It seems like only the other day I spoke to Iain Poulson about Plugin Rank; in all actuality, it was August last year. Time flies, right?
Barely a year in, and Plugin Rank was sold to Awesome Motive, and Iain, well being Iain, didn’t spare the horses with his next venture.
Good timing? Yes. I think so.
This is quite timely in truth; the other day, I tweeted a poll about WordPress acquisitions, the results are as below:
The overwhelming majority opted for “Depends on who bought it,” Through various DMs on Twitter, there is a trust issue with certain companies snapping up WordPress plugins.
For the betterment of a plugin or theme, sure. Are some stockpiling, maybe, are some leaving it to wither and die? Possibly. Could some companies simply be buying a user base? Yeh, why ever not?
Many fellow WordPress users/businesses stated that developers could only push a product so far before they can’t go any further.
I agree with that; it could be a case of life circumstances taking a change or a lack of revenue. However, nobody wants to see their project abandoned. All the sweat and toil it took to get something off the ground for nothing.
Creating A Level Playing Field for WordPress developers
I do believe companies that swoop in on WordPress plugins/themes hold all the cards. They show interest, and as a developer, the thought of a buy-out could seem a desirable proposition; it’s either that or abandonment.
Money talks, after all. Not all developers crave the $$$. Many worry about the existing user base, transfer of power, and of course, future plans, and rightly so.
As a WordPress developer, you receive an offer, fantastic, but what if someone else would have offered more? Perhaps the counteroffer had more scope for the future of your product? Maybe their thought processes align more with yours?
Guess what you’ll never really know because it’s one offer. Sure, you could post that you’re putting your business up for sale on your blog, market it, tweet the hell out of it, but what if nothing happens?
Don’t forget that time is ticking on the original offer; oops, you missed out.
Well, that’s where FlipWP comes into play.
What is FlipWP?
I’m going to quote FlipWP here; sorry, Iain/Alex, but this sums it up in a nutshell.
“FlipWP is a private marketplace for buying and selling WordPress businesses. We deeply understand the WordPress ecosystem and bring you quality opportunities.”
Yes, you read that right, a private marketplace for buyers and sellers. I’ll say it now; it’s about bloody time.
I’m all in favor of this, I think it’s a wonderful idea, and as I mentioned earlier, this truly does create a level playing field for buyers and sellers.
Now it’s over to Iain (for the 2nd time!)
Iain has agreed to answer some questions about FlipWP, so let’s not muck about and ask the real questions, you ready?
Welcome, Iain, nice to have you back; it only seems like yesterday since we last spoke!
Hey Ben, thanks for having me back again. I can’t believe it’s nearly a year since we last spoke – it’s been a bit of a whirlwind since then. After a year of development, I had a great offer for Plugin Rank and decided it was the right time to sell. I wrote a long post about that journey, so I won’t bore you with the details.
Selling Plugin Rank gave me time and energy to focus on existing products, and maybe new ones too, ha.
Q. Another product launch I see, how did FlipWP come about?
Q. Why now?
Knowing the demand was there from buyers, and after a big wave of recent acquisitions that made other plugin developers consider exits, it seemed the perfect time to put something together to solve the problem. After I closed the sale on Plugin Rank, we started to get serious.
Q. Are you concerned about competitor sites like Flippa?
Nope, Flippa is great. I actually acquired a plugin from it some years back. But Flippa sells a tonne of businesses to a broad audience of buyers. It’s pretty hard to find decent WordPress product businesses on there.
Q. How does yours differ?
We are 100% WordPress focussed. Which means our buyers are WordPress people and companies that know what they want and what they are getting. They know how to run WordPress product companies. We already have a good range of people signed up; from entrepreneurs, to WordPress plugin companies, to the big players – the hosts and the biggest companies in WordPress.
This means that if you have a WordPress business to sell, then FlipWP is exactly the place you should list on.
Also, as Alex and I are well positioned in the space, we don’t just list anything. We help the sellers with their listings, vet the businesses so they are right for the platform, and help work out asking prices. You won’t see crazy 30x valuations on FlipWP.
Q. It costs nothing for WordPress businesses to list?
Correct. Sellers can register for free and list their business for free. There is a 1% success fee if you sell to one of our buyers. Buyers pay $299 per year to get access to listings. This means all listings aren’t public, and only qualified buyers get access.
Q. What QA methods will you have in place for products? You know and I know some can be, well quite frankly crap.
We communicate with the seller to get an idea of their business and numbers before anything goes live on the site.
Q. Qualification of listings, how do you confirm what a seller adds is legit?
We present the numbers that the sellers give to us in good faith. Buyers will conduct their own due diligence and we make this clear to sellers. It’s not worth giving incorrect information if you want to sell your business.
Q. Putting on my seller hat, does the platform allow counter offers?
Once a listing goes live, buyers can contact the seller directly over email. If sellers have multiple offers at the asking price, we recommend they be honest with the buyers and let them counter-offer where necessary.
Q. Buyers pay $299 per year for access to the platform and emails, what was your way of thinking with this method?
This keeps the listing private and the site exclusive. The WordPress world isn’t as big as you think, so keeping it private and smaller – with only quality buyers on the site is actually a benefit to our sellers.
Break for a moment…..
Through the tweet I put out, many people got involved, and funnily enough, Nathan of WPBuilds asked a similar question.
One sticks out in my mind; in fact, Kev Quirk couldn’t fit it all in a tweet, so he wrote this article: Are WordPress Plugin Acquisitions Too Much?
“There’s a real danger of the premium plugin space becoming one where talented developers create the next great plugin, sell it and move on only for the plugin to become one in a much larger portfolio that is unlikely to receive the same love as it did before.”Source: Kev Quirk.
“Want the latest caching plugin? Sorry, you’re gonna have to buy a £20/month package that includes 5 other plugins you don’t want. Oh, it’s SEO you want? No problem, that’s an additional premium.”Source: Kev Quirk.
Kev likens the WordPress acquisitions space to that of the cell/mobile phone industry, whereby we’re left with fewer choices in terms of networks or in our case plugins/themes.
It’s a great little article, and it’s interesting to read someone else’s opinion; go check it out if you get the time.
Now back to Iain, sorry, dude. This is going somewhere!
Q. With the above in mind, what steps will you be taking to counter this? I mean larger companies buying up all the plugins/themes?
I don’t think this is something we should police. That scenario is a sign of a maturing ecosystem. However, that being said, from our current list of buyers – there are plenty of small to medium sized businesses making moves in the space.
Q. Will you be tracking products after a sale? I only ask if a buyer buys up the competition left, right and center, and abuses the platform for their gain, not the products. Is there anything you can do to combat this?
We will absolutely follow up with sellers after successful sales, to get feedback and see how things went. I think it will become clear if that situation happens and we can act accordingly.
Q. Will buyers have their own space? A place for them to offer a manifesto of what they can offer, along with previous purchases? From a seller’s point of view, I’d want to know someone’s track record first; otherwise, it could damage them in the industry if they ruin the product.
That’s on our roadmap, for sure.
Q. Where do you see FlipWP going in the future?
We are right at the start of the journey, but our priority is getting businesses sold – we want to help both buyers and sellers, and grow the WordPress ecosystem.
Wrapping Things Up
All that’s left to say is thanks to Iain, and I wish him and Alex the very best with FlipWP; this is a much-needed platform in the WordPress world, and hopefully, it will help developers moving forwards.