WP Engine started eight years ago as a new member of the WordPress community. Being a productive member of any community means helping everyone else to grow and prosper, just as the community has done and continues to do for us.
We felt so strongly about this, that five years ago we codified it as one of our five core values: “Committed to Giving Back.”
Over the years, we’ve stayed true to this value in a number of ways, such as sponsoring hundreds of WordCamps and WordPress community meetups, completely funding the number one editorially-independent publication for WordPress today, Torque, and contributing directly to WordPress Core. In all, our contributions to the WordPress community in time, money, writing, coding and thought leadership totaled more than $1.7 million in 2017 and we’re already doing even more this year.
As WP Engine continues to grow and scale, the way we give back to the WordPress community must grow and scale also, which was one of the deciding factors behind our acquisition of StudioPress—our largest acquisition in WP Engine’s history.
StudioPress’ Genesis Framework is the most popular framework for advanced developers to build beautiful, future-proof themes for WordPress. Genesis is well-known for being efficient, fast, and secure. More than 1 million WordPress sites have used Genesis Framework as the foundation of their site, and thousands of designers and agencies use it for their projects.
This success is due to the efforts of the Genesis community that’s risen up around the quality, design, and leadership set by the Genesis core team, particularly the lead developers Brian Gardner and Nathan Rice. This world-wide group of developers, engineers and digital marketers has done a wonderful job of building, maintaining and evangelizing the framework over the past ten years, and continues to support it via online forums, including a community-sponsored Facebook group that boasts nearly 10,000 members. While StudioPress deserves the credit for inventing and evolving a robust and user-friendly product, the Genesis community has catapulted that product into the leadership position it has enjoyed for years.
We see an opportunity to invest in Genesis to evolve and continue to serve the community that relies on it. We also see an opportunity to release more new themes that deliver great experiences for a range of vertical industries.
One of the fundamental tenets of Genesis and indeed WordPress in general is openness—both in the sense of being open source (GPL), and in the sense of being available anywhere, for anyone. WP Engine will continue to honor that—we will never, for example, lockdown Genesis to work only with WP Engine, or change the fact that Genesis and Genesis child themes are GPL. We acquired StudioPress to accelerate the growth of the Genesis framework and the vibrant community that has grown up around it.
How will we do this? We’ll begin by investing in Genesis at a scale that’s never been done before. This will include investing in the engineering efforts behind the framework, investing in the creation of new themes and investing in the economy of the framework and the partners who make products that support and rely on it.
Our intention with this acquisition is to fuel the Genesis community both by hiring new people to work on different aspects of the framework and to expand on its community activities, which will range from things like providing more opportunities for the community to drive the evolution of StudioPress products to expanded support within the online communities around Genesis. It will also mean creating new themes and more third-party themes created by the community available inside the StudioPress marketplace.
By fueling one of the most important communities and technologies in WordPress, we also help the wider WordPress community grow. We firmly believe by extending good stewardship over such an influential and powerful framework we’ll help WordPress to advance in the wider market.
Genesis also has an important role to play in supporting the roll-out of Gutenberg, the new content authoring platform that will launch broadly in WordPress version 5.0. There’s been plenty of concern about how Gutenberg will affect existing plugins and themes, so Genesis can serve as an example for how Gutenberg can work brilliantly. This directly advances the goals of WordPress Core. This precedent doesn’t stop with Gutenberg, either. Gutenberg is the transformation of today—there will be more tomorrow. While the topic of the day will change, the idea of supporting Core through themes and theme frameworks that support those efforts is an asset for the wider WordPress community.
We believe WP Engine’s acquisition of StudioPress is beneficial for everyone. The Genesis framework will have additional resources to grow and flourish. The WordPress community will see one of its most popular theme frameworks attract even more users and enthusiasts. And the WP Engine Digital Experience Platform will expand, providing its customers with an even more powerful platform to help them win online.
Our Commitment to Give Back began as an aspiration and has grown as we’ve grown as a company. With the acquisition of StudioPress, we’re opening a new chapter for Genesis, for WP Engine and for WordPress.