WPTavern: 10up Acquires Lift UX
10up, a leading WordPress design and development agency, has acquired Lift UX, a smaller user experience design-driven agency that will bolster the company’s existing Experience design team. Lift founders Chris Wallace and Brad Miller will join 10up’s 120+ person distributed team, along with Lift’s director of technology, Christian Chung, and front-end developer Anthony Garand.
10up is acquiring the Lift UX brand, hiring four team members, and will also take possession of RemoteJobs.com, which will continue operating independently as a remote job board. The Lift UX brand will be dissolved and clients and projects are in the process of transitioning over to 10up.
“We were always looking for agencies to partner with and when I reached out to 10up I was looking to build a relationship to help work on UX design projects,” Miller said. “10up has a strong engineering background and I felt like having them as a partner would be huge for our agency. Jake and I quickly realized that Lift UX and 10up had so many similar processes that it sounded like our two companies were the same but just different in size.”
With similar expertise serving large clients in the WordPress space, the two companies were bound to end up competing on different projects, which happened during the course of their conversations spanning a year leading up to the deal. Miller said 10up founder Jake Goldman proposed a merger/acquisition type of approach.
“I ended up speaking to them off and on for the next couple of weeks and things got pretty serious when we were competing for some projects,” Miller said. “I was of course flattered by the offer. Jake and John were awesome. We enjoyed our conversations and decided to do an onsite to discuss things in more detail. They made an offer after our onsite and Chris and I decided to accept it.”
In 10up’s announcement, Goldman said it “takes a special kind of chemistry and alignment for a deal like this to work.” The company’s acquisition of Lift is one of the biggest design-driven acquisitions in the WordPress ecosystem in awhile.
“Adding more experience design expertise to our company DNA enhances our empathy and ability to collaborate with design partners in an era of interactive, responsive design where divisions between ‘design’ and ‘engineering’ have eroded,” Goldman said.
Miller, who has worked with Wallace to build Lift into a top-notch design and user experience agency, said that securing design talent is a challenge in the industry. 10up adding a fellow competitor to its team is a stretegic move when design talent is in short supply.
“I think it’s certainly hard to find quality talent that’s interested in a full time position,” Miller said. “There are some amazing designers out there but a lot of them are contractors/freelancers. 10up wanted to find a team that had a big focus on quality design and UX. It didn’t hurt that we were big on WordPress either.”
Miller and Wallace founded Lift UX in 2009 and will be closing out a chapter of their entrepreneurial lives as the brand dissolves into 10up.
“Basically we’ll fade into the 10up brand bringing along our team, portfolio, accolades, and ultimately our personality,” Miller said.
Wallace said closing out this chapter is “definitely bittersweet,” but the team is excited to transition into 10up.
“As a 6-7 person agency, we were all constantly being pulled in a million different directions,” Wallace said. “Joining 10up allows us to focus on our individual areas of specialization and excel in each. I love many aspects of entrepreneurship and small agency ownership but the idea of focusing on the success of the experience design team at 10up is something I am looking forward to.”