Digital consultancies Alpha Particle and Flowspoke have acquired the Kanban for WordPress plugin, a tool that puts Kanban boards into the admin to measure progress on a goal. The plugin is used for agile project management, sales tracking, editorial scheduling, and other planning purposes.
WordPress developer Corey Maass created Kanban for WordPress in 2015 but struggled to market it enough to grow beyond 2,000 users. In 2020, he saw Alpha Particle CTO Keanan Koppenhaver post on Twitter that he was looking to acquire a plugin business and jumped at the chance to sell Kanban for WordPress. Koppenhaver wanted a plugin that already had $1k-$12K annual revenue and wasn’t tied in with Beaver Builder, Elementor, Divi, or any other page builders. Integration with WooCommerce or other third-party software was a plus.
“I’d burned out on the project so I’d thought about selling for a while but didn’t do anything about it,” Maass said. “When Keanan posted he was looking, I inquired because I’d met him and knew he was solid. After a chat I knew he was the right buyer because his approach to WordPress was similar to mine – not too detached, not too dogmatic.”
Maass had monetized Kanban for WordPress for the past five years through a $149/year pro version (the most popular price point) and a $499.00 lifetime support license. He said revenue had peaked around $20K/ARR but had dropped to about $10K/ARR due to his minimal involvement. During his peak revenue months there were some weeks he would work 40 hours and some that he would work no hours at all.
“I applied the ’12-18 months of revenue as a selling price’ rule, and sold it for $15k,” Maass said.
He also commented on the difficulty of finding a non-technical partner in the WordPress world. Maass searched for someone to market the plugin while he concentrated on the product but never found a match:
I interviewed non-WordPress people. No luck. I’ve found a few people in the WordPress eco-system, but most already have one more products they’re growing. It’s one of the quirks of the WordPress world – there are more devs than non-devs. Most everywhere else in the tech-business world, it’s the other way around. And of course most of the success stories of WordPress are tech founders that pivoted to marketing/biz dev, which a lot of devs can’t do, myself included.
The teams at Alpha Particle and Flowspoke saw potential to grow the Kanban for WordPress plugin business with their combined design, marketing, and development skills.
“As WordPress continues to become an even more full-featured platform, we think there’s a demand for great applications to be built inside WordPress,” Alpha Particle CTO Keanan Koppenhaver said. “And Kanban is a perfect example of that. It’s already proven useful for a lot of people and we want to take even more of the features from other project management tools and integrate them tightly with tools WordPress folks are already using, like the Block Editor and WooCommerce, to help add to that unified WordPress experience.”
Although Alpha Particle and Flowspoke already have in-house products they are working on, they wanted to acquire a business where they could immediately start experimenting.
“With a plugin that already has some traction, it just makes it a lot easier to try new things and get quicker feedback on new features and new ideas,” Koppenhaver said. “Since there’s already an engaged user base, we saw the opportunity to take the things we tell our clients to do with their projects and apply them to a product of our own. I think that long-term this wouldn’t be the only one we acquire, but we’ll be on the look out for the next right opportunity. We’re excited about the long-term roadmap we’ve laid out for Kanban, too, and ready to put in the time to focus and make that vision a reality.”
Alpha Particle and Flowspoke plan to release the long-awaited version 3 of Kanban for WordPress in the near future. It has been completely redesigned and rewritten from the ground up. They will also be building in tighter integration with WordPress where users will be able to link posts to cards and automatically have cards moved to the “Published” column after publishing. Kanban for WordPress already has integrations for Gravity Forms and Ninja Forms but the team has more third-party integrations on the roadmap and is also taking suggestions.