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WordPress.com parent Automattic has acquired Frontity, an open source React framework for WordPress-powered websites. Frontity’s entire team, which includes founders Pablo Postigo (CEO) and Luis Herranz (lead developer), will now join Automattic to work on the WordPress open source project, with a specific focus on frontend development tools and improving website performance.
“After a series of conversations, Automattic offered to sponsor our team to work on the WordPress open source project, and more specifically, to help improve the full site editing developer experience,” Postigo noted in a blog post. “We saw this as a huge opportunity for our team to make a more significant impact in the long term and decided to go for it.”
Powering an estimated 40% of all websites, WordPress needs little introduction. The omnipresent content management system (CMS) is available in two broad versions — the open source, self-hosted incarnation available through WordPress.org and the hosted entity operated and commercialized by Automattic through WordPress.com. The Frontity acquisition is all about Automattic investing resources in the former.
While Automattic is primarily associated with the WordPress brand, the company has targeted businesses with a slew of new tools and products and has also engaged in a number of acquisition and investment initiatives to broaden its scope. A couple of years back, Automattic secured $300 million from Salesforce, underscoring its intentions in the enterprise sphere. Automattic also acquired ZBS CRM, a customer relationship management plugin for WordPress, and ecommerce plugin WooCommerce. Earlier this year, Automattic’s enterprise-focused content management offshoot WordPress VIP acquired engagement analytics platform Parse.ly, while Automattic also invested in business email startup Titan and decentralized team messaging platform Element.
Last week, WordPress cocreator and Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg announced his company had quietly raised $288 million in financing in February to fund acquisitions and spearhead a hiring spree.
While the Frontity acquisition may not be a pure enterprise play, it fits into a broader trend of businesses embracing a “headless” architecture, where software’s backend and frontend are decoupled for maximum freedom and flexibility. For example, Contentstack recently raised $57.5 million for an enterprise-focused CMS built for a more modern architecture based around microservices, APIs, cloud, and “headless” architecture — MACH, for short.
Under Automattic’s wing, Frontity said its team’s knowledge of “frontend tooling, performance, and developer documentation” will benefit the broader WordPress development world and that together the companies will “explore ways to improve the developer experience with blocks and themes.” This is particularly pertinent with the new WordPress Gutenberg editor.
Frontify’s existing open source framework will continue in its current guise, but the team is working to transition the project to a new community of maintainers, given that Frontify’s developers will now be working on new WordPress-focused tasks. In effect, this acquisition is more of a talent grab than anything else.
“By joining forces, we have the chance to help improve the experience for all developers who want to use WordPress, not just those who want to use it as a decoupled CMS,” Herranz said. “We believe this move is not only a big step forward for our team, but also for the WordPress ecosystem.”
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