Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, announced Tuesday that it is acquiring the team and company behind the popular WooCommerce WordPress plugin.
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that lets site owners turn their self-hosted WordPress website into a bonafide online store. Launched in 2011 by WooThemes, WooCommerce has become a force in the eCommerce space.
Not only it is hugely popular in the WordPress community, WooCommerce is huge when it comes to the online store space, powering at least 650,000 online stores.
The entire 55-person Woo team will join Automattic. According to a blog post by CEO and co-founder Matt Mullenweg, this will bring Automattic’s total headcount to 370 people, distributed across 43 countries.
Automattic raised $160 million in funding last year, bringing it into unicorn club with a valuation of $1.16 billion. WordPress (either hosted or self-hosted) now powers 23% of the web and has become a core framework for publishing.
With the acquisition of WooCommerce, Mullenweg said that this is another step that will help WordPress accomplish its goal of powering even more of the web.
The ultimate goal, he said, is to make it as easy to create your own storefront as it currently is to create your own website or blog with WordPress.
WooCommerce is easy to use — especially in the realm of eCommerce solutions — but it still requires some hand-holding during the setup process. Mullenweg said that one of the goals moving forward will be to make it easier to setup WooCommerce. He also hinted at 1-click install solutions as being on the horizon.
Automattic isn’t disclosing the price of the acquisition, but tells me that it’s by far “the biggest acquisition by Automattic to date.” We’ll keep digging for details beyond that, of course.
So why might Automattic snatch up an e-commerce plugin? Because it’s what the people want.
“I remember a few years ago I was at [a WordPress conference],” says WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg in a video announcing the acquisition. “Someone stood up in the Q&A and asked me ‘When are you going to make it as easy to publish stores online as you’ve made it to publish websites?’… and there was spontaneous applause from the audience. People loved this idea.”
Q & A with Matt Mullenweg
Q : Will any of this tech make it into WordPress.org?
A : It’s actually exclusively there. It’s already open source GPL. We don’t have plans currently for it to make it to WordPress.com
Q : Really? I had assumed it would be automatically built into WordPress.com.
A : I think it’s a little bit further down the line. There’s a lot to do with the plugin already.
Q : What about Squarespace? Does this acquisition make you more competitive?
A : Absolutely. I would like to think everything we do makes us more competitive. If you look at the data, people are still using WordPress over Squarespace.
We’ve been thinking about this for a really long time — the best way to bring e-commerce to the WordPress world…
Q : Automattic turns ten next month — what’s next?
A : We’ll talk about that soon. We’re really focused on Woo today. We have two major lines: WordPress.com, Jetpack, and this is adding a third. It’s far and away our biggest acquisition. It’s six times larger than anything we’ve done before.
Q : This deal seems to be about making WordPress a one-click tool.
A : It’s definitely not easy to do. We have teams inside Automattic working on it. The challenge is bringing it to a wider audience. Things like e-commerce definitely bring us closer … it’s thousands and thousands of small improvements every day.