PublishPress Acquires MetaSlider Plugin and MetaSlider Lightbox

PublishPress, a company that develops free and commercial publishing and permissions plugins for WordPress, has acquired MetaSlider from Extendify. The plugin is used on more than 700,000 sites to build sliders, slideshows, carousels, and galleries. The company’s mission is to help publishers succeed, so this is a curious acquisition as sliders seem to have fallen out of favor on the web over the past seven years, due to problems with SEO, performance, and poor engagement.

“A traditional slider isn’t a good fit for a news website for a couple of reasons,” PublishPress founder Steve Burge said. “First, publishers want a display that they can update easily. Second, they can be worried about the performance slowdown from a slider.

“We aim to tackle those problems head-on. To solve the first issue, we plan to expand dynamic content features of MetaSlider so you can easily pull in fresh content. And secondly, we’ll focus on the speed of MetaSlider, so you don’t have to worry about a slow site.”

Burge said PublishPress will use MetaSlider as a platform for building a suite of image tools. As part of the sale, the company has also acquired MetaSlider Lightbox, which has 10,000 active installs, and a photo gallery that’s in a beta version.

“There will be more [tools] to come,” Burge said. “Most of my favorite publishers also have beautiful photography with their stories. From big WordPress publishers such as Outside Magazine to small start-ups such as TheNarwhal, the photos often add as much as the text. We hope to build tools to help publishers showcase their images.”

Burge said the sale of MetaSlider started with a Twitter DM. He had never spoken with the Extendify team before but said the process was “quick and easy” because all the data was “clean and professionally organized.”

“The MetaSlider plugin is almost 10 years old, and in the last few years it was maintained by a couple of companies,” Burge said. “It was previously owned by the team behind UpdraftPlus and WP-Optimize. You can still see similarities in the orange color scheme between MetaSlider, UpdraftPlus, and WP-Optimize.” 

Extendify took on the plugin as a side project but it was never a core product for their company.

“They were excited about our desire to invest in MetaSlider to ensure that it remains a great plugin for WordPress users,” Burge said. “After some recent high-profile handovers went badly, we’ve seen sellers do careful due diligence on who they sell to.”

Burge could not share any financial details of the acquisition but said the sale price was based strictly on revenue even though the MetaSlider plugin has nearly a million users.

“In most sales, the number of active installs is a bonus rather than a driving factor,” Burge said. “It’s not uncommon, particularly for older plugins, for 1% or less of active installs to convert to paying customers.”

MetaSlider has a Pro version that PublishPress will continue sell and the plugins will remain as a standalone brand focused on images. They will not be included in the PublishPress plugin bundle. Burge said users can expect MetaSlider to continue at the same price but with more features.

“The business model won’t change and the Pro version will support future development on the plugin,” he said. “At the moment, there’s only a single Pro version based on the number of sites. That won’t change in at least the next few months as we focus on adding more features and giving users more value for their money.”

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