Yesterday, Delicious Brains announced that they had acquired Advanced Custom Fields from Elliot Condon. Delicious Brains have a number of complex plugins under their belt. Most notably, WP Migrate DB Pro.
Firstly, it’s not a huge surprise that Elliot decided to sell. He was a lone developer working on a big project and the problems associated with that will only get worse as it grows. Having listened to him on some podcasts, it seemed unlikely that he’d be the one to hire and take it to the next level as he clearly loves the lone wolf, hands on development.
One thing that seems inevitable to change is the pricing model. Previously, ACF was on a lifetime deal for $99 – this was exceptionally good value but inevitably unsustainable as the product grew. Last year, new yearly pricing was introduced to make the project more sustainable. This was handled in an exceptional way by Elliot; he gave advanced notice and honoured all currently lifetime deals. Arguably, the pricing model should probably have changed some years earlier, but the exceptional value did mean that there was a large, loyal userbase.
There’s already some hot debate on revised pricing over on Twitter.
It seems this sentiment is echoed a lot throughout the community, although there is another portion of users that would be happy to pay more.
Our thoughts? they should honour the lifetime deal and not try to downgrade it to a specific version in time. We did muse on Twitter that perhaps a compromise might be to not offer premium support to lifetime customers, but we didn’t receive positive responses to this idea. It’s probably a fair assumption that older lifetime customers probably don’t have as high a support overhead as someone in their first year. The idea of charging those lifetime customers for the next major version also seems underhand – most people signed up for that deal on the basis of it being for the duration of the product, not the version.
Delicious Brains have now committed to honouring the lifetime license – good on them. Here’s what they had to say:
“Prior to February 2020, the ACF Pro licenses included lifetime software updates. We are committed to honoring lifetime licenses forever. Lifetime license holders will get all ACF Pro software updates forever. They won’t be required to pay for version 6.0 or any other major or minor releases in the future. They signed up for updates for life, so we’ll continue to deliver on that promise forever.”
Overall, we’re happy that the project is in safe hands. The trend recently has been for hosting companies to acquire products, which in general we aren’t fans of. Delicious Brains as experienced WordPress developers and have proven that they’re in it for the long haul –
we just hope they don’t decide to screw a large part of the very community that made ACF successful.
And if all goes wrong? fortunately the WordPress community have a number of ways to make sure this doesn’t happen. For a start, there are some strong alternatives in the market but also the GPL allows for potential forks of the project, but lets hope it doesn’t come to that.
A final message of thanks to Elliot Condon. In ACF, he created a revolutionary plugin in the WordPress space. He’s achieved so much for a solo developer, from the repeater field to the recent Gutenberg integration. Communication from him to the community has always been great and we are really looking forward to seeing what he does next. Thanks again, Elliot.
What are your thoughts? let us know down in the comments.