributor Joost de Valk explains in the developer note for changing this default setting, "On the vast majority of sites, these attachment pages don't add any meaningful information. They do, however, exist, get indexed by search engines, and sometimes even rank in search results, leading to bad results for users and site owners."

3. WP Data Dashboard tracks themes

Twenty Seventeen, Twenty Fifteen, and Astra are the most downloaded WordPress themes ever, each surpassing 10 million downloads, but only Astra has managed to retain its users, according to a new data-wrangling project launched last weekend.

WP Tavern's Sarah Gooding reports that Luehrsen // Heinrich CEO Hendrik Luehrsen's WP Data Dashboard website is tracking 6,017 themes hosted on with 250 snapshots. The site offers stats and data-based insights, providing a bird's-eye view of themes hosted in the official directory.

The site features two unique stats: a "Usage Score" that's calculated based on a theme's active installs versus total downloads, and a "Diversity Score" comparing downloads of a single theme author to the overall theme directory (or a tag), scaling that value from 0 to 100.

Interestingly, Luehrsen's data also reveals a decline in downloads for the newer default themes. While Twenty-Twenty garnered over 8 million downloads, Twenty Twenty-One managed 6 million, and Twenty Twenty-Two just 3 million.

The new site follows Luehrsen's recent work tracking the usage of themes with the full-site editing tag (aka block themes).

4. Kinsta begins layoffs with severance packages

Kinsta is offering its workforce severance packages to encourage voluntary redundancies, according to an employee at the company. Employees at the web hosting company have until November 10 to apply for a package and "there might be a second round. This time it won’t be voluntary."

"We don't have a clue how many people are affected. But based on private chats, it seems like a lot. On LinkedIn you'll see that more and more people are 'Open to Work,'" says the source. More than 30 Kinsta employees who are active on the platform have switched their status to "#opentowork." A total of 329 members list Kinsta as their current workplace.

Kinsta hasn't commented publicly on why it's laying off workers (we reached out but they didn’t respond before deadline) and follows a relentless wave of downsizing in tech during 2023. In February, GoDaddy reduced the size of its global team by about 8% (approximately 530 employees), with cuts impacting teams working on WordPress and Woo hosting products. Enterprise firms XWP and Human Made also laid off workers. At the time, WP Tavern reporter Sarah Gooding wrote about how industry-wide tech layoffs were impacting WordPress professionals.

The news comes after the web host launched free static site hosting for up to 100 websites last week. In June 2022, Kinsta took on private equity partner McCarthy Capital, opting not to announce the deal.
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In other news

WordPress project

> Estela Rueda, Courtney Robertson and Javier Casares—each heavily involved with various WordPress teams—joined WP Tavern Jukebox to discuss translation and making WordPress documentation more accessible to people worldwide (WP Tavern)

> This week's episode of WP Briefing focuses on Little Sun, a clean energy solution focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, and their switch to using WordPress blocks (WP Briefing)

> A new templates chapter has been added to the WordPress Theme Handbook that focuses specifically on block templating (X)

Business, enterprise & acquisitions

> Developer Jack Kitterhing has acquired WP SMTP and Check & Log Email from WPChill for an undisclosed amount. The plugins have a combined 170,000 active installations. On X, Kitterhing has hinted that another acquisition announcement is coming soon (X)

> Manesh Timilsina shares the story behind how a group of Nepalese developers created the free Jadro full-site editing theme to celebrate the 20th anniversary of WordPress (CodeInWP)

> On Within WordPress, Jonathon Wold discusses Guildenberg and his long-term goal to create an app store for WordPress, where products can be distributed across different web hosts (Within WordPress)

> What does a $1 million WordPress site look like? Pootlepress founder Jamie Marsland interviewed Human Made CEO Tom Willmot and Director of Engineering Adrian McShane to get the inside story on how they built (Pootlepress)

> Barn2 CEO Katie Keith talks about the ins and outs of running a WordPress and WooCommerce plugin business in an insightful WP Minute+ interview that touches on her transition from selling services to products, managing a distributed team, and succeeding with SEO and marketing (The WP Minute+)

> When is a startup genuinely successful? In her latest column for Post Status, investor Marieke van de Rakt says profitability is the most important metric (Post Status)

Products, platforms & plugins

> After 29 episodes of Launching a WP Product in Public and a year of collaboration, Corey Maass and Cory Miller have launched their new product, OMGIMG, a plugin for creating featured images for WordPress and social media (YouTube)

> Developer Torsten Landsiedel says he's no longer maintaining any plugins that are part of the Pluginkollektiv community project, including Antispam Bee, Statify or Cachify, posting this week that "Open source comes with a cost. And without more shoulders I will not take this burden anymore. Even if this would mean to close everything." (X)

> Wordfence CLI 2.0.1 introduced free vulnerability scanning this week. The new CLI product was launched at WordCamp US two months ago with malware detection capabilities, but the latest update brings in the most highly requested feature: vulnerability scanning at scale (WP Tavern)

> WordPress VIP has released a handy block governance plugin on GitHub that adds additional governance capabilities to the block editor (GitHub)

Conferences, awards & events

> Do the Woo has published a series of WooSesh 2023 recaps: WooSesh event producer Brian Richards, open source analyst and strategist Robert Jacobi, and WooCommerce expert Zach Stepek discuss the latest developments in WooCommerce (Day 1) | Do the Woo's Bob Dunn, OSTraining CEO Robbie Adair and Barn2 CEO Katie Keith talk about the use of AI in customer support and web development, the importance of personalization and privacy in e-commerce, and the potential of Amazon Pay as a viable alternative to PayPal (Day 2) | Marcus Burnette, a developer and Senior Marketing Specialist at GoDaddy, and Kathy Zant, the former director of marketing at KadenceWP, join Richards to discuss the inaugural Seshie Awards, financial inclusion in Africa, accessibility in e-commerce, automating e-commerce bookkeeping, and integrating Amazon Pay with WooCommerce (Day 3)

> Voting now for the annual WP Awards. The awards celebrate the WordPress community's favorite plugins, themes, and services. Voting closes November 30 (TheWPWeekly)


🤷🏼‍♀️ Mika Epstein recalls how "Alan" claimed Gutenberg's authors are providing sex, money and drugs to high ranking decision makers at Automattic.

🧡 A GoFundMe page has been set up for FocusWP's Stephanie Hudson, who is recovering after a life-threatening medical crisis.

🤑 Post Status has published a monster Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals list.

💸 LayerWP's BFCM deals page is back for 2023.

🫰🏼 The folks behind ClickWhale have launched

🏆 WP Engine looks back at the important milestones on its Great Place to Work journey.

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