When Brian Gardner founded StudioPress nearly a decade ago, he wanted to provide developers with a quick and easy way to build stand-out themes for WordPress.
To say he accomplished that goal is an understatement. Today, StudioPress’ Genesis Framework is the most popular theme framework for WordPress and its themes are among the most widely used within the WordPress community. Genesis alone has served as the foundation for more than 1 million WordPress sites, and both developers and designers have rallied around the suite of StudioPress products precisely because they’re fast, easy-to-use and consistently provide impressive digital experiences.
With all of those accolades, it’s not particularly surprising that WP Engine today announced it was acquiring StudioPress, including the Genesis Framework and more than 60 additional StudioPress themes. For Gardner, who will stay on with StudioPress at WP Engine as a product development leader and evangelist, the move comes after considerable thought and reflection about what he’s created.
“I think as a founder and someone who likes to own and appreciate what I’ve built, one of my biggest realizations throughout this process has been that sometimes you need to let go for things to grow,” he said.
“This has really been a matter of identifying that it was time for StudioPress to take the next step—not so much for my own sake—but for the customers’ and the community’s sake,” he said. ”I know there is so much more reach and impact we could have, and now is the time to act.”
One of the biggest catalysts for that realization, Gardner said, was Gutenberg, the new content editing platform that will become the default editor once WordPress 5.0 is released later this year.
“With Gutenberg, we’re moving into a new season of WordPress and publishing,” he said. “I know it’s taken some time and there have been some critics, but I see the gold in Gutenberg—it’s an opportunity to simplify content publishing by focusing on some of the easier methods of doing things rather than creating complex solutions behind the scenes.”
Furthermore, Gardner explained, the added functionality within Gutenberg will offer new ways of providing people with easy-to-use themes that provide great-looking digital experiences. Sound familiar? In Gutenberg, some might say, Gardner sees a bit of the spark that inspired StudioPress.
In order to seize the opportunity Gutenberg presents, however, Gardner wanted StudioPress to join forces with a partner that could provide additional capabilities and support to maximize the efforts he wants to undertake.
“Gutenberg provided a gut check within StudioPress about our own capabilities,” Gardner said. “It felt like it was time to swim alongside a bigger fish that could help us magnify our capabilities and reach in a way that is both symbiotic for our own companies, but also, and more importantly, the greater WordPress community.”
WP Engine Founder Jason Cohen took Gardner’s sentiment a step further, adding that support for Gutenberg would be one benefit of the StudioPress acquisition, followed by more to come.
“Supporting Gutenberg is an example of a new precedent for supporting WordPress Core through the development of the Genesis Framework and new themes that make the adoption of new technologies like Gutenberg easier,” Cohen said.
“By expanding on StudioPress’ capabilities, and specifically its theme framework that is used and beloved by so many, we have the opportunity to strengthen the wider WordPress community by making it so much easier to adopt modern technologies and to push WordPress so farther than it’s ever been before.”