WPExperts has acquired the Password Protected plugin from WordPress developer Ben Huson, author of nearly 20 plugins on WordPress.org. Password Protected was by far his most popular one with more than 300,000 active installs. The acquisition is hot on the heels of the company’s purchase of the Post SMTP plugin two weeks ago, another product with more than 300k active installs.
Password Protected gained a large user base by providing a simple plugin that doesn’t try to do everything. It allows an administrator to set a password to protect their WordPress site. It includes just a handful of options, such as toggling access to feeds, allowing REST API access, and disabling password requirement for administrators.
The plugin’s users often request the ability to add a login logo, and the plugin keeps it simple by recommending compatible plugins like Login Logo or the Uber Login Logo plugin.
“I’ve not had much time to dedicate to the Password Protected plugin over the last couple of years,” Huson said regarding the sale. “I do use it myself and check for compatibility issues, but have not necessarily been pro-active in updating its compatibility flag in the WP repository.”
Huson said he has always tried to keep the plugin simple but with lots of hooks so that it would be extensible and ready for paid add-ons or a pro version in the future.
“I regularly got emails from people interested in acquiring the plugin as it has a good user base on the WP repository,” he said. “One of my main concerns in the past was that I wanted to have confidence in whoever takes it on.” Huson checked out WPExperts portfolio and said he had no worries the team would be able to take the plugin forward and develop it further.
Despite the success of Password Protected’s tightly controlled feature set, WPExperts founder Saad Iqbal said he plans to introduce some updates with an aim to produce a commercial version in a few months. He shared a few of the features they have in mind:
- Make this plugin more developer-friendly by adding more actions and filter hooks so the dev community can easily play around.
- Display option to redirect to the login window. If someone with an admin role visits the protected page, we can display something like: If you are an admin of this site, please click here to login, or if you are an existing user, click here to login.
- We can add support for more user roles apart from the Administrator, as it is currently, to make it more flexible.
Despite gaining a much larger team to support the plugin, users are not always happy when a tool they have embraced changes hands. A plugin that was once the pet project of one developer, has now joined a larger agency that will soon be looking to monetize the software. After WPExperts’ last acquisition, one reader commented that “takeover by an agency is usually the death knell for plugins,” as the new owners seek to add “unnecessary features” to a plugin that was previously focused in terms of development. Users do not relish the prospect of getting new banners and calls in the dashboard to pay for a Pro version.
In response to these concerns, Iqbal said WPExperts maintains a system for ensuring each plugin has adequate coverage.
“We have developed small team clusters for managing this kind of traffic,” Iqbal said. “So each team manages a couple of plugins, backed by strong support and business analyst teams, which keep track of all the issues and feature requests to be addressed. This makes sure nothing gets overlooked.”
In general, I hate acquisitions; OTOH, if the explanation is sincere (and I can only assume so, not knowing any of the folks involved), the original developer has other projects, not paying full attention to this one, and made a careful decision about to whom it should be sold.
It is not a plug-in I use, so no direct affect for me; hoping for the best for its many users.