WPForms Acquires Pirate Forms, Plugin to be Retired

photo credit: Reiterlied Plundering San Francisco Bay(license)

WPForms has acquired Pirate Forms, a popular WordPress contact form and SMTP plugin originally created by ThemeIsle in 2015. The announcement coincides with International Talk Like a Pirate Day but the pirate branding of the plugin is set to be retired and its users will be given the option to migrate to WPForms.

Pirate Forms was purchased in what WPForms co-founder and CEO Syed Balkhi describes as “an all-cash deal.” Although the plugin currently has more than 300,000 users on WordPress.org, its features and capabilities are inferior to the more modern WPForms and its creators lacked the resources to bring it up to speed.

Pirate Forms had gained popularity in its earlier days by providing a simple forms plugin (without all the builder functions) for sites that required just one contact form.

“Where most of the other plugins aim at ‘mega functionality’ with tons of customizations, add-ons and whatnots, Pirate Forms has made a bet on simplicity,” ThemeIsle representative Karol K said in the plugin’s farewell post.

“In other words, it just works(ed) right after the installation, with no particular setup required (other than adding your form to a contact page). This was a nice refreshment compared to the usual ‘get through tons of onboarding wizard screens before you can use the plugin’ -approach.”

Pirate Forms could no longer deliver what users expect from a forms plugin in 2018 and ThemeIsle opted to find a buyer in order to free up resources to focus on releasing the Hestia 2.0 theme.

“This acquisition further strengthens WPForms’ position in the WordPress ecosystem,” Balkhi said. The expectation is that a large number of users will migrate their forms to WPForms as the result of Pirate Forms discontinuing active development.

A migration path to WPForms is built into the latest version of Pirate Forms and Balkhi describes the process as a seamless transition. Users are also free to select another forms plugin but they will not have the benefit of the migration tool, which also imports the notification email and confirmation settings from users’ existing forms. Those who have purchased Pirate Forms Pro will receive a free one-year license to WPForms Pro.

WPForms has more than 1 million active installs and currently maintains a 4.9 out of 5 star average rating on WordPress.org. The drag-and-drop WordPress form builder is much more advanced than Pirate Forms and the free version allows users to create contact forms, subscription forms, payment forms, offline forms, multi-page forms, and many other types of customized feedback mechanisms. It is also compatible with all of ThemeIsle’s themes.


8 responses to “WPForms Acquires Pirate Forms, Plugin to be Retired”

  1. I must not understand the business model, or there is extra puffery in the article. I know that it will sound harsh, but I can’t figure out a soft way of saying, “WTF?”.

    You say WP-Forms has a supposedly superior product, the other one is going to likely die, at which time people will migrate to other solutions, and WPForms is a viable successor for them. Seems straightforward enough.

    But if they simply offer the customers a viable migration tool, which they can offer pretty much to anyone without the original’s help (albeit more easily done), people will migrate anyway. Why pay someone to steal their customers that will likely come their way for free anyway?

    There are only three reasons I can see to do that, none of which are addressed by this reporting / press release:

    a. The math of “planned migration and brand transfer” indicates a much higher conversion rate to the tool with knock-on bumps to the paid features (i.e. the incrementality of the planned migration of the existing base over happenstance migration pays off quicker), but that only makes sense if they’re not really a superior product but only just one more plug in in a sea of offerings;

    b. They need to fight off or avoid possibly creating another competitor if someone else buys it; or,

    c. They really need this competitor to die, and euthanasia is less chaotic to the market than spasmodic death throes.

    Or are there are other things being transferred in the all-cash deal? Colour me confused, but I certainly wouldn’t transfer to the new app without more explanation of what they get out of it, and in fact, I’m now highly suspicious in a conspiracy sort of way!


    • Hi PolyWogg,

      Your view makes lots of sense.
      All the same, this is business. Some die for others to thrive, and the trade is all about money.

      Nice write up Sarah. Very informative especially for non-coders like me.

    • I’ll do you one more: what if I don’t want superior? Why say that the original’s best quality is simplicity, and then say, effectively, that’s moot because the big contraption-y plugin ate them?

    • “But if they simply offer the customers a viable migration tool, which they can offer pretty much to anyone without the original’s help (albeit more easily done), people will migrate anyway. Why pay someone to steal their customers that will likely come their way for free anyway?”

      I’m not an expert on acquisitions, but if you buy the plugin you can then reach the users directly, via plugin updates, email newsletter, etc…. i.e. much better conversion rate that what you are suggesting.


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