Syed Balkhi's Playbook: WordPress Blog to $1 Billion Software Holding Company


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In 2009, this guy launched a WordPress tutorial blog.

Today he does $100+ million in revenue.

He did it all without raising a dollar.

The story of an amazing bootstrapped software business you've never heard of 🧵

Meet Syed Balkhi (@syedbalkhi) the founder of WPBeginner, a blog with tutorials on using WordPress.

He turned a small blog into a plugin empire.

And grew it without investors to a billion-dollar valuation.

He is only 32 years old.

His playbook...

The Start

Balkhi moved from Pakistan to the US with his family when he was 12 years old.

His father worked long hours as a gas station attendant.

Balkhi taught himself English and started building websites at age 13 for local businesses for $250-300 each.

Catch the Wave

In 2006, at age 16, Balkhi discovered WordPress.

It was a much better way to build websites.

In 2009, he launched the blog to teach others & it took off. With decade-long trends, it doesn't matter if you wait 3 years.

WordPress powers 43% of websites today.

First Million

He started monetizing with affiliate deals and ads.

By age 21, he made his first million.

But he thought he could do better.

He wanted to own the products he was selling.

Build an Ecosystem

He studied Mark Leonard & copied his approach of buying, not starting new companies (too wasteful).

He bought WordPress plugins and cross-sold them.

And used excess cash to acquire more companies.

Synergies compound over time.

Heads I Win, Tails I Don't Lose Much.

Syed buys relatively small companies (<$10m) for good prices.

He bought one for $15k and made $18k in the first month.

Small deals have less risk than big deals if things don't work.

With a good price he makes money on the buy.

Mismanaged Gems

He likes to find products that he thinks he can run better.

- Founders focused on product

- Unoptimized pricing

- Missing distribution

- Poor monetization

He plugs it into his distribution and revenue takes off.

This is how he's compounded at 30%+

Delegate. Don't Abdicate.

EOS and P&L monitoring keeps him up to date.

Finance managed at head office.

He likes when operators come with the business but he doesn't share equity anymore.

All calls with operators at the end of the month so he can travel with his family.

Be Patient

Many others that get into this HoldCo space get too excited.

They want to do deals and raise funds. They feel pressure to deploy capital.

So they overpay on deals and regret it later.

He is perfectly happy to not do a deal for a year.