WooThemes is Bootstrapped, Profitable, & Proud, according to 37signals’ Matt. As its About page/comic illustrates, Woo is in the WordPress theme business.
Woo has much in common with Automattic, the firm behind WordPress, and with 37signals. All three firms are distributed: Woo has three principals, one each in South Africa, England, and Norway.
As someone who has written about the WordPress ecosystem, I was struck by this quote from Woo founder Adii Pienaar.
We have created a niche, micro-economy, where a lot of our users — specifically the designers and developers — are selling add-on services that relate to our themes in one way or another… So we’re finding that users are helping each other on our support forums, while also building their own businesses using our themes.
Woo didn’t just find a niche for itself: it created an ecosystem within the WordPress ecosystem. It is now exploring other publishing platforms/ecosystems. For example, there are now Woo themes for Drupal.
Woo particularly impresses 37signals by being like 37signals. Neither firm took venture capital, and each has grown “organically,” from profits, without taking investment from outside.
Woo’s About page/comic refers to WordPress default themes as boring. I’d say that has ceased to be true now that WordPress 3.0 comes with Twenty Ten as the default theme. But it looks as though Woo, its brand, and its ecosystem have arrived at the point at which it doesn’t need other themes to be boring in order to stand out.
Talking of the Woo brand, I came across what I think of as a neat bit of brand-building when I was upgrading blogs at WanderNote, which lives at BlueHost. Use of Simplescripts there is “sponsored by WooThemes Get a fresh new free or premium WordPress theme!” Upgrade and installation are good times to tell WordPress admins about theme options.
I’d be interested to read your impressions of WooThemes: the themes, the organization, the way in which it has grown? Mine are fairly positive, although I’ve yet to use any Woo themes myself.