Since launching in 2003, WordPress has become a major component of the web’s backbone. The publishing platform powers more than 74 million sites, including nearly half of the top 100 blogs on the Internet. Now, having conquered content management, Automattic wants to ease another pain point faced by web publishers: setting up an online shop and processing payments.
Today, WordPress parent company Automattic announced its biggest acquisition ever: For a reported $30 million, the company snatched up WooCommerce, a popular WordPress plugin for e-commerce.
Automattic, famously hardcore about the open-source ethos, maintains the WordPress.com blog network, which offers all kinds of paid upgrades that let users extend WordPress’s functionality and customization. By contrast, the downloadable version of WordPress (found at WordPress.org), is a free-for-all. Site publishers can customize it to their hearts’ content, installing professionally designed layouts and plugins for extra functionality. And if that’s not sufficient, publishers who know their way around code (primarily PHP) are free to dig in and start tinkering with the very core of WordPress’s open-source content management engine.
For its part, WooCommerce is said to power 600,000 sites, a number that’s bound to go up as Automattic absorbs the product and makes it even easier to integrate with the WordPress platform. Presumably the service will continue to be available as a plug-in for WordPress.org users, and it’s likely to get some kind of official treatment on WordPress.com as well, likely in the form of plug-and-play e-commerce tools that could make running your own mini-Amazon as easy as setting up a food blog.