Mark (my co-founder at Woo) spoke at WordCamp Europe on the story of WooThemes. If you are interested in how we grew Woo from 3 to 55 people in just under seven years, and how we were eventually acquired by Automattic, then take a look at the video of the presentation.
I had the chance to visit the beautiful British Columbia on my last fishing trip. We flew from Vancouver to Smithers, a cozy little town over the mountains, and we fished for Chinook (King) Salmon on the Kemano and Skeena river. During the week we saw a lot of big bears, and even had a few close encounters with some grizzlies.
If you like the video above, feel free to check out my other Vimeo videos.
Going through due diligence with Automattic meant learning a lot about the company. One of the amusing things to discover was all the acronyms used, and the first time I saw “a8c” I had no idea what it meant.
Was it a code word for some secret project?
Did everybody else but me know what it meant?
— kat 猫 ✨🐙✨ (@wirehead2501) September 17, 2014
Luckily I’m not the only one who didn’t know of these acronyms, and I’ve since learned about a11n, a12s and even a16z from reading The Hard Things About Hard Things
I’ll be honest and say that I never knew what the hell Il8n meant when reading about translating WordPress into other languages – and probably too lazy to Google it. But now it all clicks!
Consider this a crash course in abbreviations of long words, and know that you aren’t the only one.
After several months of due diligence, we inked the deal in the middle of May and were waiting for closing items to be completed. One of the biggest items on the closing agenda was the approval from SARB. For those fortunate enough to have dealt with the banking system in South Africa, you’ll know that timeframes are very hard to establish.
We had pegged 1 July as the start date for all employee contracts but weren’t too optimistic about getting a response by then. To our surprise, we got the approval on Monday so we could go ahead with the last closing items. We worked frantically for two days to tie all loose ends and finished our accounts for June in record time to allow us to be able to keep the 1 July date.
9th of July would have marked the seventh birthday for WooThemes, after creating it with Mark and Adii back in 2008. It has been one hell of a life-changing journey to be part of, and I’m so happy that our team of 55 people (minus 2) are joining us in this next adventure as part of Automattic.
Today marks my first day at Automattic, and however overwhelming it may be I’m really excited for what the future holds.
To begin in a new company can be overwhelming, especially Automattic which hires only the brightest people. Feelings of not matching up to you new colleagues are often described as impostor syndrome, and this presentation gives a fun explanation of it.
If you’ve worked for Automattic for more than 5 years, we encourage you to take a paid sabbatical of 2 – 3 months. Taking an extended leave allows you to break away from the usual routine and return to work refreshed. “What should I do on a sabbatical?” you may ask? You could use the time to fulfill a goal, build a skill, or do research. Or, simply rest and relax. The key is to get away, renew, and refresh.
Everything I’ve done has led me to this point. What point is that you ask? Let me tell you a story…
In 2006, I discovered WordPress, a content management system used for blogging, which helped me make dynamic and extendable websites.
I made my web designs on top of WordPress, and found how easy it was to build themes, so I decided to give away some themes for free, and eventually thousands of people went on to download these.
Light bulb moment! I saw an opportunity, and started selling a few themes. This led me to meet two fellow entrepreneurs online. From Norway to South Africa, we shared a common interest.
We quickly saw an untapped potential in the market, and in July 9th 2008, we joined forces and co-founded WooThemes.
We continued to dominate this fairly new premium market, and established WooThemes as a well known brand inside the ever growing WordPress community.
Fast forward to 2011, we had been giving our customers the designs and tools they needed to get online, but we were missing one piece of the puzzle. Helping our customers sell their products.
With the help of two great developers from the UK, we built and launched WooCommerce, which has not only become the most popular way to sell products on top of WordPress, but also the most used eCommerce platform in the world, with over 24% market share.
2013 saw the exit of one of our co-founders, which pushed Mark and myself to re-evaluate or position. We journeyed to figure out what was next for Woo, and after doubling the team to a 55 people spread out over 16 different countries and hosting WooConf in San Fransisco for 320 attendees, we were definitely left with an appetite to go even further.
Being a proudly bootstrapped company, we didn’t really need extra funding, but we wanted to partner with someone who could not only help us keep, but also grow our team and market dominance.
We had talks with potential partners, including VC firms and competing companies. This led us to Automattic, who had previously shown great interest in the popularity of WooCommerce. CEO Matt Mullenweg, who is also the co-founder of WordPress, had built his company in the same distributed manner as WooThemes with a team of over 300. This was our dream partner!
After months of fruitful discussions, we’re extremely proud to announce that we’ll be joining forces – WooThemes has been acquired by Automattic!
Together we will continue to help our customers publish their content, and sell their products online!
I couldn’t have reached this stage without the unique individuals on our team, my co-founder Mark, my fiance, friends and family. Thank you.
The future definitely looks bright!
PS. You should consider working with us.
We travelled to Fahrquar in Seychelles for an unforgettable fishing trip in April.