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Reflections on Magento Imagine 2016 from a 6-Time Imagine Attendee

by Ryan Thompson

I nervously got out of my seat when Mark Lavelle asked members of the crowd to stand if they had been to at least 3 Magento Imagine conferences. I knew I was in great company, but thought he was going to “do that thing” where he’d then ask who has been to at least 4… and then 5… and finally ask anyone to keep standing if they have been to all 6 Magento Imagine conferences.

Yes, I’ve been to all six Magento Imagine events. From food trucks in 2011, to 2012’s “What’s Your Story” shortly after the eBay acquisition (which was one of my favorite Imagines), to 2013-2015 where I attended as a Magento employee, I’ve been around the block with Magento.

In 2016, Imagine returned as “We are Magento,” a monumental event where Magento once again stands as an independent company. And I once again attended as a technology provider. It felt just like 2011 again and that Magento and I had come full circle.

From what I hope is a fairly unique vantage of someone who has seen them all, I wanted to take a few to reflect on what I saw this year at “We Are Magento.”

Progress on Magento 2

Looking back, I realized that the plans for Magento 2 were first announced at the second Imagine in 2012. But then it was on-again and off-again for the next two years. By Imagine 2015, Magento 2 finally felt real, although my view from inside Magento may have biased me.

This year, there’s no doubt Magento 2 is real. The platform is live (it’s not perfect, but it’s live). Magento shared that over 800 merchants are live on the platform, and announced the upcoming 2.1 release that includes some important features like staging and B2B functionality. Congratulations to Product Paul Boisvert and the Magento team on the progress!

Speaking of progress, it was also heartening to see the release of Magento Cloud. This closes an obvious gap Magento has faced historically and shows that the company is continuing to innovate and listen to customers.

The #realmagento community is back!

The last few years, there was a lot of murmuring in the community around Magento’s commitment: “Does eBay understand open source?” “Will Magento continue to invest in the developer community?” “Is Magento just going to be an enterprise only solution?” The dedication to the Magento Master’s program, and the improvements to the Magento Partner programs gave very clear direction that Magento is committed to the developer community

It was awesome to see this year’s new crop of Magento Masters up on the stage being showered with the accolades they deserve.

Big shout out to Ben Marks and Sherrie Rohde and to Mark Lavelle’s leadership in recognizing the importance and value of the community when it comes to the future (and present) of Magento!

Magento Marketplace & Partner Programs

Back in 2013, leading up to my first Imagine as an employee, I was asked if there was anything we can do to “clean up Connect.” I remember how proud I was that, within a few weeks, we were able to remove thousands of stale extensions, and introduce ways to better highlight quality extensions in Magento. But, this still felt like a band-aid. We knew the real answer was to refresh the third party extension platform.

I was personally excited to see what started out two years ago as brainstorming about a “new Connect” transform into the Magento Marketplace today. To see the level of investment Magento is making to ensure quality of third party extensions is truly a game changer.

It’s equally as exciting to see how Magento is evolving the technology partners from a “pay for placement” metallic program to being focused on deeply partnering with solutions that bring the best value to their merchants.

Congrats to Mark Lenhard and Shahadat Hasan and team for making the Partner program happen!

To that point, now I get to brag for a minute. I’ll always remember 2016 as the year…

TaxJar Announced as a Magento Premier Partner

Magento extension TaxJar sales tax

It was exhilarating to listen from the audience as TaxJar was announced as a Magento Premier Partner. We are psyched become deeply aligned with Magento to provide FREE sales tax calculations for Magento merchants and simplify sales tax for Magento’s users. Stay tuned right here for more!

TaxJar Received the Shooting Star Award

Magento TaxJar

TaxJar was also awarded a “Shooting Star Award” for rising technology partners. (Thanks to Jon Carmody and the Partner team for naming us!) Needless to say, we were really feeling the love at this year’s Imagine and look forward to working with Magento and Magento merchants and developers in the years to come.

As someone who has been to every Imagine, I feel like Magento is truly back in action this year. Imagine is always a phenomenal event I’m excited to see the company’s progress by next year’s event.

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