One of the attributes that’s defined the website world in the past two years is consolidation. There’s ample M&A activity in order to accelerate time to market in launching new features. The thought is that a broader bundle can both appeal to a wider user base and boost retention (ARR) for existing customers.
The other factor driving this trend is that web hosting — a core component of website-builders’ services — has become commoditized. This compels providers to establish new revenue streams that are adjacent to websites in order to boost margins. We’re talking everything from email marketing to social and SEO.
The thinking behind some of these moves is that expanded features can boost revenue-per-user and lifetime value. It’s all about having more tentacles that reach into business operations, thus anchoring a given vendor in SMB marketing support. That can engender a lock-in effect to drive (again) recurring revenue.
One exemplar of all of the above is Automattic. As the center of the WordPress universe (more on that in a bit), it continues to build out its arsenal of first-party WordPress features and plugins. It owns several WordPress staples including JetPack and WooCommerce. It’s all about presence + promotion.
The latest addition came earlier this month with the acquisition of publishing analytics provider Parse.ly. for an undisclosed sum. This will give Automattic customers more direct access to publishing data and insights, as well as commerce insights. The latter flows from direct integrations with WooCommerce.
Drilling down, Parse.ly will be folded into WPVIP, which is Automattic’s managed hosting offer. As background, most web hosts offer basic self-serve functionality. Managed hosting offers a bit more, including live support and elevated security. This is usually the route taken by larger companies or mid-market SMBs.
Functionally, Parse.ly specializes in analytics around content publishing and marketing. This includes understanding the impact that content marketing has on business metrics. Sort of like Hubspot, this can track outbound and published content to understand performance and course-correct accordingly.
“We’ve really started to shift more towards content marketing and starting to think more deeply beyond just what traditional page analytics provide,” WPVIP CEO Nick Gernert told TechCrunch “[We’re] starting to look more deeply at things like conversation, attribution: areas that from a marketer’s perspective are impactful.”
Automattic previously partnered with Parse.ly, but this acquisition enables deeper integrations, as noted. Parse.ly was founded in 2009 and has raised $12.9 million in funding in total. Parse.ly founders Sachin Kamdar and Andrew Montalenti will join WPVIP as go-to-market and product strategy leads, respectively.
Back to Automattic’s orientation, WordPress is the most prevalent publishing software on the web, running a whopping 30 percent of all websites. At its core is a simple website builder and publishing tool, but it’s infinitely expandable as a content management system with tens of thousands of plugins.
Automattic sits at the center of that universe. As an open platform, WordPress.org has no owner, but Automattic runs WordPress.com, the biggest onboarding source for WordPress website creation and hosting. It also influences the WordPress “core” as part of the WordPress Foundation.
With Parse.ly, Automattic now has more first-party capabilities and integrations within its expanding library of products. As part of our Website Windup series, we’ll continue watching for more acquisitions and synergies within that library… and with parallel moves from other players in the website builder world.
This is the latest in Localogy’s Website Windup series. It examines the ongoing evolution and advancement of SMB-focused website builders, including acquisitions and feature expansion to enhance product bundles.