Switching from Thesis to Genesis: Chris Brogan’s Influence

Would your business be sustainable if 10% of your customers walked away?

Many of you are familiar with the potential divorce between Chris Pearson (DIY Themes) and Matt Mullenweg (WordPress) over GPL compliance. I have received numerous emails from readers asking how it will effect their blogging platform of choice. Relax. Pour yourself a glass of spanish cava or red wine. Take a sip. It’s ok. What? Chris Brogan just posted an article on his official divorce of Thesis? Ok. Well. We need to talk.

He closed out his article with “If you’re using Thesis, I still think it’s a good theme, and for those of you wondering, Chris Pearson and team at DIYThemes are GPL-compliant again, so that’s a non-issue.” But is it really? He switched from a major framework just for the hell of it? Doubtful. In a very passive way he drew a big red line in the sand and said this is where Chris Brogan stands.

How this will affect current Thesis users

Imagine if that estimate is grossly wrong…he is now responsible for nearly 10% of all Thesis users alone.

I recently purchased a Developer’s Option for $164. The next day I got cold feet as links to articles like Technosailor.com’s exclusive interview with Brian Clark (Copyblogger.com) fed my inbox. Like you, I have a vested interest in seeing a product I paid for have a decent half life. Especially in this economy.

Before Chris Brogan posted his article I had faith that DIY Themes would maintain a certain level of support to their clients. Their website states, “Over 28,019 savvy webmasters rely on the Thesis website framework.” But what percentage of those became paying customers because of Chris? Maybe not directly, but think about his reach. His influence.

Mathematically speaking: If ChrisBrogan.com receives nearly 2 million visitors per month and 1/10 of 1% have interest in Thesis that still results in 2,000 people. Maybe only 1% of those people purchase Thesis. That is still 20 consumers he influences per month. That doesn’t even factor in those 20 consumers inspiring the purchase for others. After one year, his influence alone accounts for nearly 1% of all Thesis users.

Imagine if that estimate is grossly wrong. Instead of .01% his initial influence equals a full 1%. He is now responsible for nearly 10% of all Thesis users alone.

Should you be concerned?

No. You purchased the Thesis theme and your transaction is complete. Even if DIY Themes goes under and all membership support is gone please remember that there is still a community out there. A vast majority of you will have the same common questions that have been tutorialized many times over. The development community that goes outside the box of what was intended for the Thesis theme doesn’t require DIY’s support. Just a means to communicate and work through problems together.

The public opinion of Thesis, thanks to Chris Pearson’s rant, is shaky right now. With Brogan taking a stand more people will lose trust in the ability of Pearson righting the ship. The general public is vastly influenced by Brogan. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

What does 10% mean to you?

Would your business be sustainable if 10% of your customers walked away? How far would you go to correct the error(s) in your approach to business? A refund to new customers? Devoted customer support for current customers for at least 12-18 months regardless of what happens?

DIY Themes needs to show their hand in this game before everyone has left the table.


  1. Joshua GarityReplyAugust 14, 2010 at 5:59 pm 

    Great insight! I agree with you on determining what to use for yourself and clients. In other comments I stated the same because in the end that is all that matters. What is best for the project at hand. nnI wanted to outline how Chris’ change in platform could affect the quality of service we are provided. Mainly due to the number of emails I received from people wondering if they should be concerned by it.nnThanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts Pixelita! Hope to see you again. I changed effect/affect. Thank you for the heads up! My noun/verb got messed up somewhere along the line ;)nn

  2. YacenyukReplyAugust 21, 2010 at 11:13 pm 

    I would like to exchange links with your site http://www.joshuagarity.com
    Is this possible?

  3. Bill HibblerReplyOctober 18, 2010 at 5:23 am 

    I’ve used Brian Gardner’s themes on several sites in the past but tried Thesis for my two most recent sites. On one, I had my designer modify the Blogussion skin and the other was customized to my specs which is very similar to Chris Brogan’s as I liked the simple, clean style. I’m one of those that discovered Thesis through Chris Brogan, too, and have gone on to recommend it to some clients. You’re probably correct regarding his reach and the effect his shift will have on DIY’s bottom line. It’ll certainly effect Brian Gardner’s as Genesis is promoted on every blog post, past and present.

    I haven’t tried Genesis but from my experience with StudioPress themes, I find their customer support to be superior to DIY Themes and think they have a better customer forum area, too. Thanks for the post, Joshua. Just discovered your post when it came up #1 on Google for this the topic of switching from Thesis to Genesis.

    • Joshua GarityReplyNovember 9, 2010 at 3:32 am 

      Thanks for the kind words Bill! I get quite a lot of traffic on this article through Google. Glad you found my blog!

      I do think that each framework can be utilized best by different projects. It really depends on the knowledge of your developer, time frame and overall scope. For many folks, Thesis fits the bill nicely. Buy a license, upload and change a few settings for columns and colors, etc.

      It would be interesting to do a series of articles on taking a single design and then how to implement it in each, the downfalls, the hacks needed, etc. Hmm…you have my mind racing now! :)

      Thanks Bill! Hope to see you around again soon!

  4. Martyn Chamberlin...ReplyNovember 8, 2010 at 4:15 pm 

    First off, Chris Brogan does NOT receive millions of visitors per month. Not sure where you’re getting that idea, but a quick look at his compete.com profile shows that he gets slightly more than a tenth of that in the US. With all other countries combined, Chris probably gets .5 million visitors max. You’ve blown that up a bit.

    But yeah, his explanation for leaving is pretty fuzzy. In that same article you’ve linked to, he said in comments,

    “In my case, there was a business decision. I had only one premium wordpress theme in my quiver. I will have 4 by the end of the month. That’s so that I can have a diverse solution set for my own projects, as well as to recommend to others.”

    My question is, if he’s so interested in INCREASING the number of arrows in his quiver, why did he diss Thesis? There’s definitely some deep politics going on, and I’m glad I’m not the only blogger who’s been writing about this. The Thesis theme powers two of my blogs.

    Chris Pearon’s a dangerous guy, but he’s also fascinating to follow. I think DIY Themes made no regrettable decisions (other than the very public disagreements with Matt, perhaps).

    What’s your take Josh?

    • Joshua GarityReplyNovember 9, 2010 at 3:42 am 

      I don’t recall where I received my stats for his website but they were 100% legit. That may have changed since publishing. It may be deep within my notes however. If I do find it, I will let you know.

      In the end, one can never have too many arrows in queue. Knowing the benefits, and drawbacks, to multiple platforms gives you a leg up on your competition. Especially when you run multiple sites / ventures on the WordPress framework.

      Thesis may work for a general blog but to turn it into a completely custom design takes work and research. The amount of ramp up time depends on your skill set. Some may not have that. I’ve heard Genesis is a better fit in that regard. Not only from Brogan but many others as well.

      I agree that Pearson is a double edged sword. I follow him on Twitter and have talked with him a bit. He has mentioned some of the client sites I have created / customized using Thesis and seems to be a nice guy with quirks. With that in mind, knowing about the background on the open source / WordPress / Thesis matters it certainly makes him an interesting dichotomy :)

      What sites do you run using the framework? Always curious to see other custom work!

      Thank you for sharing your well thought out insight into the topic Martyn. I hope you stop by again!

      • Martyn Chamberlin...ReplyNovember 9, 2010 at 2:14 pm 

        Yeah if you can remember where you got those stats, I’d definitely be interested. As it is, I’m thinking about DMing Chris Brogan to find out from himself. Yes, I’m good at bugging people and snooping around. :DI’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I haven’t customized either of my two blogs. I had one modified but then eventually reverted back to the default Thesis look. It’s better than anything I could come up with. Some day I might hire someone to mess around with it, but it would still be a minimalism look. If you click on my name, that leads you to one of them, and the other one is located at artistsdiscuss.com.Good talkin’.

      • Martyn Chamberlin...ReplyNovember 9, 2010 at 7:33 pm 

        Just heard back from Chris. My question was, “Someone recently wrote that your site gets 2 million visitors/mo. Isn’t that a bit inflated?” His answer:

        “Very. I get around 300,000 uniques.2 million might be gross.”

  5. RohitReplyJune 1, 2012 at 5:39 am 

    Very useful post….. :-)

  6. bret milsonReplySeptember 12, 2014 at 3:27 am 

    a really nice and good informational post.


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