Keynote Summit/2021: The Power of the WordPress Economy

WP Engine, the WordPress technology company, is participating in one of the largest accelerations in human economic history: the rush from offline to online amid the global pandemic. Against this backdrop, WordPress is playing an increasingly vital role in winning the web—it now powers more than 42% of all websites and it’s being used for everything from eCommerce to digital publishing and beyond.

In this session from Summit/2021, WP Engine Chairwoman & CEO Heather Brunner explores the surging digital landscape, the rapid adoption of WordPress, and the incredible WordPress Economy that’s developed around it all.

Video: The Power of the WordPress Economy

In this session, WP Engine Chairwoman & CEO Heather Brunner discusses:

  • The people, the technology, and the sheer market share of WordPress, which have grown into a massive ecosystem valued at just under $600 billion (and forecast to reach $635 billion by the end of 2021).
  • Reasons behind the success of WordPress, from community inclusion to dedicated engineers and developers to cutting-edge technology that’s building the future of the web.
  • WP Engine’s platform, our Core Values, and the way we empower customers every day with the freedom to create amazing digital experiences on WordPress.

The impact of WordPress is clear to see, and again, the power of WordPress really is all of us coming together. So let’s give back to WordPress, let’s keep it thriving and growing. Contribute however you can. Participate, host, speak, share your knowledge. Let’s give back, and let’s champion each other.

WP Engine Chairwoman & CEO Heather Brunner

Full text transcript

HEATHER BRUNNER: Hello, friends. Please allow me to give you a warm WP Engine welcome on behalf of our global team. We’ve been working really hard to make sure that today is one full of ideas, learning, and inspiration, because every day, you inspire us. You’re creators, builders, entrepreneurs, owners, doing all kinds of great things, building your brands and businesses every day in inspiring ways.

And we can’t wait to share more about what we’re thinking about as part of this incredible WordPress community. We are all part of a thriving dynamic global community that is the power of WordPress. And WordPress is much more than technology and tools. It is really the power of the people. It’s truly a force multiplier.

People like you. You are WordPress. You are part of what makes this community so special, and together, we’re building something incredible. And people are really the power of this community.

People like Anne. Anne is WordPress. As the founder of Kanopi Studios, she’s helping to design and build experiences for clients that are changing the world. And people like Phil Crumm, who is a VP at 10up, helping enterprise brands build their brands and bring their voice to life on WordPress.

And people like Juan Garcia down in Sydney, Australia, the VP of technology at whiteGREY Agency, pressing the envelope of what’s possible for enterprise brands. For example, building an incredible headless technology site and experience for Volvo. And people like Lisa Cheatham, who’s the VP of eCommerce at Great American Cookies. And when the pandemic hit, she worked with her agency partners to take the power of WordPress and WooCommerce to build and bring their retail experience online and bring those cookies to the world.

So the people of WordPress really inspire us, and at WP Engine, our mission is, we power the freedom to create. Hopefully to power your freedom to create, your freedom to be part of this dynamic community. And we’re also inspired every day by our five core values.

And today, in particular, Committed to Give Back. Committed to Give Back for us is all about how we provide and help advance the WordPress community through original contribution, through thought leadership, and active participation. And it’s that inspiration that led us to really be curious and to want to figure out how to give back in a way to see how big the world is—this is that inspiration that gave us the vision to embark upon the world’s first WordPress economic study.

We partnered with leading researchers at Vanson Bourne and at the University of London, and we worked with over 800 partners, 400 businesses, and 400 end-users, and partnered with over 103 research group partners, many of you who are here today, to embark upon this study. We’re so humbled to be joined in this study by an amazing group of research partners— people who are building technology, tools, agency leaders, really across the globe who participated and helped make this study really powerful, incredible. And we thank you for your participation.

So the WordPress economy. It is very, very dynamic. It’s vast. And so let’s dive in and see what we’ve learned. So, first off, you all may know that WordPress is now powering 41% of the web and is the leader in usage across the entire web, and truly is running the internet. The growth over the last few years has been absolutely stunning.

And WordPress hit a major milestone towards the end of last year, surpassing hand-coded sites as the top way to power websites. And with WordPress powering 41% of the web, you may think, well what about this— who’s number two? And the number two is Shopify at 3.4% of the web and Squarespace at 1.6%. So truly, the top CMS in the world, which has continued growing, even despite the pandemic, has been WordPress.

And really, what’s fueling that and that breakdown of what’s happening in WordPress? With 82 million WordPress sites over the world, not only powering a massive number of sites but also 35% of the top 10,000 sites by traffic. And we also know that, again, the community, we have 535 cities that have hosted WordPress Meetups and over 1,000 WordCamps across the globe, across all of these Meetups and WordCamps happening across 60 countries on six continents. So there’s still a lot of countries for us to get to inspire.

And the WordPress ecosystem is truly built through a multivariate set of tools, technologies, and people. We have 500 average core contributors contributing to the WordPress project and giving updates and keeping it fresh and updated. We have over 50,000 agencies across the globe that are serving this community, leveraging and powered by 11,000 themes and 58,000 WordPress plugins across this ecosystem, and over 500 providers of technology and hosting, just like WP Engine on our platform, helping to power and give you confidence to use WordPress.

And we’ve seen that the digital economy is 22% of the global economy. The World Bank has estimated that the global economy is $87 trillion, and again, 22% of that—roughly just under $20 trillion — is the digital economy. And so we were curious as we researched, again diving into WordPress, how big is the WordPress economy of that digital economy?

And we’re seeing that the economic value of the WordPress ecosystem is just under $600 billion. It’s a staggering amount and it’s continuing to grow. And we see that the value of the WordPress ecosystem will be over $635 billion by the end of 2021.

And as you think about this and take a moment to reflect on this, this is really, you think about the billions of dollars that are flowing through eCommerce, powered by Woo, powered by other CMSs that are also using WordPress as the CMS. The billions of dollars that are happening in terms of advertising revenue and digital spend that are happening, the billions of dollars flowing through the infrastructure providers, billions of dollars flowing through agencies. Again, it’s a massive ecosystem that together, we are all helping to shape and be a part of.

And if you think about what are some of the reasons for the success of WordPress and the key drivers, the first one is really inclusion. Inclusion is really at the heart of WordPress as an open-source technology, making the table bigger for people of all skill sets, all backgrounds, and all types of geographies. And then it’s resilience. So WordPress has been, despite the face of the pandemic and all different types of economic pressures, WordPress has been growing and the ecosystem has been growing. And we’ve seen through the study, the confidence from the businesses that we surveyed leveraging WordPress are confident about its ability to help impact their business and be a key differentiator for them going forward.

And income creation. We have seen that WordPress has helped to generate the livelihoods of millions of people across the globe, and we see that people who are involved in the WordPress ecosystem report that they have higher confidence in their livelihood for the future, higher confidence in their job prospects, and on average, are making 30% more than the average wage here in the United States.

And WordPress is bigger than you know. If you think about WordPress if it were an economy by GDP, we’d be the 39th largest nation in the world. And if we were a company, we would be just above Tesla in market cap, which would be about the 10th largest company in the world.

And if you see also in terms of other big ecosystems, like the Apple app store, you see that WordPress is similar type size in terms of overall impact. So again, it’s very clear to see the impact of WordPress. And again, the power of WordPress really is all of us coming together. So let’s rise up together. Let’s give back to WordPress.

Let’s make sure to keep it thriving and growing. Contribute however you can. Participate, host, speak, share your knowledge. Let’s give back. And let’s champion each other. Let’s champion WordPress. Let’s champion the open-source project. Let’s know that when one succeeds, we all succeed, so let’s make sure to give that support to each other.

And let’s innovate. Let’s push the boundaries of what’s possible. Let’s challenge each other to do that and inspire each other. With this group of people here today, I know that we can make that happen. So again, let’s give back, let’s champion, and let’s innovate.

And again, we’re here today, inspired by you, and let’s power the freedom to create, and let’s do that together. Thank you so much and Carpe Diem!

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