WordPress.com VIP Launches Featured Partner Program

Today Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com VIP, is announcing the launch of its Featured Partner Program, which marks the first time the platform has officially partnered with third-party plugins. The program caters to WordPress.com VIP clients, which typically run large-scale sites and in total generate one billion page views per month, and allows them to easily integrate third-party partners. Current WordPress.com VIP clients include CNN, Time, and NBC Sports.

The featured partners are companies that have integrated with the WordPress platform, with nine participants announced for the pilot program, including analytics tool Chartbeat, commenting platform Livefyre, and social media optimization tool SocialFlow. The additional featured plugins are ContextLogic’s Engage plugin, DaylifeMediaPassOoyalaUppSite and Wibiya. These services were already available to WordPress.com VIP clients outside of the WordPress relationship, but the VIP team is now pre-vetting partners.

“We decided to launch the FPP to connect WordPress.com VIP sites with the best integration partners, to offer partners exposure to large-scale sites, and to combine these efforts into a seamless, productive experience for both,” said Paul Maiorana, Director of Platform Services at Automattic (the company that powers WordPress.com), in an interview. “[This] could make these plugin providers more attractive to a large site that is approached by/works with multiple vendors and partners.”

Maiorana said there was no set number of plugins they wanted to launch with; the nine included met the program’s criteria and were able to meet the timeline. WordPress is accepting applications from companies who want to join the program, and will review each selection’s code. He said integration partners should provide tools and services that are in demand by large-scale sites. “We’ll be adding more social, mobile, video and content partners in coming months,” Maiorana said.

Uppsite, one of the featured plugins, allows publishers to create native iOS and Android apps based on their content (Windows Phone support will launch soon, with BlackBerry coming in fall 2012). Publishers enter their URL, install the plugin on their site, review designs, and then Uppsite submits the apps automatically. It’s free for publishers to create an app, and UppSite has a freemium ad-based model – publishers can revenue share or drop ads altogether depending on the plan they choose (premium plans are available for $9.99, or custom pricing for the no-ad version).

Founder Gal Brill learned about the Featured Partner Program in December 2011, and says the program will help the company with distribution. “WordPress is the leading CMS platform, we as a leading mobile solution for websites know that every partnership will get us a step forward to our vision of mobilizing the web in a easy and fast free solution,” Brill said in an interview. “We like to think that what WordPress did to the internet, UppSite will do to the internet and publishing world in the mobile era.”

UppSite, which is based near Tel Aviv, launched in 2010 and seen over 1,000 publishers create over 2,500 apps in that time. The company raised a $600K seed round from thetime innovations, and is currently finalizing a round of Series A funding.

WordPress currently powers 15.8% of the world’s top one million sites, up from 8.5% in 2010. This new partner program only supports WordPress.com VIP clients, though some of the partner plugins are already available for self-hosted WordPress sites. The program won’t mean much to everyday WordPress users, but offers up-and-coming startups to get additional promotion for their plugins from some of the world’s largest publishers.

Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin Bury is a Co-founder and CEO at Willful, an online estate planning platform. Also a former Managing Director at Eighty-Eight, a creative communications agency based in Toronto. She was formerly the Managing Editor at BetaKit. Follow her on Twitter at @erinbury.

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