Why we’ve started a marketplace for selling WordPress businesses, when we both have other jobs

FlipWP is launching to buyers today, and we’re now accepting buyer membership signups. We’ll be live with listings the week of June 28th.

The vision is a platform for buying and selling WordPress businesses, run by people who deeply understand the WordPress space.

A couple of weeks ago WP Engine released research arguing the WordPress economy is worth a staggering $597 billion dollars. As WordPress is so decentralised, this is a hard number to process: if Automattic was worth $3 billion two years ago, hosting group EIG (Bluehost etc) was worth the same last year, and GoDaddy is currently worth $13 billion (including non-WP), we appear to be $578 billion short on WP Engine’s research. Where’s the missing value?

The missing value is in the product and services made by the predominantly small businesses that make up the WordPress economy. These businesses, as you may have noticed, having been trading hands at rapid rates.

Acquisitions are hot, but there’s nowhere to find them

I write the MasterWP weekly newsletter, and I’ve been doing that for over four years now. In that time we’ve seen acquisitions go from a rarity to an almost weekly occurrence. We got to the point about a year ago that I stopped covering them as I had nothing new to add on the topic.

The last couple of months have felt different, though. Iain, through Plugin Rank and WP Trends, and me through Ellipsis, started noticing a chance in attitudes. People were interested in buying or selling, but they didn’t know how to go about doing it. We noticed this because Iain’s readers and my clients started asking us: can you help me sell?

The market for buying and selling existed, but it was very closed. You had to know the right people. You could go to a couple of well-known buyers, but you might struggle to get a competitive bid process that’d get you the best price. Your best option was to put a message in the Post Status Slack and hope the right people saw it. It’s – admittedly – a good option, and even Matt Mullenweg posted, but you are reliant on the right people being online when you post.

We thought we could open up the market and make things better for buyers and sellers.

If there is another $578 billion in the WordPress economy, then that totally reframes these acquisitions: the one-most-weeks rate of acquisitions might actually be significantly too low. There must be latent demand: people who want to buy and sell but don’t know how or where to do it. A marketplace or (as we’ve done) platform for connecting buyers with sellers would solve that problem.

A platform for connecting sellers with buyers

Here’s a transcript from mine and Iain’s Slack chat in March:

Alex Denning 12:15 PM
I’ve got your first brokerage opportunity…

Iain Poulson 12:31 PM
hey nice
my brokerage is one sided at m
lots of folks wanting to buy
not many (that i know of) selling

Alex Denning 12:53 PM
seems like a problem to solve

Iain, being prolific, registered the domain the next day.

We both have at least one other full time job, though: I run Ellipsis and Iain works for Delicious Brains and on WP User Manager. We thus dropped it. We’ve expanded the team at Ellipsis significantly in the last year, but a couple of weeks ago we had the first hire in that period who’s a direct report of mine join. Hiring and onboarding requires a lot of attention from me. Iain was still working on Plugin Rank in addition to his two other jobs and needed to focus on those.

But – we kept coming back: first in April, then in May, then in June. The idea was too good. This was an interesting problem to work on and the timing felt ideal. When Iain sold Plugin Rank, suddenly it felt feasible to make this happen.

Get hit in the face

The best description I’ve heard of product/market fit is you know when you have it “because you get hit in the face”. We were getting hit in the face with “hey can you help me buy/sell this?” requests, so at the start of June we pulled the trigger on the project.

FlipWP is going to help buyers access WordPress business opportunities they won’t otherwise get, and make sure they get quality listings. FlipWP is going to help sellers get the best price for their business, and access buyers in the WordPress community.

We’re going to provide better quality information than you could get before we existed and we’re going to shine a light on the other $578 billion in the WordPress economy.

We’re launching with a simple model:

  • Buyers can join to get access to all new listings as they go live, and they’ll pay $299/year for this. We provide the listings in a quality, standard format, and list contact details for the seller. Buyers can then connect directly, and there’s no commission or fees to pay if the sale goes through.
  • Sellers can list their businesses with us, for free at launch. We’ll vet all listings and collate information in a standard format, and send them to our buyers. Our basic listing will be free at launch, and there are no fees or commission to pay on the sale. In future we may charge for listings or have the option for additional services.

We’d love to have you along for the ride with us.

Join today – with a discount you’ll never see again

Signups for buyers are open here: you can use the code FLIPWP50 to get $50 off your first year if you sign up before next Friday. This discount is valid for the first 50 people, and we won’t discount the membership like this once we’ve launched.

If you have a WordPress business you’re interested in selling, get in touch with us:

We’ll see you inside FlipWP.

Join as a buyer here – use FLIPWP50 for $50 your first year

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Alex Denning

June 15, 2021