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A Brief History of Magento (And a Look at Its Future)

Magento is a popular e-commerce Content Management System (CMS), which has recently been sold to Adobe. If you are using Magento to power your site’s store, you might be wondering what this change means for you.

To answer that question, it’s worth taking a look at both Magento’s past and its future. Understanding where the platform has been and where it’s headed now will help you better decide how it fits (or doesn’t fit) into your strategy moving forward.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about Magento as it stands today. Let’s get started!

A Brief Introduction to Magento

The Magento website.

Before we discuss the future, let’s talk about Magento in a more general sense. Magento is the most popular e-commerce Content Management System (CMS) online, powering over 25% of online stores. A CMS is a type of software that helps you manage websites and other online content, without needing to know how to code.

Like many CMS platforms, Magento is also an open-source tool. Open-source software is open to the public and developed by a community rather than a company, which means that it’s always getting bigger and better.

Magento’s popularity is largely due to the fact that it’s designed specifically for e-commerce, unlike many other CMSs that have a wider range of applications. Plus, there are a few things that set Magento apart from other e-commerce platforms.

For example, Magento is self-hosted, so you can purchase the exact amount of hosting space that you need. This means the platform is easily scalable, and able to grow alongside your store. Magento also has hundreds of extensions that can add a wide variety of advanced features to your site, such as extra-secure payments and customer support integration.

The major downside of Magento is its learning curve. With some training or research, you can learn how to create an online store that does anything you want. However, it is a less beginner-friendly CMS than some of your other options. Still, it’s become a very popular platform, with a highly dedicated user base.

Magento’s History, in a Nutshell

Magento has been an e-commerce company for over a decade. When he was in college, a man named Roy Rubin started a web design company called Varien. In 2007, he and Yoav Kutner began Magento as a part of Varien, because they recognized a need for a flexible e-commerce solution. They launched the product in 2008.

The pair originally wanted to title the new product “Magenta,” but changed it slightly to “Magento” after realizing that Magenta.com was taken. The platform grew quickly, as it was one of the first customizable tools for creating online stores. In 2010, Rubin renamed the company itself from Varien to Magento, reflecting the new focus on that product.

The past seven years have been a turbulent time for Magento. In 2011, tech giant eBay acquired Magento in a $180 million deal. Co-founder Yoav Kutner left the company in 2012, not long after the eBay merge, and Roy Rubin followed suit in 2014. Then, the company briefly went private again in 2015, since investment company Permira Funds bought out eBay’s shares.

In 2018, Magento was purchased by Adobe for over a billion dollars. In the next section, we’ll look at what that acquisition might mean for the company going forward.

A Look at Magento’s Future

With the company changing hands three times in the past seven years, Magento users are no strangers to turbulence. At this point, anyone who has a Magento site may be wondering where Adobe will take the platform in the future.

A big worry on some people’s minds is whether or not Adobe will change the CMS’s payment structure. As we mentioned earlier, Magento is currently open source, which means that anyone can use the software for free. Adobe has promised support for Magento 1 through at least June 2020.

However, it’s possible that Adobe may roll Magento into a paid product in the future. Some business experts think that Adobe may combine Magento with its Experience Cloud, an enterprise business solution offering advertising, marketing, and commerce tools.

Keep in mind that this merger was a very recent event, and it’s still unknown what other changes may be coming to the platform. Adobe has already caused a furor by closing down a program that rewarded bug-reporting with cash (although it reversed course soon after the announcement, and decided to continue the program).

For those worried about the uncertainty surrounding Magento, we recommend scoping out some other options for your store ahead of time. There’s no guarantee that the platform will change significantly, but if it does you may want to consider switching to a less unpredictable tool.

The Alternatives to Magento

If you’re worried about the upcoming changes, you’ll be glad to know that there are many excellent alternatives to Magento. We still don’t know for sure that Adobe will shutter Magento or put it behind a paywall, but it’s best to start planning your contingency plan now, while the platform is still being supported.

Let’s look at a few of the other e-commerce solutions you may want to try out. First up, there’s Shopify:

The Shopify website.

This is another hosted e-commerce CMS, which is very easy to use. It’s also less scalable than Magento by default. However, it can also be integrated into the flexible, scalable WordPress CMS.

Speaking of WordPress, the WooCommerce plugin is a very popular e-commerce platform:

The WooCommerce plugin.

Finally, OpenCart is an excellent tool if you want a simple, user-friendly solution. It also enables you to easily manage multiple stores at once:

The OpenCart website.

Since Adobe has promised to maintain Magento at least until 2020, there’s no rush to move your store right away. If you start scoping out the alternatives now, you’ll be well prepared to choose an alternative platform when (and if) the need arises.

Conclusion

Magento is a powerful e-commerce CMS, powering over a fourth of all online stores. The future of the platform is now somewhat hazy, however, following Adobe’s June 2018 purchase of the company.

We know that Adobe has promised to continue supporting Magento 1 at least through June 2020. After that, the fate of the software is up in the air. Current Magento users may want to make a contingency plan just in case, by checking out platforms such as:

  1. Shopify: This platform offers a hosted e-commerce CMS, and can also be integrated into WordPress.
  2. WooCommerce: An e-commerce plugin for WordPress, this is a popular and easy-to-use CMS.
  3. OpenCart: When it comes to e-commerce solutions, this one is about as user-friendly as it gets (while still remaining flexible).

Do you have any questions about Magento, or the other e-commerce platforms we’ve mentioned? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image source: Pexels.

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