Automattic Buys UK’s Code For The People To Build Out Its WordPress VIP Enterprise Business

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Automattic, the company behind the popular WordPress blogging platform, has acquired a startup in the UK to build out its VIP enterprise operations internationally, putting to use some of the $317 million it has raised in funding.

Code For The People is a bootstrapped WordPress development agency, and while the terms of the deal are not being disclosed, Automattic is terming it an acqui-hire: After the six-person team, led by co-founders Simon Dickson and Simon Wheatley, joins the WordPress VIP team, it will be winding down the consulting part of its business to focus on building tools and services for enterprises using WordPress. This will also mean that Code For The People developer John Blackbourn will now lead the development of WordPress 4.1 as an actual Automattic employee — he had already been confirmed to be leading the development as a third-party partner.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Dublin Web Summit, where Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg announced the deal, he told me that today, consumer users and self-publishers vastly outnumber enterprises on the WordPress platform, and but with enterprises representing a completely different, and potently much larger, revenue stream, it’s no surprise to see WordPress growing the team dedicated to that segment.

There are also some assets coming into the deal, specifically the WordPress multilingual tool Babble, developed by the smaller startup.

Mullenweg told me that Babble was one of the key parts of the deal. In Europe, many countries require multilingual versions of their sites, “and that’s actually a lot harder to build than you think,” he says. Babble effectively helps companies create dual (or more) versions of the same site in different languages.

This is Automattic’s (and WordPress’s) first acquisition in the UK, and its 16th overall, but it is not the company’s first buy outside the U.S.: its first was in Ireland, the online polling company PollDaddy based in County Sligo, Mullenweg noted on stage today.

“Automattic is completely distributed. We are looking at companies all around the world. The best people are all over, not clustered in geographic areas,” he said, seemingly making a call for more relevant entrepreneurs and startups to get in touch.

This is also something that WordPress and Automattic are taking to heart as they build out their business. Mullenweg tells me that the company will have 19 data centers by the end of this year; today there are only seven. The aim is to better serve sites to a global audience, but also to pick up more WordPress publishers — both consumers and enterprises.

Code For The People has been a longtime partner of WordPress, building services on the VIP platform, which is designed as a more robust premium platform for businesses that might see more traffic, need more customisation or may be needing special services that you cannot get on the more basic, consumer-focused WordPress platform. “WeWordPress,” the company notes on its homepage.

Code For The People is coming to Automattic with a strong enterprise track record: it has already helped to build out sites for companies like IPC Media, which runs some 30 publications on WordPress; the Rolling Stones, and government agencies.

The co-founders have a long history themselves of working not just in WordPress but also enterprises. Before starting Code For The People they cut their teeth at a range of businesses, including government organizations, to help them build sites.

Other recent acquisitions by Automattic include BruteProtect, to integrate the security plugin into Jetpack.

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