Q&A: Roy Rubin, General Manager of the Magento E-Commerce Platform
Roy Rubin, Co-Founder of Magento, recently took the time to answer all our questions about the open source e-commerce platform and its incorporation into eBay’s new X.commerce suite.
Roy Rubin is Co-founder and General Manager of the popular, open-source e-commerce platform, Magento. In a recent trip to Australia, he spent three days scoping out market opportunities and strengthening partner relationships. Fortunately, Rubin also took the time to speak with Power Retail about his product’s successes and its acquisition by eBay. Rubin even gave us some insight into things to come with X.commerce.
What is your history with Magento? Can you tell us about your business’ journey?
Back in 2001 I helped to create a services company in the US. We wanted to focus on bringing merchants online, while also using open source technologies to help them grow and become successful. By 2006 the expectations of merchants had begun to grow and change, resulting in the need for a new kind of platform – a new experience. That led us to develop Magento, which was first launched in 2008. Now, we power more than 110,000 merchants globally. In 2010, PayPal became an investor in the company, and in August 2011 eBay acquired the business. So we have since joined the newly-formed X.commerce division to better help eBay partner with merchants.
Magento recently ticked over four million downloads. To what do you owe this massive success?
I think one of the most important elements has been to let merchants be merchants without giving them a restrictive platform. We’ve created a really rich platform that increases opportunities. It’s really a world-class suite of products that allows online businesses to promote themselves. It allows them to do what merchants do best without worrying about complicated technology and software.
What is your stance on mobile and how does Magento relate to mobile technologies?
Mobile is huge and has always been a part of Magento’s core strategy. In fact, we were the first platform to really offer a dual strategy of mobile apps and websites; to the point that today, Magento can provide a total experience for merchants in the mobile channel.
It is strategically a very important area for us, especially here in Australia, where mobile is fast becoming the dominant channel for retailers.
There are some concerns over Magento’s security, given that it is an open source platform. How would you respond to those concerns?
I think there’s actually quite a lot of misinformation about the security of a platform like ours. For example, every single one of our competitors has some amount of open source code in their product offerings, rendering them at least as vulnerable to attack as Magento is. On the other hand, we’re the only platform that provides the entire source code, which means there is complete transparency in everything we do in the product.
As far as security issues are concerned, I have to point out that we have over 100,000 merchants currently using our product. You can imagine how many developers there are looking at our code at any given moment. That gives us a much broader scope for feedback. The level of scrutiny that our systems bear on an hourly basis is completely unparalleled. Our product is secure – it is as secure as it has ever been.
What are your current responsibilities within X.commerce?
I am now the General Manager of Magento for X.commerce, but I am also the Chief Customer Officer. I have a full plate of responsibilities focused on supporting the customer. In this case that means I take care of our merchants.
What is the thinking behind X.commerce?
Over the years, we’ve continued to have conversations with merchants to really try and figure out how we can help. If you look at the challenges merchants face, you’ll see they often need a large array of services and providers in order to compete properly in the marketplace. These can be services like email marketing, SEO and SEM, back-end integration etc. All the work that’s required for the proper implementation of these technologies can be extremely painful. Some retailers will require up to 30 or more different products to integrate and work together across the supply chain, marketing and customer service.
We decided to take a step back and and said, “What if we can help merchants now to achieve this globally?” Let’s give them the ability to pick and choose what they need, let them experiment and let them integrate in a way that is frictionless – in a way that is elegant and simple.
That’s what X.commerce is all about. It’s about providing merchants with a platform they can build on, that they can partner with other services. It’s all about helping them grow their business while providing access to the best tech and minds available to help them to achieve it. That’s our mission, to enable a commerce opportunity online for everyone.
What are the key offerings of X.commerce?
We’re working on a number of initiatives at the moment. We want to help merchants deal with the multichannel space better. Because of that, we’re developing products that allow them to operate in different marketplaces in a way that is really frictionless, as well as integrating seamlessly with Magento. But we won’t bring that level of performance just to Magento users, but to the wider market in general. We want to make sure that the multichannel opportunity is as exciting and possible for anyone, no matter what platform they are using.
We’re also bringing out a technology infrastructure product that we’re calling ‘The Fabric’. It’s aimed at simplifying the integration process across a large range of products and services currently available on the market. Along with Magento itself, those are the three core things we’re focused on presenting to merchants through X.commerce.
How has the partnership with eBay been? Have there been any teething problems?
The best thing about our merging with eBay, is that our relationship has been developing ever since 2010, beginning with the investment from PayPal. So we already have some shared DNA as well as a shared passion for helping merchants reach their market. So, in that sense, we already knew the people and the culture at eBay – joining their ranks has been so easy, it was a very natural progression.
Now that we have become a part of eBay we have much better resources, allowing Magento to reach even more merchants than ever before. It’s a very symbiotic relationship.
What do you think makes your business especially unique?
The business is interesting on a number of levels. The first is that we are really partner-centric. It’s not just about us taking a big piece of the pie. We want to make sure that there’s also a great opportunity for developers, for solutions partners and technology partners to come in and really have a great revenue opportunity. For us, it’s really about growing the entire ecosystem as a whole.
Also, developers are a real key element for us. In X.commerce, we believe that developers are really on the cutting edge of innovation and the front line of helping merchants solve their issues. We therefore want to ensure that we are the best and most attractive destination for developers around the world as they’re looking to build their business and reputation. In that sense, X.commerce is really focused on two kinds of customers; one being the merchants we provide our product for, and the developers who help us create and troubleshoot that same product.
OVER TO YOU: Magento users, have your say! What do you think of the product? How do you feel about X.commerce and what it will likely mean for your business?