47 three-month-old Automatticians, and the future

Written by Mark Forrester on October 7, 2015 Blog, News.

Back in May we announced we were joining the Automattic family. After much paperwork and addressing all the legalities, we officially closed the WooMattic deal on July 1st, which makes us three-month-old Automatticians!

Here’s a little of what has been happening behind the scenes, and what’s next for Woo.

Concentrating on team integrations

Our primary focus these last three months has been the integration of our team with Automattic’s.

Two distributed teams coming together, already sharing an unequivocal passion for WordPress? Sounds like a relatively straightforward merger. But even with our strong cultural fit and similar workflows, there were still nuances and differences that needed blending to create an optimal working environment for all. We’re all aboard for Automattic to be the best and most inclusive workplace the internet has to offer.

People wax lyrical about the benefits and freedoms of remote working, but one of the many times it can be challenging is during immense change, when everything can feel a bit foreign. For those of you sitting next door to your colleagues — relish it!

Making the transition has been fun and a privilege. We’re looking forward to face-time at the Automattic Grand Meetup next week, and meeting all the Gravatars we’ve been pinging on Slack.

So far, as Automattic…

We’ve made strong progress in the past few months, namely:

  • Adding some incredible Automattic developer talent to WooCommerce core to bolster security, scalability and extendability, plus more Happiness Engineers to support our customers. And we’re hiring.
  • Forming better partnerships with payment providers and hosting providers (look out for promotions soon).
  • Updating VaultPress to include WooCommerce tables as part of its backup offering. This should provide peace of mind that your site is even more safe.

Most Ninjas have now completed their three-week support rotation with Automattic, learning more about our new customers and the wonderful systems and resources required to support them. It has been a truly valuable experience and has improved team integration even more.

Up next? Developing WooCommerce and scaling up

This post won’t provide you with a comprehensive product roadmap, but we’re happy to share some details on the discussions being prioritized as we move forward with Automattic.

Putting wind in the WooCommerce sails (and then some)

Being a smart bunch, many of you have picked up that we’ve stepped up our focus on WooCommerce in the past three months.

Some of the fruit so far includes redesigned WooCommerce pages, new educational videos and partners, a dedicated @WooCommerce Twitter handle, and the WooCommerce Showcase. This is just the beginning.


The WooCommerce Showcase, just one of our many recent projects.
The WooCommerce Showcase, just one of our many recent projects.

“WooCommerce, a product of WooThemes, part of the Automattic family?”

While that is an accurate description, it’s a mouthful. We’re currently fine-tuning the WooCommerce brand and messaging, making better use of WooCommerce.com as the home for our platform. Watch that space.

WooCommerce ecosystem

Our partners remain hugely important. Being part of a bigger team enables us to do more in house, but we are reviewing applications and third-party extensions daily.

With further improvements to the API endpoints in WooCommerce 2.4, and large extensions like that of Memberships and Subscriptions being developed outside of Automattic, our ecosystem remains a hotbed for opportunity.

WooCommerce on WordPress.com?

There are no immediate plans here. This is something we know folks are wondering about, and we will communicate should anything change.

Continued growth of WooThemes products

As for our themes and other plugins, to the extent that they complement our platform and we can confidently say they represent the best we can offer (i.e. code we’re proud of), they’ll remain actively developed.

WooThemes.com has huge value and history, and we plan to continue to innovate in the theming space. It’s the perfect playground for Automattic theming adventures.

Canvas retains a huge market share and neither it nor its development team are going anywhere. The lion’s share of our theming efforts will be spent between Canvas and Storefront, our eCommerce theme. With exciting new Storefront extensions and child themes, we hope to prove our experience and expertise in the arena we grew up and thrived in.

Well continue to produce Storefront child themes, like the newly released ToyShop and Outlet, moving forward.
We’ll continue to produce Storefront child themes, like the newly released ToyShop and Outlet, moving forward.

Balancing stability, opportunity, and innovation

Woo is a constant work in progress, with the potential to make a lasting mark in the world of eCommerce. Supporting our customers’ desires with opportunities and the innovation we’re capable of as Automattic is truly a balancing act, and will take time and thought.

We’re excited for the ride ahead, and we look forward to sharing more detail with you as time marches on. As always, thank you for your support us as we learn and grow.


17 Responses

  1. Rhett
    October 7, 2015 at 6:28 pm #

    Please add functionality for full width sections. Would love to see that hit Canvas.

  2. Petr
    October 19, 2015 at 11:37 pm #

    Hi, could you share any plans regarding Canvas 6?
    Thanks, Petr

    • Nicole Kohler
      November 3, 2015 at 8:58 pm #

      Hi Petr, we’ll be publishing some updates on Canvas on the blog later on this week. Stay tuned 🙂

  3. Jochen Fette
    October 27, 2015 at 5:41 pm #

    Sounds great.
    What are your plans regarding Sensei?
    Love 2 know …

    • Dan
      October 28, 2015 at 11:20 am #

      Hi Jochen

      Sensei development will continue as before. We’re currently finishing up the latest release so stay tuned for an update on that 🙂

  4. hearkencreative
    October 27, 2015 at 5:58 pm #

    While I am excited to see where you guys go, I’m really, really disappointed to see all of the themes you have discontinued. As a longtime Woo customer, I have clients from many years back who are still using original Woo themes. Now I cannot guarantee that their sites will be up-to-date and secure. With the October 2015 retirements, I think I will be webmaster for sites with more retired Woo themes than current Woo themes. That lack of long-term support is making me reconsider my “all themes package” — which I have had for many years.

    I understand that you are chasing after the thing that makes you the most money right now, but please understand that longtime customers are essential. Brand new “get rich quick” options won’t last, and if you alienate those of us who have gotten you to this point, your business model will fail.

    • maroonedpics
      October 27, 2015 at 8:53 pm #

      I totally agree with you hearkencreative. I spent countless weeks conforming my online school to work with the Scholar theme. It didn’t provide all of the tools I needed, but I made what I had work with it. Now they discontinue it? That would explain why I have not heard from them in months. I have to now migrate everything to another system. I should have just went with LearnDash in the first place. I used to recommend Woo Themes and frameworks to everyone, well that ship has sailed. You guys really let us down. (not that it matters)

      • Nicole Kohler
        November 3, 2015 at 8:57 pm #

        It certainly does matter and we are paying attention to your feedback. If you have an active license for Scholar we’ve modified our terms for retired themes so that they’ll be supported till the end of the license, not for a six month period only: https://docs.woocommerce.com/document/retired-themes/

        If there’s anything we can do to regain your confidence, we are listening and would welcome your feedback at any time.

    • Gary
      October 27, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

      +1 hearkencreative.

      To suddenly stop updating Themes really puts those of us that create websites for clients in a really bad position. For example I’m in the process of creating two websites for clients using the Fashionable child-theme; I like to offer long-term good quality websites but now I can’t do that if I can’t be sure that the Fashionable theme will remain up to date by the theme Developer.

      I understand that WooThemes needs to retire Themes occasionally but perhaps instead of retiring with no notice you could give say, a years notice of retirement (so website designers and developers have time to prepare).

    • Nicole Kohler
      November 3, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

      Hi there, we hear you loud and clear on support. We’ve changed our terms on retired themes so that support will be offered to the end of your license for those items, not for only that six month period: https://docs.woocommerce.com/document/retired-themes/

      With regards to retirements, we find them difficult, but they are necessary to help us improve our focus and deliver what is needed for success — critical bugfixes, stronger products, etc.

  5. C
    October 27, 2015 at 8:53 pm #

    I was very upset to see the list of theme retirements because it included a Canvas child theme that was just over a year old and which we just adopted *specifically* because we had seen your shift from other theme groups to focus on Canvas development!

    I’m also somewhat nervous to see no mention of what’s going to happen with Sensei here. Is that going to be retired now too??

    • Dan
      October 28, 2015 at 11:26 am #

      Sensei is not going anywhere. We are hard at work on the next update, and development will continue as normal after that.

  6. howardpw
    October 28, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    +1 Difficult to understand why you are retiring Canvas child themes, such as Uno, that are only a year old, while claiming “The lion’s share of our theming efforts will be spent between Canvas and Storefront…”

  7. jason
    November 3, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

    Yeah bummer to see so many recent themes retired. Doesn’t inspire confidence. Nor does the fact that we still have no essentially nothing about what canvas 6 will be, and the fact that customizing Child themes is a MAJOR pain even with the plugin y’all built.

    • Nicole Kohler
      November 3, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

      As we’ve gotten quite a few questions about Canvas specifically we’ll be publishing a blog post about that very topic later this week. Hope to clear up some questions then 🙂