WP Engine, an Austin-based software and analytics startup for WordPress users, has secured a $250 million investment from Silver Lake, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based tech investment firm that is heavily invested in Dell Technologies.
The funding round is easily the largest for an Austin tech startup in recent memory.
Along with that news, WP Engine, founded in 2010 by Jason Cohen, announced Thursday it has reached more than $100 million in annual recurring revenue. The company now powers more WordPress websites (including this one) than all other WordPress hosts combined, according to the company’s own in-depth analysis of websites.
“WP Engine’s enterprise-grade technology and excellent service enable its customers to rapidly create high quality websites with best-in-class performance,” Lee Wittlinger, managing director of Silver Lake, said in a news release. “We believe WP Engine is poised to take a leading global position in the fast-growing WordPress ecosystem and we look forward to working alongside the company’s talented management team as it executes on its next phase of development.”
Wittlinger, Greg Mondre and Mark Gillett of Silver Lake are joining WP Engine’s board as part of the deal.
WP Engine has won several local awards from publications including Austin Inno and the Austin Business Journal, as well as several industry awards. The company’s founder, Jason Cohen, and its Chairwoman and CEO, Heather J. Brunner, were named Entrepreneurs of the Year in Central Texas in 2017. WP Engine previously raised about $40.7 million from investors including North Bridge Venture Partners, Silverton Partners and Capital Factory, according to Crunchbase. The company has 500 employees across six offices.
“We are partnering with Silver Lake because of their incredible track record as technology investors, their understanding of digital platform businesses like ours and because of the alignment in core values we share,” Brunner said in a news release. “This partnership will help us further invest in our Digital Experience Platform and bring the power of our platform to WordPress users all around the globe.”
The funding, along with the company’s ongoing success, is validation that he made the right choice to found a WordPress hosting company, despite people telling him he should set his sights on something larger, Cohen wrote in a blog post.
“The Silicon Valley-oriented technology press outlets don’t cover us because we’re not in San Francisco, even though we’re more successful than most of the startups they cover,” he wrote.
Cohen also noted several of the company’s milestones, including opening offices in San Francisco in 2012, San Antonio in 2014, London in 2015, Limerick in 2016 and Bisbane last year. And he provided some insight on the company’s future, including “growth initiatives, security and quality, and advancing our existing strategic priorities through acceleration and de-risking.”
He also credited WP Engine’s success largely to Brunner’s leadership and the company’s team.
“I’ve always said nothing beats the high of getting that first customer to sign up,” Cohen wrote. “It’s the heroin-hit that hooks the entrepreneur. (The next sale isn’t quite as sweet.) That’s still an accurate portrayal, but there are other moments that are even more thrilling. This moment in WP Engine’s saga is one of those.”
Here are a few reactions to the funding on Twitter…
I just want to say, @asmartbear built a great foundation but things sure got real when @heatherjbrunner and @aprildowning1 @maryedugan joined the team. One of the strongest exec teams in Austin IMO, and happens to be majority female! https://t.co/8QrGUZDJtK
— Joshua Baer 🇺🇸 (@JoshuaBaer) January 4, 2018
I am constantly inspired by and incredibly proud of my mentor, board member, investor and friend @heatherjbrunner and how she’s led @wpengine. Keep putting on for Austin! Onward and upward! https://t.co/TPYdxXWDVF via @AustinInno
— joahspearman (@joahspearman) January 4, 2018
— Jacob Dante Leffler (@LefflerJacob) January 4, 2018
— Heather J. Brunner (@heatherjbrunner) January 4, 2018
— Eugene Sepulveda (@EugeneAustin) January 4, 2018
Nothing makes me happier than to see great people win – and they just don’t get any better than @heatherjbrunner, @JoshuaBaer, and @asmartbear. Of course, the whole @wpengine team is great too (and very diverse). This is a huge win for Austin – and the Web. CONGRATS!!! https://t.co/3gIaGdoPYp
— Brett Hurt (@databrett) January 4, 2018