Episode 156: Talking WordPress Mergers and Acquisitions with Paul Lacey

Show Highlights

Rob Cairns sits down with Paul Lacey to talk about WordPress Mergers and Acquistions.

Show Highlights:

  1. Why Now?
  2. Impacts on the community.
  3. Thoughts on if this is good or bad for the WordPress space.
  4. Why the community will survive.
  5. How hosting companies have been involved in the mergers and Acquistions.
  6. Shout outs to many of our favorite WordPress people.

Show Notes




From the center of the universe, Toronto, Ontario, Canada This is the SDM show with your host Rob Cairns. The SDM show focuses on business life productivity, digital marketing, WordPress and more. Sit back, relax, grab your favorite drink and enjoy the show. Here is Rob.



Hey, everybody, Rob Cairns here. I’m the founder, CEO and Chief Creator of Amazing Ideas at Stunning Digital Marketing. In this podcast, I sit down with my friend Paul Lacey, and we talk about all things, acquisitions, mergers in the WordPress space, grab a drink, relax, and enjoy the conversation.



Hey, everybody, Rob Cairns, here today, I’m here with Paul Lacey. And I find out to have Paul on the podcast. So we could talk about all the acquisitions and mergers in the WordPress space. I know Paul, and I have a bit of a different of opinions. So I thought we’d throw it out there and just have a conversation among friends. How are you today?



I’m doing great. Thank you very much. And thank you for having me as well, I really appreciate it. And it’s we’ve known each other for a long time. But we’ve not spoken in person as much as we should have. And I’m really pleased to have gotten to know you a lot better over the last couple of weeks, actually, since she came on my old show as well. Yeah, it’s



always a pleasure. And and it was funny, because we’ve tweeted, we’ve chatted on Facebook and and, and lately, we’ve been chatting more. So it’s a really great thing. And it’s always a pleasure to chat with you, Paul. So likewise, I thought we’d kind of hash out some of these mergers. And I think where it started, honestly, was with Salesforce. And for those who don’t know, Salesforce injected a pile of money into automatic some time ago. And they think that was the sign of things to come. Do you have any thought on that?



Yeah, it’s like the, on the post status website, there is a list of this this ongoing list that they maintain of all the different mergers and acquisitions, it’s quite funny because you see, you know, you can fit everything that was in 2018 2019 2020 on one screen as you scroll up, and then you hit 2021. And it just goes absolutely nuts. But yeah, I think automatic took the investment of something like 300 million, didn’t they from Salesforce, which nobody really knew why they were taking that money and what they were going to do with it, but it did seem to spark a lot of activity. And I’ve got I’ve got thoughts on why that is as well, which I’m no expert on this at all. I’m just kind of lowly observer of such but the one, the one that I remember, I do remember that on because we reported on that when I was a co host of this week in WordPress on dopey builds, but the one that sticks in my mind that was the big shock to me was when WP Engine acquired StudioPress. That’s the one that for me. I always feel like that happened. It was huge news. And then then there was another then there was another and it was huge news. And it was shocking. And then it’s just every day. Now every day, every day there’s an acquisition within the WordPress space. It’s been



it’s lots going on. It’s been crazy. It’s been liquid web with there was stellar WP there Yes, umbrella band and you know, at the time of this record, yesterday, brain force, whose for those who don’t know, is the ones who own Astra theme. And they bought project titles. So that’s the latest one. So you know, I said to somebody the other day, I think they’re going to slow down as we get into the holiday season. I don’t think there’s any slowing down. And I even read a tweet from Chris Lemas up at liquid web. And Chris had tweeted saying he thought liquid web stellar WP was done with acquisitions. And I gotta be honest with you, Chris, I don’t believe you know,



he’s trying to distract us. That’s what he’s doing. He’s good. He’s He’s a very he’s a very smart guy, Chris, isn’t he? I don’t know him. I don’t in fact, I don’t know Chris at all. But I observe how smart he is and how I think in in a blog post that he did recently. He said that he’d been put on the team of figuring out who liquidweb should acquire. And I think everybody probably knew that anyway. I think it was pretty obvious that he was You know, involved in that. But he’s confirmed it now and then you can see what they’re doing over at liquid web. And But yeah, I mean, to me it feels like there is that there’s three things in my mind generally about all the acquisitions, there’s the first of all, there’s the kind of reality of the situation at the moment, like what what is actually happening at the moment? And what what does that probably mean from like an economic point of view, then, I mean, then I have my concerns. And then I also see lots of opportunity as well. And I don’t know if we’ll have enough time to sort of go through each of those three things, and, and anything else as well. But to me, it’s kind of like the reality, the concerns, and then the opportunity. And I think I probably sway on to the concern side more, that’s probably at the forefront of my mind. And from when, and probably the reason that we’re recording this today is because I’m guessing is because you see the opportunities more and it’s just, I think it takes us all a while to figure out where we are in the middle of all this, you know, so, you know, from business opportunities to community, that kind of thing. But yeah, I mean, the brainstorm force one, though, just to quickly switch back to that one that’s interesting to me, because if you think about it, brainstorm forces just work project huddle. Project huddle is owned by Andre Canyon, who happens to be the business partner with Adam priser, in the project called presto made, which is currently one plugin, but they said that they’re doing three major plugins, they’ve got the presto player, which is a video player. And, and brainstorm force owns cart flows. No, Disney owns half of cart flows, or a certain percent of cart flows alongside enterprises. So it’s almost like there’s a little triangle there of Adam and Andre, and brainstorm force. So who knows? If you want to predict something, maybe you kind of look at that and, and think, Wow, okay, what might be an excellent in that case?



Yeah, it’s so it’s so true. That one I didn’t see coming. Some of the other ones like you know, some of the liquid web mergers I see coming and and it’s interesting when we talk about that, I’m kind of in bed with her or use a couple of those products. So a long time I themes user. You mentioned post status earlier, who was co founded by Corey Miller, who originally was the founder of AI themes. Cory isn’t all gone time, longtime friend and has been on this podcast, actually. So Cory is an old friend. And always has a lot of good things to say. So you know, that merger was an interesting one originally, then this is going back a few years ago. And then they went and they bought Candace themes. Well, it’s interesting because we were talking in the pre show, I’m kind of all in with Gutenberg box. And what is my box stack canvas. So I’m, here I go again, with stellar WP liquid web brand. And then it’s just kind of I work at some of these, like automatic bought pocket cas, some time ago, because automatics seems to be jumping into the content creation space right now. So they’ve bought a couple microblogging, they bought Tumblr, and then pocket casts, which is interesting, because for those who don’t know, pocket casts is a popular podcast player. And I care about that one, because pocket casts is my podcast player choice. So I say, I’ve been directly impacted by three or four buys even around what I do. And I’m sure you have Paul.



Yeah, I use like pocket cast as well. I mean, it seems that automatic, you know, that they’re buying, they’re buying some stuff that will bring users to the wordpress.com platform. I mean, the funny thing, you know, you and I kind of tend to work within the wordpress.org space. And there is a whole community in the whole wordpress.com space as well that basically we don’t really mix at all, you know, they they do their thing, and users do their thing. And I think, you know, the wordpress.org community is more kind of a no creators of things. And then the wordpress.com community tends to be kind of creators of products or, you know, crafters and those kinds of things when they’re using the wordpress.com platform. But I heard the other day, the the podcasting platform that wordpress.com has with built within it is actually Really, really solid. And the onboarding is just really good. And so you can imagine, so they’re kind of bringing in the, the tumbler audience or bringing in podcast audiences and stuff like that. And they’re, they seem to be really interested in pulling in audiences, whereas what you seem to see outside of automatic appears to be a lot of consolidation by the hosting companies to, to kind of build their own version of WordPress, I think to, which makes a lot of sense. So liquid web, It surprises me how long liquid web took to acquire a learning management system, to be honest, I would have thought that that would be the first thing that they would have done. But um, they got it in the end. So it doesn’t really matter. But they are clearly creating a platform for membership sites that have, you know, people who want to create membership sites and learning management stuff and stuff like that they’ve got an amazing suite of products there. And, and I’d note, the reality really is in a way, you know, you look at the state of what the WordPress ecosystem was. And I think what you had really was, it was, it was, it was, it was ageing, in terms of the entrepreneurs, you had all the pippins and the Brian gardeners and stuff like that, I don’t mean aging as an actual age, but it appears from, you know, the things that a lot of these people who owned or founded, these companies have said that they, they were starting to burn out, and they’d lost the passion for it. And I think what you can see is the, these bigger corporate companies, they have actually been subsidizing the community for quite a long time, if you go to any word company, we can’t go at the moment, but when you do go to word camps, they’re putting in tons of money, you know, the buying all the drinks at the bar, I don’t know, every time I’ve been to wordcamp London, I think WP Engine sponsored the bar. And there was like, Oh, you can get to free drinks at the bar. And every single time I went there, somehow all the drinks seem to be free. By the time that you know, you got there and stuff, and they just kind of opened the coffers for us. And it’s the you know, the reality I think is is that these these acquisitions, as much as I don’t really like it that much, or I’m concerned about it, I do feel I do recognize that this had to happen, that, you know, the ecosystem was probably going through a phase and it needed to be handed over to, in its maturity to some some entities that could financially support, it’s well being ongoing and help it grow. I do recognize that, that that reality. So that’s my best take on it that, you know, the the big corporate companies kind of, were able to help the community along it’s, you know, over the last decade, for instance, to grow to where it was, and then say, okay, you know, we’ve helped you this far, you know, and it’s, we can take over now, on the spin of that, the worst possible take I could take of it is is like the black widow spider, yeah, but you know, the female spider when is done with a male, everything that it needs from the male eats it, and the male you know, dies and



but the male does know that it’s in dyeing its nutrients went back into its ecosystem and fed its children. You know, so there’s, there’s kind of, um, somewhere in between, that the corporate companies have really helped the community and also that they saw that they’ve seen the opportunity to now grab that land, and claim it as their own and start cashing out because I don’t think many of the big corporate companies have profited at all from all the sponsorship they’ve done over the years. You see companies like GoDaddy and stuff go into wordcamps I love the GoDaddy team, the GoDaddy pro team they’re they’re brilliant and if you get to meet them, they’re brilliant people but you know, they’ll they’ll go and stand at a stand at a wide camp and there’ll be people snickering go look it’s Go Daddy and you know and laughing at their stories of resupport they’ve allegedly had or something like that. And but the GoDaddy team will just be there and they’ll just giving and giving and giving and helping and supporting and stuff like that and they’ve got their chance now these different corporate companies to to to take to take back some of the stuff that they’ve helped grow I don’t know if you agree with anything I said there at all. There’s there was two different takes, really, but



yeah, I can do what start with the GoDaddy team. My tender I agree with it there, they’ve always been at the word camp in Toronto, they’ve always been a big sponsor event, they’ve always given a lot. They’re not my host to choice for a number of reasons. But they do give a lot into the community. And, and I know, in our community, we like to developers like to criticize Ei G’s slash new folk, whatever you call them. But we also need to recognize that Bluehost, which is one of their brands, has been a gold WordPress partner for years. So given a lot of money back in that way, I know siteground is as well, and they’ve put in a lot of money in that space, or not my host of choice anymore, for a multitude of reasons. But the reality of it always, you know, that’s just what’s happened. And, you know, I think we, we got to look at that. But I also think one of the reasons I kind of like this space is there’s anything that’s more frustrating. It’s going to the WordPress repository on wordpress.org. And this plugin hasn’t been updated. And then you on Wednesday, you pick up items is security list, and there are 60, plugins, and 20 of them, they’re telling you to get rid of, yeah, and from my standpoint, as somebody who makes a lot of money on care plans and security care plans, I have a problem recommending plugins that aren’t going to be around for a while. And for me, recommending a plugin gets easier. If it’s owned by a big shop, who I call liquid web, why k WP Engine, because you know, there’s a better chance that that plugins going to be supported by us, then a small developer. But then the other side of that is the small developers are where some of the creativity comes into play. So these small developers, are the ones driving all the creative changes, because big corporations tend not to like change.



I couldn’t agree more. The Yeah, absolutely the, if you see now you know, if you if we take liquid web as an example, they’ve clearly put a package together. And they need to support all of those plugins. For those people like us that perhaps buy those plugins as a separate entity, but they’re going to package them together. They’re gonna onboard 1000s, maybe millions, I don’t really know how big they are. But they’re all onboard hundreds of 1000s of people, at least, into the WordPress ecosystem. And those people that onboard to this packaged up version will have a fantastic experience, compared to some of the people that you and I might pick up as clients. You see what they’ve done, you know, the mess that you find you Hi, oh my gosh, how did this happen? I they’re like, well, I went and bought this theme. And then I bought that plugin and watched a YouTube video, they told me to get this and everything. And I think that that is a huge problem in the wordpress.org ecosystem that it is so easy to get it so badly wrong. And, you know, these these packaged up recipes of WordPress that will be kind of white glove handheld onboarding for so many new WordPress users, it’s only going to be a really good thing for the, the ecosystem. The, the, the pushback that I have on the whole thing, right is if I can, I’ll try and tell this as a little story as such, but it’s the it’s the culture versus the corporate growth argument. So I don’t know I mean, you’re in Canada, I’m in the UK. And, you know, in and what what kind of concerns me is kind of like the, the impact to the culture of the ecosystem at the expense of the corporate growth. So corporate growth is good, we all like a corporate growth in capitalism, we all want, you know, non stop growth and all that sort of thing, but it can and does come at a cost. And here in the UK, you know, we used to have industries like mining and steel, and that kind of stuff, and, and those, those were huge industries that had whole communities built around them. So the people went to work in the mines and at the steel mills, all the time and stuff but at the end of the day, they would go to their clubs together and the whole communities would We get together B street pa is at certain times of the year, I can use my own dad as an example. I mean, he was what’s called a toolmaker, which in a way is a very similar job to what I do in a way. I’m a sort of web designer, Site Builder. And basically, I use the sort of, he used physical skills to craft things, to specifications, and I use digital skills to craft things to, to specifications. So the web didn’t exist when he was younger. So that’s that’s him. But you know, we’re from a very working class background. And you know, we weren’t poor, but everybody went to work and, and the end of the month, we were back on zero, and then we would all start again. And he worked in a big company as a toolmaker, where there was hundreds of people in different factory floors and everything. And there was a really good community within that company, they would, I mean, what my one of the things my dad did is a toolmaker was he would make his use precision engineer basically, that’s it used to be called a toolmaker. So he would make pieces of metal, usually, that would, you know, be parts of aircraft or cars or different things, little precision pieces, that had to be to a very special specification, he would make all the fishing spools for the company fishing club, for instance. So he would make them out of this plastic material, all the people in the company, they didn’t need to go to the big shop to buy all their fishing spools. My dad would make them then there was another guy who would run the fishing club, do the competition stuff as the treasurer, all this kind of stuff, there was a whole community there. And



and as in around the 80s, the all these kinds of industries kind of in the UK kind of diminished significantly in the mining and the steel and the toolmaking and that kind of stuff. And when the communities and you know what, what the government’s always tried to replace with with those things was jobs. So you’d have a situation where a whole mining town would close down and they would create some kind of business center or something like that, and they would make sure that all the people that wanted jobs got a job, but it was just a completely faceless crew You know, there was no community aspect to it, people were turning up clocking in I think there’s a forgot the film’s code now there’s that film about the guys who became strippers in the UK I forgot the film school and I will have to, I don’t know if you’ve seen it, they worked in them in a coal industry and then they they became like, they kind of got together as a community event. But all of that community stuff when and the big problem was the corporations or the government would just think okay, what we did was we wiped out their jobs we need to replace them with jobs but what what they didn’t realize and this is what you know, years and years later has been kind of like a social you know, the reaction to that social experiment in a way is that the The problem is, is the lack of the community so my big concern in this is that you and I love the WordPress community. And it is a space full of creative people, individuals, solving problems for each other solving problems with customers. And you know, even if you think back to the, the the Genesis days, swapping little PHP snippets and stuff like that, and you know, when people being almost legendary for sharing their snippets, and, and that kind of interaction in between the community was, was actually what got me interested in the community, the sharing the problem solving, the giving back. And my concern is, is that I see all the opportunity, I see the economic opportunity, but I do worry that the corporate takeover, whether it’s automatic or wherever, it’s the hosting companies and then you combine that with another and completely different conversation, which is that the the barrier to entry for developers into WordPress has, has gone astronomically higher than it used to be that we could have like, what happens to the WordPress community what happened to the mining community or the steel community or the toolmaking community back in the 80s here in the UK and I don’t know in the USA that you know, that there sort of sort of production and industry kind of disappeared in places like Detroit and stuff like that. So it’s all happened before and that’s, that’s my biggest concern because I don’t want to fall out of love with the WordPress community if it if it becomes sterile, and sorry, I’ve kind of gone on there for a good five. No, it’s all



good. I tend to agree With your call with the community, and I’ll give you an example that’s not WordPress related that I’m sure people can relate to in the corporate world. I work for a small hospital in Toronto, when I first started in tech support, and it was at the point where everybody knew everybody, the VPS knew their staff, the CEO knew their staff, it wasn’t uncommon to stand in the hallway and talk to the CEO, or talk to the VP or talk to a director, because we all knew everybody. And then the government forced hospital mergers. For those who don’t know, our healthcare system, again, is pretty public, unlike the US where she’s mostly private. And we got merged with one of the biggest hospitals in Toronto, which created by Tom, we were done mergers, we were the second biggest Hospital in Toronto. Yeah, and that whole community feeling disappear very quickly. And that some and it disappear for a couple of reasons. One, when you start to combine cultures, the problem with cultures is cultures is something that is not taught. You either believe it or you don’t believe, yeah, you can teach skills, you can teach creativity. You can teach how to build a bog, you can teach anything, but you can’t teach culture. That’s the first thing. The second thing is the people moving, were not strong enough to try and carry some of their culture with them. And that was an issue. And this was actually such a bad issue that this particular hospital believer not match the cabinet’s, the government taught them de amalgamate after the merger, and they are now back on her own because of the culture change. Fortunately, I think what we’re seeing in the WordPress community, the people that are involved in making the decisions, so the crystalline masses of the world, the Brian gardeners of the world, StudioPress. People like that, the Corey Miller’s of the world now what post status who is the founder of Vikings, those three come to mind really quickly. I think they understand the culture of the WordPress community. So as they’re building their mergers, and as we’re going through all these acquisitions, they understand that to some degree, how much this culture matters to the community. Show me another community, when you can reach out to a Chris lemon say I want to have a conversation. Show me when you can reach out to Brian Gardner, who’s a legend in this community and say, I want to chat. There’s a lot of communities. And you know, I’m very much involved in the marketing community as well. Let me tell you, with a couple exceptions, the marketing community is so not like this. And I think that might be the savior is the people understand your community best. are the ones driving the corporate change. Yeah,



I think that’s that’s where I’ve got hope as well. So I have my concerns like I’ve have outlined as such, but let me just say, by the way, corrymeela is basically my hero in WordPress. If he did this, talk about his mental health a few years ago at wordcamp. And I’ve got I’ve got to say I have watched it about 15 times.



Cory and I have talked about the mental health issues. Because I’ve gone through my own in the last year, and I actually released a podcast about what I dealt with. And we’ve talked about that he’s been through it. He’s been very public about it. The and you know, when I did this podcast, one of the things not to segue is I wanted somebody special for Episode 100. Yeah, and I reached out to Cory and said, we’ve known each other a long time would you oblige me and Cory didn’t even think twice about it. He is such a giving a driving force in our community. It’s not funny and the other guy that you know he’s gone through his mental health challenges he’s been very public about it’s our friend Jeff Chandler over at WP mainly and When he did, the WordPress weekly show, he had talked about it in an episode book for a left WP tavern. And I actually, I felt for Jeff and I consider Jeff a good friend. He’s been on my podcast, we chat pretty regularly. And I had sent Jeff a letter, basically saying, you know, here’s some of the stuff, here’s how we feel. And I guess I made an impact because Jeff read the email I said, sent them word for word, unedited, on WordPress, weekly, windows, WordPress weekly at the time. And these are people that matter. And these are people that are going to help shape this community. Guys like Jay Jay Jay, john James Jacoby is another one. Guys like our mutual friend, and I know you’re not in new space, Bob done, john, and the guests and the contributors he has on. You know, our friend, Leslie, at newsletter, cool. Shout out to her today. I was reading some tweets from her today. I mean, there’s all kinds of people. And I think our community has our head screwed on. Right, to be honest with you. I mean, you know, it’s, it’s really important. We don’t lose that. And I agree with you. I mean, that’s, that’s the biggest thing. Right?



Yeah, I think, I think we do have that in our favor. Absolutely. The, I don’t think the, you know, the, like, the Brian gardeners will be given up on the community. In fact, it seems that if we take him as an example, for instance, that he’s took a break, and he’s back, and he’s at the corporate level, now, Adobe engine taken a new role there. But his role is community based. And I think, you know, you kind of look at the opportunity, the opportunity for both the community and the, you know, the, the business side of things. And the truth is, is, you know, WordPress isn’t going anywhere, it’s, it’s here to stay. And anybody kind of working within WordPress, the majority of people are going to see a benefit financially, from everything that’s going because there’s just simply more going to be simply more money in the ecosystem, it’s maturing, and the value of what it is, will, will be there. And the truth is that, you know, WordPress, in the future needs to be mass market, as well, it needs to really mature in that side of things as well. So it’s consumer friendly, I don’t mean just that, you know, all of us nerds love it, you know, and, you know, and we sort of handhold people through the experience, I think that all these acquisitions are going to help people get on board have it in in the right way and everything. But we were absolutely going to need the community, the leaders of the community to stick around, and to keep doing what they’re doing. And we can’t just rely on the ones who were were there 10 years ago, or, you know, what the next generation, like, you know, say, so like Cory and Brian, you know, they’re kind of from a sort of generation together. And then, you know, and you know, you and I basically started podcasting, approximately two and a half years ago, so we’re kind of like a different set of people. As such, and we need to make sure that new people come through as well. And, and you can see corrymeela, for instance, with his post status, community, I just joined that like two weeks ago, really pleased to have joined it finally doing lots of encouragement in in the area, but we do need new people to come through. And that’s where I think, if we can, if there are the right people at the, you know, leading these big corporate companies, I’ll use GoDaddy pro as an example again. You know, the the team at GoDaddy pro are some of the best people that I know. And they’re on it, they are constantly stimulating the community and putting things in and putting on events and giving people voice and sponsoring everything, you know, that they’re doing the right thing, and I hope that some of the other the other companies carry on too because what we need them to do is to make sure that like, people are still inspired to become voices. People are still inspired to, to create nuanced solutions that wild you know, the big companies, we’ve got the big, the big stack of search that the stack of tools, they’re ready for you



to a different topic, right? Is that is that I said that WordPress needs to be mass market appealing in the future. And, and, you know, my opinion on the Gutenberg project, which is that I, I love what it’s trying to achieve. Right? But I do you think that it is lacking significantly because of early on decisions that it will never be able to, on its own be something the mass market can understand and grasp. So the fact that that project in my eyes is kind of not optimal, I would say means that there’s the opportunity for the big corporate businesses to create these packaged up solutions. And what I really hope is that the fact that the Gutenberg project is in the state is in means that there will be a resurgence in the community, from the entrepreneurs from the artisans who have the feel that they want to scratch an itch. And an A new Brian gardener, a new Corey Miller appear, and they create these little niche solutions that patch the problems that we have in the coming years. That’s what I’m hoping. But those people will need support from the corporate companies I think financially to make sure that they don’t get you know, seen as a threat. They are seen as a benefit to the community I kind of part of the ecosystem a bit like the bumble bee, that if you take the bumble bee out of the ecosystem, apparently, all hell’s going to break loose. It doesn’t seem to make any sense because it’s bumble bee just goes around and kind of like picking up some stuff in one flower and taking it to another and stinging people. But apparently, apparently you take the bumblebee out of the the ecology and we’re screwed. Yeah, I think that we need to keep those bumblebees in our in our community as well. Not just kind of, you know, the big the big things



I would agree. And we talk about new people and one of the persons people that I am so fond of. One of my favorite WordPress people that submerge from the Gutenberg stuff is Birgit I mean, she has been a voice of reason. I’ve had her I had her recently on this podcast, she



almost converted me She almost had me



that I’m sure she she’s a persuasive lady that said, but we her and I talked Gutenberg and she was on WP builds recently with me as well. And, and, and we need people like that we also need people with different voices to keep voicing their concerns and keep voicing their opinions. And I think you know, in today’s world, the coolest thing out there is it doesn’t take a lot to start a podcast. I say to start one can maintain one is a different kettle of fish. People think podcasting is easy. You do a quick record, you upload it somewhere you share it. Oh boy, I knew you know this. It’s a lot of work. But we need people with the voices to do what I do to do what Nathan does to do what Matt videos does Bob done. Jocasta, Bono. I mean, I can go down a list of people, Michelle, for sure, Michelle for shadow stuff. Another one. Somebody who’s jumped into the podcasting space lately is Bridget Well, you’re, I mean, it just goes on. And we need those voices. And we need those opinions. And I’ll tell you why. Your opinion or my opinion isn’t always right or the wrong one. But if you keep listening to the same opinion all the time, you don’t expand your knowledge base, and you don’t expand how you feel because you get the same slant all the time. And both you and I both have biases to what we like and what we don’t like. And, you know, when you’re learning, you need to learn from multiple sources. So we’ve got to keep that going. I truly, and you know, having met Matt once about six years ago or seven years ago. I don’t think Matt Matt Santee community. I mean, I know some people feel he is I know some people have issues. I will tell you I think Matt has the community in good check. And a good example is automatic some time ago bought WooCommerce. And honestly, where would WooCommerce be if I dramatic had made that purchase? Yeah. And that’s an interesting thought so, but I also think you know, the switch Sega So today, we’re the hosting companies are going to work with what’s the WP engines and GoDaddy, two as well, they’re creating a stack. So they’re going to go deep and say, Okay, we’ll give you your hosting. And by the way, for 15 bucks more a month, you can have the canvas same, you can have the candle box, you can have backup buddy, you can have iifym security, and here’s your package. And you don’t have to go running around. So the good and the bad of that is, you’re not going to get best to breed, but you’re probably going to get a solution that works really well together. And I don’t think doing that impacts developers or designers at all, just streamlines the process because most of the developers or designers have their own stack that they like to run that they don’t work so well together. What’s your thought on that?



Well, first of all, a quick shout out to someone else who when you when you were saying someone who you have noticed recently, and you said Beckett? I thought you were gonna say Leslie soon, actually from newsletter glue legislation? Yes. Yep. Yeah, she’s, she’s a really good new voice in the in the community, I think. And back to what you were saying on, on the whole, expanding, you’re not not living in an echo chamber. So for instance, in in two weeks ago, I think we connected to say, shall we have a, you know, an actual recorded talk about this. And because I knew I was going to have an actual sensible conversation, rather than just whatever is running around in my head all day, I put a lot of time into thinking through, you know, trying, let’s try and get a bit more sensical about how I feel about this. And it’s because forced to have conversation, if people are just sitting behind the keyboard and reacting, rather than actually having conversations and just posting comments, and, and then trying to win win arguments all the time, then those people won’t get anywhere. I do think that as much possibility as anyone’s got out there, if anyone is, you know, listening, and, and, you know, sitting strongly on one side of the fence, whether it’s about Gutenberg, or whether it’s about acquisitions, or or anything, the answer to help, you know, getting towards somewhere where where you make some ground on it is talking. And so I kind of put a lot of thought into this conversation and wrote a bunch of notes, especially Rob, because I know I listened to your podcast with Joe caster Boehner, and you mentioned that you were a debating champion when you were younger, I was so so I really thought I need to get my facts straight in that case, but in that, even in that self respect, reflective process of just thinking through what my position was on it. I actually had to ask myself a lot of questions and, and come to terms with some things and expand on things that I just simply wouldn’t do if I knew that I wasn’t having a, an actual conversation with someone about it, I would sort of move forward as a result.



No, I I agree with that. I mean, our, our mutual friend, Bob Dunn was tweeting with the two of us a week ago saying, I can’t wait to hear this conversation. Bob knows, I would say both of us pretty well, he certainly knows me really well, Bob and I generally stay in touch and jump on calls just to talk about the community. I mean, there’s another guy. Now it’s more woo focus, but he is still a big community builder and a leader in the WordPress space. And somebody I respect somebody, I, I’ve had him on my show a couple times. I’ve been on Bob’s show recently, but also somebody who I can say, Hey, I have an idea what he think. And to me that matters, because you or I aren’t always right. And, you know, by talking stuff through it, we can have these conversations. And the problem is, I hate to say it in the state of the pandemic, the world today, the Alexa race history society, we’re going through the self centered society, it’s all about me. And people aren’t having these conversations don’t care if it’s about WordPress, or politics, or what’s going on down the street. It’s all about showing on right? And I knew when we decided to have this conversation, you and I could have this conversation and then not turned into a massive debate or an argument and I think at the end of the day, Your interest, Paul, and my interest is back to the community itself.



Yeah, yeah, exactly. I mean, to be honest, I was gonna connect gonna come along and give you a big argument until I heard that you were a debating champion. And then back down. You can give me an argument I’ve got no kidding. I’m kidding. No, I. Yeah, but



but but it’s true. Right. And and I think you know, and I think we need to people like the Leslie’s and the ver gates and the Bob’s and the you and the I and Nathan, I mean, your your former co host, Nathan is an amazing community builder. Yeah, I mean, look at the number of people that show up on Monday mornings to chat. Yep. And some of them are people I really respect like, one guy that jumped in, we need to teach them how to change his user name is our friend Spencer foreman jumped into WP builds on Monday, like, you know, because these people all want to have the conversations. Yeah, we all want to do well make money, but we all want to help each other. I mean, you know, and there’s a lotta great people in this space. And where we’re at now, I think is, you know, a kind of transitions, we got to, we got to mentor and help some younger people to get as passionate and involved as you and I are. And that’s the Corey Miller’s are and people like that.



Yeah, I think we’ve, you know, anyone who decides to put a put a voice out there, it’s a case of, you know, do what you want to do. But just remember that there is a kind of responsibility that comes with doing that, to a certain extent that you should, you know, while you while you have a podcast, which is generally, you know, a monologue speaking outward, or a conversation speaking outward to, you know, a one to many or a two to many. The thing that you actually have to do the most as a podcast is listen, even though it’s the opposite of what you will think. But we also need outspoken, we need to have outspoken voices as well, that sometimes seem to make absolutely no, no sense. I mean, I’m not saying Spencer foreman is one of those right? But, you know, Spencer has changed his. Even in the last couple of months, he’s changed his kind of opinion on a lot of things, which is really cool, because you could just say, the word Gutenberg to Spencer, Spencer foreman, and he would just go on a rant about automatic and it would be extremely entertaining. But it was quite, you know, he got some, some stuff. He wanted to get off his chest, I guess. But even in the last couple of months, you’ve seen him change his his his view on that, as such, I think we’re talking about Matt Mullenweg as well. You know, one of the things I remember now, yeah, you were talking about yourself. I wanted to get back to that just briefly the mic on his, you know, kind of relationship with the community. Yep. So I actually agree that I think that Matt Mullenweg has, has good intentions. And basically everything that he does, he gets thinking rich from what he does, you know, well done, you know, he’s done an amazing job. And you have to be a smart person to, to achieve what he what he’s done. I actually feel that his intentions are all right. One of my sort of stronger opinions or search about his kind of management of the WordPress project is that his intentions are good. But he hasn’t, he has the mixed up with corporate intentions and corporate needs and growth of that. And in my opinion, he’s made his kind of his piece with his balancing, pushing forward his corporate needs which benefit, in his opinion, the masses. And I always feel like that’s why we’ve seen such a hard push on Gutenberg, when a lot of the time it seemingly isn’t ready. But it’s being pushed because there’s a corporate need. There’s a corporate motivation. And perhaps in his mind, he’s saying, I think it’s good to throw it out there when it’s not ready. Let’s put it out there and see what happens. If you took away the corporate need at all. I think that he would have a different view on it. I don’t know what he really thinks he knows what he thinks. But that’s my reading of it, but I Do you believe that he has all the best intentions that he’s kind of like, I think that this is the best balance for the community. At the same time, it does kind of remind me of kind of like a government sort of approach, like what’s the best thing for the people. And there’s kind of a policy drawn up of how things move forward, that lasts for a certain amount of years. And then that policy gets reviewed. And, and then there’s other things that impact that government, those government decisions that aren’t always in the best interest of the people. But even the politicians or the leaders make it so that they truly believe that they are doing it for the for the good of the community. I don’t know if I’ve gone slightly political there with with Matt Mullenweg. I don’t know him, I’ve never met him. Now I am extremely grateful for what he’s done. Him and Mike, who co founded Mike little who co founded WordPress together, you know what a What an amazing journey. And I just, I just hope that that we can maintain, I just hope that someone who’s experienced what I’ve experienced in five years, in the last five years, comes in now and has as wide of a time as I’ve had over the last five years. I’m nostalgic. That’s what it is. I feel nostalgic, I’m worried about it. I’m worried about change, I don’t want someone to move my cheese. And



I agree I am so supportive. There’s there’s another podcast host. And I’m not going to name his podcast, I’m not going to name him. But I was to do quite regularly and for a long time. And then a couple years ago, when the Gutenberg project rolled around, he started calling Matt, the beloved dictator, every episodes of same thing. And to be honest with you, I stopped listening to a show that I had listened to over 400 episodes of so longest running WordPress show out there that anybody who knows the space should figure it out. And he’s very, into things like classic press. And if the community is not your ball wax, that’s fine. The community’s not for everybody. But don’t bash the people that matter to that committee if you don’t like to go away. Like honestly, I just know. And, and I agree that max had a balancing act. But I also think we need an influx of some dis corporate money to expand WordPress. WordPress is sitting right now, about 42% of the market on the web, which is astronomical. And over the last year and a half, it’s grown by another 15%. And there’s big sites, including whitehouse.gov, the White House’s official website in the US is on WordPress. And yeah, you know, people laugh about God. But it’s not I mean, it’s really growing and what people need for us to move and take the product to another world. Or another step we got, we need to put some money into it. And the only way to do it is to build some of this stuff. And I think if we keep doing it the right way. And people were sending, you know, in January, Matt did these 15 minute phone calls, if anybody remembers rica booking and they were gone in no time. And I managed to grab one of those 15 minute calls.



Right? Nice.



Okay, and it was a really, I felt I was hurt in that 15 minutes. You know, it’s short, I would have liked an hour and a half. But you know, and but yeah,



you’ll take it, I’ll take it, I’ll take



it, but it’s a step in the right direction. I don’t know if you know, I spend a little bit of time more as an observer in the WordPress slack group. And there’s a lot of good discussion going on there with our community. And I think we just got to keep, as I say, helping each other and realizing if we grow this together, wall grow individually. And as a result, a lot of the businesses will grow. And I think what’s going to help that, frankly, some of these big partnerships.



Yep. I think you summarized it perfectly.



Yeah, so I think I think we’re, I think we’re getting there Paul, I think we just got to annoy Grilli. If you have a voice. Start something started good website like Brian did. or start a theme or start a podcast, but do it the right way. And when you do it, keep the community in mind and keep what your audience needs. And what people forget in the WordPress space is there’s so much crossover. There’s crossover into email marketing this crossover into design, there’s crossover into how to convert stuff. There’s so much crossover and what we do, and and just keep helping people because you know what, there’s no say, the more people you help, the more you’ll grow to



show. Yep, you definitely. You definitely get 10x back when you give when you give back.



Yep. And I think that’s what helps people like the site grounds to Go Daddy’s. We’re talking about GoDaddy, and I’m looking on my shelf at a GoDaddy hat that I acquired at a wordcamp in Toronto a couple years ago. Yep. You know, and people remember what corporate companies do the WP engines, one of the things they have is an amazing plugin, that what you walk down the admin dashboard that they give away for free, whether you’re a WP Engine customer or not, you know, all the great support out of you know, stellar WP and I, you know, I said it earlier, I think a big drive. And that is Chris Rama, who’s now the general manager at LearnDash.



Which makes sense what I mean, which makes sense, good idea. Make a kind of better role. Yeah, someone like him, and another.



And then a guy like, Corey’s gone in, co founded post status, moved on to his next career and has an amazing digital marketing community called the digital marketing kitchen. And



I was like, What is it Brian Gardner is doing now? Right?



Yeah, boy. So and the other one involved in that is Rebecca Gill, who’s a longtime SEO in this space, who tell you again, Rebecca is another one of those approachable people, and you know,



everybody’s approachable in this space. And it’s like you’ve said, you know, you’ve had, you’ve both met Matt Mullenweg. And you’ve had 15 minutes on the phone with him. And lots of my friends have interviewed him. You know, you know, our mutual friend Nathan has interviewed Matt Mullenweg. And joseffer Hayden, jump, jump. I see. And he, it’s, it’s an issue, you don’t you don’t get that in other ecosystems. So as long as as long as that carries on? I think we’ll be okay. Yeah. And, I mean, I’ve, you know, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve kind of changed my position a bit. And to be to be quite honest, during this, this therapy, so I mean, sorry, it’s not their job. It feels like a fairy procession, though. Because, you know, we should definitely do this tomorrow, we can talk about Gutenberg, then Yeah. I’ll feel better about that



as well. That’s another discussion. But by Paul, this is how we learned we have these conversations, and we think are important enough to share them with the world, which is what we’re gonna do here. And we got to keep having them. And like, I’ve always said to anybody who wants to jump on with me and have a conversation and I know you and Nathan did with WP builds jump on with a share with us. what’s what’s just keep building and, you know, I think we’re all lucky group at the end of the day.



Oh, yeah. Yeah, definitely.



So, Paul, it’s been a great conversation. If somebody wants to get a hold the house the best way to get a hold.



So I’ve got various projects going on at the moment, and in various different stages, that I think the best place to connect with me is on Twitter. Actually, that’s been somewhere that I’ve consistently stayed online and I really enjoy meeting people on Twitter. So if you don’t already know me, we’re not connected and you want to kind of carry on the conversation then you can find me on WP underscore Paul Lacey on Twitter and also my website. Paul Lacey digital, is basically just a small page, that kind of just sighs about a few of the things that I’ve done for you the places that I’ve been. And a couple of my favorite talks that I’ve ever done, are on that website homepage as well. Specifically the one. The my favorite talk that I ever did was called how giving back to the community gave me strength to move forward. I would love anybody who is struggling or having a tough time in whether it’s work or whatever, to go and watch that and and see if it can help you at all in the way that Corey Miller’s video of his talk. When he did a talk. I think it was what wordcamp Denver? I think, yeah. Yeah, it was his his talk was what inspired me to go on Lee Jackson stage in front of a physical stage in front of a whole bunch of my peers. And pour my heart out on that one. And Lee, let me take the recording of that, and put it on my website. So I’d love people to go and watch that. Because I know that that talk has helped a lot of people. So yeah, go watch that talk. If you do one thing. That’d be I’d be super honored if anybody went and watch that on Paullacey.digital



Have a wonderful day, Paul.



Bye. Thanks, Rob.



Thanks. A very special thank you to Paul Lacey for joining me on this edition of dsdm show. It was a great conversation and I enjoyed it very much. Thank you for listening to this edition of the SDM show. This podcast is brought to you by stunning digital marketing for length to stunning digital marketing and Rob Cairns please go to stunningdigitalmarketing.info. This podcast is dedicated to rob’s father Bruce Cairns, keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars make your business succeed. Bye for now.

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