WPMUDEV, a 12 year old company, is closing all free extensions (plugins and themes) and heading towards a new business model focused on Hosting and Maintenance. Currently, WPMUDEV is the strongest competitor rivaling WP Engine, Kinsta, Flywheel, and many other Wordpress Hosts.
In his announcement, James Farmer, co-founder and CEO at WPMUDEV, points out some reasons for this change in direction:
- Despite of the high number of downloads, the active members of many plugins is consistently low:
Ad sharing plugin launched in April 2009, has been downloaded 26,315 times and yet is active on only 56 members sites and has generated 234 support forum threads
- The competition with Automatic (Wordpress Owner) is killing one of their best extensions focused on commerce.
There are many lessons here to learn from.
#1 – Some products are vital to support a business and others aren't.
My grandma always said, everyone needs food, that is the best area for business. The low number of active members of some extension prove that some solutions are not essential, in order to become more indispensable they are going to focus on Hosting and Maintenance.
#2 – The same hand that feeds you can also bite you!
Even though the open source industry encourages the community to build extensions, what we can see in many cases is the company leader of the project starts launching the most valuable extensions on their own and leaving just the less profitable for the community.
In our first year here at Powertic our product line consisted of WordPress hosting, Mautic hosting, CMS and Marketing Automation all in the same place. During that time we were using all WPMUDEV extensions with our clients to help manage the WordPress instances. For us it turned out that this Wordpress hosting market was too crowded for a company like ours with 6 people, so because of that, we started to focus only on Mautic, and I think it was a good choice, but only time will tell.