WordPress acquires SA e-commerce platform

Automattic, the company that owns WordPress, has a acquired South African-born e-commerce enabler, WooCommerce.

WooCommerce is the headline open-source product of WooThemes, which enables e-commerce activity on the WordPress platform via plugin.

WooThemes was co-founded in 2007 by three WordPress enthusiasts: South Africans Adii Pienaar and Mark Forrester, and Norewegian, Magnus Jepson.

Pienaar left the company in late 2013.

The business was initially just a WordPress theme builder with custom plugins, tools and support, but quickly grew to become one of the most prolific theme providers in the world.

As rationale for the acquisition, Automattic CEO and WordPress founder, Matt Mullenweg said that it was the group’s e-commerce system that sealed the deal.

“At a WordCamp a few years ago, someone stood up and asked me when we were going to make it as easy to create an online store as we’d made it to create a blog,” Mullenweg said.

“Everyone applauded; there’s long been demand for better e-commerce functionality, but it’s been outside the scope of what Automattic could do well.”

Data from Automattic shows that the WooCommerce plugin has over 7.5 million downloads and a over a million active installs.

“Even a conservative estimate that WooCommerce powers 650,000 storefronts means they’re enabling a huge number of independent sellers,” the group said.

“WordPress currently powers about 23% of the web. As we work our way toward 51%, WooCommerce joining Automattic is a big step opening WordPress up to an entirely new audience.”

According to WooThemes co-founder, Mark Forrester, approximately 25% of all e-commerce sites use WooCommerce as a platform.

WooThemes currently has around 55 employees who “won’t be going anywhere”, according to the group, as they continue to work in 16 countries across the globe.

Added to Automattic’s 325 people in 37 countries, that’s a combined 380-person company across 42 countries.

Speaking about the acquisition, WooTheme’s founder Magnus Jepson said that many parties had displayed interest in the company, but Automattic and WordPress were a natural fit.

“(Automattic) CEO Matt Mullenweg had built his company in the same distributed manner as WooThemes with a team of over 300. This was our dream partner,” he said.

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WordPress acquires SA e-commerce platform