Joost de Valk on Newfold acquisition of Yoast

I invited Joost to share answers to questions that immediately came to my mind when I read about the acquisition of Yoast by Newfold. I hope you enjoy reading through his answers, I’m sure he’d love some feedback on Twitter.

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It seems that 2020-2021 has been the year of WordPress acquisitions. Do you have any advice for smaller product/service makers that are considering being acquired? 

Yeah, reach out to me 🙂

More serious: build something awesome. Care about your users. The rest will come.

Can you illustrate the timeline of the acquisition process? How did talk start, how long to negotiate, what was most important to you during the process?

We decided to take action in February, and started talking to RBC, the bank who helped us. To us it was important for ourselves and Yoast employees to find a good stable home, but also what would be best for the WordPress community at large. I think in all of these the cultural fit between the companies and a deal structure that truly aligned our goals was the most important.

We’ve talked to a number of companies and settled on Newfold in the end. 

Newfold (EIG) has an _interesting_ persona in the WordPress space. How do you see them fitting in with the WordPress culture now that Yoast is part of the brand? 

First of all, Newfold is not EIG. While EIG certainly is a part of Newfold Digital, the company is very different from what EIG was, with different leadership. They acquired us for a large part because of our commitment to the WordPress community, I think that says a lot about them.

I think we will be able to help Newfold brands interact with the WordPress community in a good way. In general I think we can be an ally to all who want to further develop a great WordPress ecosystem.

Can you tell us the size of the deal? 

No, we don’t disclose that.

Joost: You mentioned being “trapped in your success” in your blog post (https://joost.blog/yoast-joins-newfold/) can you hint at how your role might change or what you might invest your time into now?

I’ll continue running product for Yoast, and will probably get involved with more things within Newfold, for example with their other WordPress core contributors and potential partnerships.

Does Yoast continue to invest in other CMS products like Drupal? 

(Editor note: my brain always goes to Drupal when I think “other” CMS + Yoast. Sorry!)

We have a TYPO3 extension that we keep investing in, and we’ll certainly still consider other platforms. We don’t currently have a Drupal extension 🙂

I had bet that Automattic would have been the next home for Yoast to roll into Jetpack. As the WP market consolidates, the more advantageous (and sensible) it is for Jetpack. Do you have any thoughts you’d like to share on how Jetpack is becoming a “premium way to experience WordPress”?

We all have very good relations with Automattic, and I truly appreciate what Matt and Automattic do within the ecosystem. I don’t think that merging Jetpack and Yoast SEO would be the best solution though 🙂

It seems that Gutenberg, and now FSE, still has some maturing to go through to say the least. When do you predict we’ll see a more “stable” and user-friendly version of WordPress for the average user? 

The block editor is getting really good. I think that it is great to use on any normal website now. Full site editing definitely still needs work, and we’ve got our work cut out for us as a community to make that good. One of the things I worry about is that we need to make sure we keep it both user and developer friendly.

Yoast has been part of the community and synonyms with open-source WordPress for many years. Is there anything you’d like to share now that you’ve had a chance to review feedback from the public announcement? 

The feedback has mostly been very nice, which is great. As with all acquisitions people are afraid that stuff will change for the worse, of course, but that’s certainly not the intent. We won’t be taking any premium features and moving them to free or stuff like that.

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