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Back in Startup Mode… Announcing WP Engine!

Since I moved to Austin, I have been very coy about what I’ve been up to. There’s a reason for that and today I can tell you all about it. Especially since my good friend Marshall over at ReadWriteWeb already has. :-)

It was very interesting. Back in May, my friend Pete Jackson, who works for Intridea, started making a point of introducing me over to Twitter to one of his friends in whatever city I happened to be travelling in at that moment.

It was in this way that I met Sean Cook, the manager of mobile integrations at Twitter in San Francisco and, when I was in Austin visiting in May, he made sure that I met Aaron Scruggs of Other Inbox who has since become a pretty good friend.

It was after that meeting with Scruggs in May that he connected me to one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met, Jason Cohen. Jason is one of the two founding partners at Capital Thought, an Austin-based incubator. Jason has also built several companies and parlayed two of those into healthy exits. I’ve come to have a tremendous amount of respect for his technical and business savvy.

Jason described to me the concept for a business that he was working on along with Cullen Wilson. A premium, WordPress platform that would cater specifically to the customers who want to make sure their blog is always taken care of from a maintenance and upgrade perspective, but also would offer significant value adds that nobody else is providing in a WordPress-optimized environment.

I’ll get to what all those buzzwords mean in a minute. Stick with me.

We started talking about me joining up with them to take this idea to the bank. Shortly after moving down here to Austin, I joined the team and we’ve been working hard over the last couple months to get to the point where we could reliably take on new customers and talk about our idea publicly.

Today is that day.

So, you’re still probably wondering what the hell WP Engine is and why it’s important, right?

Let’s talk security for a minute. There have been significant security “incidents” in recent months. Most people on the outside simply see “WordPress hacked! WordPress hacked!” – I’m looking at you Chris Brogan, Robert Scoble and Frank Gruber (Techcocktail). In the WordPress community, we know the real issues in these cases were not WordPress but the hosts that the blogs were on. Still, people saw WordPress hacked.

We take this very seriously and have partnered with a provider that has multiple levels of security including Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) outside of our boxes. We have gone to great lengths to keep our customers connecting to us in very secure ways and keep a close eye on the activity happening on our boxes. This is all very important because if an attacker could get through our outside defenses, chances are they couldn’t do anything malicious without us knowing about it.

Our infrastructure is also built with optimization and blazing, fast speed as a core expectation and deliverable. We don’t overload servers and have the means to see potential performance problems before they arrive. With our dual nginx-apache server configuration, we are able to handle sustained high-volume traffic as well as spikes that are the pain point for WordPress bloggers who suddenly get a story featured on a prominent site.

For the people who claim WordPress doesn’t scale… I call bullshit. We believe we know exactly how to make WordPress scale.

But we’re not just a hosting company. If we were that, we would be our competitors. We are also working on additional features such as “Curated Plugins” which are plugins that are entirely open source, that are popular or in demand from our customers and have been vetted from a security standpoint. These are plugins that we support 100%. This does not preclude customers from using other non-supported plugins, and we don’t dictate what bloggers can have on their blog as some of the other hosted WordPress solutions do. We just say, “Hey, if you use one of these, we’re gonna have your back”.

Other things that make WP Engine different:

  • 3 Smart guys supporting customers personally
  • A “Staging” area for one-click deployments and testing
  • We give back to the community. In fact, I made sure that I could work on the WordPress open source project, write the second edition of my book, and that much of our work will be returned to the community. Code is a commodity. The people and service behind the code is not.

We are not perfect yet, nor do we claim to be. We are a young company and have hundreds of things still to do and hopefully learn from. We are in an “invite only” mode at this time as much of the stuff we are doing and want to do is still not ready. But we are open for business and taking customers. And for $50/mo 1 for a dedicated WordPress environment that has optimization, speed and security plus the flexibility of you doing your own thing with a safety net… it’s a steal, really.

Photo used with permission by Donncha O Caoimh

Notes:

  1. For most customers

Published by

Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

13 thoughts on “Back in Startup Mode… Announcing WP Engine!”

  1. I’ve been frustrated lately… my site was hit and cleanup has been a bitch. My xlmrpc.php is still being hammered tens of thousands of times in what I assume is a bruteforce password cracking attempt. Regarding the actual hack though, theme files and maybe core files were modified and an admin user was added to WP. Media Temple told me in a service ticket it was a WordPress vulnerability. Matt M disagreed. Either way, it’s pissed me off and been a total pain. Time I’d rather spend blogging has been wasted managing the technology of my site.

    So, I am open to paying for offloading hosting. But the plan details and pricing aren’t clear. What does that $50 get me? (Keeping in mind I pay MT over $100/mo…) Sounds like my non-WP web site portion I’d have to handle elsewhere along with my blog email addresses and such. Hm.

    Any way, it sounds very cool and I wish you and the new company lots of luck!

  2. Aaron, I ran across you on Twitter sometime ago and just bought the WP Bible – good stuff. Working on putting together a company to get real estate agents up and running on wordpress and your new business idea sounds really good. I will be anxious to see how it goes but definitely think you are going to feed a real need in the market. Best of luck!

    1. Happy to hear that! I am definitely keenly aware of many of the needs in the RE community and I’m sure we can figure things out to help you out.

  3. I figured you had something up your sleeve, Aaron. Really excited to see how how awesome it is. Let me know how I can help, and keep kicking butt. Hope to see you again soon.

    Cheers!

  4. this sounds like a good option for many. looked at the site and got some 404 errors like for the plugins .zip and tar options pages. i know You’re just getting it off the ground but wanted to give you heads up on those 404s. I was also wondering if this hosting platform will have an affiliate program .

  5. ” Other things that make WP Engine different:

    ■3 Smart guys supporting customers personally
    ■A “Staging” area for one-click deployments and testing
    ■We give back to the community. In fact, I made sure that I could work on the WordPress open source project, write the second edition of my book, and that much of our work will be returned to the community. Code is a commodity. The people and service behind the code is not. ”

    Looking forward to have it asap.

    Cheers
    Vivek

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