Headway Themes: What’s Going On?

  • Headway hasn’t provided support to customers since July 1st.
  • They have outstanding debts to the former support team and a third-party developer. These debts amount to several thousand dollars.
  • Headway continue to deceive and mislead their customers about the availability of support for financial gain
  • They have failed to tell us how they plan to solve any of these issues.

I ( Gary Bairéad) worked for Headway as a “Support Guru” from March 2011 to July 2016.

What happened to Headway support?

Clay and Grant Griffiths allowed the support team to work for multiple months at a time when they knew Headway was insolvent. At no point did they inform us that they would be unable to pay us for the work we were doing.

When we tried to contact the Griffiths about payment, they ignored us.

Third-party developers face similar problems

HeadwayThemes.com  has a marketplace called “Extend” where third-party developers can sell add-ons on for Headway. Clay and Grant have failed to send third-party developers payments for sales of their own products for several months.

When third-party developers attempted to contact the Griffiths about payments, the Griffiths ignored them too.

After a lot of persistent pressure, the Griffiths eventually admitted that they were unable to pay us, and they didn’t know when they would be able to pay us what we were owed.

Did you leave or were you let go?

This is a frequently asked question from community members on Facebook, and has been a subject of speculation, but neither option neatly summarizes what happened.

Ultimately, it was my decision to stop answering tickets, but I had no real alternative. Headway owed me ( and others)  several thousand dollars, and stopped replying to my messages. I couldn’t take the risk of heading into a third month without being paid. I need to eat and pay bills like everyone else.

It should be noted that while issues surrounding payments culminated with a cessation of support at the end of June, they had been ongoing and unresolved for the past year. The Griffiths have owed us all varying amounts for a majority of the past 12 months –  most notably at Christmas, which was a real kick in the teeth. This has created significant financial and personal problems for us.

In hindsight, I should have paid more attention to the warning signs that began to emerge last year. Rather than assuming the worst, I gave Clay and Grant the benefit of the doubt when things didn’t look good; that was naive and regrettable.

Working remotely for a distributed company has a lot of benefits, but it can also come with a number of potential disadvantages. As an independent contractor based in France, the Griffiths were able to  take advantage of me quite easily, then ignore me when convenient.

I believe that if we worked together in a traditional office, where they would have to talk to me face-to-face, this would have been less likely to occur. That’s not an argument against distributed companies, but if the future of work is distributed, then we need to ensure that it’s not used as a means to impose increased levels of precarity.

On July 1st, Headway stops providing technical support to users.

On July 2nd, Clay publicly launches his new company, Pressmatic.

I thought Grant said that support is being handled?

grant-griffiths-august-22
In August, Grant attempts to intentionally mislead customers about the availability of support in the Community Slack channel

To paraphrase Bill Clinton, it depends upon what your definition of “support” is.

Prior to co-founding Headway, Grant was an attorney in Kansas before he was disbarred

As a result of his legal background, he’s very careful with the words he uses. Grant does answer refund requests and sales emails, but he isn’t capable of dealing with technical support tickets, by his own admission. Clay is the only person left who is capable, but he chooses not to answer tickets.

On August 22nd, Grant stated in Slack that there were only 9 open tickets. While this might be true, it’s not the whole truth.

The reason why there were only 9 open tickets is because they closed hundreds they never replied to.

Clay has replied to approximately 4 tickets since July 1st. He has however been answering support queries for Pressmatic.

In July, headway tells a customer that they are
In July, Headway tells a customer that they are “still fully operational”, despite  knowing that no support was being provided to any customers.


It has been tough to remain quiet while watching Grant attempt to deceive Headway customers. Headway were deceitful when they allowed us to work for them when they knew they couldn’t pay us, now they’re being deceitful with users too.

In Slack, Grant claimed that “there have been some internal issues we had to deal with and it has been dealt with”.

None of the issues have been dealt with; Clay and Grant have steadfastly refused to deal with them for several months.

fb-hwOfficial Headway Themes Facebook Page

What about updates?

Clay changed ~7 lines in Headway on the same day the first Reddit post appeared, which criticised Headway for their lack of support, updates, and communication.

At the same time that Jeff from WP Tavern began asking probing questions in Slack, there was a sudden rush of commits to Headway, and  4.0.7 was quickly released.

It’s possible that the timing of these updates just happened to coincide with details about Headway becoming public knowledge, but it doesn’t look like it.

This has been the only activity since May 18th.

People outside of the community may hold the opinion that customer concerns about a lack of theme updates resembles children in the back seat of a car repeatedly asking their parents”are we there yet?”.

As a former member of support, I was one of the people who had to repeatedly deal with those questions for half a decade. I know when concerns about updates are justified or not. They are justified in this instance. Headway 4 is not fit for purpose, and it isn’t being iterated on. It’s an unusable theme that was released to bring in an injection of cash.

Here’s another example of an unwitting user who attempted to use Headway 4.

wptavern

Breaking point

Clay and Grant were recently asked for an update on when we would receive the remainder of what we’re owed. They didn’t reply.

After a few more attempts at getting a response, they eventually said that they didn’t know when we’d be paid.

When we asked them what they were doing to increase sales of Headway so that they would be able to pay us, they didn’t answer.

Clay and Grant Griffiths sell an unsupported theme to unwitting customers, hope that they don’t ask for refunds, lie to the community about support and updates, then pay us with the proceeds if any trickle in.

Headway were informed that if they couldn’t tell us how they plan to pay us, and there weren’t  visible signs that they were trying to change  things, then there was no option left but to go public.

Neither Clay nor Grant replied. That is why I was forced to write this post.

What now?

Nobody wants WP Drama, nobody.

We need to focus on what’s the best way forward for Headway as a community.

The Griffiths need to either fix things asap, or sell to somebody who will.

*****

I’m cognisant of that fact that this post will be read by two distinct audiences who may want different info – members of the Headway community, and those outside it. Trying to write a clear and concise post for both audiences has been difficult.

If clarification is needed on anything, please leave a comment below, and I’ll do my best to reply. If anyone wishes to contact me privately, please use the contact form.

For those in the Headway community,  I hope that the details presented here help  answer some of the questions  you’ve asked, but haven’t been given truthful answers to.

The root of Headway’s recent problems has been a chronic lack of honest communication from  Clay and Grant Griffiths  If communication is the oxygen of a distributed company, then it’s Headway’s lack of communication that has been slowly suffocating the business and its community.

Privately, multiple people have unsuccessfully reached out them in an attempt to help them change tack. They have been offered various ideas and suggestions, but have failed to act.

They also had an opportunity to honestly address the concerns of the community following Jeffs first Tavern article, but they didn’t. Brian Krogsgard from Post Status has also given them an opportunity to comment publicly, but they haven’t taken it.

It’s my hope that the posts on this site will finally act as a catalyst for them to address the problems Headway has been having in a meaningful and honest manner.

*****

I want to preempt some responses that I suspect I’ll receive:

Where’s your evidence?  This is libel/hearsay

I have screenshots and videos of internal communications and support systems. I decided not to use them. However, if Headway post a reply,  and I have evidence that contradicts what they say, that decision may change. As I’ve said repeatedly, I’m not the only one who has had these experiences.

[Updated: Screenshots are posted here]

You’re doing this to damage the Griffiths.

No, I’m not. I worked with them for over 5 years to help build and support the Headway community. While I may no longer handle support tickets, I still feel that it’s my role to ‘support’ the community.

I want Headway to get things back on track, but the Griffiths need to start rebuilding trust with the community. If they’re not serious about that, then they should sell.

You’re an idiot for doing this, you’ve hammered the final nail into Headway’s coffin.

Headway can’t survive if the owners continue to alienate support staff, third party developers, and users. Headway is a community, it’s not just Clay and Grant.

feat



*****

Headway Theme’s Future is Uncertain Amidst Financial Troubles

Customers Still in the Dark Concerning the Future of Headway Themes

Comments Policy:

Comments will be moderated.  I’m based in France, so it might take a few hours for a comment to be approved due to time differences.

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36 thoughts on “Headway Themes: What’s Going On?

  1. Not that anyone asked my opinion, but I hope they sell. It’s such a great theme and it really bothers me that I can’t rely on it anymore. It’s very unfortunate that the business side of such a great program was poorly managed. If they’d be willing to hand over the reins to a company that knows how to manage a business, I think it could make a come back and I could go back to using it.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Thank you is all i can say. It’s harder to take criticism from someone from the outside but when it’s the “insiders” speaking i will listen. Thanks for outing what is going on. It’s a shame but what can you do . I’ve tried keeping a level head about things and I will continue to do so but they clearly have no love for this company any more and the way they are treating you guys is terrible, considering you have been working with them for so long. Very embarrassing and humiliating.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Having used only Headway for the last 3 years after committing to it, it’s sad to see such excellent potential in software languish. V4 could have been a runaway hit and taken the market by storm. Gary, your words here and your overall attitude seem overfull with compassion and lack of vitriol, which I find just amazing. Were I in your shoes, I don’t know if I could be as even-handed and even kind as you’ve been here. Thank you for your years of help to all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. V4 could have been a runaway hit and taken the market by storm.

      Hi Bruce,

      I completely agree. Clay is an immensely talented developer.

      Thank you for the kind words 🙂

      Like

  4. Dang it. I had hoped it wasn’t true (kept saying that I’d like to believe that they weren’t intentionally letting it die on the vine).

    I hate that you guys weren’t paid for the fine work you did providing support for us.

    I also hate that the best solution for WordPress layouts is languishing. But, software is easy to replace. The community and people are not.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Shoot. I keep hoping for the best since I’ve committed so much time to learning HW and wrapping my company’s offering of “Custom Site Designs” around their theme framework. Guess that’s life on the bleeding edge of the digital frontier. Anyone have a guess how long 3.8.8 will last?

    On another note Gary, thank you personally for all the help you have provided over the years. You were one of the reasons why I committed to HW after building my first website with it.

    Like

    1. Hi Ronald,

      Thank you for the compliment, it’s greatly appreciated 🙂

      I’ve had a look at what’s planned for WordPress 4.7. I can’t see anything that looks like it could cause a problem with Headway 3.8.8

      Like

  6. Merci beaucoup pour toutes ces informations.
    Je n’ai pas vu d’endroit ou l’on parle d’un fork éventuel de Headway avez-vous des liens ?
    Je serais intéresser par travailler sur un fork !

    Thank’s a lot for allt these informations.
    I didn’t see anything about a headway potential fork, did you have links ?
    I’m interested in working on a fork !

    Like

      1. Hi, the slak invitation doesn’t work. it always end up on the blox theme website which is cool but i didn’t manage to find the slack channel…
        Thanks !

        Like

  7. Happy to donate some money / buy a coffee towards Gary and the other guys. Or a moving forward forking fund.

    Setup a PayPal button if you like. I imagine you would get some appreciation.

    Cheers

    Like

      1. I love this idea, too. Maybe set up a quick site (eg htsupport.com) and offer HT support as a paid subscription. Our company would seriously consider that option. Or maybe even Kickstarter to get the project off the ground.

        Like

  8. Gary B, thank you for posting!

    This is the last straw for me and Headway and for some others too I would guess. I was one of those desperately hoping that Headway had had a blip and things would be ironed out over time (not without damage though). However, this has finally pushed me over the edge and I won’t be renewing my license.

    I’m really sorry to hear that you haven’t been paid. Particularly as from what I have seen you’ve always been very helpful to people struggling with Headway and very dignified of your communication to date.

    Again, as with many others here I have committed considerable resource and time on Headway and understand its internals relatively well. I had plenty of blocks and plugins planned to widen the eco-system of the product. None of which will now see the light of day as I move on to other products.

    It’s a shame, but you have helped to cement my perspective on this ensuring I don’t make the mistake of committing to Headway as I think this proves it is now a lost cause and even poisonous. For that I thank you a lot!

    Like

  9. This is not a shock at this point BUT it is a shock to my business because I’ve been using headway for many years. I hope the Griffiths do sell (and a a low low price because they have destroyed the value that Headway once had). It is truly the best design / concept IMHO and I miss working with Headway even to this day. It is a huge loss.

    Like

  10. Hi Gary. Hi guys

    I discovered Headway some years ago.
    Lets face it; there is a bunch of PAGE builders but so few THEME builders like Headway (even today IMHO).

    I must admit that Diane from “The Creative Design” and all her tremendous YT videos and tutorials on Headway and page builders tips and tricks were gold nuggets to me (Thanks Diane!)

    I am so disapointed on how this is going. Especially for you guys working for months and not getting paid…
    You have done a tremendous work for us the customers and that makes me mad to see how you are treated.
    The thing that stuns me is how calm, objective and lucid you are Gary… You must have been a Buddah follower in another life…. If that were me you would hear me yell on all WP forum in the world.

    Well you are and always have been a true professional and I want to thank you, (and I guess the HW community too) for the efficiency and patience you gave us during these years at HW support.

    Btw if guy_B comes here and read this, thanks to him too for his kind and free support during these last months on HW forums.

    Anyway if you have any update on this matter (HW official, fork, kickstater initiative) or any advice on another true THEME editor (not page editor) I would be glad to hear your opinion

    Thanks again Gary. I hope I will have the pleasure to hear from you soon on this project or another.

    PS: sorry for my lame english, but if I Iive in France as you do, I am clearly not native english speaker as you are… :/

    Like

  11. Thanks Gary for your well crafted article on the state of HeadwayThemes.com. Also, hope you guys get paid and the HW founders get back on track. If they don’t, I expect many will migrate to Blox. HW is an excellent product, but needs a viable support community and updates as WP evolves.

    It is surprising to me, after so much work on HW, that the founders are not communicating. They could turn this around if they made it a priority. We’ll see how this unfolds…. Please continue your updates as needed. Thank you.

    Like

    1. Hi Steve,

      Headway has sent partial payments to some of those they owe (which is welcomed), but the repayment rate is slow. At the current rate, it would be the middle of next year before they have repaid everything to everyone It’s 5+ months since any of us last worked for them.

      We don’t know exactly when the acquisition of Pressmatic went through, but since Flywheel made their announcement, HW have not sent payments or communicated with us.

      We have asked Headway multiple times when they expect to be able to fully repay us, but they ignore anything we ask. They never reply. Hopefully the sale will speed things up 🙂

      it’s not just us that they ignore. The posted an ‘apology’ on Sept 13th. In that apology, they said that an update to v4 would be released within a month and that communication would improve. 3 months later, and there has been no update or further communication to their customers.

      Like

  12. Wow, Gary, thank you for shedding so much light on the issues with Headway. I didn’t really suspect things were this bad until recently. When 4.0 first came out, I sent an email asking why I can’t update directly from WP, and someone (a woman) responded to tell me there were some issues being worked out and while it would be possible to update within WP eventually, anyone who wanted 4.0 immediately would need to go the “old school” route of downloading it from HT’s website and then uploading it to their own WP installation. I didn’t think much of this, but decided I’d rather wait for the issues to be fixed so I could be lazy and let HT update itself within WordPress.

    It wasn’t until “peak season” for my DJ business started to wind down and I had time to follow my curiosity as to why, months later, I still couldn’t update HT from within WordPress. I went to the website, read the blog post from September. Read through the many comments. Although it looked promising, I also noted that this was late November — two months since the post was published — and there had been no further updates on the matter. As much as I’ve enjoyed using Headway, I’ve had a feeling the “radio silence” was bad, so I’ve been looking at alternatives.

    Nothing has really impressed me that much yet. Being optimistic as I am (I’d rather not have to go through the hassle of moving from HT to something else), I posted a comment earlier this week to Grant’s September blog post asking if there was any new info, but my comment hasn’t been approved to appear.

    Previously I noticed no Facebook link from HT’s website, but tonight I did a search on FB and found it, and reading through those comments is what brought me to your website. I had no idea the problems went all the way back to July, nor did I realize Clay has basically abandoned HT to focus on Pressmatic (which, it appears, has since been acquired by Flywheel, and I didn’t see Clay listed among the many employees they feature on the Flywheel website).

    I’m very sorry to hear that the Griffiths have stiffed you and the other employees of HT, let alone the many customers who have been left in the dark with their support tickets. I think it’s terrible what they’ve done to you and the other staff who were working for them. When things were working well, I enjoyed the support provided by HT.

    I commend you for putting these issues out in the open — since HT won’t do the right thing in being honest to customers, I’m glad you’re doing it. Knowing more about this situation, has definitely prompted me to move on with my search for a replacement for Headway on my websites. I already had very little confidence that HT would be able to keep up with the ever-changing WordPress platform, and this brings that confidence down to zero. Sadly, it also has me wondering how “healthy” other theme framework vendors are — I’m worried about switching to something else, only to wind up going through all of this again in another few years.

    At least if the Griffiths were to “go public” or sell HT to someone else, I’d hope a more “corporate” owner would be able to commit the resources to properly maintain and upgrade HT and keep support maintained. Even if a competitor bought HT with the long-term goal of merging or converting HT installations to its own flagship, that might be better than just leaving everyone in the dark to find their own solutions.

    Again, thank you for “fighting the good fight” by giving customers deserved transparency when the owners of Headway have chosen to deny us.

    Like

    1. Hi Pnaw10, thank you for compliments.

      I’m worried about switching to something else, only to wind up going through all of this again in another few years.

      I recommend using Beaver Builder. They have healthy revenue, a large community of users and third-party developers, and the people behind the business are nice guys too.

      https://wptavern.com/beaver-builder-passes-1-million-in-revenue-after-2-years-in-business
      https://www.wpbeaverbuilder.com/

      Like

  13. Hi Gary-

    I’m a lifetime subscriber to Headway from a million years back and you have helped me with many issues over the years. Im just getting wind of all the problems at HW now, and it does indeed suck.

    Whats worse is that it seems the big reveal was in September and here we are in Jan 2017 and it doesnt seem like much has improved.

    I have a few questions for you:

    1) What alternatives would you recommend for replacing Headway going forward? I’ve heard mention of DIVI 3, Blox and Beaver- curious as to your personal thoughts here.

    2) Are you available personally for help with Headway 3.8.9 if I have a (usually minor) issue?

    Thanks for all your support over the years- Headway really is great and I hate to see it die, as there is really nothing quite like it- wish they would sell it off to someone who cares

    Like

  14. Hello Gary,
    Thank you so much for illuminating the terrible situation at Headway. I have been sick for a while and haven’t done any designing so I essentially missed the whole broohaha. When I went to the forum today–just to check in– I was shocked to see the blog post from Grant and had to know more.

    I am always disgusted by poor and non-transparent communication. It has no place in a business–or anywhere else. I am so sorry that you (and Jamie) were stiffed after providing such amazingly good support. That is reprehensible. And hard to forgive.

    I personally want to thank you for your patience with all my dumb questions over the years. Your support was always welcome and very helpful. You are a treasure and deserve much better treatment than you received.

    It is always sad when there is a lost of trust in any relationship. It is like a small death. I wish you the best.
    Marcia

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Marcia,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve been ill lately. I hope you’re feeling better now 🙂

      Like

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