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Company craftsmanship in evidence

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.

Comments

Posted on by Moshe Weitzman.

And you are a pretty good writer too. Congratulations to you and the Acquia team on this milestone.

Posted on by perickson (not verified).

Jay,

I applaud your humility. This act alone tells me there's great strength within the ranks at Acquia.

Pete Erickson
Washington, DC

Posted on by kbahey (not verified).

Jay,

In many areas, a good person is one who makes himself obsolete. Whether it is a country, consultant, community or company, a good leader thinks of succession and continuity all the time.

By making yourself replaceable, you are showing this leadership.

Kudos to you and Acquia.

Posted on by alx359 (not verified).

I now understand what it seemed a too quick change of leadership and have to agree that Jay makes it appear with the greatest of dignity and honor because of his humility.

I agree with Pete that these kinds of acts inspire confidence in the success of an enterprise that aims to lead and leave a mark.

Posted on by stevejames (not verified).

Yes a good leader sets the company up for a new leader. A bad leader will make the company all about him; making him irreplaceable.

Posted on by stevejames (not verified).

What's more a good leader should teach those all around him the skills they need to become good leaders; the skills that aren't so obvious and can't be taught at business schools. Then they can be considered a good leader, like the ones you are talking about.

Posted on by jamesdeacon (not verified).

I think the most notable thing that you did was to sit down with your future partner to iron out any differences before going ahead. Especially if you want to receive venture capital money, you need harmony. The VC's will sniff out potential relationship issues like you left the lid off the gluepot. Well done gentlemen on a sound plan perfectly executed.

Posted on by Paulson (not verified).

Hey Jay, I like your attitude man. The way you have taken the things in your life is amazing. You have done such a great job which was not that easy as everyone think. Congrats man. All the best.