How Do You Successfully Rebrand Established Digital Products or Services 2023?
Are you looking to rebrand an established product or service successfully? This video will teach you the essential steps for successful rebranding. Learn how to identify and analyze your target audience, create a unique and recognizable brand identity, build customer trust, develop effective marketing strategies, and more. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to increase customer loyalty and drive sales! Watch now for valuable tips to help take your business to the next level!
The Show’s Main Interview Topics
#1 – What business drivers were connected to wanting to centralize and rebrand?
#2 – What have been some of the biggest challenges in this rebranding process?
#3 – What are WordPress’s biggest opportunities and challenges over the next few years?
#4 – What are you on thought-connected whole theme editing?
#5 – If you go back to a time machine at the beginning of your career, what key advice would you give yourself?
#6 – Are there any online recourses or books you like to recommend to the audience?
More Information About Devin Walker
Devin Walker is the creator of several reputable WordPress plugins, including GiveWP – the #1 Donation plugin for WordPress. He is also General Manager at StellarWP, leading the teams of several brands, including iThemes (rebranding to SolidWP), Kadence, and IconicWP. He is from and lives in San Diego, California, and actively participates in WordCamps and meetups locally and around the country.
This Week Show’s Sponsors
Sensei LMS: Sensei LMS
[00:00:00.250] – Introduction
Welcome to the WP-Tonic this week in WordPress and SAS podcast. Jonathan Denwood interviews the leading WordPress e-learning and online marketing experts to help WordPress professionals launch their own SaaS.
[00:00:14.840] – Jonathan Denwood
Welcome back, folks, to the WP-Tonic. This week in WordPress and Tech. This is Show 762. Unfortunately, my normal co-host, Kurt It, can’t make it this week, but he will be back next week. We got a fabulous friend of the show, a personal friend, a great WordPress entrepreneur, and a great person in general. We got Devin Walker of Solid WP with us. We will discuss everything about rebranding, the process, and what Devin and his team are trying to do with the rebranding. We’re going to be talking about WordPress in general. We’ve got a load of subjects. It should be a fantastic discussion. So Devin, if you could give us a quick introduction, that would be great. And then, afterward, we can go into the main part of the interview.
[00:01:18.420] – Devin Walker
Sure, let’s do it. Thanks for having me on. First of all, happy to be back on the show. Yeah. So I’m Devin Walker. I live in San Diego, California. I’ve been in WordPress for 13 or 14 years and started building agency websites, working for an agency in downtown San Diego that introduced me to WordPress. They were doing all WordPress sites. Eventually discovered, oh, well, we can create some really cool plugins and themes for WordPress, and then started Tinkering from there. Eventually found my niche with nonprofit websites and, from there, discovered that there was really a need for online fundraising in a first-party platform in WordPress. And that’s where I partnered with my long-term business partner and good friend Matt Cromwell. And we started to Give WP in 2014 and 2015. From there, we grew it for the next six and a half, seven years, and sold it in 2021 to Liquid Web, where I’ve been since. And I got elevated into a general manager position where I’ve taken over more brands like Cadence, Ifeams, Iconic, WP, and of course, still, Give WP. Not so much doing development and design these days, but still getting dangerous with it.
[00:02:45.170] – Devin Walker
Doing a lot of business stuff these days, which is like six, 7 hours of my day. But I still find time to get dangerous with design development.
[00:02:55.030] – Jonathan Denwood
You always got to keep yourself dangerous. That’s what I say. I’ve made a career of it. Before we go into this fantastic interview, I’ve got a couple of messages from our major sponsors. We will be back in a few moments, folks.
[00:03:12.270] – Speaker 4
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[00:03:44.550] – Jonathan Denwood
Hi there, folks, it’s Jonathan Denwood here, and I want to tell you about one of our great sponsors, and that’s zolo.com. If you have a WordPress website membership website and want to link it with a tremendous financial management package, Zolo can provide this solution. So all your bookkeeping needs are done through Zolo. If you need new inbox email functionality and you don’t want to pay the high charges that Google will charge you, Zolo offers an excellent email inbox platform. They’ve got over 50 apps and services that all integrate fantastically with WordPress at great value levels. And they almost always offer a fully functioning pre-product as well. So it’s just amazing value. Also, if you’re a WordPress developer or agency owner, Zolo is looking for great partnerships in the WordPress space to get all this information. All you have to do, folks, is just go to zolo.com, and they have the products you’re looking for. Thank you so much, Zolo, for supporting WP-Tonic, and the machine membership shows it’s much appreciated. We’re coming back, folks, I just want to point out we got some great special offers from our major sponsors.
[00:05:20.050] – Jonathan Denwood
Plus, we have a curated list of the best WordPress plugins, so you don’t have to hunt around the internet or ask Chat GTP what the best plugins are. They’re all listed for the particular task. To find all these goodies, all you have to do is go over to Wptonics deals. Wptonic deals, and you’ll find all the goodies there. Go over the feast. Let’s go straight into it. Devin, so what were the main business drivers around? The kind of centralization and the rebranding. Love the name. Sodi WP, love what you’ve done. Sincerely, I think it’s a fantastic logo rebranding, but it’s a lot of work, and obviously, there had to be like most fins in business, it swings around about you having to make the best logical choices usually. So what were the actual business logic and the discussion around this major? A lot of work involved in rebranding? Devin yeah.
[00:06:39.020] – Devin Walker
Wow. That’s a loaded question. I can start in various places, but let’s just sort of start back when last year and I was happy in Give WP land. Right. Just still focusing on Give WP and items was separate from anything I was doing. Of course, we’re all under Liquid Web, under the stellar WP brand for that’s, like our software, WordPress specific software brand for Liquid Web. But when I was approached to take over multiple brands, itemes being one of them, it was a really interesting opportunity. And I thought about it and it wasn’t just like, yeah, take over items and continue business as usual. It was like, we really need to shake up this brand and figure out where it’s going for the next ten years. Because over the last previous five, I would say the identity has really been sort of lost. With Itemes, for instance, they don’t really even sell themes anymore and they really made their name in 2010, 20 through 2015 ish selling a large, large catalog of themes and that’s where that name really makes sense, right? But eventually they went and they took a number of different bets and some of them worked out really well.
[00:08:14.340] – Devin Walker
For instance, item security. They acquired that plugin back in, I forget the actual year, but around that, 2015 ish time span and that turned into one of their flagship products. It’s got a million active installs. It’s one of the best security offerings for WordPress. If you go to the homepage of Itemes for the last three or four years, it’s like the main hero image. But that has nothing to do really with themes except for securing them and making sure they’re secure. So it was really an identity crisis and this started affecting other things in the business, the direction, and we really needed to set that pathway forward in a way that makes much more sense. So there’s room for growth, room for expansion. And when we took a look at all the offerings, there were a couple of core offerings that they have. There’s backups security and website maintenance, updates and support, which is the sync platform, which is like a competitor to manage WP, if you’re familiar with it. And all these are very foundational product offerings. And what do you want your foundation to be? You want it to be pretty darn solid, right?
[00:09:28.860] – Devin Walker
You don’t want some cracks in the foundation. We all know if you have a home or you bought a home, a crack foundation is not a good thing. You want it very solid. That’s where kind of then our SoCal roots started getting into it. We do say solid a bit down here. I don’t know if it’s a widespread in the US, but there’s a lot of people at Liquid Web saying it now, but that was an available domain name, actually. We purchased it. It was previously bought, of course, it was a premium one and yeah, so all that process took around six months to figure out. The naming took longer than expected, but we’re really happy where we landed on it and we’re still going through this process right now. We haven’t yet launched our rebranded products, but we’re not just slapping a new logo, a new coat of paint on it, we’re adding a lot more features and value to these products as well. So that’s also adding to the time. But yeah, that’s a bit more in depth of an answer, but that gets you a little bit of where the thought process of this rebrand came from.
[00:10:34.880] – Jonathan Denwood
Yes, totally, I followed the logic totally. Did you hire a branding agency or did you do the majority of work in house?
[00:10:44.350] – Devin Walker
The majority of all the branding work, 100% of it was in house. So we have engaged with a third party agency, not for any branding, but for the SEO migration. Yes, because we have, you can imagine over the span of the lifetime of the Items website, there’s quite a few valuable articles. For instance, if you Google what is WordPress? We’re the first article that shows up there. And that’s a pretty highly trafficked post. So we want to make sure we’re moving over this content to the new domain and preserving as much of those rankings as possible. So that’s why we engage with a professional who just does SEO all the time. Company not an individual.
[00:11:33.290] – Jonathan Denwood
Yeah, I can totally understand because that must have been one of the concerns. You must have had a lot of discussion about that, about the consequence of all the content and the SEO and how you were going to deal with that, with the rebranding. That must have been one of the major issues around it. So let’s move on to the other question. So what have been some of the biggest challenges that you didn’t expect that maybe were slightly more surprising to you in in this whole process? If has anything come up that you didn’t expect?
[00:12:12.730] – Devin Walker
Something at every corner? Johnson after ten plus years of building a business, there’s a lot of things that get created, forgotten, picked up, put down over the years, and coming in as a new leader in the company. One of my first tasks was trying to understand the whole ecosystem of what Items has created over the years. And wow, it is so much. There’s a lot of stuff there. Like, for instance, their ecommerce platform and checkout process is all custom built using like a symphony PHP framework that is not documented. So there’s a huge lack of documentation. The business leaders please document it because if you sell it and then hand it off later, it’s going to make it a whole lot easier for whoever takes it over. But serious lack of documentation. So we’ve had to do a ton of discovery work and create those docs around it. There’s a whole cloud ecosystem of dev servers and staging sites that are spun up and sitting around that are costing the company that we’ve had to discover, find out what they’re used for, see if they’re still in use, shut those down, inventory them for later.
[00:13:42.550] – Devin Walker
That’s been a fun experience. I question some of these decisions, why they were made, but I also understand that some of them were made back in 2012 when this was the right thing to do. Companies like this size that are relatively smaller cap have to move really fast and don’t have a lot of time to do homework and clean up work. So I can understand why that’s come in. But we’ve had to do some of that inventory and clean up. What can we move now? What can we just shut down what needs to wait till later? What, can we migrate in phases and there’s something new all the time. When we first got into this, we’re like, we’re going to get rid of this custom ecommerce gateway cart with Recurly that’s charging, like, ungodly amount of money for our subscriptions. For some reason. We’re going to go to WooCommerce and stripe and license. Sounds like a pretty picture. Oh, no. Well, all the licensing works in a custom way with thousands and thousands of alive customers. Right now it’s integrated with S three. It’s just like a tangled web that you just want to pick up and move to the new location.
[00:14:51.190] – Devin Walker
Now, we don’t want to even mess with that until later this year, next year. So it’s been a sobering reality. You get into these things and you’re like, wow, we’re going to end this out in a couple of months. But when you get really into it, you’re like, wow, this is going to take a year to complete.
[00:15:08.530] – Jonathan Denwood
Yeah, I totally follow it. It’s all about it’s a strange mixture, being successful in business. Devin this is only my reflection. You got to really be truthful. Unless you’ve got somebody, a co founder or somebody, you can normally you need to have vision, but you also got to be able to deal with the nitty gritty. Just having really great vision is great, but if you got no ability to execute and deal with the nitty gritty, you got problems, haven’t you?
[00:15:47.230] – Devin Walker
Absolutely. This has been really interesting experience because I’ve migrated old client sites and customer sites, pretty big ones, using being in the agency world for so many years. But when you’re talking about migrating a whole business and a website and the products, it’s a whole lot more than starting a business from scratch or just migrating a client side.
[00:16:09.190] – Jonathan Denwood
It is, certainly. Let’s move on. This is only my spin on it. Devin I think in the past two to three years, WordPress has been in a dizzy it’s a kind of English term in a period of rapid change around Gutenberg recently about false editing. Obviously, Cadence, I interviewed the founder, he’s joined you. He’s a fantastic developer like yourself. What he managed to build with himself and a small team is mighty impressive. And Cadence isn’t full site editing at the present moment. I think it’s one of the main players, spectre, Cadence, there’s a couple of others, but there is either the top one or the second top one, depending on your opinion. Obviously, Specter comes from a fantastic team as well. What was your reaction to the latest upgrade in WordPress and full site editing, if you want to pass an opinion? Devin.
[00:17:48.950] – Devin Walker
I think I thought there was some good morsels of UI UX in there, but it wasn’t like I was clamoring to go redesign my website to be a full site editing capable website. I was very happy with Cadence and I’ve used astra plenty I’ve used Generate Press, I’ve used blocks, I’ve used them all. They’re all sort of similar in that block based editing page building experience. So the full site editing experience was a bit different from what I was used to. I like some of the development practices, but again, with some of the documentation and just where to find things and how to get started was sort of different areas. I think WordPress would be much better to roll out like a consolidated Getting Started guide for full state editing. Overall, I haven’t put one opinion or another on it. I think time will tell. It’s a little too early to see. Don’t think it probably should have gotten the beta tag released or removed from it. I still think it’s beta.
[00:19:09.230] – Jonathan Denwood
I would agree with you.
[00:19:11.570] – Devin Walker
Yeah. I’m not sure if it’s the future or not. So I’m sitting back waiting and seeing.
[00:19:17.890] – Jonathan Denwood
Well, my understanding you’re more advanced developer than I was, but I still play around a little bit. My understanding from other people that know a lot more is that it supposedly makes making themes and utilizing the power of blocks a lot easier. My only concern is that we had a period of flux and I know the team had worked hard to deal with the bugs and some of the UX issues, which I think also affected the adoptation and the basic what a lot non power, non developer users commented about Gutenberg and its general reception in the market. I personally think it’s getting better, but one of the problems was that the UX design wasn’t up to snuff and that’s taken a long time and I still feel it needs a lot more work, but it has got better. Do you think there’s any logic in what I’ve just stated, Devin?
[00:20:42.230] – Devin Walker
Absolutely. That was one of my big issues with Gutenberg. After playing with Beaver Builder for many years, playing with elementary not just playing, building actually really great looking websites and powerful websites with these and developing my own modules and creating on those two page builders, not to mention all the others. And then going to Gutenberg head has gotten a lot better, but it’s taken a long time and it’s a lot different when the community is working together to create something versus a private company. The private company can go light speed faster than the community. Like every discussion, to change a button or any small element in Gutenberg requires 50 pages of back and forth on GitHub before it’s either shut down or somebody takes it and runs with it. So somehow, sometimes the community just gets in the way of itself and innovation. And then I feel the end result is sort of a slower and more lackluster experience that we’re seeing now. That’s not the case for everything, but I had an idea for a while to run or to create a blog post that’s in a similar vein, like WordPress. Stop getting in the way of WordPress or the community gets stop getting in the way of WordPress or something because it does stifle innovation in a way.
[00:22:04.940] – Devin Walker
But at the same time it’s a community led project and you don’t want people making decisions in some closed door room. So it’s a tough balance.
[00:22:13.850] – Jonathan Denwood
Well, I don’t actually see it. I totally agree with you your observation here, but I don’t think it’s all zero one situation. It’s a bit like democracy in general. There’s a reason why most western or functioning democracies are representative democracies rather than the classical Greek where everybody had a vote. The problem with that is that most people haven’t got the time because they need to work to make a living and they need time for their families, so they can’t spend time researching what the best policy documents are on some. That’s why we elect politicians or representation to do supposedly do that research, because we can’t do it. So it’s all right giving us the vote, but half the time we don’t even know what we are voting for because we haven’t spent the time on the nitty gritty. It’s a bit like running a business, you can be introduced, but until you really get into the nitty gritty, which you have mentioned in the earlier part, this interview, you don’t really know what you’re getting into, do you?
[00:23:34.950] – Devin Walker
Beautifully said. Exactly.
[00:23:37.510] – Jonathan Denwood
So I just think when it comes to WordPress, there has to be found a slot, maybe a slight balance where you have small teams, you give them their authority, but in the end you also give some voice to the larger community. But you do it in a way that these small teams are given the authority and oxygen to actually move the project a higher speed. And I think that would probably be the best compromise. But I think everything you’ve said about the slowness of the process linked to it being an open source project is totally correct. Devin, we’re going to go for our break. Got some other fabulous questions. I really enjoyed the discussion already. We will be back in a few moments, folks.
[00:24:32.950] – Speaker 5
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[00:25:05.170] – Speaker 6
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[00:25:42.830] – Jonathan Denwood
We’re coming back, folks. Just want to point out that Wptonic provides great hosting solutions in the membership and community website. We host some very large websites. We’re always looking for WordPress Partners to host and have a partnership with Wptonic. If that sounds interesting, why don’t you go over to Wptonic Partners, wptonic Partners, and have a look at what we got to offer. We got over 20 years experience in WordPress. Like I say, we specialize in large hosting, large membership community websites on WordPress. So let’s go a bit further into it. So I think we probably covered the whole theme editing. Where do you I get the feeling, and I just wanted to see if you think I’m on the right track. I got the feeling that WordPress, it’s around 42 to between 44% of the market, I think, in Northern America and Western Europe. I think that’s declined a little bit. I think that’s been hidden by upturn in users in the Indian subcontinent and other parts of the world. But the growth has slowed down to some extent. Is that your feeling about it, or do you think the growth has been a bit more generally?
[00:27:25.790] – Devin Walker
I think you’re spot on. I think we evaluate lots of businesses in WordPress as well at Stellar LiquidWeb, and I see a lot of revenue for various types of businesses, and then I see what WordPress has grown or how it’s grown over the last couple of years. And it’s the same story. It’s the same story with a lot of them. It’s from 2018 to 2020. We all saw pretty steady. And in the case of 2019, 2020, quite a substantial growth curve, right? And you’ll see that a lot of people got online in 2020. We all know why, and we all did pretty darn well. If you had a decent product in WordPress during that year, and that meant WordPress grew, people wanted to get online. They wanted to do it in a flexible way that wasn’t going to break the bank and use some proprietary SharePoint platform that cost $20,000 a year. And WordPress is a great fit for that, a great community around it. But then what happened, 90% of the Word camps got killed off in 2020. That’s probably not the best Word use, but they got shut down, and the community is still struggling for it.
[00:28:45.100] – Devin Walker
Right. There was going to be a Word camp, San Diego, three years later, it’s not even organizing team. Same thing in La. Same thing in Las Vegas. Like, just look at this. That means less popularity, less people pumping up the platform. And stagnant negative growth is the result of that. Same thing in the revenue side for businesses that I’m looking at, 2021, maybe a little bit of growth at some companies. If you’re smaller, cap lower, like less than a million, you probably saw decent growth over a million. You’re struggling, especially this year too, unless you’re doing something really good and unique and on that growth curve. It’s the same way with WordPress and it’s growth as far as I’ve seen.
[00:29:30.310] – Jonathan Denwood
I think you’re spot on about the Word camps, but I think we got to be brutally frank here, or we don’t have to, but I think I can be with you. You’re up for it? Is that the competition has hotened up? Wix used to be a bit of a joke, isn’t a joke now. They’ve really made it into I would look at some other alternatives. Squarespace getting very serious with a very serious marketing budget in the membership community space. A ton of SaaS competition from Kajabi Teachable. There’s about half a dozen of them.
[00:30:20.150] – Devin Walker
Even Canva has websites now.
[00:30:23.430] – Jonathan Denwood
Yeah, which isn’t very impressive at the present moment. But it will only get better and better, will it not? So in almost every industry there is SaaS website CRM competitors to WordPress almost in every sector nibbling at the whole pie. Do you think there’s any way that I think one of the consequences of all the energy and time around gutenberg, which I totally actually I totally understand and totally agree. I just have some problems with the way it’s been managed and implemented. But I totally understand the business logic behind it. But I think that one of the consequences. The onboarding and the interface of WordPress looks pretty clunky. Do you think if money and energy was spent on that, it would help? Or are the fundamentals it’s just a much more competitive market in general?
[00:31:37.630] – Devin Walker
Well, there’s definitely the competition. You’re absolutely right about that. I think you’re hitting both sides of the equation here with the competition stepping up their game and then WordPress sort of stepping up their game, but being slow to the mark. And with the admin interface, like MP Eight or whatever that code name of that interface was that came out ten years ago. It’s ten years old now, at least, I think, maybe a little more. And nothing got me really super excited recently in make WordPress.org as much as seeing a concept for what that interface could become. And I don’t know if you saw that little quick short video of sort of a Squarespace type experience in WordPress.
[00:32:24.120] – Jonathan Denwood
No, I didn’t actually. I didn’t miss that one.
[00:32:26.620] – Devin Walker
Yeah, it was really neat, but it was like a Reactful smooth transition, more seamless experience, like a single page application experience in WordPress. And that’s where I think WordPress needs to go. It needs to be easier for the beginners. One of my buddies is a restaurant tour. He’s a really great chef and he’s just opening a new restaurant and he tried WordPress and he’s relatively technical guy for being a chef and he just couldn’t do it on his own and didn’t have budget for an agency and these types of things. So what did he do? He went to Squarespace and he spun up a pretty decent site in a short amount of time. And that’s where WordPress is losing. Right there is those types of individual mom pops, typically not building for themselves, not reaching out to a freelancer or an agency to build it for them. I think the agencies still prefer WordPress personally.
[00:33:28.770] – Jonathan Denwood
You got Doodle, you got about two to three major competitors. Was it called, I forgot, Drupal? Not Drupal. It’s called something else. And there’s another one, even on the agency side of Finns, there’s a couple.
[00:33:47.430] – Devin Walker
Serious there’s a ton of good ones, I think. What was this one I was looking at the other day? There’s Versaille, which is a cool looking thing, I think that’s one. And then there’s astro. There’s great development experiences that are like Next JS Reactful. The stack for WordPress, frankly, is a little it’s not the coolest looking stack anymore.
[00:34:08.970] – Jonathan Denwood
Yeah, I think the other problem is what you’ve just hinted is you got the DIY, the small business owner, but one of the major drivers of WordPress has been the freelance agency professional market. Is it possible to build something? It’s tricky. I wouldn’t have thought it’s impossible though. But is it possible? I suppose this was the whole internal discussion, and I’m only surmising this inside Automatic is that gayful? And it’s still possible, but they really need to get moving is to build a platform on WordPress.com that can satisfy the DIY and also do the same on Ecommerce. Because obviously to me, they seem to be leaving a lot of money on the table as a much easier competitor to Squarespace. But then with WordPress.org, that needs love. But that can be a product that really appeals to the freelancer and to the agency. Is it possible to square these competing business buckets or is that not possible? And is that fundamentally one of the key factors of it? It seemingly be a bit skit side at the present moment.
[00:35:45.310] – Devin Walker
Yeah, it’s a very interesting question because I’m not too privy on what goes on behind closed doors at Automatic. I just can speculate on how these things are and they’re trying to grow business over there. The point of a business is to make money and to return for investors and provide good products and all that. But I feel like they’re sort of stifled in that journey by keep to their credit, keeping the core tenets of like, we’re tied to WordPress, we’re tied to WooCommerce. Everything that we do needs to take these platforms and make them better for our platform. WordPress.com, from what I see, just got a caveat. All this, this could be completely wrong and the products aren’t ready for where they want to go. I’m sure they would love a more shopify like experience for WooCommerce, right? Getting it to be more shopify like or SaaS like with consolidated user experience across the ecosystems of offerings. They’re getting there with WooCommerce payments. First party subscriptions and these types of things, and you slowly see it coming. But then once you have to reach outside their ecosystem, it gets a little muddled and it’s tough.
[00:37:14.240] – Devin Walker
It’s like you’re building Lego blocks that come from different sets to try to build one cohesive piece versus starting with one set and building it from scratch and not having any community to have to take care of as well. So it’s complex. Like if you’re squarespace, you own the platform, you own everything. You can move and migrate and switch it up how you want versus WordPress and WooCommerce, which has the community, it has the and all that, 60,000 plus plugins themes, thousands of community members, and then the SAS, VIP, all that. It’s just a big monolith of craziness that it’s hard to move it forward and grow substantially.
[00:38:02.890] – Jonathan Denwood
I thought I would ask you because you’re dealing with lesser, but you’re dealing with a similar kind of situation and that’s what Solid WP. I’ve got some good news, but I’ve got some bad news for you. Sure, Devin. Jason from WP Engine has been on the show a couple of times recently and I admire Jason enormously. He’s one of the most sharpest entrepreneurs that I know and very bright and open guy what I’ve seen, and I’ve always admired WP’s Engines clear strategy that I could see in their plugin purchases and how they integrated them. Studio Press goodbye, bought at a pretty good price, really appealed to the hardcore WordPress development crowd. They would love WP Engine, the other plugins. Now, when it comes to Liquid Web purchases, I’ve got to be honest with you. This is before you got involved. Really? I got to tell you, I thought it was a dog’s breath. I didn’t understand why they were buying stuff. I only come to the conclusion that they were buying plugins and other companies just to buy the audience. They did the math under your stewardship. What I see with Solid WP and what you’re doing, you seem to be really understanding that you’re going to have to take these separate bits and build a consistent brand.
[00:40:03.570] – Jonathan Denwood
And EFOS, which WP Engine has seen to do with integrating their plug in purchases. Was what WP Engine doing, was it influence and was it one of the factors why you knew you had to do a rebranding and a big dive with Solid WP?
[00:40:25.750] – Devin Walker
I wouldn’t say it was a major influence. We knew we had to go down this route prior to a lot of their new, more recent purchases. But we have been watching what they’ve been doing.
[00:40:41.700] – Jonathan Denwood
Obviously. We all watch one another, don’t we?
[00:40:44.050] – Devin Walker
Yeah, exactly. And I know a lot of people over there as well. I don’t know Jason specifically, but I watch his tweets and things like that. But there is a foundation, like a structure and a method to the mayhem of the businesses that Liquid Web purchased prior to me, ever coming on board or ever being acquired by Liquid Web. They sold me on this model where obviously we have a lot of commerce products, right, give WP, Learn, TC, those are commerce products with tickets sales and commerce really interests us as well as foundational offerings like security backups where you have a potential eye on performance and SEO. So this is like a multi year plan that’s taken place and it was in process prior to me coming on board. And the hardest part is then to consolidate them and start bringing them into the hosting. So with Solid, you’re going to start seeing some more once we get the brand out the door. The next mission is to then start integrating it with our managed hosting and some of our other environments there. You can get item security right now with Nexus hosting, but I’ll be honest with you, Jonathan, the software and the hosting side need to talk a whole lot more at Liquid Web, and we’re starting to do that.
[00:42:17.050] – Devin Walker
We have a big get together plan for WordCamp Europe and 2023 was really the year of like, okay, we’re going to turn items around, make this really a great foundational offering of software products that will fit our hosting model perfectly. Later this year or early next year is really where we’re going to start now, implementing this into the hosting. Heck, you might even see Solid hosting be something on its own. We’ll see there’s plenty of opportunity here, but I can understand from the outside looking in it’s like, what’s stellar, how’s that related to Liquid Web and then what’s Give WP and what are you guys doing over there?
[00:42:58.410] – Jonathan Denwood
I’m just giving you my honest feedback from there.
[00:43:01.240] – Devin Walker
I appreciate it.
[00:43:03.130] – Jonathan Denwood
But on the other hand, I was complementing your stewardship under the rebranding and the name I see much more coherence and obviously I think you’re committed, as committed as anybody in seeing this through. And you got a track record of seeing stuff through and I think you’re quite capable of doing it. You and your partner in crime from your days at Give WP. Just a quick question before we end with the last two questions. GoDaddy. I’ve been very rude about GoDaddy over the years. Very nice people when you meet them at Word camps. The founder, I didn’t really like the gentleman that particular and his philosophy.
[00:44:02.980] – Devin Walker
And some of these, the old founder, yes, they moved on quite a bit past.
[00:44:10.050] – Jonathan Denwood
They seemed to have chosen, they always attempted, they had like two to three different waves of integrating themselves a lot more in the WordPress community with various levels of success. But they always also, because of their size and history, never really seemed to be part of WordPress either. I’m just giving probably unfair there, but that was my feeling about it. Where WP engine and some of your colleagues, you’re from WordPress, you built your initial successful business careers based on WordPress so you got a much more closer understanding of the whole all the balls where GoDaddy always seemed to be outsider that was attempting to kind of push in. They’ve seemed to have given up in a way, because they’ve got their own page builder and they also seem to be going their own way when it comes to ecommerce as well. Was you surprised at that? Would you agree, what I’ve just outlined? And was you surprised with the way they’re going?
[00:45:34.090] – Devin Walker
I would say I don’t agree with all that. I would say GoDaddy, as far as my personal experience with them, has been more involved than WP Engine. Maybe that’s because they’re based in Tempe and I know a lot of the folks that work there and have over the years. And we hosted at Pageley for a long time, which was one of the greatest hosts, and GoDaddy bought it and then Strebels are doing great, but they’re no longer there. And GoDaddy had all these layoffs and a lot of them were from Paigely. They did the same thing with SkyVerge.
[00:46:17.220] – Jonathan Denwood
Which was well, I’m sorry, Interrupt, isn’t it a very similar prayer book with Media Temple? Because Media Temple in the they did.
[00:46:26.350] – Devin Walker
Exactly this goes on and on like Sky, Verge, you sell to them and it’s good for like four, six months and then it’s a skeleton crew running it. Look@managewp.com, that was one of the first acquisitions that happened in the WordPress space many years ago. The site looks the same. Look at Sakuri. The site looks the same. It just looks like they buy and they die.
[00:46:57.590] – Jonathan Denwood
Because the truth is, we’re talking about I don’t know what the net turnover GoDaddy was last year, but it was billions and billions and billions. This is just really small beer to them, isn’t it?
[00:47:13.610] – Devin Walker
This stuff’s like rounding air on their PNLs, so they’re not too concerned with that. Despite all that, I want to say there are some great things coming out of GoDaddy, like this headless checkout thing Scott Bollinger is working on. That’s just one of many new things that I’ve seen coming out of there. I know there’s this whole managed WordPress managed WooCommerce offering that. I’ve taken a look at iterated over the years. I’ve heard good things, I’ve heard really bad things. But the interface around it and some of the stuff that they’re building on WordPress is pretty impressive. They also have GoDaddy payments, which offers some of the load. They bought a bank to open a gateway to offer solutions for WooCommerce and start taking pieces up. Now, Molenweg freaking hates that because they’re.
[00:48:04.750] – Jonathan Denwood
Making well, he got Twitter late at night when he was knocking the whiskey back. You don’t do that. You probably don’t drink.
[00:48:13.550] – Devin Walker
He wants to own all the payments in WooCommerce and that’s a very lucrative business to be in. And GoDaddy just straight up bought a bank. And I don’t know if that’s the whole play, but it’s a very interesting conversation with that company is doing.
[00:48:30.370] – Jonathan Denwood
This movie on, got ten more minutes. Because you’re a busy guy, you got a lot of work to do. If you had a time machine doctor who, the TARDIS. If you had a time machine and you could go back to your early days with WP, give or Give WP, what would you tell yourself? Would there be one or two things you wish you knew that you know now?
[00:48:58.830] – Devin Walker
Absolutely. I would say focus more. That’s something that I see a lot of WordPress businesses get wrong specifically, too, in the WooCommerce spaces. They just try to build everything under the sun, and they don’t have enough focus on their primary offering or niche. So we had Give WP, and it was starting to really have a lot of momentum, and we weren’t patient enough with that momentum and continue to build and foster the community. And I think it set us back. I’m not sure how much, maybe a year or two, because we said, okay, this gift thing is growing. That’s great. Let’s go build a Maps plugin, like a Google Maps visual editing plugin that you could build store had nothing to do with nonprofits donations or anything like that. That took us quite some time to do that. And we built some other products, too. None of them did really all that well. We had to shut down a few of them and sell off a couple of others. But all that got in the way of continued driving success with our main core product, Give WP. And that’s what I would say most people do is they start something, maybe grow it a little, launch it, and then start something else and put it down.
[00:50:14.710] – Devin Walker
They need to foster and grow and nurture it into something. Give it three to five years. If it’s not where you want it to be, then you can make that decision to move on.
[00:50:26.330] – Jonathan Denwood
Yeah, I think that’s great advice, actually. Thanks for that. So are there any kind of online resources or books you read recently? If you’ve had the time to read anything? Because it sounds like you’re pretty busy. But are there any consistent online resources or books that you’ve read in the past year that you would like to share with the audience that kind of really run a bell with you? And do you learn a little bit from.
[00:50:56.370] – Devin Walker
I’m constantly reading. Well, I’ve been really fascinated with Sam Altman recently. The OpenAI CEO. I went to Stripe Sessions, I think it was about earlier, it was like a month ago or something, and saw him speak with Patrick Carlson, one of the co founders of Stripe, and that was really inspiring. So I’ve been reading a lot and watching a lot of what he’s been doing over the years and just learning more about him. Say what you want about Elon Musk, but I do constantly follow him and what he’s doing with his companies. Simon Sinnick is always good and then I’m a YouTube addict, but I use.
[00:51:38.110] – Jonathan Denwood
It to calm down because it’s so intense business, isn’t it? I just have to spend, like, 15 minutes watching a couple YouTube just to calm myself down a bit.
[00:51:50.980] – Devin Walker
Yeah. What do you watch?
[00:51:54.310] – Jonathan Denwood
I have a mixing. I have people that have moved to foreign countries and trying to build a life for themselves. For some reason, I’ve always been a car nut. I actually got done for speeding this morning. Listening. I watched some car review websites, and then all the rest is business. I’m determined to build a good business with WP-Tonic. We’re making good traction, but business is not accessible, as you know, Devin. It’s a grind, isn’t it?
[00:52:30.770] – Devin Walker
It is very much a grind, yeah.
[00:52:33.490] – Jonathan Denwood
Right. It’s been a fabulous discussion. Hopefully, you have to come back a bit soon as time goes quickly. What’s the best way for people to learn more about your faults and what you’re up to, Devin?
[00:52:48.080] – Devin Walker
[00:52:48.780] – Jonathan Denwood
[00:52:49.190] – Devin Walker
I’ve actually been blogging more this year. It’s not consistent, and I want to get more into WordPress tutorials and blogging as I did back in 2011, 2012. But that being said, go to my website, Devin.org Dvin.org, and then you’ll find everything about me there.
[00:53:08.120] – Jonathan Denwood
And I want to say, to you, Devin is a great guy. He gave me some advice and took pity on me on a couple of Word camps where I look like a lost dog. He’s a very sincere, decent man and very approachable. And if you get the ability to have a chat with him at a Word camp, you should take it. Unfortunately, I can’t attend this year, but maybe next year. Are you going? To Greece.
[00:53:37.660] – Devin Walker
Yeah, we’ve got a bunch of us going and being there for ten days.
[00:53:41.780] – Jonathan Denwood
It’s going to be hot.
[00:53:43.290] – Devin Walker
Yeah, I heard that it’s going to.
[00:53:45.300] – Jonathan Denwood
Be baking, but you enjoy it. Greece is fantastic. And so did the Greece Greek people. We will be back next week with enough fabulous interviews. We’ll see you soon, folks. Bye.
[00:53:58.030] – Speaker 1
Hey, thanks for listening. We really do appreciate it. Why not visit the Mastermind Facebook group? And also, to keep up with the latest news, click Wptonic.com Forward slash newsletter. We’ll see you next time.
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