(Credit image/Pixabay/Pete Linforth)WP Engine has announced the results of a research study examining the combined global economy for WordPress. The study estimates the WordPress economy at $596.7 billion in 2020. It is expected to grow to $635.5 billion by the end of 2021. The study also examined the economic value of the WordPress ecosystem. It also explored the social impact of the ever-expanding community of open-source developers, agencies and users.

To put the global WordPress economy in context, if WordPress were a country, its economy would rank 39th in the world according to an IMF list of countries by GDP. The estimated 2021 economy facilitated by WordPress is comparable to that generated by the Apple App Store at $643B.

Research methodology

The research, commissioned by WP Engine and carried out in the US, UK and Australia by the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths University of London and Vanson Bourne.

The research includes a comprehensive review of academic and industry literature, including adjusting OECD economic indicators for digital economies. It brought together a broad group 100+ collaborators representing a cross-section of the various, dynamic aspects of the WordPress ecosystem. They included digital and marketing agencies, publishers, plugin and theme providers, businesses which derive revenue in some way from WordPress. These companies helped provide guidance on the study.

(Image credit/Pixabay/Heather Brunner)
Heather Brunner, CEO of WP Engine.

This research shows the definitive leadership WordPress plays in the global digital economy,” said Heather Brunner, CEO of WP Engine. “$596.7B economy is a validation of the value that WordPress, its ecosystem and its robust community bring to the world. As WordPress looks to cross 50% of the web, we see it playing an even larger role with individuals. Businesses of all sizes connect, collaborate and accelerate their business growth through this incredible open source platform.”

There was no reliable benchmark valuation of the WordPress economy. We needed to innovate a methodology and solution for arriving at a reliable valuation,” said Dr. Chris Brauer Director of Innovation in the Institute of Management Studies (IMS) at Goldsmiths, University of London.

In this process we created a model that not only accounted for WordPress’ financial value. But also measured the intangible contribution from the open source community. In addition to external factors that are beyond the market’s control such as the pandemic.

WordPress and Digital Economy Growth

According to Accenture Research and Oxford Economics research, the Digital Economy makes up approximately 22.5% of the $87.74T global economy. It comprises software, devices & infrastructure, IT & business services, emerging technologies and Telecom services. This places the Digital Economy at approximately $19.73T.

Market data indicates that a share of the economic value generated in the digital economy comes from websites. This could be partially attributed to the foundational role of WordPress in enabling economic expressions and interactions. WordPress is the most dominant content management system (CMS) on the market, with a significant proportion of market share. Analysts have forecasted the averaging at 64.9%, much higher than all of its competitors combined. WordPress currently supports more than 41.4% of the Internet. As of December 2020, WordPress has become the primary type of site on the Internet.

The Social Impact

Growth within the WordPress ecosystem is not only reliant on economic elements but is also driven by social contributors. Social factors increase the value of the ecosystem within the community and lead to higher levels of innovation. A combination of all these factors—economic, social and innovation—can allow businesses to achieve the full potential and benefits of WordPress.

Guy Martin, Executive Director, OASIS Open, suggests the WordPress ecosystem is reliant on the core concepts. “Consume, contribute, and build value.” Built on these principles, Martins suggests WordPress pushes the boundaries of digital innovation toward an environment that understands how achieving economic value is crucially connected to building social impact.

Martin added “The secret sauce of open source is people—its community. The most valuable piece of what open source is—building that community development model. Building the ability to tap and harness people no matter where they are.”

According to McKinsey, 36% of all global customer interactions in 2019 happened online. By 2020, amid the pandemic, that number had jumped to 58%. In the US, the average share of customer interactions rose even higher. Digital interactions jumped from 41% in 2019 to 65% in 2020.

Enterprise Times: What this means for business?

WP Engine is clearly one of the biggest WordPress providers in the world. This research demonstrates this as a fact. The company also has an impressive number of large WordPress sites and a growing eco-system. Particularly, in terms of the number of agency partnerships and WordPress tools. The methodology used to prepare the research appears to be academically elongated. However, the company has recently been busy enhancing its core product by launching its headless CMS solution. In addition to forming collaborations with other eCommerce platforms such as BigCommerce.

Not surprisingly, WordPress is dipping its toes in the eCommerce market. The company offers a full range of eCommerce options, from one-click payments and paid subscriptions to a fully customisable online store. However, WordPress has not leveraged its CMS muscle to charge headlong into eCommerce. Perhaps, WP Engine may have to take the lead in this matter.


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