Why we acquired Understrap

A preview of the exciting future of the world-renowned WordPress theme framework

We’re excited 🙂

What’s next for Understrap?

First and foremost, we will be spending the coming weeks and months personally connecting with all the major contributors to the Understrap project and building a transparent, egalitarian system for roadmapping the next phases of the project. We hope to re-engage the people who’ve been actively contributing for years, as well as expand the community to include new developers who want to get involved in an exciting open-source project that benefits everyone in the WordPress ecosystem.

‘I plan to invest heavily to make Understrap the software of choice for building handcrafted WordPress sites — as opposed to relying on low-code, drag-and-drop page builders.’

I anticipate one of our first steps will be the addition of a Bootstrap 5 version (which has already been started as an offshoot project), since that’s been one of the most important roadmap items for a while now. Thinking big-picture, I want to make Understrap the go-to framework for custom, high-end WordPress development – the software of choice for building handcrafted WordPress sites, as opposed to relying on low-code, drag-and-drop page builders. One of the reasons I love UnderStrap is that it already largely accomplishes this, and I want to help it grow to its greatest potential.

The business of Understrap

UnderStrap will always be a free, open-source project. I believe this is a core requirement of everything we do moving forward, and as I mentioned above, we plan to invest heavily in growing a community of high-end WordPress developers who can contribute to and use the open-source framework on a regular basis. We’ll be working hard to set up a clear, simple, egalitarian system for future development.

‘Anybody can talk the talk, but very few project owners actually walk the walk when it really matters.’

At the same time, I want to develop the commercial side of Understrap — which is essentially what I acquired when I purchased the project — in a way that makes it self-sufficient and self-perpetuating. The commercial side of things is where I’ll recoup my initial financial investment and create a system for funneling more and more money, resources and paid employee time into the open-source project.

The rationale behind the acquisition

Time to pull back the curtain a bit more about my financial mindset. I suspect that most business owners would keep this kind of calculus a closely guarded secret, but I try to run my company on the basis of financial transparency, and I think that’s even more important when dealing with an open-source community. For a bit of background on how I put this philosophy into practice, you can check out my previous articles on our company-wide equal-pay system and our company-wide profit-sharing system, both of which apply equally and transparently to my company’s 14 employees and contractors.

‘Understrap is an important public service that deserves a bright future.’

I mentioned above that I think Understrap, in and of itself, has a ton of potential beyond the sale of commercial child themes that were the main source of revenue for the previous project owner. This potential is one of the reasons that I decided it was worth investing a bit north of $50,000 to acquire the project — this was about 3x the company’s earnings over the last year, which is a higher multiple than I would have paid if I were planning on just continuing the current business model without significant changes. But since I believe there’s a lot more potential on the commercial side, I think the investment will pay for itself.

Ask me anything

With that, I’m going to dive into the work of community-building and expanding the horizons of the Understrap project. I encourage you to post questions here in the comments, on GitHub, or via e-mail at understrap@howarddc.com. If you’re already involved in the community, you’ll also be hearing from me directly soon.