Venture

WP Engine Acquires Flywheel In Another Deal To Make Your WordPress Experience Better

Austin-based WP Engine, which focuses on hosting and powering WordPress sites, has acquired digital experience platform Flywheel to create a better workflow, digital experience, and creative process for its customers. It is not disclosing the price of the acquisition.

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“We think [Flywheel] adds rocket fuel to our whole thing,” said Eric Jones, vice president of global communications for WP Engine. He added that along with product updates, Flywheel’s core culture resonates with the team.

This acquisition caught our eye because overall, the WordPress, content management space appears to lack adequate venture funding for its size. Jones said that focusing on WordPress as a company has given the company dibs on a “huge market opportunity.” The company recently announced that it is making $132 million in annual recurring revenue.

WP Engine claims its acquisition of Omaha-based Flywheel is “the largest acquisition to date in the WordPress industry.” WP Engine will aid 120,000 brands in 150 countries, it said in a blog post.

There will be no immediate changes to the Flywheel platform, plans, brand, or experience, the company said. All 201 employees will have the opportunity to transfer to WP Engine, Jones told me.

Pantheon, which in some ways competes with WP Engine, raised $40 million in March. And it acquired a company itself two months later (more here).

While Pantheon has some competitive flair, Jones said WP Engine’s focus solely on WordPress sites puts WP Engine in a different position.

Last time I spoke to Pantheon, co-founder and head of product Josh Koenig told me that he thinks the pace of innovation is suitable for the industry. During that conversation, he said he’s seeing renewed interest in web management because it’s relied on by everyone, everywhere.

WP Engine’s Jones agrees with this sentiment, and at least in his case, doesn’t feel the rarity of venture capital. The company secured $250 million in capital from Silver Lake Partners last January, making it “the largest funding that any company has received in funding in Austin in over a decade,” he said.

Tom Wentworth, the senior vice president of product marketing at Acquia, says that this acquisition makes WP Engine the dominate alternative to running WordPress sites.

“We should expect more consolidation in the website hosting industry as companies fight to differentiate against the public cloud,” he tells me. Plus, he said, WP Engine took out a competitor by acquiring it.

These small indicators suggest that startups looking to work on WordPress, and other site management systems, are getting much-needed attention. After all, WordPress powers one third of websites. Those are Texas-sized numbers worth paying attention to.

Inside llustration: Li-Anne Dias

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect further commentary from Tom Wentworth. 

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