Lately, the acquisitions of companies or products within the WordPress ecosystem have been on the rise. Just check this complete list on the PostStatus website.
The fact that there is interest in acquiring WordPress products means that we have a mature market with consolidated products that attract the attention of those with the power to buy and invest. And this is good for those of us who develop products for this platform—no doubt about it.
Nevertheless, my attention has been drawn to the statements of both Pippin Williamson and Justin Ferriman regarding their motives for selling their successful products. Regarding Pippin, a widely known entrepreneur in the WordPress community for being the creator of Easy Digital Downloads and other successful plugins, his announcement on the sale of all his products to Awesome Motive, Syed Balkhi’s company, included the following:
In the last few years I discovered a truth about myself: I had lost my passion for the web and building software products. I used to absolutely adore WordPress and building plugins to extend it and power businesses. That passion helped create amazing platforms that have helped tens of thousands of businesses grow, succeed, and thrive on the web, and I am so immensely proud of that. But when the passion is gone, the drive and motivation to build great things leaks away as well. It has been several years since I last felt truly inspired and motivated to build something with WordPress.Pippin Williamson, announcing the sale of all his products.
Similarly, Justin Ferriman, also known for being the founder of the WordPress e-learning platform Learndash, explained how a lack of passion was one of the main reasons for selling his flagship product to StellarWP :
I came to realize a few things which ultimately led me to sell:Justin Ferriman, on Why I Sold.
– I was not passionate about WordPress or e-learning anymore.
– Managing the business burnt me out.
– I was feeling guilty about my lack of passion.
In both cases they state that one of the main reasons for deciding to sell has been the lack of passion for WordPress.
The importance of passion when undertaking
Creating a business from scratch is a daunting task. Passion is one of the many ingredients that you will need to launch your products and get benefits from them. Without passion for what you do, it will be very difficult for you to keep the required perseverance and strength to keep going.
In the following image you can see what the curve of the enthusiasm cycle looks like, which we can also apply to passion. We start by showing interest in something, getting excited about it and reaching the peak of passion, then falling towards disappointment or disillusionment, until we find hope again and end up getting bored of it.
When setting up your business, it is very likely that you’ll go through all these phases, each one of them lasting a very different period of time. Given this, it is realistic to think that both Pippin and Justin were at the end of the curve, close to boredom from the work they were doing on a daily basis and, therefore, they would rather sell. The passion for their projects was over. Something totally normal and predictable.
Are you losing your passion for WordPress?
If we focus on the numbers, the answer is clear: no, people are not losing their passion for WordPress. 65.2% of websites with a well-known content management system use WordPress. This represents 42.7% of all websites. And this percentage has been growing for years without stopping.
However, even if the numbers don’t lie, the fact that prominent and well-known developers publicly and openly express that they have lost their passion for WordPress is something that, as a developer, invites me to reflection.
Some time ago I wrote about the importance of attracting young audiences to WordPress, both users and developers. I still think that WordPress has that old-fashioned aura that it should try to get rid of to be more attractive to new generations.
On the other hand, it is clear that getting a WordPress product to succeed is a very complicated task. We have already seen, analyzing the plugin directory of WordPress.org, that launching a new plugin and make it go viral until reaching the top of the most popular plugins is somewhat very unlikely, or that will take years. Either you have the perfect idea at the perfect time, or you’re going to dedicate a lot of efforts for a long time to make a living out of it. And this clearly wears you out, even if you end up being successful.
In the two examples that illustrate this post, we have two consolidated products after many years of work and sacrifice by their creators. The effort required to achieve that level of success has consequences that, given a good offer, make you seriously consider selling and start from scratch in a different –more attractive and exciting– area. For this reason, I think both Pippin and Justin have made the right decision.
At Nelio we have also had moments of loss of passion for WordPress. As we love exploring new possibilities, pivoting to other markets and exploring new opportunities is in our DNA. And proof of this is our latest project. This allows us to take a breath and return to WordPress with more energy. A new plugin is about to come out of the oven very soon!
Will we see more cases of loss of passion for WordPress? Surely yes, and it is important to analyze them and see if we can contribute in some way to prevent this from happening or if it is something that will happen organically (as the cycle of enthusiasm indicates) and there is nothing more to do about it. Reflection on this is something that should help us improve and move forward. What do you think?