WordPress management site WP Engine acquires Flywheel as it moves to a $1B valuation and IPO – TechCrunch

WordPress now makes up 34 percent of all websites worldwide, and today one of the key companies helping create and manage some of these WP hosted websites is getting a little bigger as it consolidates in the wider ecosystem. WP Engine, which works with companies to build and manage their WordPress hosted websites, has acquired Flywheel, a smaller competitor.

The financial terms of the deal will not be disclosed, WP Engine CEO and chairwoman Heather Brunner said in an interview, but she did confirm to TechCrunch that her company was taking a small round (also undisclosed) of its existing investors to help support the company Support financing the deal. WP Engine’s investors include Silver Lake (which poured a whopping $ 250 million into the company last year) and GuidePost Growth Equity (formerly known as North Bridge). WordPress developers Automattic, Silverton and Eric Ries (known from “Lean Startup”) were former investors.

Brunner also declined to talk about WP Engine’s valuation, despite noting that its current annual recurring revenue is $ 132 million and that of Flywheel is $ 18 million, with a current growth rate of 50% together the two are on track to make $ 200 million in arr by 2020 and likely to pass the $ 1 billion mark for valuation en route to a public listing.

“Our aim is to build a company ready for the public market, and this acquisition helps,” she said. (Ironically, this could mean that WordPress’ partner, and sometimes a competitor, could go public before going public.)

The deal is a sign of some consolidation in the ecosystem that has built up around WordPress. WP Engine is a true powerhouse in this ecosystem, was a pioneer in this area – WordPress supported it back in 2011 – and is now working to build and manage websites for around 120,000 brands and agencies in 150 countries (probably many times that in Terms of actual websites).

WP Engine, as Brunner describes it, focuses primarily on medium and larger companies, while Flywheel – founded and currently based in Omaha – has focused on smaller companies. That makes the two natural additions to each other, but Brunner notes that more will be gained from the union.

“The team there is very product oriented,” she noted. “They developed a suite that we think is geared towards small agencies, but they are also the types of tools that larger agencies will benefit from.” It refers to the Local by Flywheel product, a local development application developed by used by more than 150,000 developers.

Flywheel, which was founded in 2012, had only raised around $ 6 million in funding, including a $ 4 million round a few years ago. The economies of scale associated with WP Engine will give it a much wider presence and access to new customers.

“We founded Flywheel with the belief that in order to help creatives do their best work, we must create an internal culture that encourages our employees to do the same,” said Dusty Davidson, CEO and co-founder of Flywheel. in a statement. “That philosophy has led us to build an incredible company and some of the most popular products in WordPress, backed by an impressive group of talented people and the most remarkable open source community in the world.”

WP Engine previously made some other acquisitions from other partners in the WordPress ecosystem to mark it as a consolidator in this space. Brunner noted that while some of the company’s growth efforts could lead to further acquisitions, it is also pursuing a second avenue of working with third party partners and acting as a brokerage platform for companies to bring in other services to support their websites. In addition to WordPress itself, of course, the partners in the WP Engine ecosystem include Amazon Web Services, Cloudflare, Google, HubSpot and New Relic, she noted.

June 14, 2021