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Issue #86
MailPoet - Zeplin 2019-10-25 17-00-44

This week in WordPress

Automattic invests $30 million in email startup

Automattic has invested $30 million in Titan, an Indian startup that wants to reinvent email for small businesses. Entrepreneur Bhavin Turakhia founded Titan just two years ago and as Bloomberg reports, the Series A funding values the company at $300 million.

According to CXOtoday, the investment is Automattic's largest ever. The WordPress.com owner will take a 10% stake in Titan, reports financial daily newspaper Mint.

Details of the deal come after Matt Mullenweg told WordCamp India attendees in February that Automattic had made "a pretty large investment" in Titan, which would form a big part of how WordPress.com offered email going forward. This week, the Automattic CEO told Bloomberg that Google and Microsoft had started to monopolize email and an alternative was needed that focused on small business needs.

"Email is the de-facto standard for communication at work - for asynchronous discussions, taking decisions and closing deals," tweets Turakhia. "But in 2021, great business email is hard to come by. We still use the same email products that were designed for personal use - at work."

Dr Omkar Rai, Director General of Software Technology Parks of India, tweets the investment is a "… laudable step towards disrupting the email software market and delivering an alternative to the existing email service providers."

Simple Feature Requests announces new owners

Brothers Elijah and Trey Mills announced this week they acquired the Simple Feature Requests plugin from Iconic founder James Kemp in February. Elijah, who is the COO of website builder Oxygen, says the pair have spent the past few months developing new features for the plugin and this week introduced a new lifetime unlimited site license.

It's certainly the year for acquisitions. Kemp's WooCommerce extension business Iconic was acquired by StellarWP, web host Liquid Web's software business, back in June.

Meanwhile, 2021 also seems to be the year for acquiring a plugin business, transforming it into an almost different product, and outraging users, according to WPTavern's Justin Tadlock. He highlights the recent example of Termly acquiring the GDPR/CCPA Cookie Consent Banner plugin, a free and simple tool for adding and styling a consent banner, and turning it into a $180-a-year SaaS product.

New diversity training programs announced

The Diverse Speaker Training group of the WordPress Community Team has announced three new programs for Meetup and WordCamp organizers: Diverse Speaker Workshops, Diverse Speak Support, and a new Allyship program.

Group lead Jill Binder tweets the Allyship program is "… not just for organizers, but anyone in our WordPress community who wants to champion this kind of environment, now or in the future."

The group has been helping WordPress meetups and WordCamps attract and develop more diverse speakers since 2017. According to Binder, in 2020 alone, the group quintupled its impact by reaching 71 cities in 17 countries, and participants reported a 20% increase in public speaking confidence. For more, Binder publishes monthly impact reports.

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Developers encouraged to contribute to Learn WordPress

The WordPress Training Team wants to find out what learners and potential learners would like to see in the Learn WordPress platform. The team has released an anonymous survey that's open until August 13. Automattic-sponsored community manager Hugh Lashbrooke says Learn WordPress has experienced solid growth in content and collaborative learning since it went live in December 2020. While there are plans in place to grow the platform, he says "a more structured roadmap needs to be established."

Meanwhile, Jeff Chandler at WP Mainline says Learn WordPress Is Perhaps the Project Developers Need to Contribute To. He highlights developer Chris Wiegman's recent tweet: "The deeper I get with modern WP dev the more I understand why newer devs don't like to work on it. This is not the same project as it was in the past. The learning curve is now extremely high regardless of past experience."

Chandler adds, "[Learn WordPress] could do wonders for easing the burden for new and existing developers getting to grips with WordPressWordPress releases are still being contributed to by hundreds of volunteers but if the software is to benefit from fresh blood and perspectives or even encourage them, then lowering the barriers to entry wherever possible should become some sort of a priority."

Call for feedback on theme.json

Anne McCarthy, the program manager for the Full Site Editing outreach experiment, has released a survey to get feedback from developers using the theme.json feature that launched with WordPress 5.8.

Theme.json allows developers to configure both existing editor settings like enabling custom colors and adopting new ones as they are released. Since it's a new feature and an early step towards a comprehensive style system for the future of WordPress, McCarthy says she wants to learn more about how folks are using the tool and what should be included in WordPress core in the future.

At WPTavern, Justin Tadlock shares his responses to the survey with readers. Meanwhile, Automattic-sponsored themes contributor Jeff Ong has published a guide to Configuring Theme Design with theme.json.

Looking back on the 30th birthday of the World Wide Web

On Aug. 6, we wish a happy 30th birthday to the World Wide Web. It was on this day that the world's first public website went live. And in the next three decades, the number of websites exploded, from one to the hundreds of millions online today.

That first website is still live and actively maintained by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).
Yep, we love the World Wide Web. So much that we got it a gift we're unwrapping on the big day (be sure to drop by). We also thought it would be fun to look back at how far we've come since those first dial-up modems chimed to life and transported us to our favorite bulletin-board sites.

Many of us have never known life without the World Wide Web. In those dark days, lit only by incandescent light bulbs, life was a series of small but agonizing inconveniences.

Well, okay… maybe that's a bit dramatic. But it's still fun to celebrate the 30th birthday to the world wide web by looking back at what some aspects of life were like in 1991.

In other WordPress news...

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

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