WooCommerce is Celebrate 10 years since WooThemes released the first iteration of the WooCommerce plugin. Paul Maiorana, the current CEO of WooCommerce, covered some of the highlights of the plugin’s rising popularity over the years in his anniversary post. After 16 months in the wild, WooCommerce has been downloaded 500,000 times and hit the 1 million downloads milestone just 137 days later.In 2014, the night before the very first WooConf, the plugin celebrated 5 million downloads. It was acquired by Automattic in 2015 in a deal valued at more than $ 20 million.
The anniversary post from WooCommerce, which glossed over its checkered history of origin, reignited some of the controversy surrounding the jigoshop fork. While the post mentions that WooThemes hired two Jigoshop developers “To create a dedicated eCommerce plugin called WooCommerce,” there was no mention that the original version was actually a junction from Jigoshop. WooThemes convinced Mike Jolley and Jay Koster to share the work they had donefor her former employer Jigowatt after not making a deal with the Jigowatt team.
In an article entitled “Our bifurcation views“, The remaining Jigoshop team shed some light on what was going on privately before WooThemes announced its diversion:
Woo’s offer to buy the Jigoshop project has seriously undervalued the business and nowhere near covering our initial development costs, not to mention the planning, time and effort put into the project by both the Jigowatt team and the community.
Woo then made an offer to “work together,” which led to their decision to ditch Jigoshop. What was not made public is that the collaborative offer included terms that would have given WooThemes full strategic control over the direction and development of the Jigoshop project in the future.
WooThemes was within its rights to fork the open source Jigoshop code, but the persuasion of some of its key developers to leave the project has essentially split Jigoshop out of its momentum and broken its user base. That comes from the reactions to them WP Candy Newspost on the subject that many people in the community disapproved of this move at the time. It was one of the most gutted, realistic uses of the GPL in the earliest days of the WordPress product business.
Mike Jolley was interviewed by earlier this year HollerWP. When asked about the Jigoshop fork, he said that 90% of his job at Jigowatt was client work on e-commerce sites, and “Jigoshop felt more like a sideline than anything else. ”He found it exhausting to keep track of both client work and the open source project. Jigowatt hadn’t offered him any shares or vested interest on top of his salary. Jolley said his move to WooThemes was “inevitable” and that he was grateful to continue working on a project he was passionate about.
In a post entitled Lessons from the Jigoshop – WooCommerce fiasco, said Delicious Brains founder and CEO Brad Touesnard that he agreed to have Jigowatt received “A stiff step in the crotch courtesy of WooThemes”, based on what he thought was a fatal mistake by Jigowatt:
If you are a company whose open source project is gaining traction, it is imperative that your core developers have a legitimate interest in your company. And not 1%. It has to be a good piece of the pie. Enough to make developers feel like your company is too your Society. Then when another company comes to hire them, the developer is much more likely to tell them, “Buy the company or take a hike”.
I think the whole situation would have been different if Mike and Jay had owned a piece of the pie and had a legitimate interest in Jigowatt. In such a case, they most likely would not have had a job with WooThemes unless it was part of a buyout deal.
These events are almost forgotten after 10 years for most casual observers, but not for those of us who were there to observe them. Many of these referenced websites are no longer online but are available from the Internet archives.
In 2014 Jigowatt sold Jigoshop to Proxar IT Consulting. The new plugin they launched was available in the official plugin directory until 2020, when WordPress.org removed it, citing a policy violation.
In 2021, WooCommerce is stronger than ever and installed on more than 5 million websites. Merchants around the world are building thriving, profitable businesses on WooCommerce and its diverse ecosystem of extensions. Ten years later, it seems that Jigowatt’s founding partners have largely overcome the controversy and are now Build all of your ecommerce websites with WooCommerce.
“A lot has happened in the last 10 years and we have come a long way from our humble beginnings.”said Paul Maiorana in the anniversary mail. The subsequent “trip into the past” is omittedthe messy details of the forking jigoshop. The Jigoshop.com website has since disappeared from the Internet, with the exception of the pages that are kept in the Internet archive. Before the rest of these historical references go away, it’s good to remember that all of the earliest contributors to the Jigoshop open source project were also part of WooCommerce’s “humble beginnings”, even if they came from the e-commerce powerhouse, that benefits from their contributions were not officially recognized today.