Yoast Joins Newfold Digital, Team To Stay in Place

Earlier today, Yoast CEO Marieke van de Rakt announced the company had been acquired by NewFold Digital. Yoast and its SEO-related business are expected to continue operating as usual with its current team and maintaining its product line.

Newfold Digital is a global web solutions provider that serves small-to-medium businesses. The company has many brands under its umbrella, such as Network Solutions, Bluehost, and more.

“Yoast never had any funding before, it grew organically into a company with 140 employees maintaining a plugin with over 12 million active installs,” wrote van de Rakt in the announcement. “We don’t want to stop there! We’re planning to grow and improve even further! Joining Newfold Digital provides us with the freedom to build and iterate on ideas to further our mission.”

There are no plans to change the team or the culture around Yoast. One of the goals during the acquisition was to keep everyone in place, continuing work on their product line.

“Of course, some things change,” said Yoast founder and CPO Joost de Valk. “We’ll integrate into their systems (HR and finance). We’ll work on special offers for customers from Newfold. Our company changed so much over the five years, so it will change no matter what. I do feel that this opens up more security for growth and for developing new ideas.”

While Yoast does not plan to change its 140-person team, it is still bringing in fresh talent. The company has been hiring a lot lately and expects that trend to continue with 19 current job openings.

As host Nathan Wrigley and guest Cory Miller discussed on the latest episode of the Jukebox, acquisitions can be a welcome change for all parties. It can provide more financial stability and backing for the acquired company. It may allow the team to explore new features or new products that were not possible before. This can also work in the user’s favor in the long term.

“Marieke and I felt ever since this Covid pandemic hit that we needed a partner or some more financial backing,” said Joost de Valk. “Being totally bootstrapped was getting to us. We worried about the exchange rate of the dollar, for instance. We got risk-averse, and all around us other companies got financial injections.”

The husband-and-wife duo thought about selling part of their stock for additional funding but was worried about potential consequences. One such downside may have been the need to grow fast to keep investors happy.

“We wanted to find a place to keep Yoast SEO growing and to keep working on WordPress,” said de Valk. “We had help from RBC, a company that helps with these types of acquisitions. They introduced us to Newfold, and we had a really good connection right from the start.”

He remained tight-lipped about any new products or features in the pipeline, only saying that a lot is coming and things will speed up.

Newfold is the owner of several high-profile hosting brands, including Bluehost and HostGator — both offer a managed WordPress service. It would not be unheard of to see a company mix and match its various products to draw in more customers. Nor would it be surprising to eventually see Yoast SEO or even some of the commercial Yoast offerings as part of packaged hosting deals. WP Engine fully integrates StudioPress products, for example, into its packages. However, de Valk said they have yet to discuss anything on that front.

“You’re absolutely right that the things you’re proposing here make perfect sense,” he said. “So, I think we’ll work on those deals and, at the same time, team Yoast will work independently on their products.”


7 responses to “Yoast Joins Newfold Digital, Team To Stay in Place”

  1. Oh my, more musical chairs. I had missed it. Fortunately Wikipedia has kept up to date… ” Clearlake Capital Group announced that it would acquire Endurance International Group for around $3 billion… Clearlake spun off the Endurance Web Presence division, including subsidiaries Domain.com, Bluehost, and HostGator. Endurance Web Presence merged with Web.com to form a new company named Newfold Digital. Newfold Digital is a joint venture between Clearlake Capital (short-time owner of Endurance) and Siris Capital Group (long-time owner of Web.com).” I wonder what we can expect from all of these “chairs” under new management.

    • I cannot say I was a fan of the business practices of Endurance International Group (EIG), and I doubt much changed after the dust of the shuffling of share certificates earlier this year that gave rise to Newfold Digital.

      They are, no doubt, reacting to the plugin/themes acquisitive nature of GoDaddy (another ‘web presence’ business of whom I am not a fan), but it does leave a foreboding feeling when two giants like Newfold and GoDaddy start picking off some of the big ‘names’ of this community.

      Despite assuring employees that there would be no job losses, EIG were legendary for taking a big bad sharp knife to the cost base of any acquired business, slashing customer support and development budgets.

  2. So many people have been burnt by EIG in the past.
    HostGator was a great hosting provider with good customer service and support. After moving under the EIG umbrella, their customer service was incompetent at best.
    Then EIG pushed the SiteLock scam through all their hosting companies and hosting partners. I wrote about this scam back in 2016 and received hundreds of comments and emails from other victims.

    So whatever their new name is, I am very worried about the future of the free Yoast plugin. I will not update it blindly and will check the changelogs after every update.
    One thing that will surely follow is aggressive advertising for all their brands and companies in the WP Dashboard.

    What a great time and opportunity for other SEO plugins on the market. This is the time to capitalize on the anti-EIG sentiment.

  3. I feel that Yoast had started to feel the heat from the newer SEO plugins like Rank Math that offer more than what Yoast SEO has to offer in its premium version and hence this sell-off move.

    The team might stay on for a bit longer until Newfold Digital decides it’s time for Valk to take a walk into the sunset.


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