Thrive Themes Is Joining the Awesome Motive Family

Shane Melaugh   283

Today, I’m excited to announce that Thrive Themes is joining the Awesome Motive team led by Syed Balkhi.

This is a big step for Thrive Themes and the future of this company.

It’s a big milestone and as one of the founders, it sometimes still seems unreal to me that the company has grown as much as it has.

Paul and I launched the first Thrive Themes product (back then called “Thrive Content Builder”) all the way back in 2013. When we started, we were the almost perfect image of the scrappy startup: 2 guys working out of a garage…

except there was no garage. We were working out of a little apartment that we shared. 

Thrive Content Builder wasn’t our first product, but as soon as we launched it, we could tell that this one was different. There was more demand for it than for any other product we’d ever created. There was palpably more excitement around it, too.

We kept working on the plugin, started expanding the team, started adding new products and built what would eventually become Thrive Suite.

In the early years, I was the face of Thrive Themes in many ways. I even sometimes get recognized by strangers and they invariably know me as “the Thrive Themes guy”.

From the outside, it may have looked like I am Thrive Themes and Thrive Themes is me. But that is giving me far too much credit.

From my insider perspective, it has always been crystal clear: the story of Thrive Themes is not my story.

Even in the early years, the growth we experienced was only possible thanks to the team we started gathering. And the direction Thrive Themes grew in was only possible thanks to the enthusiastic, active and switched on crowd of customers and supporters we’ve always been blessed with.

Thrive Themes grew fast. Sometimes almost too fast. And along the way, I learned that I’m quite good at building a scrappy little startup, but I’m rather rubbish at managing a team of 50+ people.

That’s why delegation was the name of the game, for many years. My work was about finding people who are better than me at various things and helping them take over my roles in the company.

And soon, there were no more roles to replace. It’s with great pride that I say that my involvement in Thrive Themes has been minimal in the last 2+ years. 

This team consists of people who can do everything I can do, but better. So much so that I’ve considered my role in Thrive Themes to be “Nr. 1 Fan” for quite some time now.

Today, I’m officially and fully stepping out and handing the reins over to Awesome Motive.

With a transition like this come many questions, so let me take a moment to answer them.

Who is Awesome Motive?

Awesome Motive is a company started by Syed Balkhi of WPBeginner fame. Their mission is to help small businesses grow and compete with the big guys – which has always been our kind of thing at Thrive Themes, as well.

Even if you’ve never heard of Awesome Motive before, you’ve almost certainly seen or used some of their products.

They’re behind some of the most popular plugins and resources in the WordPress space, including:

  • WPBeginner – the largest free WordPress resource site for beginners.
  • OptinMonster – popular conversion optimization software that helps you convert abandoning visitors into subscribers and customers.
  • WPForms – the most beginner friendly WordPress form builder.
  • MonsterInsights – the most popular WordPress Analytics plugin that helps you grow your business with confidence.
  • AIOSEO - the original WordPress SEO plugin to help you get more traffic.
  • WP Mail SMTP – the #1 plugin that helps improve your WordPress email deliverability.
  • SeedProd – drag & drop landing page builder for WordPress.
  • RafflePress – powerful WordPress giveaway and contest plugin to grow your website traffic.
  • Smash Balloon – the most popular social media feeds plugin for WordPress.
  • PushEngage - leading web push notification software for small businesses.
  • SearchWP - the most advanced WordPress search plugin.
  • AffiliateWP - leading WordPress affiliate management plugin.
  • Easy Digital Downloads - leading eCommerce plugin for selling digital products.
  • WP Simple Pay - simple WordPress payment plugin that lets you accept online payments without creating a shopping cart.
  • WPCode - the most popular code snippets plugin for WordPress.
  • Sendlayer - powerful SMTP email delivery service for websites and apps.
  • … and many more.

Syed Balkhi, the founder of Awesome Motive, is perhaps the most skilled entrepreneur in the WordPress space and I doubt there’s anyone with more experience or know-how when it comes to running, growing and improving a business like Thrive Themes.

We also share one key value: putting people first.

Of course, every company says they care about their people and their customers, but anyone who has worked closely with Thrive Themes or with Awesome Motive knows: for us, this is not just lip service.

As you can probably see now, this is a core reason why I decided to take the step of passing on ownership of Thrive Themes. I believe that the best thing I can do for the growth of this company as well as for the team and the customers is to put it into the best hands in the market.

What Does This Change Mean for Existing Users?

First, let me tell you what it doesn’t mean:

  • Thrive Themes won’t be re-branded to something else.
  • Thrive Themes plugins won’t be renamed or replaced.
  • We won’t suddenly change how we operate, hike prices on existing customers or anything else very non-Thrive like that. 
  • Grandfathered memberships will continue to be honored for our loyal customers who have stayed with us over the years. It has always been our policy to reward loyal customers and that will not change.

Yes, the owners of Thrive Themes are changing, but for the most part, it will be business as usual.

Like I mentioned before, I’ve been watching Thrive Themes from the sidelines for a long time anyway. So my stepping away changes nothing on that front. And the team – the people who have brought you all of our amazing products, features, upgrades and content – they stay the same.

Brad will be leading the Thrive Themes team, with the support and mentorship of Syed Balkhi, to continue delivering the level of value you’re used to from us. This too, is not a change in any way since Brad was going to take on this leadership role anyway, after proving himself over the many years he’s worked with us.

It will still be the same people building the products, and the roadmap we laid out for 2023 and beyond won’t change because of this acquisition.

What the change of ownership means is that Thrive Themes is now integrated in a larger family of products and companies, and the team has access to a rich pool of expertise and experience.

Awesome Motive will help Thrive Themes grow better and faster than before and I’m sure you’ll see some of this starting to play out soon.

Thank You

Whenever I think about Thrive Themes, how far we’ve come and what may come next, I always arrive at the same emotion: gratitude.

I can’t express how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to build a company like this. How grateful I am for the people I met and worked with through this company. For the countless memories I have of difficult times and good times. I’m thankful for our customers, who made all of this possible and who have generally been a delight to work with.

As a founder, this has been an adventure for me and it was never just a job. I’m grateful that I get to say: for many years, this was my life.

Yes, this sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth. Ask some of the team members who’ve been around for a while, and they’ll probably remember me choking up while trying to express just how grateful I am during one of our team meetings.

Equally, I’m grateful to be able to acknowledge that the company outgrew me and to have found who I think of as the perfect new owner for Thrive Themes.

And so, when I try to think of how to end this blog post in the most appropriate way possible, all I can think of is:

Thank you.

by Shane Melaugh  January 23, 2023


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  • Thank you!! For who you are, and showing up, sharing, inspiring and I’m wishing you the best on your new adventure 😀

  • Sorry to learn you are stepping down. Not altogether surprised given the recent personnel changes and your new venture Ikario. All the very best for the future.

  • Congratulations, Shane! Looking forward to hearing about your upcoming endeavours with ikario or whatever comes after that!

  • Shane, thank you for your role, energy, time and passion in building a product and company that truly serve the world and makes it easier for small business owners to start, grow and succeed.

    I’ve been with ThriveThemes from its early days and the continuous improvement alongside stability has been amazing.

    It also speaks volumes of the maturity of your leadership to determine when the step aside because you want what’s best for your employees, customers and the vision of both your company and yourself.

    I’ll be continuing to cheer for you in whatever comes next.

    Wishing you all the very best and once again – thank you.

  • Thanks Shane! You and your team deliver a great product, great training and are reasonably priced. With a little effort, I’m getting all the value at a much more expensive $2400/year Kajabi membership. Congrats on your success and best wishes on your next ventures!

  • Congratulations Shane. It has indeed been a wild ride with the business going from strength to strength, developing incredible plugins, becoming a leader in the WP sphere. You’re a true inspiration to others. Thank you for everything.

  • What a tremendous piece of writing. And what a tremendous leader you are. Many congratulations on what you’ve achieved. Looking forward to the continuing brilliant service and products from your team. Meanwhile, much love and respect, and good luck with the next stage for you.

  • That’s hard!First Hanne and now you. You two have been the face of Thrive Themes for me and I really liked you both. The way you presented your products, ideas, videos etc. was great and the way you behaved as human beings was even greater.
    Hope this will remain within the new company and the will take your spirit over. Thanks Shane & Hanne! Wish you all the best.

  • Congratulations for a very long innings Shane. I guess I was one of your first customers having bought Thrive Content Builder on 11th Feb 2014 (perfectly timed for a small agency I set up and which is still going strong today along with everything Thrive Themes). I wish you the very best for the future and look forward to seeing what Awesome Motive bring to the table.

  • Congratulations to you! I’ve been a member since 2015 and wouldn’t change a thing regarding my decision to remain with you all over the years. I’ll be following your next chapter. Great luck!

    • Since 2015! Wow, you’ve seen many changes here over the years. Thank you for sticking it out with us through it all!

  • Thank you very much Shane for creating and developing such a great company with wonderful dedicated people in it. As a customer I’ve always felt appreciated. I truly hope that the nature of Thrive Themes will continue to thrive within Awesome Motive. Best wishes and good luck!

  • Dear Shane, I wish you all the best for your Future! Thank you for the amazing products you helped to bring to us with starting thrive content builder which I already loved all these years ago. I am also glad to hear that the long term comitment will be honored with the new owners! Would be shame to change this thrive characteristic!

  • I’ve been with you for a long, long time – I am not worried about this transition at all. You’ve done a really great job with developing ThriveThemes to where it is now, and I wish you all the best in the future. 🙂

  • Thank you Shane, however it will not be the same product without you. When you were in charge – everything was better and was working without any bugs. Already now is different. It won’t be any better, because nobody puts as much heart in it as you did. All the best to you!

  • I started with TCM in 2015 and have loved Thrive ever since. So, I wish the team well. You have built a fabulous business which the founders and staff should take great pride in. Thank you.

    But I do worry that AM’s business model is very different – each tool priced separately, and at high prices with time limited discounts. These are two things TT avoided and were so much better than the competition for it.

    I do hope that Syed learns from Thrive the value of your commercial model, but I fear that, in 3 years’ time, we’ll see each part of the Thrive suite priced separately. And the prices will be showing at excessive rack rates, with time-pressure discounting.

    I realy do hope I am proven wrong and look foolish.

    • Thank you for your comment, Mike!
      Pricing changes may happen and may need to happen (unfortunately we all have to keep up with inflating costs, somehow), but I believe that it won’t be predatory. And the product quality and support quality always comes first.

  • Thanks for the the leadership, creativity and stewardship. This handoff sounds wonderful. The new owner is a gem in the marketplace and while he has big shoes to fill in the hearts and minds of the loyal TT users, I think he is up for the tasks.

    You and H are going to be missed. I guess there are tutorials on YouTube we can watch. 🙂

    But, this announcement leaves us hanging as to what’s next for you — in and outside of your mythical garage spaces.

    Peace. Bravo! Thanks again.

  • I’m Hybrid Connect OG and Thrive has changed my life! Thanks for everything you’ve done and congrats on a successful exit ????

    • Haha, no way! Hybrid Connect feels like a lifetime ago.

      Thank you for your support though all of these years, Mike.

  • Thanks Shane for building a great team and delivering awesome products. Best of luck to you in your future ventures. It’s so “Thrive” that you have thought about the users and things like the grandfather deal when finding a buyer for the business. Thank You and Keep being great.

  • First Hanne, now you. I sincerely hope that what you have described in this blog post is not just a PR change to be communicated outwardly, but will indeed be so in the future. Unfortunately, I have seen many businesses go bust in the past after a change of ownership. To me, the name of who bought it says nothing, as you wrote. You were the face of Thrive, you and Hanna delivered the training. I hope Christine does not come to the same conclusion.
    I am sorry this is happening, although I obviously understand why you made such a business and financial decision.
    I hope Thrive Themes remains what it has been because we need it.

    • From the outside, it may seem like that, but the 2 changes have nothing to do with each other and both were a long time coming.

      Hanne stepped out to start a family, which has nothing to do with Thrive Themes in that sense. It was a personal decision, which we all support her in. And the transition to a new owner was more than a year in the making as well. The change only looks sudden from the outside.

  • Shane, I am not a current client of Thrive Themes but have come to respect your knowledge and integrity over the years. Congratulations on this new development and I agree that you have found a perfect leader for the continuing growth and success of Thrive Themes. Thanks to you and the Thrive Teams.

  • Congrats and thank you for this message and for the incrédule products you issued.
    I hope that I’m going to be able to explore and take benefit of all their capabilities and features … but it’s a enormous and ever growing work !

  • Thank you Shane for creating such an amazing products!
    I hope this change doesn’t affect the awesomeness of Thrive Themes.

  • I will miss you. I love the way you present things and I love your humble spirit. I wish you the very best and hope you’ll do well at what you will do from now on as well, and that this is not the last time we see something from you.

    When it comes to Thrive Themes I hope growing bigger does not mean that the solutions you have will grow more complicated. For me who definitely is not a tech person – that’s only something I have to do in order to do what I love to do – I really hope the simplicity of things will remain. It’s complicated enough as it is already.

    • Thank you very much, Aase. The aim is always less complicated – more powerful. I don’t think that will change. 🙂

  • Oh my! Let me be honest: I am about to cry. I had several experiences with Monsterinsights and do not like working with them. I am very afraid that your great support will not continue.

    Over the last years I grew to a big fan of the entire Thrive Team and always felt safe for my website to work. Let’s pray that they can catch on to that.

    To Shane:

    I really appreciate your work so much. You built a trusted brand with so much energy and I was always impressed how you manage your team.

    Your videos always inspired me in various ways so to make it short: “THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.”

    Wish you all the best for your next adventure.

    • Thank you so much, Christine! Your words really mean a lot. And I am sure that the work the team will continue to do will make you feel better about all this. Maybe some trust has to be re-earned, but they will do it.

  • Dear Shane

    Thanks for the note, and thanks for Backlink Battleplan (was that it’s name)? That’s when I first came upon one of your products!

    All the best

    • No way, another Backlink Battleplan OG! I really had no clue where all of this would lead, back then. 🙂

  • You were the reason that I signed up for Thrive Content Builder back in 2014 and I have been a fan of yours since then. If you say that this is good me as a user – I trust you!

    Good luck with everything going forward ????????

  • Thank YOU, Shane!

    A great entreprenuer and “teacher” (I always love your videos!) gives his most loved “baby” into the hands of someone he seems to fully trust regarding the future well-being of the company that he founded and developed so successfully.

    So, as a convinced Thrives user/customer I can only with you all the best for your personal future, and I will also try to end my little post in the most appropriate way – in fact in the very same way as I started it:

    Thank YOU!

  • I have been A Thrive Suite owner for about five or six years. When I watched your tutorials, I thought your style of presenting was so natural and authentic that I became fully engaged and consequently a Thrive Themes advocate. Even though I haven’t seen your videos for over two years, to this day when I think of Thrive Themes I think of you.

    Thank you Shane, I wish you the best in all you do.

  • 10 yeas ago I started using Thrive Content Builder. From that moment on, I decided to use only ThriveThemes products to build our customer’s funnels and websites.
    During these years, tutorials from Hanne and Shane were the most viewed by my colleagues and me. You were just like a sort of friends to me 🙂
    Hearing about your departure is hard to accept, but I’m sure you are leaving us in good hands.
    I wish you all the best!

  • Thank you, Shane. Since becoming a customer of Thrive Themes back in 2018 I’ve been really impressed with the consistent progress.
    I would also like to thank you personally for your online course content. Your advice has led to some amazing results. Sad to see you go, but you can be proud of the many achievements. Good luck with whatever you do next!

    • Thank you, Jonathan! Very happy to see that you have implemented ideas from my courses and gotten results! That’s always really rewarding to hear about. 🙂

    • I’ve been working on a project called ikario for a while and also on a few micro brands here and there…

  • Hello Shane,
    You’ve done a great job with Thrive Themes and before you ‘disappear’ my conscience would like you to read the following:

    I’ve had a note to contact you since you posted the ActiveGrowth video here:

    I believe you are a passionate and compassionate person with personal beliefs and subconscious conditioning that make you take on a lot of responsibility which overwhelms you and the people you work with. There are probably many layers to this and resolving it is step by step exercise and too personal to talk about here. It’s not a bad quality but the lack of delegation could prevent growth.

    This is the reason why I’ve had a note in my diary and tasks list to contact you since the video about 4 years ago. I literally moved the task last night to 8th Feb 2023. I haven’t been in contact as I’ve been busy managing my own challenges. However on reading about the merger, I thought I get this to you as I may not have an opportunity to contact you.

    If anyone reads this comment before Shane, please point him here.

    May you Shane and the rest of the Thrive Themes carry on creating awesome products with the awesome service and may we all prosper and be well on our journey in life.

    Best wishes,

    • Thank you, Bharat!
      I think you hit the nail on the head. I do tend to take on too much responsibility. I’ve definitely suffered from that and so have people I work with, perhaps.
      Gives me something to think about…

  • Thank you very much for all you’ve done Shane!! Been a customer since the beginning of Content Builder and love the way you build and expanded this software and the company! Good luck on your new adventures.

  • I’ll miss not only you but also Hanne.
    The way you teach is so simple and easy to follow. Add to that, you guys built a great a suite of product. I wish you all the best in what the future brings.

  • Thank you Shane Melaugh
    I can feel the emotions in your words. Likened to having your first child go off to school for the first time 🙂
    I am sure Thrive will continue to grow from strength to strength. However, I wanted to let you know that whatever you choose to do now, there may well be another winner somewhere down the line! A great forward thinker, I thoroughly enjoyed this blog!

    Take care of yourself and keep safe

  • I will confess, I am afraid a bit 😀 In my eyes Thrive always seemed a non-traditional business – no BS, products working great, approachable price, awesome support. I hope that doesn’t change 😀

  • Thank you, Shane, for your vision and for your dedication to create Thrive. You and Paul have accomplished something amazing and memorable. Your products have been the cornerstone of my web presence for ten years, now. Wow!

    I hope that Syed and his team understand, and indeed take advantage of, the integrated strength that Thrive offers.

    Thrive is not simply a collection of plugins and services. It is a unique workflow exclusively dedicated to conversion, and to optimizing both the developer and the customer experience.

    Rather than absorbing Thrive, I am hoping that Thrive’s products become the template and the footprint for what Awesome Motive can now offer its customers.

    In essence, although you are being acquired, what would be really great from a functional point of view is if the “little fish swallows the big fish,” lol.

    Best of luck to you in your future endeavors! You have left an indelible mark on my business and the way in which I approach making websites.

  • Thank YOU Shane! You built something incredible in TT and I’m so grateful to you. All best wishes for the future

  • Big thank you back Shane, for being part of creating the amazing products in Thrive suite. Wishing you all the best for the future and looking forward to see your next scrappy little startup!
    I’m very happy you’re leaving us in good hands and am excited to see where this will lead us!