Jonathan Christopher on selling SearchWP plugin to Awesome Motive

First, congratulations on selling SearchWP to Awesome Motive! I’m sure a decision like this didn’t come easy. Are there a few factors you could highlight that helped pushed the decision forward?

No, definitely not easy, but as I and the WordPress ecosystem grew I realized that

  1. I like building things from scratch
  2. I’m not the guy to build/manage a team
  3. Marketing is forever nebulous to me SearchWP has been such a fantastic thing to build and iterate on, but ultimately it grew to a point where I felt it needed a proper team to continue its momentum.

I much prefer to write the code and follow the rabbit trails, that’s what I like doing. I’ve always wanted SearchWP to be the absolutely go-to solution for WordPress search, and given the trajectory of the ecosystem I think Awesome Motive is going to do a terrific job of that.

What has been the biggest challenge running a WordPress product company over the last 5 years?

If I had to pick one thing it would be product planning.

WordPress gets used for everything and then some, so trying to build a product to suit such a wide variety of applications can be challenging at times.

Can you hint at the size of the deal? Picking out a new Porsche or sticking with a mini-van? 🙂

I can’t!

Any advice for other product owners entertaining an acquisition?

Listen to your gut.

Everyone’s circumstances and everyone’s goals are different. Just because someone does (or doesn’t do) something doesn’t mean your way should look like that.

Spend time thinking about why you do what you do and what’s going to help you accomplish your goals.

Can you share an opinion on consolidation and competition in the WordPress space? Where is the market headed?

Watching the WordPress ecosystem shift over the past couple years has been interesting in so many ways. Heck, the past 18 months has been some of the craziest.

I think that trajectory is going to continue as the actual, real value of businesses in the space continue to be exposed. That in turn is going to continue building the snowball.

When it comes to SearchWP, the season of consolidation we’re seeing in the space has been great. The Awesome Motive team has worked to build the precise infrastucture SearchWP needs to keep itself in the game in a very serious way.

I also think that consolidation can open doors for new players as time goes on. WordPress is _huge_ and the competition is just starting to heat up.

What’s next for you?

Catch my breath and then do it again! I’m not sure if it’ll be in the WordPress space, but I’m looking forward to fleshing out the ideas I’ve had for the past 10 years and seeing what sticks out as something I can sink my teeth into.

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