Today, I’m excited to announce that Thrive Themes is joining the Awesome Motive team led by Syed Balkhi.

This is a big step for Thrive Themes and the future of this company.

It’s a big milestone and as one of the founders, it sometimes still seems unreal to me that the company has grown as much as it has.

Paul and I launched the first Thrive Themes product (back then called “Thrive Content Builder”) all the way back in 2013. When we started, we were the almost perfect image of the scrappy startup: 2 guys working out of a garage…

except there was no garage. We were working out of a little apartment that we shared. 

Thrive Content Builder wasn’t our first product, but as soon as we launched it, we could tell that this one was different. There was more demand for it than for any other product we’d ever created. There was palpably more excitement around it, too.

We kept working on the plugin, started expanding the team, started adding new products and built what would eventually become Thrive Suite.

In the early years, I was the face of Thrive Themes in many ways. I even sometimes get recognized by strangers and they invariably know me as “the Thrive Themes guy”.

From the outside, it may have looked like I am Thrive Themes and Thrive Themes is me. But that is giving me far too much credit.

From my insider perspective, it has always been crystal clear: the story of Thrive Themes is not my story.

Even in the early years, the growth we experienced was only possible thanks to the team we started gathering. And the direction Thrive Themes grew in was only possible thanks to the enthusiastic, active and switched on crowd of customers and supporters we’ve always been blessed with.

Thrive Themes grew fast. Sometimes almost too fast. And along the way, I learned that I’m quite good at building a scrappy little startup, but I’m rather rubbish at managing a team of 50+ people.

That’s why delegation was the name of the game, for many years. My work was about finding people who are better than me at various things and helping them take over my roles in the company.

And soon, there were no more roles to replace. It’s with great pride that I say that my involvement in Thrive Themes has been minimal in the last 2+ years. 

This team consists of people who can do everything I can do, but better. So much so that I’ve considered my role in Thrive Themes to be “Nr. 1 Fan” for quite some time now.

Today, I’m officially and fully stepping out and handing the reins over to Awesome Motive.

With a transition like this come many questions, so let me take a moment to answer them.

Who is Awesome Motive?

Awesome Motive is a company started by Syed Balkhi of WPBeginner fame. Their mission is to help small businesses grow and compete with the big guys – which has always been our kind of thing at Thrive Themes, as well.

Even if you’ve never heard of Awesome Motive before, you’ve almost certainly seen or used some of their products.

They’re behind some of the most popular plugins and resources in the WordPress space, including:

  • WPBeginner – the largest free WordPress resource site for beginners.
  • OptinMonster – popular conversion optimization software that helps you convert abandoning visitors into subscribers and customers.
  • WPForms – the most beginner friendly WordPress form builder.
  • MonsterInsights – the most popular WordPress Analytics plugin that helps you grow your business with confidence.
  • AIOSEO - the original WordPress SEO plugin to help you get more traffic.
  • WP Mail SMTP – the #1 plugin that helps improve your WordPress email deliverability.
  • SeedProd – drag & drop landing page builder for WordPress.
  • RafflePress – powerful WordPress giveaway and contest plugin to grow your website traffic.
  • Smash Balloon – the most popular social media feeds plugin for WordPress.
  • PushEngage - leading web push notification software for small businesses.
  • SearchWP - the most advanced WordPress search plugin.
  • AffiliateWP - leading WordPress affiliate management plugin.
  • Easy Digital Downloads - leading eCommerce plugin for selling digital products.
  • WP Simple Pay - simple WordPress payment plugin that lets you accept online payments without creating a shopping cart.
  • WPCode - the most popular code snippets plugin for WordPress.
  • Sendlayer - powerful SMTP email delivery service for websites and apps.
  • … and many more.

Syed Balkhi, the founder of Awesome Motive, is perhaps the most skilled entrepreneur in the WordPress space and I doubt there’s anyone with more experience or know-how when it comes to running, growing and improving a business like Thrive Themes.

We also share one key value: putting people first.

Of course, every company says they care about their people and their customers, but anyone who has worked closely with Thrive Themes or with Awesome Motive knows: for us, this is not just lip service.

As you can probably see now, this is a core reason why I decided to take the step of passing on ownership of Thrive Themes. I believe that the best thing I can do for the growth of this company as well as for the team and the customers is to put it into the best hands in the market.

What Does This Change Mean for Existing Users?

First, let me tell you what it doesn’t mean:

  • Thrive Themes won’t be re-branded to something else.
  • Thrive Themes plugins won’t be renamed or replaced.
  • We won’t suddenly change how we operate, hike prices on existing customers or anything else very non-Thrive like that. 
  • Grandfathered memberships will continue to be honored for our loyal customers who have stayed with us over the years. It has always been our policy to reward loyal customers and that will not change.

Yes, the owners of Thrive Themes are changing, but for the most part, it will be business as usual.

Like I mentioned before, I’ve been watching Thrive Themes from the sidelines for a long time anyway. So my stepping away changes nothing on that front. And the team – the people who have brought you all of our amazing products, features, upgrades and content – they stay the same.

Brad will be leading the Thrive Themes team, with the support and mentorship of Syed Balkhi, to continue delivering the level of value you’re used to from us. This too, is not a change in any way since Brad was going to take on this leadership role anyway, after proving himself over the many years he’s worked with us.

It will still be the same people building the products, and the roadmap we laid out for 2023 and beyond won’t change because of this acquisition.

What the change of ownership means is that Thrive Themes is now integrated in a larger family of products and companies, and the team has access to a rich pool of expertise and experience.

Awesome Motive will help Thrive Themes grow better and faster than before and I’m sure you’ll see some of this starting to play out soon.

Thank You

Whenever I think about Thrive Themes, how far we’ve come and what may come next, I always arrive at the same emotion: gratitude.

I can’t express how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to build a company like this. How grateful I am for the people I met and worked with through this company. For the countless memories I have of difficult times and good times. I’m thankful for our customers, who made all of this possible and who have generally been a delight to work with.

As a founder, this has been an adventure for me and it was never just a job. I’m grateful that I get to say: for many years, this was my life.

Yes, this sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth. Ask some of the team members who’ve been around for a while, and they’ll probably remember me choking up while trying to express just how grateful I am during one of our team meetings.

Equally, I’m grateful to be able to acknowledge that the company outgrew me and to have found who I think of as the perfect new owner for Thrive Themes.

And so, when I try to think of how to end this blog post in the most appropriate way possible, all I can think of is:

Thank you.

About the Author Shane Melaugh


Shane Melaugh is a co-founder of Thrive Themes. When he isn't plotting new ways to create awesome WordPress themes & plugins, he likes to geek out about camera equipment and medieval swords. He also writes about productivity here.

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