When I was in Austin earlier this year, there was one company people kept pushing me to meet with: WP Engine. The company provides a one-stop shop for all WordPress hosting needs, with the goal of simplifying the lives of WordPress developers and users. Today, the company is taking a big step in that direction with the public launch of Git for WP Engine clients.
Git provides an easy and scalable solution for developers, making it much simpler to develop applications on top of WordPress. Not to get too technical without cause, but to understand what this means we need a short lesson. Git is a version control system used by a wide swath of the WordPress developer community. It allows developers to track progress and make changes to software.
However, support for git isn’t normally packaged with the basic WordPress stack by hosting companies, meaning that developers are left with makeshift solutions that are unreliable.
Now, WP Engine is looking to cover that sizable niche by being one of very few companies with dedicated git support. Another WordPress hosting service, called ZippyKid provides git support, but on a reduced level.
WP Engine is waging war on other WordPress hosting services. Right now, the company has plenty of selling points for potential customers, including easy setup and round-the-clock support. More importantly, its servers see 99 percent uptime, and can withstand even the most intense of attacks. The uptime is important, but it’s not exactly a feature that people notice until it’s gone.
The company’s tools make a difference in the daily lives of developers. If WP Engine can shave off a few minutes from a developer’s workflow, or remove some makeshift solution in favor of something more stable and supported, then it’s worth investing the time to make a new product.
WordPress has become so much more than blogging software, transforming into a general purpose CMS and website foundation. However, despite powering over 10 percent of the Web, it has much more room to grow, says WP Engine co-founder Jason Cohen. WP Engine’s integrated developer tools mean that the company can reduce friction and remove distractions for developers. This makes tackling the developer segment of the WordPress market much simpler.
With the goal of becoming the one-stop shop for WordPress needs, the company has been steadily and methodically rolling out features that make WordPress simpler and easier since WP Engine launched in 2010. In addition, the company raised $1.2 million in funding in November of 2011, from Silverton Partners, Automattic, and a number of angel investors.
The investment by Automattic is worth paying special attention to. Automattic is the company that runs WordPress.com, the commercial arm of WordPress development. Why the strategic investment? Well, Automattic currently targets the low-end free market with WordPress.com, and the high-end market with WordPress VIP Hosting. But the middle of the market that cant afford VIP service, but which still wants customer support, is untapped by Automattic. Not coincidentally, it’s exactly the demographic that WP Engine is targeting. Because of this, the strategic investment makes sense.
Automattic’s investment in WP Engine also goes a long way towards showing how popular WP Engine has become in the WordPress community. I spoke with a number of WP Engine customers, and the testimonials aren’t just happy. They’re downright giddy with the service.
In part, this has to do with WP Engine’s most intangible asset: its support team. For customers of the company, WP Engine provides technical support from WordPress experts only. In addition, the company also leverages the existing WordPress community to help solve problems in forums or on Twitter.
Because of these incremental improvements all geared towards the goal of making developers’ lives easier, WP Engine is poised to tackle a huge market.