Happy New Year! My 2019 Year in Review

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On the last day of they year, my website has migrated from the old New Rainmaker to Liquid Web, the best hosting platform for mission critical WordPress and WooCommerce sites. In many ways, it's the perfect way to end the year, as it highlights the bets I'm making on Liquid Web, and the company we acquired this summer, Nexcess.

But first, let's get into the personal stuff.

Hosting

I don't mean web hosting. I mean having people stay at our home. This year started with our friends Katie & Shannon coming to stay with us. We've also had Carrie visit, and Jennifer too! Of course we can't forget Jason, Susi, Jon, Julien, and Nevaeh. Suffice to say, we love providing a spot for people to visit in their travels. Much wine was consumed, and lots of hot tub time (along with cigars).

Travel

I spent a lot of time on the road – flying to Atlanta, San Antonio, Detroit (all for work), along with trips to cities where I was speaking for conferences: Miami, Santa Clarita, Asheville, Orange County, Orlando, Mexico City, Puebla, Sacramento, St. Louis, and Cabo San Lucas.

Beyond work travel, our family went to Cabo a couple times (Spring Break and Christmas / New Year's). And we took the kids to Turks and Caicos in the summer. Plus, I also enjoyed running two events: BeachPress & CaboPress.

Cigars

If you know me, then you know I love cigars (as much or more than I love WordPress). And this year I enjoyed several cigar-related trips. The total count of visits to my buddies in Houston for cigar-related fun in 2019 was 5. I know I should count that in travel, but I don't. My trips to Houston are special events because I get to hang out with Shawn, Jorge, and a bunch of other amazing friends! I also got to attend two cigar events locally. We didn't take an international trip this year, but I'll make up for it in 2020.

Chris & Shawn in Houston

Public Speaking

As I mentioned above, I spent time this year talking about eCommerce across the country – at 9 WordCamps. I also spoke at CaboPress, as one of the hosts. And while I didn't speak at WordCamp Europe or Pressnomics, I did get to spend time with many WordPress entrepreneurs there.

Sticky Teams - Chris & Carey

But the most fun I had was a special break-out session I got to do in a completely different context. One of my buddies is Carey Nieuwhof and I have spent ten years collaborating / supporting him in what he does online. This year he was the keynote at Sticky Teams and he and I did a break out where we talked about our partnership and how to bring more entrepreneurial and technical folks into the church world, or how to help the church work use more technology. Either way, it was awesome!

A New Plan for 2020

We're a family that is committed to generosity. We try to listen with a different level of attentiveness so that we can be helpful and meet the needs around us. We also love surprising people. To be clear, we do it for ourselves, not expecting anything in return. But when you're generous with others, it's easy to also talk yourself into being generous with yourself. I enjoy nice things – from watches to pens to shoes to cigars, etc. But I have decided that in 2020 I'm going to try a spending fast. In other words, I will endeavor to not spend money on myself for a whole year. Crazy, right?!? But I hope and expect that it will create a greater sense of gratitude for what I already own, and create some additional margin to be generous with others.

Let's talk about Work

2019 was a big year for my team at Liquid Web. For those that haven't been tracking my work life, I joined Liquid Web three years ago. At the time we didn't have a Managed WordPress product and no one had ever heard of a Managed WooCommerce product. It was my joy and pleasure to create them and assemble a product team that would collaborate with our engineering and support to deliver this platform.

In the first two years our entire team (plus our friends in marketing) worked to drive triple-digit growth and we gained some traction. People started to think about Liquid Web when others talked about WooCommerce. It has been an awesome journey. But when we would sit down as an executive team to talk about growth and what success looked like, we all wanted more!

Acquisitions are complex beasts that always take longer than you expect, and sometimes can be disappointing on the other side of things. Thankfully, that wasn't the case here. What we started in late 2018 became a big focus for me in 2019 as we worked to close the deal with Nexcess, the leader in eCommerce hosting for Magento stores. By the summer we had closed the deal! And then the real work started.

Over the last several months we've been working on taking the best parts of the Nexcess infrastructure and platform (including real / serious auto-scaling) with the best parts of the Liquid Web WordPress / WooCommerce products. We'll spend all of 2020 working on shifting brand equity from Liquid Web to Nexcess for these products, and spend much of the first quarter migrating older Liquid Web customers to the new platform, but new customers will get the benefit from this combination right away!

This bet – that bringing the leaders in Managed Magento and Managed WooCommerce – is a bet about open source eCommerce, and it's one I'm committed to for the next several years. On this blog, and on my upcoming new blog for eCommerce questions (AskChrisNow.com), I'll spend a lot more time talking about the benefits of open source in the eCommerce landscape – because hosted platforms (while easy) pose their own risks and challenges.

Suffice to say, 2020 is going to be a great year!

This Blog

I couldn't end this post without circling back to the way I started it. Migrating this site / blog. For a period of three years I wrote on here pretty much every day. Then my jobs changed and my focus was on creating new WordPress / WooCommerce products. But now that things have stabilized, I'm coming back to the blog and will start writing regularly again, along with launching a new WordPress podcast.

About Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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