How Chris sold Css-tricks for $4 million to Digital Ocean

Hello Everyone!

We’ve got lots of great stuff in the newsletter for you this month. A brand-new case study, some news articles we shared around our office, and a secret deal. Let’s do this. 

In this week’s newsletter, we will talk about

  • Earning $33K From Plug-in on Design Systems 
  • Selling Content Website with 7-Million Monthly Pageviews
  • Selling e-Commerce Company with $1 Million+ ARR

These stories are great examples of how you can strive for success even after already establishing yourself – either through a second product or company. So, let’s begin.

1. Earning $33K From Plug-in on Design Systems

Figma is a California-based platform that helps teams create, test, and share designs in a faster, more efficient yet fun way. It simplifies the entire designing process by combining tools, making workflows easier, or establishing cooperation across several teams across various time zones. There are currently four plans available: 

  • Starter Free: This gives access to 3 Figma files, 3 FigJam files and unlimited personal files. 
  • Figma Professional: At $12 per month for each editor, you can avail features like unlimited Figma files, unlimited version history, team libraries, audio conversations, etc. 
  • Figma Organization: You can purchase this plan at $45 per month per editor and get access to org-wide libraries, design system analytics, private plugins, and widgets. 
  • Figma Enterprise: This is useful for advanced security and flexible controls. This plan is available at $75 per month for each Figma editor and $5 per month for each FigJam editor. 

Matt Wierzbicki is a product designer who creates design systems and component libraries for the company. After designing several successful products, he planned to create a plugin in the form of a workbook that will teach others how to build design systems from nothing. He wanted to use Figmaster to solve the basic problems of long educational videos. To check whether anyone was interested in such a resource, he designed two demo lessons without any coding and sent them to a number of students via email. It garnered a good response and received more than 650 subscriptions. Pumped up by this success, Matt started taking pre-orders through Gumroad for two weeks. In the meantime, he completed the plugin right from designing it and employing a developer to recording videos.

The license is currently available at:

  • $99 for 1 user,
  • $249 for 5 users, and
  • $549 for unlimited users.

The course proved to be a huge success – with 393 copies sold (including 191 pre-orders), and $33227 earned to date. The Figmaster plugin was also featured as the No.1 product on Product Hunt on May 11, 2022. 

Revenue from Figma Plugin reached $33227 to date

2. Selling Content Website with 7-Million Monthly Pageviews 

CSS-Tricks is an online platform containing content on front-end development such as: 

  • Blogs and Articles 
  • Videos 
  • Guides 
  • Newsletters 
  • Almanac 

It is resourceful for budding front-end developers who want to learn about programming and thus, build websites. This website was founded in 2007 and contains15 years’ worth of content, amounting to 6500 useful tips. 

Programming excited US-based founder Chris Coyier from his childhood. Even after majoring in ceramics, he worked as a web developer for many years. He decided to pen down all his learnings and established CSS Tips, Tricks, and Techniques solely for this purpose.  

After Chris uploaded the coding demo onto FTP servers, certain tools like JSbin and JSFiddle were used to view and modify the codes. In 2021, the website had a total of 88 million pageviews, which amounts to 7 million views each month; most of which came through user search. The site also boasted about 91K email subscribersAnnual revenue is nearing $1 million, and Chris’ personal income is approx $100K. The highest share of this comes from a full site sponsorship by Media Temple, which acts as both, a partner and a host. 

CSS-Tricks reached 88 million in 2021

In 2012, Chris Coyier co-founded a code-editing platform called CodePen, and has been managing it ever since. After advertising on CSS-Tricks once, DigitalOcean was amazed by the website and offered a hefty price of $4 million to purchase it. Though its growth and popularity were beyond all his expectations, Chris decided to part ways with it and sold the platform in March 2022 as he wanted to dedicate his time entirely to his other company.  

For now, DigitalOcean is financing CSS-Tricks to promote its community and bring forward new content and resources in this niche.

3. Selling E-Commerce Company With $1 Million+ ARR

Fomo is a New York-based e-commerce app that optimizes conversion rate and raises website conversions by accumulating social proof notifications and displaying current consumer behaviors. There are currently four plans available:

  • Starter: This is perfect for beginners, with 25,000 notifications at $19 per month. 
  • Essential: This plan is available at $39 per month, for initiating social proof scaling. 
  • Plus: At $79 per month, you can customize and grow your business with this plan. 
  • Advanced: This plan can be availed at $199 per month for increased performance and customer engagement. 

The founder, Ryan Kulp possesses sufficient experience as a marketer but lacked passion in the field. After unsuccessfully establishing three businesses and gaining interest in consumer behavior, he acquired a Shopify app with the co-founder Justin Mares in 2016. He intended to grow it as a side project and renamed it as Fomo. However, after some time, big and profitable companies used the platform to expand their business; he realized its true value and decided to dedicate more time to it. 

Not happy with the initial version, Ryan re-furbished the platform and gave it a new look, in terms of coding and architecture. Fomo tracks 500 million+ notifications per month through Google BigQuery. Several marketing strategies are responsible for generating huge traffic and attracting customers which include: 

  • Unique customizations 
  • Adding integrations 
  • Partnering with the platforms of his clients
  • Technical and customer support 

Focusing on the enrichment of the existing customers rather than increasing the number of new customers also proved successful as Fomo earned a revenue of $30K per month within three months of acquiring the business. At the time of the sale in May 2022, thousands of multi-million-dollar companies were its clients, resulting in an ARR of over $1 million

Fomo earned ARR of over $1 million in 2022

Kulp also acquired and managed another profitable SaaS app – Cross Sell. He sold Fomo to Relay Commerce, a platform that deals with e-Commerce SaaS software and businesses for a 7-figure price. He plans to use some of the sales proceeds to acquire more SaaS businesses. Additionally, he plans to grow these in order to sell them through Fork Equity, his private equity fund. 

If you are determined and hard-working, you can continue to become successful while chasing your passion at the same time. So, never give up and keep growing! 

Before you go

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Until next week, keep minting money!