“Money, it’s a gas
Grab that cash with both hands
And make a stash” – Pink Floyd

If you have had you ear to the WordPress train tracks you’ve probably heard about WooThemes pricing issues.

Let’s talk the basics. In business there is a cost of doing business and a margin. That margin is called profit. We all want either one big margin or many small margins. Granted I admit this is an over simplification, but it does the job. I believe that’s what Woo means by “unsustainable” – margins are too small.

What Woo Can and Should Do

WooThemes is well within their right to terminate any policy or change their pricing scheme at any time. They are a private business.

I won’t go into the legal ramifications of them saying things like “unlimited” and “lifetime” as market distinction in all their assets then saying “We’ve removed unlimited licenses and lifetime support from our offering.” That’s a swamp I do not want to swim in at this point.

Ethics

Here’s what I will talk about – ethics. Giving someone your word is supposed to mean something and in fact that same word reflects on the entire organization top to bottom. Just because you figure out your margins were to small doesn’t mean you have an ethical path or some virtuous right to terminate your previous agreements with many members of which I am one. That’s not how it works.

Woo’s response has been to give an “option” to their members.

To do right by you, we would now like to give you the option of whether you want to back our strategy for sustainability or whether you would want to stick to the previous terms & conditions that you signed into (which means we’ll grandfather all of your purchases). If you choose the latter, your purchases before 1 August 2013 (that were already unlimited or lifetime) will remain unlimited and lifetime forever.

We won’t value you as a customer any less if you want to be grandfathered, nor do we want to coerce you to adopt the changes if you fundamentally disagree in how we’ve gone about the re-structure. The decision is entirely yours.

…As we have admitted, we have made a real mistake in pricing our products and the business that we built around it. We only realized this about 18 months ago, as the effects of those mistakes have silently been chipping away at our business. 18 months ago the cracks widened and we noticed them for the first time…

Get on the guilt trip train everybody! I get it. Ok, so as a member I get to choose whether to hold Woo accountable to a previous agreement or not? That’s an easy one to answer. This is a simple problem solved with an overly complex solution. The solution wasn’t to disregard your word or even give someone “the option” in my opinion. The solution was simply to honor it while changing your pricing and growing your cashflow. This whole saga is just a product of rushed a solution for bad pricing. You know what though a lot of people swear by Woo and they are very forgiving. I honestly think this is just a temporary challenge for them to get through. If this is the worst of their business problems, they’ll be just fine.

Free means Free

It can’t be overstated that when we say something it means something. Speaking as a man, my word is all I control and all I got. I will do my very best to honor that. So if I say something is “Free” I would hope that even during the hardest situation I would honor my word and grow the revenue despite that terms limitation.

Woo provides many themes to clients that need them everyday. WooThemes is a business. They are good at what they do. I think a price change is in order, but without question we must all honor our word whether it’s convenient or not. Go WooThemes go!