By now you’ve probably heard the news that Automattic (A8c) acquired WooThemes, where I was working as a developer for 3 years. July 1st I officially became an Automattician.
The weeks leading up to the acquisition were surreal; full of questions, a few awkward moments (it was top secret after all) but exciting nevertheless, and I was happy to be invited along with several others to New York to meet fellow Automatticians and be there for that bombshell of an announcement.
If acquisition were inevitable, I’m genuinely relieved that it was Automattic showing the interest. WooThemes and Automattic are very similar culturally and have similar aspirations. I know the team and products are going to be well looked after, and all the people I have met so far from A8c have been really friendly. So far my day to day activities have changed very little and everything feels completely natural.
The only challenge for me personally in this transition was parting ways with a side project/business of mine; WP Job Manager. This was a highly successful (and profitable) project with a user base 30k strong which I enjoyed working on in my spare time. Brian Krogsgard covered the story on poststatus.com in depth back in June and explained;
Automattic has a strict policy that employees cannot have paid side projects, whether client or product work. For Mike to stay at Automattic, he had to figure out what the future of WP Job Manager would be.
A8c expressed interest in acquiring the plugin and we came to an agreement which was a huge relief for me as I wanted to ensure whomever took over would actually look after the plugin and its users.
Anything was an option, including making WPJM free or selling it to a third party, but I’m glad we came to the solution we did. Since WPJM is part of Automattic now there’s no real or perceived conflict to the continuing work on it or revenue from it.
– Matt Mullenweg
Backed by A8c I think the project has a bright future. I’m still working on the dev side and I imagine more hands will be added in the coming months to keep things moving.
Looking ahead, I’m excited to continue and focus my attention on WooCommerce. Up until now we’ve had a tiny team (of ~4 developers) and it’s done fantastically well, but with more resources and people at our disposal who knows what we can achieve. We’ve already had some new people come over on rotation and its great to get fresh eyes on all of the projects and extensions.
Overall, I think that my move to Automattic, and consequential winding down of side projects, is going to have a positive impact on my life in general. I already have more free time, and things will be even better now that I don’t need to deal with tedious accounting and VAT returns for my businesses. I was even able to enjoy a vacation without the worry of supporting my products which I’ve not been able to do for years. It felt great.
And of course I may be able to blog a little more often :)
p.s. Please consider working with us – we’re always looking for talented devs and support staff!