Company craftsmanship in evidence
by Jay Batson
Acquia isn't my first company; I've constructed a few before. In fact, bringing well-suited people together to achieve something together is one of those things that (I think) I just naturally do. I've done it over and over in life. Maybe it comes from my dad being a guy who was always pushing the envelope when it came to things like health foods for long life, etc., and then trying to convince others to do likewise.
Whatever the source, this is my natural behavior. Not that I'm perfect at it. But I love it because the results are so amazing. First, the total group's chances of reaching its objectives increase. Second, it's just plain fun to have people around who want to do the same thing together, and it makes for a great bit of life.
When we created the first Acquia website, we had a little fun with our titles. I chose Company Craftsman, because it just fits my core behavioral pattern - and it fits what I set out to do with Acquia. I still carry a business card with this title, and often give it out.
With this as background, you can start to see how I personally set about building Acquia. The obvious first thing was to spend time with Dries, and see if we had enough of a shared vision for what the company could be that we could construct a partnership together. Obviously, no VC-backed Drupal company would succeed without him as a founder. More importantly, he turned out to be the kind of guy that I want to work with. Fortunately, he felt the same.
The next thing was to find investors we could build something great with. We were fortunate: we were able to raise capital from several of the best in the business - increasing our chance of success, and being generally good to have around.
Then, Dries and I worked to assemble the essential parts that we needed to be in the Drupal business: a diverse group of talented staff to do the real work. Again - increase the success chance, and have fun people around.
Both Dries and I knew from day one that to be a BIG success, we'd want to make sure we had the strongest management talent we could find, too. For me, I've always been fully willing to replace myself when we found somebody who could dramatically improve our management. But to get a really great CEO, we'd need to demonstrate that Acquia represented a big opportunity. So the team built the Acquia Network, put together our Subscription offerings, and opened for business.
Early on, one of our investors introduced me to Tom Erickson. He and I got along really well from almost our first dinner together, and I asked him almost immediately to join our advisory board. He was that guy with more experience than me to whom I could go when I needed help thinking about how to handle various things as we grew. Sensing he was the guy who could add big value to us, I asked him early on to take over as CEO, but he had other committments then, and couldn't. But he just kept showing up, helping me with advice, strategy, operations. Finally, I got him to agree to at least be on the Board of Directors. And his involvement kept growing.
Then serendipity happened. Tom became available, we'd exceeded our first business milestones, and it was clear to everybody that Tom could really have a big, positive impact here. We asked him to be the CEO once more, and this time he said yes.
Having Tom take on this role has, for me, the same feel as connecting with Dries did at the beginning: Tom is a(nother) key component that will help Acquia reach our objective of crafting a successful, remarkable Drupal company; and, like Dries, he's the kind of guy that I want to work with.
And for me, this reinforces the (unofficial) role I have here at Acquia: working as "Company Craftsman."
Now that Tom's got the helm, there are still many things that need built in the company. And I have the fortunate role of being the guy that can go do my Company Craftsmanship thing wherever we need it, when we need it.
So, welcome Tom. Glad to have you. Let's keep building.