Last week WooThemes announced the hiring of Mike Jolley and Jay Koster, as well as the forking of Jigoshop e-commerce plugin into the soon-to-be-released WooCommerce. Jolley and Foster previously worked for Jigowatt, a WordPress and Magento development shop, spending the last year working on the core of Jigoshop.
The news brought a number of different reactions from the community, in comments here and on WooThemes’ own announcement post. To clarify their own stance on the situation and clear up confusion the Jigoshop team posted about the future of Jigoshop and their thoughts on what is happening.
The short of it: business as usual for Jigoshop, and they are confident in the team they have.
The long of it gets more complicated. It seems that Jigowatt views the forking of Jigowatt as “needless” and “sad”, and that the forking decision only came after an unsuccessful bid for purchasing their project that “grossly undervalued” their work.
In the post Jigowatt’s Dan Thornton explained the course of events that led to WooThemes deciding to fork Jigoshop:
Woo’s bid to buy out the Jigoshop project grossly undervalued the business and didn’t come close to covering our initial development costs, not forgetting the planning, time and effort both the Jigowatt team and community put into the project.
Woo then made to an offer to ‘collaborate’ which led to their decision to fork Jigoshop. What hasn’t been made public is that collaboration offer included conditions which would have given WooThemes full strategic control over the direction and development of the Jigoshop project in the future.
Thornton also emphasized that the forking of the project does not mean that Jigoshop ceases to exist. The team behind Jigoshop is strong and growing, he says.
Joost de Valk and others add their thoughts
As the news of the forking made the rounds on Twitter a number of WordPress community members spoke up as well. In his editorial “WooCommerce vs. JigoShop“, he first made it clear that he is working with the WP e-Commerce folks and as such is a bit biased in this situation. That said, his views were largely that more competition is always better:
JigoWatt have said that WooThemes, who tried to acquire them “grossly undervalued the business and didn’t come close to covering our initial development costs”. You know what, while that sucks for them, that’s how open source works, grows and prospers. Making an offer to buy is a gesture of good will, as there’s no need, as shown by the next steps taken by Woo.
Right now we have two essentially the same plugins out there, though my guess is they’ll quite soon be very different, making the landscape of WordPress e-Commerce plugins even more competitive. Both plugins will probably continue to be around and, I hope for both of them, successful.
Furthermore, de Valk made it clear that this situation does little to change his opinon of anyone involved:
The backlash [WooThemes] receive now might do some serious damage to their brand, although to their credit they’ve been handling it wisely, honestly and open so far. Still, would I have done as they did? No. Do I think less of them for doing it? No.
You see, on the other hand, if Woo get through this episode well, they’ll have a very valuable addition to their product offering as well as two pretty good new coders…
Where are the days of coming up with your own original ideas? Taking the time, energy, blood, sweat and tears and actually building your own product.
But of course, open source makes it so easy to simply “steal” someone’s idea and hard work. And justifying it by hiding under the umbrella of open source and “legal” forking.
Each of the posts mentioned here have drawn a handful of comments and discussion on their own corners of the web. For your reading pleasure, and to serve my own completist impulses, the list below will take you to every post about the Jigoshop fork worth reading:
- The original WooThemes announcement
- WPCandy’s first report of the news
- Grant Griffiths posts “WooThemes forks Jigoshop and they brag about it”
- Jigoshop posts their views on forking
- Joost de Valk posts “WooCommerce vs. Jigoshop”
- ThemesForge.com comments on the situation
- Brad Touesnard shared his thoughts
- Coen Jacobs’ thoughts at WPspeciali.st
Are there other linkworthy posts about this? Let us know in the comments.
Now you speak up
Now that you’ve read a handful of thoughts from the community, as well as some of the backstory that the Jigoshop team provided, share your own thoughts in the comments below. What are the circumstances in which it is appropriate to fork a GPL project? Do you fault WooThemes for making the decision they did?