Today, I’m proud to announce a merger months in the making with a fellow premium digital services agency whose work and leadership I’ve come to admire: Fueled.
Fueled is to mobile and enterprise-grade online applications what 10up has been to WordPress and online content management and publishing: an innovator and leader driven by the values of customer service, creativity, and craftsmanship. Fueled has built stand out iOS and Android apps – several of which I’ve personally used – for clients like Warby Parker, Verizon, the United Nations, and even Apple themselves. Just as 10up has built some great mobile applications, Fueled has executed notable works in the web application space for clients like Wall Street Journal and The New York Times – but content management systems and editorial experience has never been a core focus and strength. Until now.
Our teams have already worked on projects together, building on conversations that began with Fueled early this year. In that day-to-day project delivery, and in Executive collaboration and roadmapping, the chemistry and shared respect has been palpable. Fueled and 10up shared the view that joining forces would need to build not only on complementary capabilities, market opportunity, and financial models, but on a profound culture fit. In every respect, from our remote-first collaboration models to our guiding values, to the natural rhythm of our communication and planning, it was clear to each of us that we had found that match. Together, we will make more than 400 full time team members.
The merger is backed with investment from Insignia Capital, a firm with an impressive track record in professional digital services. 10up is their first major growth investment supporting Fueled, a platform they invested in ~1 year ago. Insignia, Fueled, and 10up have meaningful ownership in the combined business, with no single party holding a majority share. Insignia brings a whole new class of financial and investment capabilities to 10up and Fueled, with an appetite for responsibly paced growth through acquisition. They don’t just bring capital – they also bring expertise and impressive connections.
Today, nothing fundamental about the way we deliver and serve the CMS and website market is changing at 10up. We continue to deliver finely crafted solutions under the same respected brand, with our same structure, values, operating model, preferred tools, innovative and creative spirit, and day-to-day leadership – now with even more resources and adjacent digital experience capabilities.
Our clients and their success remain our number one priority, from our largest project and ongoing service engagements, to our lowest cost-of-entry premium maintenance services and ElasticPress.io SaaS solution. If anything, we hope this merger will expand and strengthen the ways we can serve our clients’ digital experience needs.
This year we will also start working as partners to develop a longer roadmap toward deeper integration and unification, to accelerate our shared vision to be among the leading providers of digital experiences and solutions.
We remain as committed as ever to the partnerships, platforms, and tools we love and built 10up upon, most especially WordPress, the web’s most popular CMS. Our contributions to the open web, in open sourced works, contributions, and knowledge sharing remain a deeply held cultural priority. We expect that our combined market power and reach will only strengthen and enrich our strongest partnerships and preferred solutions.
As for me: I founded 10up over 12.5 years ago, and I could not be more energized for my next act as a leader in this newly combined agency. As a Partner in the larger business, I’ll continue running day-to-day operations over the 10up side of the house with CEO John Eckman, and our wider Executive and Leadership teams, while also becoming a part of the joint organization’s governance.
Since the day that I founded 10up with only a small savings account, I have said that 10up’s vision is much bigger than its founder. That mindset led me to hire our Chief Executive Officer more than 9 years ago, and that same principle guided me in pursuing this new governance, ownership model, and joining of forces – a framework that will take us well beyond the bootstrapped strategy we scaled to $40m+ in annual revenue and nearly 300 team members.
As an independent, owner led business since 2011, we climbed mountains with the help of vital partners and friends. We were profitable and we grew every year, and are on track to do so again this year. We imagined WhiteHouse.gov as our dream project in 2011, and we helped remake it after the 2020 election. We went from admiring technology giants like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Salesforce, to making them our clients and partners. We fall shy only of our friends at Automattic as the most consistently prolific contributors to WordPress, the software that grew to power ~40% of websites over the last decade. We had global company summits where hundreds gathered to learn hard and party hard in places including San Juan, Jackson Hole, Disney World, and this past May, Reykjavik, Iceland.
For me, this change is an act of focus and sustainability, a recognition of what I think it takes to keep breaking records and serve this team at the scale we’ve reached and the impact we want to have. Joining with Fueled was not the first or only offer we entertained to make something bigger, but it is the one I came to believe in.
I’m ready for our next chapter, and my next chapter here, and I still feel like we’re only just getting started.