So here we are.
You know, honestly, I knew this date was coming for a while, but it was until this evening when @therouv posted this tweet that I actually stopped and acknowledged it.
It is a shame that Magento 1 has reached end of life, and I think most people are aware that personally I believe Magento should have delayed it, as merchants have enough to deal with at present, but I do get there had to be a time to do this, and there is never a ‘right’ time.
I’ve ridden this journey of Magento since March 2008, not as early as many Magento die-hards, and I probably was one of the first Magento people to go cross-platform, but Magento will always hold a special place for me. I’ve often blogged around Magento over the years, so I thought why not close off the chapter and say my own farewell. I hope its not too boring!
How it Began
I’m not going to try be a historian here, I’m going to give my view of the world. So I don’t apologize for typos and omissions!
For me I found it on the internet. It was open source, so free, I liked that. It seemed flexible. It was cheeky, and the theme that came with it looked much cooler than anything I had seen before. It sat on a LAMP stack, easy, got that part. And there were these 2 weird people in LA leading the charge – Roy and Yoav.
Coming from corporate I’d not met people like these 2 before. I was used to a different type of tech person. And I realise this sounds naive but I hadnt even really come across ‘entrepreneurs’, certainly not in tech. It was a field I wasn’t in. Or PHP for that matter.
But Magento was fascinating. As I unwrapped it and looked at the code it fascinated me. It was PHP, but it had a little depth to it, it wasn’t just hack city like a lot of other things out there. It had been architected. Sure look it was complicated, it had some OO touches to it, and the db structure was like nightmare on elm street. But to me it made sense. It was repetitive and if you got to grips with a few things you could quickly do stuff.
And so we did. I mean what I did was terrible. And for a long time I just didn’t know things, like observers and events. There was zero documentation, this was a discovery exercise.
So a few of us muddled through and eventually we kind of joined. It was a long eventually really. I remember seeing Inchoo and their blogs, I thought it was weird a company like them sprung up in Croatia, I just didnt know Croatia was big on tech (and later I find out when I visit them yes it was really weird they sprung up, and jeez what an achievement for them to do so in such a remote location).
Magento was cool. I used to describe it like a naughty teenager. It was rebellious, different, it was youthful, it was passionate. It combined tech with fun, even in the early early days it had character.
But there was something deeper here with Magento, and some of this holds true today.
- It was highly extensible framework – you could make it do ANYTHING! And we did at times
- It was IMO the first eCommerce platform that gave true revenue opportunity to it’s community – we were able to monetize it
- It was partner centric from the start – yes there were always little battles, but I do believe in their soul Magento knew it needed an ecosystem, and they knew their success depended on that ecosystem thriving
The Fun Years
These were fun. 2008 maybe until 2012/13 were real fun. We were building businesses, many of us from the ground up, we were hiring, we were talking on twitter (I think I joined that convo a little later than some), we were meeting up and ‘discovering’ each other.
I had worked in America before, so I knew what Americans were like, but I’d never gone to a fully American conference before. Bob Schwartz was larger than life, I remember the guy from GoDaddy being shockingly non PC (there is zero chance he would be on stage today) and the intelligence of the Blake Nordstrom, who sadly passed away last year.
There was Vegas, there was the Developer’s Paradise, where I met some Ukranians, I dont think they had met someone like me before, we had a game of pool and I got drunk, they seemed to think I was crazy, maybe rightly.
I remember actually Yoav at Developer’s Paradise, there was a Q&A. I clearly have issues as I stood up and questioned him. He cared, but he also didn’t, he had a bit of a swagger even then. We mutually respected each other, but at times we definitely clashed. Now I get him more, and yes we would prob still clash, but we are both passionate about what we do and our own principles, so I respect him much more, and I understand him now. He is a good guy.
Also at Developer’s Paradise a developer from Magento stood up and we questioned him re the lack of docs. His answer ‘my friends….you need to walk the walk’. My heckle back – hey evolution mate, I dont want to walk to walk, share the info buddy! Or along those lines. Yeah I was pretty nuts.
And Alan Storm. I met Alan the following year and got drunk with him in LA, and I told him this, so I’ll share it now. Alan was like god walking in the room, and I have no clue who he was, I’m not one for reading blogs/instructions, so unlike some of the others I was like who the hell is this guy.
I had that with him in Vegas incidentally. When he was much more famous. People bombarded him. It was difficult at times, and I understand why he didnt do many events, I can see it was overwhelming.
A lot of us have Alan to be thankful for, he helped create many careers.
I could go on some time with all these stories, but I must move on!
The eBay Years
Lavelle is in Town (oh and Magento 2)
I’ve written about Lavelle before. Nice guy, I mean look clearly he had a mission and a goal, he took us to that goal, and I will say eventually I came to realise that he tried not to sell us out.
Could he have done more? Maybe. I think more could and should have been done with Magento 2 architecturally, but I understand the reasons, I don’t necessarily agree, but I understand. Its easy to say with hindsight.
We enjoyed these times, but they were also difficult for some. Magento was going up-market, that was clear for some of us to see, I think for others they took longer to see the writing on the wall there. And actually in some regions Magento was still free, and even today it is. It came down to really how cheap you could get labor to work on it.
So Magento sold to Adobe, and the rest is history 🙂 Or is it?
I work cross-platform, as I’m sure you all know. And obviously I have to be careful what I say here.
So here goes…. Magento has by FAR the best eCommerce ecosystem in the world. Even today. And why? Because its a diverse mix of individuals from all over, from Australia to Iceland, from Italy to Arizona, from remote regions of Africa to Dubai. And we are diverse not just in location, but in age, in gender, in interests and occupations. Its a melting pot of people from the world of tech. With I think some really great ‘guardians’ in place to help keep the community together. I’ve said it before and I’ll say again – what Ben Marks and Sherrie Rohde have done over the years as community leaders is remarkable, and to be applauded loudly. They set the standard we all should follow.
But then you have others, so many others, too many to name, but a sample would be people like Ignacio (and the other one), the Tobias crew (many!), Fabian’s, Vinai, Marsha, even Phillip Jackson did a little bit. Kalen with his crazy ideas (he still doesn’t get my sense of humor), Brittany, Ves, Doug, Fooman, Kevin, and the new people like John Kraft who makes me laugh a lot, Darin from Irish Titan (very american person), Brent with his runs (and a sense of humor I’ll never get), Snowdog, Sander, @iamspringerin (I’ll never get your name), Talesh, Tomislav, and the list goes on and on and on. Many of these names are ‘known’ but whenever I goto events these arent the people I want to hang out with (Well tbh Sander is a fav of mine), there are so many in this community that contribute to what it is. Plus I want to meet new people, the Magento community to me was all about refresh and renew, bring in the new (like Erin for example, and even our very own Quentin), it was and is about the youth, the disruptors, the agitators, the innovators.
When I started this journey I was 12 years younger, and in many ways a different person. We all grew up a bit didn’t we? I’m pleased I did it. I sometimes late at night wonder why I started, and acknowledge life would have been easier without Magento in my universe. But life would also have never been so rich. Both technically and creatively.
If I was to sum up Magento in one word it wouldn’t be about the technology. It would be “Community”.
Things change, and we move on. Magento is alive and well, Magento 2 is a powerful platform, yes it has problems, but hey go look at any platform and I can show you problems, lots of them. Magento 2 isn’t for the startup merchant really, you need to invest, but it maintains this flexibility, adaptability and maturity that is unsurpassed. Some many call it the old man. Its not, its still fresh, versatile, vibrant, and it has legs.
We all acknowledge that the world is different now, especially in 2020 when online commerce is accelerating at a rate never seen before. There is space. I don’t see competition re these platforms, I see a toolbox for agencies and technology partners that are used to fit different merchant needs. There isn’t a ‘one platform’ fits all – lets stop pretending. There is room people.
And there is room for communities to mix and merge. Young and old, male/female, US, Rest of World. We can learn a lot from each other, and from different platforms. Let’s not start again, lets evolve.
What Do You Have?
I can sum this up in one word aswell – you have experience.
This Magento ecosystem has more experience of eCommerce than anyone else. Fact. Than Salesforce, Shopify, WooCommerce, the lot. We have built the simple, the complex and all in between. WebShopApps had over 25K paying customers, over 100K downloads – the amount of Use Cases we went through was astounding, and when I go look at other areas they aren’t even scratching the surface.
This doesn’t mean that new people and new ideas don’t come in and disrupt, and neither should it. But we are sharp, this community is sharp, and we bring a lot to the table. We need to trust us.
For some of us that does mean supporting other platforms alongside Magento, or even away from Magento completely. Maybe Shopware is a better fit in Germany, thats okay. World domination is not the goal here.
And I know some of you want to stay in this ecosystem, but fear if you stop working with Magento you won’t be able to. But trust me, we will find a way, and we still have stories to share, and problems to solve. We are in an industry that ultimately is very small, we shall meet again.
And For me?
Well I have ShipperHQ. I managed to build this from zero, literally zero. No debt, just about to storm past 40 staff (scarily), and with a company that pays people’s mortgages, pays for baby food, beers, karaoke, and laughs. A place where we can experiment, be creative, and not have anyone breathing down our necks. A place where a female tech CEO could build her dream, and create a great journey (I hope!) for those that joined her along the way. Magento gave me a great deal, and still does. Despite my english gripes I’m extremely grateful, and I know it was a combination of luck, timing and sheer grit that got me to this place today.
Every day is a gamble when you run a company like me. But I think its been a gamble worth taking.
Magento with Adobe
The experience we bring to the table is astonishing, and Adobe Partners need us to help them. We could do with Adobe creating a better way (especially without events) for cross pollination of these communities, but it is happening, and will continue to happen. The future is bright. And I hate to inform you all, but Magento 1 is not dead, its still here, and I reckon may be for a little while longer.
So to Sum Up
If you skipped here, well done, you are a developer.
Life is tough right now. Lean on your friends, family, and be kind to your community – all of it. Put away your egos and pre-conceptions, open your arms, and lets support each other in both business and pleasure.
I look forwards to the day we are back at the Wynn drinking in the corner bar at 4am and living life. I’ll probably get threatened with being thrown out of my room for late parties and I won’t care, I’ll gamble at craps til late, lose way too much money and smile.
I often looked around at Magento events and realised just how lucky I was to have had this journey. It’s been a rollercoaster, but its afforded me a lot of experiences in the last 10+ years that many people don’t have in a lifetime.
Thank you Magento. And thank you Roy & Yoav, and all those along the way that have made my life and my day brighter.
Onwards. Come on everyone, we have work still to do.
P.S. I need to slot this in – the best party/location? – Amsterdam MLEU19 – That ROCKED! The 2nd best, for me, Singapore. Just truly special people, and a true privilege to go visit the ecosystem in Asia.