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Thrive Themes Acquired, Automattic Launches Blaze, WCEU 2023 Tickets πŸ—žοΈ February 2023 WordPress News w/ CodeinWP

📆  This is the February 2023 edition of “This Month in WordPress with CodeinWP.” 

Hey, WordPress friends. While we had a quiet end to 2022 in the WordPress news space, 2023 has kicked off with a bang!

There were some big WordPress acquisitions, a new ad/promotion product from Automattic, a potential new design for the WordPress.org theme directory, WordCamp Europe 2023 tickets and speaker openings, and lots more.

Keep reading for all the most important WordPress news from the past month:

February 2023 WordPress News with CodeinWP

Awesome Motive acquires Thrive Themes, and Duplicator

While there were a ton of big WordPress acquisitions in 2022, the last part of the year was relatively quiet in the acquisition space.

Well, that’s changed, as 2023 starts off with a big bang with one of the bigger acquisitions that you’ll see:

Awesome Motive, the parent company behind WPBeginner and a huge array of plugins like WPForms and MonsterInsights, just fully acquired Thrive Themes and all of its subsidiary products.

Thrive Themes is especially popular with digital marketers and makes a number of popular plugins and themes, including the following:

That last bullet point is probably the most important – Awesome Motive isn’t just acquiring a single plugin, it’s acquiring a paid ecosystem of 10+ different extensions that are used on over 200,000 WordPress sites (at least that’s the number from the official WPBeginner acquisition post).

It’s also an authoritative website with a blog that Awesome Motive can use to cross-promote products and take up even more space in the SERPs.

While the monetary terms of the deal aren’t public, I’m guessing the numbers are quite large given the popularity of Thrive Themes.

Here’s Awesome Motive’s post about the acquisition, and here’s Thrive Themes’ post about the acquisition.

If you want to discuss the acquisition (or see discussion from others), you can check out WP Tavern’s post about the acquisition.

In slightly less big news, Awesome Motive also acquired the popular Duplicator back/migration plugin in early January.

While Duplicator isn’t as big as Thrive Themes, it is still used on over one million sites according to WordPress.org.

Duplicator Pro prices now also mimic the same pricing that you see on other Awesome Motive products, with comparatively low first-year prices and higher renewals.

You can also check out the WP Tavern post about the Duplicator acquisition, which includes some user discussion.

Awesome Motive acquires Thrive Themes

Automattic launches an ad tool for WordPress.com and Jetpack sites to promote posts

On January 11, Automattic announced a big expansion of its Blaze product, which lets site owners promote their content across a network of other sites on WordPress.com and Tumblr (as well as Jetpack users).

Blaze originally launched on Tumblr in April 2022, but it’s now been expanded to include WordPress.

It seems to work kind of like promoting a Facebook post. When you go into your post list on WordPress.com, you’ll get a new Promote With Blaze option next to a post.

You can then design your ad, choose an audience, select your budget, and launch the ad.

When you set your budget, WordPress.com will give you an estimate of how many people that budget will let you reach (again – it’s a lot like promoting a post on Facebook).

When I played around with Blaze, I see the following estimates for different budget levels when using broad targeting:

  • $5 (the minimum daily budget) – 5,900 – 8,000 impressions
  • $10 – 11,900 – 16,100 impressions
  • $20 – 23,800 – 32,200 impressions
  • $35 – 41,600 – 56,300 impressions
  • $50 (the maximum daily budget) – 59,500 – 80,500

In terms of targeting, you get three main options:

  • Devices – mobile, desktop, or all devices.
  • Location – you can only choose continents – e.g., North America, Europe, South America, Asia, etc. There’s no option to choose a specific country.
  • Interests – you can choose one or more of 26+ broad interest groups – e.g., sports, travel, health & fitness, style & fashion, etc. You can also just target everyone.

Where will your ads display? Currently, the ads will display on free WordPress.com and Tumblr sites. Free WordPress.com sites have always included ads, so there’s no change there.

The only change is that you now have an easier way to promote your site on those free sites.

If you created your site with WordPress.com or Tumblr, you’ll have access to Blaze by default. However, self-hosted WordPress sites can still promote on Blaze if you install the Jetpack plugin.

If you want to learn more, you can check out the WordPress.com announcement post. The Tumblr Blaze FAQ page also has more details about how it works, as the WordPress.com content is still a little thin.

Overall, it’s interesting to see Automattic get even deeper into the ads space. Automattic has long had its WordAds service, which lets site owners display ads on their site to earn an income. But now Automattic is also reaching out to the other side of the equation by letting site owners promote their sites on WordPress.com’s free network (and Tumblr).

Automattic launches an ad tool for WordPress.com

A sneak peek of the new theme directory design

Last month, WordPress.org launched a new commercial/community classification system for themes (and plugins), which allows developers to opt-in to mark their plugin as commercial (which lets them include their own commercial support URL in addition to the WordPress.org forums).

Now, we get a look at another upcoming change to the theme directory – a brand new design.

On January 16, Beatriz Fialho posted some design mockups of what the theme directory might look like.

These mockups would help it match the other re-designed pages on WordPress.org. They also put much more emphasis on block patterns and style variations.

I’m not sure what it would look like for non-block themes, but I imagine some of the information will be hidden.

If you want to see the mockups and contribute your thoughts, you can check out the post on the Make WordPress Design blog.

new theme directory design

You may also be interested in:

WordCamp Europe 2023 tickets on sale (and speaker applications open)

If you’re interested in attending WordCamp Europe 2023 in Athens, Greece, this past month brought two pieces of news that you’ll want to pay attention to.

First of all, WordCamp Europe 2023 tickets are officially on sale.

A general admission ticket will cost you €50, which gets you “entry to our two-day event with lunch, coffee, snacks, the opportunity to register for Contributor Day, and an invite to the After Party.”

The event runs from June 8-10 (with June 8 being Contributor Day).

As the ticket announcement post notes, “these are priced far below the real cost of attendance as we’re dedicated to keeping WCEU affordable.”

You can also pay €150 for the same privileges, but as a micro-sponsor. While these tickets don’t get you extra perks, “micro-sponsor tickets for those who are able to pay a figure that’s closer to the real cost of attendance.”

If you want to attend, you can buy your tickets here.

Beyond releasing the tickets, the WordCamp Europe 2023 team also put out a call for speakers. If you’re interested in speaking, you have until Sunday, February 5th at midnight Athens time to apply.

You’ll receive a response to your application by the second week of March and the official speaker list will be released by the second week of April.

WP Migrate launches full-site import/export to Local

In our July 2022 WordPress news post, we told you about how WP Engine acquired Delicious Brains, the company behind several popular products including Advanced Custom Fields, WP Migrate (formerly WP Migrate DB), and WP Offload Media.

Now, we’re starting to see the fruits of that acquisition, with a really neat new feature in WP Migrate.

In version 2.6, WP Migrate released the ability to do full-site imports and exports with Local, a local WordPress development tool that was also acquired by WP Engine (as part of its Flywheel acquisition).

If you’re not familiar with Local, it offers one of the easiest ways to set up a local WordPress development site. A local development site is a working WordPress site that runs on your own local computer, without the need for an internet connection.

With this feature, you can use WP Migrate to export a complete site in a ZIP archive. This singular ZIP archive includes the database, themes, plugins, media, and everything else (sort of like the Duplicator plugin from above).

More interesting, it also includes details about the PHP and MySQL versions used on the site in a file named wpmigrate-export.json.

When you create a new site in Local, you can do so by just selecting this ZIP archive. Local will not only fully import the website’s content, but it will also match the environment based on the details in wpmigrate-export.json.

You can also go in the other direction and use WP Migrate to export a Local WordPress site that you then import on your live site.

While WP Migrate has long offered the ability to push/pull sites, the advantage of this approach is that it still works even if the second site doesn’t exist yet.

Overall, if you work with local WordPress sites as part of your development workflows, you’ll definitely want to dig into this in more detail to see if it can speed up your workflows.

To learn more, check out the WP Migrate 2.6 release post.

Wordfence releases its 2022 State of WordPress Security report

Now that we’re almost a month into the new year, Wordfence has had time to put together its detailed report on the State of WordPress Security in 2022, which the Wordfence team released on January 24.

If you want to download the full white paper, you can do so by going here 📂.

Here’s a quick summary of the high points, though:

  • More WordPress plugin vulnerabilities were responsibly disclosed than ever before, which Wordfence attributes to an “influx of new security researchers.”
  • Fewer WordPress sites were compromised due to vulnerable plugins, perhaps because of the previous point.
  • Credential stuffing attacks (where an attacker tries to guess username/password combos based on data breaches and password lists) were less common in 2022, while the most common attacks were attempts to access existing backdoors. Wordfence also noticed a large increase in attempts to gather information about a site, such as its database credentials and installed plugins.
  • Malware infection rates remained similar to previous years. However, the rates of malware specifically being introduced by nulled plugins and themes dropped by half.

While it’s sad that malware infection rates haven’t changed, it is a good sign that fewer WordPress sites are being infected because of plugin vulnerabilities.

In terms of protecting your site, two of Wordfence’s biggest recommendations are to use two-factor authentication and always keep your site and its extensions updated.

Some WordPress mobile app features are moving to the Jetpack app

In January, the Jetpack team revamped the Jetpack mobile app to include more features from the free Jetpack plan, such as the features for stats, reader, and notifications.

Previously, the Jetpack app had mostly focused on paid Jetpack features such as backups and security scanning.

As part of this change, though, those free features will now be completely moving from the WordPress mobile app to the Jetpack mobile app. So whereas before you could view site stats in the WordPress mobile app, you’ll soon only be able to access them in the Jetpack app.

Users will also need to migrate their data from the WordPress mobile app to the Jetpack app.

As WP Tavern reports, this has led to some confusion with more casual users who might not understand the difference and interplay between “WordPress” and “Jetpack/WordPress.com.”

ClassicPress votes to re-fork WordPress (barely)

In last month’s news post, we talked about the debate within the ClassicPress community about whether to re-fork WordPress.

Well – the verdict is in:

Community members have barely voted in favor of re-forking WordPress, by a margin of 20 votes for and 18 votes against.

It seems like this means the re-fork will go ahead, as Viktor (the director) said:

So after further discussions today on Slack, I think we agreed on a tentative plan to proceed with re-fork.

If you’re interested in the plan for the re-fork, here’s a direct link to Viktor’s comment.

That sums up our February 2023 WordPress news roundup. Anything we missed?

Don’t forget to join our crash course on speeding up your WordPress site. Learn more below:

 

Layout and presentation by Karol K.

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