If you’ve ever wondered why Chris Wiegman sold Better WP Security to iThemes, he answers the question in a post on his personal site. The birth of Better WP Security started off as a mixture of features from several of his favorite security plugins. “I started mashing together features of some of the plugins I liked while adding in some of the functionality we wanted as a department (like ‘Away mode’) to produce something that I could manage myself and would make sure I kept off of anyone’s radar by not being hacked,” Wiegman said.
Wiegman goes on to describe the success the plugin had and how much money he was making in donations. At the peak of its popularity, it was downloaded over 1M times with $20,000 earned in donations. This prompted Wiegman to create a premium support channel. “It was so big I was no longer able to keep up and had to implement premium support only for folks who needed it. This was a new revenue stream and the first official revenue stream for the plugin.” The surge of popularity came at a time when Wiegman was teaching and reviewing books for APress. This severely limited the amount of time he had available to develop new features.
iThemes Enters The Picture
One day, the founder of iThemes, Cory Miller, reached out to Wiegman for support after he was locked out of his site. “What started out as a rather simple conversation quickly lead to something more. I realized that the medicine the project needed to get off life support wasn’t necessarily something I needed to provide myself but could in fact come in the form of selling the plugin to a group who had the resources to make more of it,” Wiegman said.
According to the post, he reached out to a few other groups but stuck with iThemes because they had products that complimented a security plugin such as BackupBuddy and Exchange. Better WP Security was sold to iThemes on December 1st, 2013 and renamed to iThemes Security. As part of the deal, Wiegman joined iThemes as a full-time employee to continue developing iThemes Security.
Not Every Plugin Has a Happy Ending
What I like most about Wiegman’s story is how a simple idea turns into a solid product. I think a lot of WordPress plugins are created because they scratch an itch or solve a problem. The plugin’s creator usually submits the plugin to the directory with a mindset that it can help others as well. Since WordPress is used on 23% of the web, there’s a good chance that a plugin distributed through the directory will help more than one person.
While Wiegman’s tale has a happy ending, so many plugins never reach the type of adoption of Better WP Security. In fact, quite a few end up in a graveyard of abandonment for any number of reasons. If you find yourself in this situation, read our guide on how to adopt a plugin and put one up for adoption. It could end up being the next Better WP Security or BruteProtect.