Automattic is announcing a new feature for the 17 million blogs hosted on WordPress.com—premium themes. The blogging platform giant says that commercial themes have been “thriving” for self-hosted WordPress sites, and it made sense to expand this offering to blogs hosted on WordPress.com.
Today, WordPress.com is making two premium themes available to users: Headlines by WooThemes, and Shelf, by the Theme Foundry. Headlines’ magazine-like theme includes a Featured Post slideshow, multiple menus, and 15 different color schemes. Headlines and Shelf will be available for one-time prices of $45 and $68, respectively. Additional premium themes will be rolled out later in the year.
While not monumental news, premium themes will give millions of WordPress.com users the ability to upgrade the design of their blogs to a more professional looking interface. And for Automattic, this opens up a brand new revenue stream for the company. We’ve heard Automattic makes a little under $1 million a month from all its services, with most of this revenue coming from premium services. Automattic also just announced that its network of sites (including WordPress.com, Polldaddy, IntenseDebate, and Gravatar) crossed over the half billion mark for monthly unique visitors, according to Quantcast.
Automattic is the company behind WordPress.com, the simplest, most secure way to start web-publishing immediately on the open source WordPress platform. They also make Jetpack for WordPress, which bundles a number of social improvements to the WordPress core software as a single plugin. Automattic offers a number of products, like VaultPress and Akismet, on a freemium model so anyone can use them for free, and later have the choice to pay extra for premium features. Automattic has over 150 employees, including...