Devin Walker's 2021 Year in Review

Wow. Has it been a year already? 2021 has flown by and with that a lot of change has happened in both my personal and professional life. Where do I begin? Selling my business, selling my house, the times of elation, or times of stress and difficulty?

I don’t typically write year end reviews, but this year was something different. I have to put 2021 as the year of most change in my life, and mainly all for the good.

Biggest Change of 2021: Selling my Business

Selling my business has been of the greatest accomplishments of my life.

While talks started for acquisition of GiveWP in 2020, the final agreement was put in place on May 1st 2021. Was I looking actively to sell the business? Kind of. When we started out building our company in 2014-15 there was always the goal of an exit within 5-7 years.

Multiple opportunities came knocking over the years, but either the timing wasn’t right or the company wasn’t a good fit. This changed when we met with Liquid Web.

As I’ve said before, our team was always #1 and making sure they’re taken care of was paramount to any potential acquisition. Secondly, the brand and product needed to be the second-most priority.

We spent many years carefully crafting our team, brand, product, and messaging. We care deeply about them all. That meant anyone taking the reins would need to ensure all the aforementioned continues to excel for many years to come.

Fast forward to the end of 2021 and I can say that I’ve been very happy with Liquid Web. Of course, there are always bumps along the way and adjustments need to be made to how you’ve worked in the past compared to how you work post-acquisition within a larger organization.

But there have been no major hurdles or roadblocks that we’ve had to overcome.

Liquid Web has been great and our entire team has continued to be motivated and benefit from the acquisition.

Including me. 😊

Also read: Why are so many WordPress businesses being acquired right now? My thoughts and analysis.

Biggest Personal Change: Selling My First Home and Buying a Second

Like a lot of folks during this pandemic, I was spending a lot of time at home. We shut down our office in 2020 and that continued into 2021 which meant less time socializing and interacting in person.

As well, this is the second year in a row that I haven’t been able to attend in-person conferences except a small CaboPress gathering. Bummer.

All this lead up to me making the decision to get a place with more room to breathe. I wanted my own yard and nice view. Luckily, I was able to find both at my new place in the Mission Hills neighborhood of San Diego, CA.

Remodeling the Home

Compared to my old place, this “new” one hasn’t been updated in a long time. This gave me the opportunity to start my very first remodel project. I’m a little handy around the house and with tools, but I had to get a lot of help to get this project started.

My first step was learning how the remodeling process works and to choose the right team to work with. This took me a few months of interviewing multiple general contractors until I found one that I felt comfortable moving forward with.

After I chose the contractor, next up was working with an architect to get the design process completed. This took a bit longer than I expected, mostly because I had a bunch of change requests and iterations of the final design.

The final design looks great though and I’m super excited to see it completed in early 2022.

Here are a few previews:

2021 Honorable Mentions

There are a number of other big moments I’d like to mention on top of the two major milestones above:

  1. ❤️ Celebrating 1-year together with my girlfriend. She’s the best.
  2. 🏐 Winning a mens competitive volleyball league. I’ve also made a lot of great new v-ball friends this year that have helped me up my game.
  3. 🚀 Designing and shipping some excellent new releases; the new Peer-to-Peer and Text-to-Give add-ons and some significant GiveWP core updates.
  4. 🤜🤛 Hitting some important revenue goals for 2021. It’s always important to keep that growth going, especially after a big 2020.
  5. 🛫 Trips to CaboPress, Vegas, Arizona (x2), Big Bear, and Austin.
  6. 🎶 Lots of concerts including Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday, Weezer, Green Day, The Dangerous Summer, and more.

Looking Forward: My 2022 Goals

While it’s fun to look in the review mirror for awhile, I think it’s also important to focus on the year ahead. I’ve never been huge on New Year’s resolutions, but this year there are a number of areas where my life could benefit from firm goals.

Health and Wellness

I didn’t get to the gym as much as I’d like in 2021 because of mainly work and honestly, making excuses not to go. My best streak was about a month-and-a-half of going at least twice a week. That’s pretty pitiful compared to years past.

My volleyball game was decent, although like the gym, suffered a bit from all the change that happened in 2021. The main reason: added weight = slower on the sand. I have to drop some weight to get back the speed and vertical jump I had in 2018-19.

Finally, on top of the gym and volleyball, I need to introduce more yoga / meditation into my life to calm down some anxiety I have and generally improve my mental wellbeing.

Ship GiveWP 3.0

Our major goal for GiveWP is to introduce a more visual and flexible way to create donation campaigns. Getting there will be a challenge, but one I strongly believe we can achieve with enough proper guidance and direction.

We’ve already taken some important steps in 2021 to lay the groundwork for getting there in 2022.

GiveWP 3.0 is one of my main responsibilities of 2022. Luckily, the team backing me up is led by incredible group of developers, marketers, support and customer success professionals.

I’ll be writing more about this on the GiveWP blog, so stay tuned.

Get Back to In-Person Conferences

Just a few weeks ago it seemed like we were starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic.

Then came the latest variant.

I really miss in-person conferences and when it was mentioned that WordCamp US was in my hometown of San Diego, I got really excited. It would also be wonderful to attend WordCamp Europe in Porto, Portugal. I’ve always wanted to go there and had plans on attending in 2020 before it was cancelled.

Here’s to hoping we can meet safely in person in 2022! 🤞

Code for Fun

It’s been awhile since I’ve written code just for fun. To be honest, I’ve gotten a little rusty at certain languages. 😬

I have a few ideas that I think could contribute to WordPress and have a really fun time learning and growing my skills. I also want to look at Shopify and see if I can do something small there.

Continue the Growth

This may seem like every business leader’s goal, but next year is a unique as we enter the third year of the pandemic. There are going to be many obstacles along the way. Here’s to taking each on with a clear mind and positive and strategic attitude.

Goodbye 2021, You’ve Been (Mostly) Great. See you in 2022!

Looking back, 2021 was a pretty good year. It was full of change and the stress that accompanies it. However, I’m proud with how it came out and will learn from what I can do better moving foward.

I hope you’ve had an excellent 2021 and that you and your family heads into the new year happy and healthy.

Good bye 2021! ✌️

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