57 Comments

  1. Yanko

    How do you go to a new venture when you have left so many clients in the dark in your current business.People should be aware of this and make smart decision in getting involved in his new business. All this does not give a good name of the WP theme shops and shows that integrity is the true value of such business and not the quality of product.

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  2. Norris

    I was going to buy Pressmatic, but after this, probably not. Holy cow, this is no way to treat anyone, not your customers, not your employees.

    I understand that financial troubles can have a large impact on a company, but if you’re going bankrupt – ignoring the issue and keeping everyone in the dark isn’t the answer. Having a bad reputation is going to have an impact on ones future ventures.

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  3. Jackie

    Honesty and integrity are most important when things are not going well.

    Winding down an unsustainable businesses is never easy. Your reputation is everything, and while you may not be able to save a failing business, how you communicate and treat others during that transition is a reflection of your character.

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  4. Neil Gowran

    This does seem to be a bit of a witch hunt, third piece now, but at the same time no smoke without fire.

    Would be good to see the Griffiths take on the issue, good or bad.

    Really do see a future in Pressmatic and now in their best interest to come clean on the Headway theme issue to at least let current users know the playing field and bolster confidence in the new Pressmatic venture.

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    • Andreas Nurbo

      Reporting on businesses is not uncommon. Reporting on the solvency of businesses is what many news outlets do. WP product ecosystem is relatively small and consists of small businesses but they still have some impact. Ignoring issues just because WP businesses are small is not good either. Potential customers should know about what they get themselves into.

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    • John B. Manos

      If the reporting had started last year, maybe it was a witch hunt.

      To those of us that have been in the headway community, a year of issues has been building. It was being fomented by silence.

      The reporting happening now is timely, if not late because people wanted to see if there’d have been activity from headway. After months of watching and no activity, there is no witch hunt.

      Your focus should be more on the case study in front of you – silence has caused the customers to want answers as to why the product is unsupported. Many of those customers have been trying to warn people for months that no support tickets are being answered. All the while, the sales page is churning new customer sales who are oblivious to the black hole they just bought.

      Hardcore users have been attempting to help and offering advice and assistance for months with no meaningful communication in return.

      Everyone wants Headway back on track. The trouble is that the long persistent silence makes it more and more apparent that it’s only the user community that wants it.

      Yes, reporting on it disapassionately as down here is proper and well done. At least and until the situation is improved, it serves as the police tape cautioning people around a hazard.

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    • Gary Bairead

      PostStatus.com was also working on an article about Headway.

      Part of the reason I decided to go public now was to put an end to what would have been a constant stream of posts and speculation.

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    • Michel Munger

      As someone who has invested five years and money to grow a blog, I am happy that someone is reporting on the problems with Headway. I considered it very recently when porting my site to a new framework/theme and I like seeing a warning that I may not get genuine support for a premium product.

      It’s not a witch hunt. It’s information.

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  5. Donna Cavalier

    Not sure Pressmatic response will be much better. I won Pressmatic in the AWP giveaway, but never heard from them. So…yeah.

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  6. Ben Fox

    Unproven allegations are gossip, and circumstantial evidence, however likely, is inadmissible.

    Publish the evidence or stop writing this story. You’re hurting the community and the Tavern’s credibility by publishing, as yet, unsupported grievances.

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    • sarah

      We have confirmed these allegations with multiple sources beyond Gary’s public statements. They have not been paid and they fear coming forward. Readers can decide for themselves what they think, but it’s newsworthy and we serve our readers first.

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    • Gary Bairead

      I’ve made video recordings of Slack conversations we’ve had with them.

      The reason I haven’t posted them is because Clay & Grant still deserve to be treated a basic level of dignity and respect.

      At this moment, I don’t believe that it’s necessary to publish exact transcripts or videos that would only further embarrass them.

      I have also made videos that show angry & unresolved support tickets from customers who repeatedly tried to get help but failed. These tickets contain personal details of Headway customers that would need to be blurred out.

      It’s my hope that Clay & Grant would resolve this without things having to be escalated further.

      The WordPress community doesn’t need a Wikileaks style dump.

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  7. InTheNews

    It looks like the Page Building business is saturated… I’m not even surprised, there are a ton of free page builders out there.

    Even premium ones that do a lot more for a lot less $$.

    The problem here is that they aren’t interested in this business anymore and they still keep selling this product and not providing support for it. (maybe that’s why they have a new venture).

    Just close the shop, offer support for your current contracts until they end and move on with your life ;)

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    • Peter Knight

      Headway is not a page builder, it covers all aspects of a theme while most (free) page builders just do the content section of a page on a page by page basis. They were in the game very early too, I imagine it is very hard to keep a business growing for that long with the competition never relenting. Especially when the product is complex and customer service intensive.

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    • Sebastian

      @InTheNews: I have an old Lifetime License from 2011. ;-)

      To the topic: The developments are sad. HW 3.8.8 is a good product, but there are good alternative like GeneratePress or Divi by Elegant Themes.

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      • InTheNews

        I think that lifetime period is based on how much time this product is alive and kicking :)

        It looks like you will be enjoying those privileges for a few more days/weeks.

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        • Sebastian

          I don’t use Headway anymore for new projects. On existing projects I will replace it bit by bit. HW 3.8.8 does still its job and I hope there will be no conflicts with future WordPress Versions. HW 4 is just a peace of…

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      • Tyler

        After talking with my team and Gary, we’re aiming to stay with HW 3.8.8 for at least the next 2-3 months hoping that they either right the ship or sell to someone who can fix things.

        It’ll give us enough time to alert our clients and come up with alternative plans of action if things don’t pan out.

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  8. Corey Freeman

    After working with Headway since version 1.0, I myself am moving on. Here is a summary of my time working for, with, and around them: http://websitesbycorey.com/2016/09/10/headway-themes/

    I don’t know about the speculation about what’s happening now, but this behavior doesn’t surprise me. Lack of communication has been their method from day 1, as though emulating Apple’s own teaser/mystery strategy.

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    • Sheila Hoffman

      I will vouch for what Corey says. I started in HT v 1.5 and was so impressed with Corey’s support back then. And from the beginning recognized Grant’s lack of communication. Surprising for a “marketing guy”. I left HT somewhere in the middle of v3 due to lack of communication, and lack of keeping promises like YES you’ll be able to one-click upgrade your v2 sites to v3. Never happened. HT was a great product ahead of its time but it’s unacceptable that they just released a new version in August knowing they weren’t paying their staff and not responding to help tickets. Thank you all for day-lighting this issue. It’s a community service. I hope they do come forward with a statement to clean this up.

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    • Trevor Green

      I have wanted to abandon them since the v2 to v3 problem. I still have v2 sites because I don’t want to do updates for low end clients that can’t afford to pay me to redo their themes. I knew the trust was broken when they made that move. So I think I have upgraded one site to version 3 and other than that I have moved back to just developing themes with clean code that I can maintain myself and that other devs should be able to manage if I turn them over.

      I wish I would have never made a single headway site. It is offloading too many things to a third party with no good way to participate in optimizing your work, and too many opertunities for them to just stop maintaining something that is complex.

      In their defense, they probably realized that the business model was never going to sustain long term. The race to the bottom with themes is proceeding to fast. Too much free product and too many paid alternatives. I would respect a statement that said that, but if you think about it, there are other themes that are eventually going to lose support that have far less to offer. So if people want to keep buying headway even after it is essentially feature complete. There is really no reason for them to not take the money and try and service those customers. As long as they actually provide whatever new level of support is tenable.

      Just sounds like they need to clarify that instead of letting people push the buy button until they tell people this is the end of the line.

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  9. Mark

    They should come clean with what’s going on and stop selling a product they aren’t supporting. I speak from experience; I bought the theme a few months ago, but had a problem recently and submitted a support ticket — no response. In my opinion they could probably right the ship if they would come clean with everybody. Maybe take out a business loan if that’s feasible. It’s a good product; nothing like it really in the WordPress world. At the very least though they should shut down new sales because they are basically lying at their website since they aren’t offering support. This behavior is going to seriously hurt their efforts to succeed in any business moving forward.

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  10. Lukum

    Wow, I’m a Headway Themes customer who paid quite a few bucks to get their product and support in 3 years. I’ve been waiting for 2 weeks now for a ticket, eventually I know why! Sad story anyways.
    Bored to wait, I switched to DIVI, now DIVI 3, which is great. Not perfect, but far better than HT.

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  11. Tina Hilton

    I’m not going to speculate on what is obviously a serious issue in the Headway camp, but I am going to say this. As a long time Headway user who has recently used several different ‘page builder’ themes for various reasons, nothing really touches Headway in it’s ability to design and bring the design to life quickly and easily. For that reason alone it will be a shameful thing if the WordPress community decides to dance on Headway’s grave, should that be the case, rather than do something to keep it alive. Between this Headway issue and the ManageWP/GoDaddy thing, it appears perhaps the WordPress community isn’t all that supportive after all.

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    • Danny Brown

      Supportive works both ways. Like you, Tina, I was one of the early beta users way back in 2009, and the product was awesome.

      Somewhere along the line, plans got too big, the product got bloated, support was left to pick up the mess, and – as the comments here show, along with support issues being unresolved- to still be selling a product that looks like it won’t be supported properly by the devs is pretty shameless.

      If Grant and Clay want a supportive WordPress community, they need to be supportive back first and foremost.

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      • Tina Hilton

        I agree Danny, it’s a two way street. I wasn’t really speaking to the glaring people problems and communication issues, more that I’d hate to see something as useful as the Headway framework itself get buried because of it.

        I get it. I understand the frustration and anger. I’m not excusing anyone’s actions. It’s wrong to go silent and I’ve written about the importance of communication, even in the face of bad circumstances several times as a key to doing business.

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    • Sebastian

      They left the sinking ship in the middle of the night. No message. Support is dead since months now. There was a half-hearted update weeks ago to calm the users. No official statement for that update, no update of the changelog. Simple NOTHING!!! Why should anybody support them? Because they kicked their user in the a$$? Grant spread some words in forum. Support is active. Only 9 open tickets (LOL!!!).

      Now they sell a product to people that are unaware of the problems because they simple are not able to recognize this issue from outside the community. What do the costumers get? A crappy version 4 of Headway which don’t work at all. They get no support. They get nothing. The Griffiths get the money.

      They should be happy that they didn’t got sued until now.

      I can’t write what I think of people like the Griffiths.

      I hope they sell HW to a trustworthy company.

      And ManageWP/GoDaddy: ManageWP is a great product. Why they sold themselves to a company with the worst image on the market and such doubtful business practices? GoDaddy? Really?

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  12. Tyler

    This is super disappointing. I truly hope they find a way to fix things and stabilize the business because Headway is so great. I have about a dozen client sites currently on the theme.

    For those of you with clients on the theme, what is your plan of action? I’m debating how long I give them to fix things before making an exit.

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    • InTheNews

      Sometimes I don’t understand what some of you guys with clients do for said clients… I am really curios, no sarcasm, what exactly do they pay you for?

      Is it that hard to debug and fix a few bugs in a product?

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      • Tyler

        It really has to do with common sense economics. You want to use a good solid product. Even if it doesn’t take much to fix a bug here or there, those bugs will continue to grow as WordPress evolves and the theme doesn’t keep up.

        Many of our clients have a flat rate plan where we fix bugs at no extra cost. It has worked very well for both us and the clients. I have most clients on Genesis and we’ve had to do very little troubleshooting on that framework.

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      • Corey Freeman

        Short answer: yes it’s that hard.

        Clients pay me to setup websites because they don’t know how to, sometimes even the basics of what WordPress is. And then Headway Themes makes it faster to complete a project, but also tiny changes in WordPress updates may pile up to make it incompatible.

        There could be a javascript file buried deep that conflicts with another file for no apparent reason. WP could decide to just disable the theme because it’s version compatibility says it’s too old. Updates to popular plugins could end up conflicting with core features. There’s basically a million variations that could lead to client-side irritation.

        One or two issues for Headway alone, whatever. But it’s an ecosystem, or like, a house with bad foundation.

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    • Lukum

      I have half a dozen sites with HT and what to do now is a real question. One of them has major css/js bugs and is screwed up, so since I got no support from HT I really had to move on with a different solution, thence Divi. But for the others, I still have to put into balance usability on one hand, and development costs on the other. No urge yet then, and hopefully HT won’t be messy too quickly everywhere…

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    • Sheila Hoffman

      Tyler, I still have 3 sites in v2.x and 10 in v3.x. They’re pretty stable. Over time I did hire Corey to update some from 2 to 3.

      InTheNews, we all have different skills and different offerings. In my case I started as a print designer and not a coder. I’m 67 and women didn’t learn coding when I was young. It never really appealed to me. I’m a “devsigner” meaning I design and develop for clients. The clients I work with are typically one-person service providers. I become a team-member, teaching them what they need to know to work on their site once live but buffering them from having to learn it all. So I include managed hosting with updates, etc. therefore have an ongoing, long-term relationship with my clients. Most of them are very low budget. So they pay me for the peace of mind to know their site is safe and going to keep working. And they do. However they would not expect to have to pay me to fix code bugs. I likely could not since my coding ability is basic and limited. When I hired Corey to update from v2 to v3 those clients chose to pay that cost. Most won’t as witnessed by 3 clients still in v2.

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      • @Gene_us

        “I’m a “devsigner” meaning I design and develop for clients.”

        “I likely could not since my coding ability is basic and limited.”

        Therefore you are not a developer. You cannot even say you develop. Design, yes but no, don’t ever use develop or developer in a sentence when you seemingly are aware that you are not.

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        • Bowe Frankema

          Are you kidding me? Get off your high horse dude.. It’s not like Developer is a protected job title or anything or that you need to meet certain criteria in order to call yourself one. Not to mention that it’s totally uncalled for to tell people what to say or not to say.

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        • Al

          Sure she is a developer… she develops websites for clients. It isn’t any different than a real estate developer… builds buildings from building materials. She is not a software developer, but I have no problem with her using the developer term… and she has come up with an even better one “devsigner.” Besides, no one appointed or elected you as the WP language police.

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    • Sebastian

      Hey Tyler, I have still around 15 customers with sites based on HW 3.8.8. As Sheila said, there are stable. So, I don’t panic. Most of my customer are loyal customers which let me completly rework their website from time to time. Then I will replace HW. There is no reason for a rash reaction. I will replace it bit by bit when the “life cycle” of a website ends.

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  13. Jeffrey

    Wow, this is way too frustrating. I wonder if any employee would sue them for not paying them for so long.

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    • mark k.

      I think that suing for anything is hard when you work remotely. I think people should just stop working when they are not being paid, especially since as a freelance, if there are any real financial problem you will have the least priority to get any money in case of the employer going bankrupt.

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      • Ron

        Totally agree.

        Not sure why any of these people stuck around long enough to be considered “not paid” (especially for months).

        I have a hard and fast rule:

        1) Screw up my pay once – we’re going to have a very uncomfortable conversation.
        2) Screw it up twice – screw you.

        Pretty basic concept.

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        • Corey Freeman

          Really I think it’s a combo of a) believing in the product since the staff were picked from power users and b) the pressure that without you the community won’t get ANY support. And requests for support are overwhelming for HT.

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  14. Geraldine

    Fun fact – Pressmatic paid $1000 to be a Gold level sponsor at WordCamp LAX last weekend.

    https://2016.la.wordcamp.org/sponsors/sponsor-packages/

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  15. Joshua Nelson

    I tried Pressmatic, but it didn’t fit well into my workflow so I opted to upgrade my MAMP version and I’ve been pleased with it. Pressmatic refunded my purchase, so that’s something. Hearing this, though, I’m glad I didn’t get tied down to the product. I hope the employees are able to get paid and the clients/customers can find a good route forward.

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  16. Miroslav Glavic

    So they can afford $1,000 to pay for LAX WC but they can’t pay their staff?

    I think they didn’t make money so they are moving on.

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  17. sky

    Thank you for reporting on this. Not only is this good for potential customers to know about, but it’s also a wake-up call for developers to make sure they have a plan for maintaining and supporting a product before committing to do so.

    I’ve worked for over a year on a product that I’m now realizing isn’t going to be sustainable, and am having to completely scrap it. I feel so lucky I realized this before I sold a single copy, and don’t have to leave anyone in the lurch as I make my transition.

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  18. Gustavo Rodrigues da Silva

    Sad situation, I hope the company is able to reeguer and find a business model that allows product development and support.

    I get a question. In the event the company goes bankrupt or owners to leave, as is all the code already “sold”? It would be possible for someone to “adopt” the support without direct connection with the original company?
    And it would be feasible to release all hypothesis as open source on github, for example?
    I wonder what would be the output, if there were no chances of the company to rebuild.

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