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dries buytaert

Why I Stopped Giving It Away [Aug 27, 2012]

Submitted on
Monday, August 27, 2012
,
Inc

Becoming a hero among Web developers was cool--but it didn't actually pay. So Dries Buytaert, the developer of Drupal, built a company.

Recently I was in Portland, Oregon, and as I was walking to my hotel, some guy comes up to me and says, "Are you Dries?"

It's not like I'm a pop star, but I do get recognized. It happens at the airport, in supermarkets, and even at the beach.

I'm not the kind of person who likes to be in the spotlight. But at the same time, I feel very natural in my role, and so when I get recognized on the street, it's nice to have an opportunity to learn how that person is using Drupal.

There is a lot of passion in the Drupal community. I've seen people shave their heads and leave nothing but a Druplicon, Drupal's logo. At Drupal events, some developers dress up as the Druplicon. Some people have even gotten Drupal tattoos.

Drupal enjoys rocketing growth [June 29, 2012]

Submitted on
Friday, June 29, 2012
,
IT World

June 29, 2012, 11:53 AM — While Red Hat remains the poster child for open source success stories, at least in the eyes of the business world, Drupal vendor Acquia has quietly been enjoying phenomenal growth and accolades of its own.

The Burlington, MA-based startup has hired over 50 new employees since the start of the year, and plans to hire at least 50 more in the third quarter alone, according to a tweet from CTO and co-founder Dries Buytaert this morning.

The Drupal content management system is one of the most popular CMS in the world today and, like competing platforms Joomla! and WordPress, is open source. Acquia is the commercial vendor of Drupal, which Buytaert co-founded in 2007.

In the ensuing four years, Acquia has picked up $38.5 million in venture cap funding and has well over 2,000 customers. Not only does Acquia provide the usual sort of support for Drupal deployments, but it also hosts websites on its Drupal Gardens service, and provides elastic Managed Cloud hosting services.

Meanwhile, the Drupal community has done spectacularly well, too. The non-profit Drupal Association, started in 2006, has become one of the largest open source communities in the world.

"We have supported the Drupal community in its exponential growth from 70,000 members to over 800,000 and from 700 committers to over 18,000. And we are just getting started," Buytaert wrote in a blog entry this week.

Ernst & Young Announces Acquia Co-founder and CTO Dries Buytaert is the Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2012 Award winner in New England [June 26, 2012]]

BURLINGTON, MA, JUNE 26 – Ernst & Young LLP announced that Dries Buytaert, co-founder and CTO of Acquia, the enterprise guide to Drupal, received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2012 Award in the emerging technology category in New England. The award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.

The 50 Most Powerful People In Enterprise Tech [June 22, 2012]

Submitted on
Friday, June 22, 2012
,
Business Insider

Dries Buytaert, creator of Drupal, co-founder and CTO, Acquia.

Buytaert is the man who created one of the world's most popular content management systems, Drupal. What started as a little project he wrote in his dorm turned into software that powers a million websites including the White House, NASA and Twitter.

Dries Buytaert: Open source entrepreneur [May 3, 2012]

Submitted on
Thursday, May 3, 2012
,
Business Insider

GrowthBusiness sits down with Drupal founder Dries Buytaert to find out when the platform really started to take off and how the inventor-cum-entrepreneur is planning on monitising Drupal through open source software company Acquia.

Microsoft’s investment means Open Source is no longer a community, it’s a movement

For many years now, developers around the world have celebrated and promoted the numerous benefits that open source has to offer IT and business communities. Despite the flare for technology innovation and bringing new offerings to market, the real value of the open source community is the culture of the people that represent it. A shared ethos, coupled with a collaborative working model and mutual respect has delivered and will continue to deliver cutting edge software offerings that are increasingly competing with traditional proprietary vendors.

Dorm room to boardroom [April 17, 2012]

Submitted on
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
,
Growth Business UK

Describing himself as an academic at heart, Dries Buytaert never thought of charging people for the system that now sits behind one in 50 websites. GrowthBusiness finds out how he’s monetising Drupal while staying true to its open source principles.

It’s a scene familiar from movie screens: a Red Bull-guzzling university student programming away into the small hours on a venture destined to change the world.

However, for Dries Buytaert the hours spent burning the midnight oil during his final year of a Masters degree have turned his hobby into a business that is now powering 2 per cent of global websites.

Drupal, an open source content management system, was devised by the Belgian national to allow users to build websites with functions such as blogging and RSS feeds. Like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Buytaert began with modest ideas about the potential of the tool he was creating.

‘I initially wanted to build a message board to exchange messages with my friends,’ Buytaert says. ‘I set out to work on it for a couple of nights, but ended up developing it for a number of years.’

Having started Drupal in 2001, Buytaert spent the next six years honing his platform, in between dipping back into academia to complete a PhD in computer science, and a quick stint at a software start-up in Belgium.

Critical mass
It was then that all the work began to pay off. ‘I remember one day, I think it was 2006 or 2007, when all of a sudden MTV UK started using Drupal, and then NASA started to as well. That was a personal moment, it felt like additional responsibility,’ he adds.

However, Drupal still hadn’t made Buytaert a penny. Its widespread adoption was driven by the fact that it was, and is, open source, and Buytaert refers to the ‘community’ of developers who use and add to the system. Drupal users have doubled in number each year, and it now has 1.5 million unique users per month.

‘I think open source is changing the way websites are being built, and it’s having a massive impact on the web. It’s a way of democratising the internet,’ Buytaert claims.

This was all very well, but Buytaert still didn’t have a way of turning his ‘passion’ into a full-time job. Together with Jay Batson, who founded successful unified communications company Pingtel (later acquired by Nortel), he founded Acquia in 2007.

Acquia was established to monetise the open source system that Buytaert had produced back in his university dorm, by providing products, services and technical support for Drupal.

‘For Drupal to get to the next level it needed to be successful in the enterprise, to help larger organisations use it: so that’s why we started Acquia,’ he explains.

Acquia’s UK base is in Oxford. ‘I guess I’m an academic inside,’ says Buytaert. ‘We want to attract young, ambitious people, and university towns are the place to do that. It also keeps costs down not being in the big cities.’

Buytaert won’t disclose Acquia’s turnover or profit, but he says that fundraising for the company was on the agenda from day one for a couple of reasons. ‘Firstly, we wanted to take advantage of the fact that Drupal was already established globally in order to monetise it on a worldwide scale.

‘Secondly, the kind of company that we are building is relatively human-intensive. We are in the business of providing commercial-grade support 24/7, and it takes more than just a handful of people to do that well.’

Buytaert and Batson started with a trip to Boston, Massachusetts, pitching to a group of carefully selected VCs who matched what Acquia was looking for.

Bigger appetite
For Buytaert, the difference between American and European venture capitalists is one of scale. VCs in the US have deeper pockets, as well as a desire to stay with an investee company for longer.

‘Also, the VCs we have worked with have much more operational experience than those we have met elsewhere,’ he adds. ‘All of them have been CEOs of several companies and experienced several exits.’

Following on from Acquia’s $7 million (£4.4 million) Series A funding round, which included the likes of North Bridge Venture Partners and Sigma Partners, the business has gone on to raise a further $31.5 million in growth capital. Its Series D round in July 2011 netted the company $15 million.

The process of raising funds is one that Buytaert says ‘took a lot of work’. To prepare for the Series A round, he surrounded himself with people who brought business experience to the company.

‘Building a company is all about building the right team,’ he says. ‘The best thing I’ve done is recruited a talented team of people with the right attitude, passion, integrity, knowledge and aptitude – and who are smarter than myself.
‘By surrounding myself with them I have learned a lot about building an enterprise business, and continue to learn to this day.’

Another benefit of investing early in manpower is that Buytaert can afford to take the occasional few weeks off while the business continues to hum along.

‘It also allows me to change my focus on a weekly or monthly basis. Sometimes I find myself working on different projects, while other times I am doing a lot of sales and marketing,’ he says.

Building a successful technology business takes a careful balance of resources between product development and marketing. Drupal continues to host its DrupalCon community events, where numbers have now swelled from an initial gathering of 40 people in Antwerp back in 2005 to its last get-together of more than 3,000 people in Denver during March. ‘On any given weekend there will be maybe up to five different DrupalCamps around the world,’ says Buytaert.

World leadership
In Buytaert’s view, there’s a key difference between US and European start-ups when it comes to growth strategy. ‘I feel there is a belief in Europe that it is better to own all of the company, whereas in the US they want to go fast and are willing to give up more equity in order to grow fast.’

He points out, ‘In the US, people are ok with owning a smaller piece of something bigger rather than a bigger piece of something smaller.’

This strategic rationale ultimately has an impact on success rates, he says. The reluctance to seek outside funding leads to start-ups being ‘underinvested’ and missing out on opportunities.

However, being a web entrepreneur with global ambitions is much easier than it was ten years ago, he says. The world is ‘flatter’ than it used to be, meaning that it’s easier to reach a global audience; as a result, there is room for smaller start-ups that are still profitable and healthy.

Passing it on
Buytaert’s ability to see such opportunities is one of the reasons that he works with various start-ups as an adviser, giving them the benefit of the experience he has gained through building Drupal and going through four rounds of fundraising for Acquia. ‘I try to help them out with all aspects of their business, and it’s a very interesting process for me,’ he says, adding that he would like to try his hand at angel investing in future.

Another motivation for working with start-ups is that Buytaert wishes he’d had more help himself when building Drupal.

‘When I was younger, I underestimated the value of people in your life that you can go to with hard questions. It’s important for entrepreneurs to build up their networks so that they can call upon them when they need to.’ It’s another example of the ‘community’ ethos that is central to Drupal and which Buytaert clearly relishes.

Away from his work with Drupal, Acquia, and other people’s ventures, Buytaert is having a go at bootstrapping a business himself. His start-up, Mollom, is a tool that aims to filter out spam from website comments, forum posts and contact form messages.

With a much smaller team of five, Mollom is already a ‘profitable, healthy business’ that currently filters out spam on 50,000 websites around the world.

Help at hand
It sounds like Buytaert is a busy man, but he says his days (and nights) are less frenetic than they used to be, and he’s now in a position to enjoy family life.

All-night programming sessions and back-to-back conference calls are behind him now, and he is quick to acknowledge the role of the VC capital that Acquia has secured in restoring a modicum of free time to his existence.

The beauty of Buytaert’s dorm room discovery is that the community he has built will continue to contribute towards the evolution of the platform. Its members come from different countries and cultures, but they share the passion for open source that he possesses. That’s why he isn’t overly worried about competitors.

‘We have thousands of people all around the world working 24/7 and being extremely passionate about it, often working for free. It will just blow the others away.’

Mobile & The Future of Web [April 4, 2012]

Submitted on
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
,
Digital Bungalow Blog

DB AT DRUPALCON
Digital Bungalow has just returned from DrupalCon, the world’s largest conference for enthusiasts of Drupal, the leading Content Management System. We participated in some fascinating discussions around a number of cutting-edge marketing and technology topics, which we’ll be sharing with you in the coming days and weeks right here on our blog.

DRUPALCON IN A NUTSHELL
The hot topic at DrupalCon this year was Mobile Web. Drupal creator Dries Buyhaart and design visionary Luke Wrobelski held keynotes on the subject. There were numerous educational seminars and many of our informal discussions also centered on mobile.

LESSONS LEARNED
With nearly 1.5 million mobile devices entering the world every day, it’s important to have high quality mobile websites. The very constraints of mobile present an opportunity for designers: limited space, reduced graphics, and fewer buttons result in a streamlined experience that better serves most users. A mobile-first approach to design allows for sites to be organized so that the most important information will be prominent, resulting in cleaner, more easily navigable websites.

Mobile devices are able to connect to a network literally anywhere, and have rich processing capabilities. But despite their high performance, 40% of web users will leave a site after three seconds, especially if they don’t get what they want or need right away. Thus, clean, tight mobile site design is imperative. In addition, mobile apps, although helpful, are not always put to use, as many mobile users still peruse the web though their phone’s browser. Facebook, for example, has 425 million users; half of them use the mobile app and half of them use regular mobile web.

In conclusion, without well-crafted mobile websites, business will suffer.

DB AND MOBILE
At DB, we are incorporating responsive design into our web design for our clients, in order to ensure optimum mobile web performance. We have built sites for clients such as Humana and Showcase Cinemas in this way, and will continue to build sites with a mobile-first approach.

Did you go to DrupalCon? Learn anything exciting that we didn’t mention here? Tell us about it, we’d love to hear from you.

DrupalCon 2012 Kicks Off in Denver [March 20, 2012]

Submitted on
Friday, March 23, 2012
,
eWeek

DrupalCon, the conference of users and developers of the open-source Drupal project, kicks off March 20 in Denver.

The Drupal Association, hosts of the biannual DrupalCon conference, announced the opening of its North American DrupalCon in Denver, with more than 3,000 Website designers, developers, site architects and IT managers in attendance.

The first day of full conference events at DrupalCon is March 20. Drupal is an open-source content management platform that powers millions of Websites and applications. Drupal is built, used and supported by a very active community of people from around the world, and that community comes together for DrupalCon.

The theme of DrupalCon Denver, "Collaborative Publishing for Every Device," is the subject of sessions and keynotes over three conference days. Keynote speakers include Dries Buytaert, founder of Drupal; Mitchell Baker, leader of the Mozilla Project; and design guru Luke Wroblewski speaking on mobile.

The Drupal community has grown to more than 16,000 registered developers and nearly 800,000 members around the world in 228 countries, speaking 181 languages.

The latest version of the Drupal project, Drupal 7, released just one year ago, had such a strong adoption rate that it is now the most used version of Drupal. The Drupal project now has more than 15,000 modules and 4,000 code changes per week. The millions of Websites and software applications using Drupal include everything from personal blogs to the largest enterprise applications, including Twitter, eBay, Whitehouse.gov, NASA and universities around the world.

“The Drupal open-source content management platform is going strong, and is alive and well,” said Jacob Redding, executive director of the Drupal Association, in a statement. “We’re very pleased to see the quickest version adoption rate to date for the Drupal project, and the enthusiasm for the future of Drupal is strong at DrupalCon. We have an amazing community, and we look forward to spending the week getting in touch with Drupal communities from around the world, individual developers and contributors, and sponsors that have made their businesses around Drupal because of its incredible growth potential.”

DrupalCon sessions will center on the future of the Drupal project through eight session tracks from nonprofit, government and education, to design and user experience, and business and strategy. There will be many case studies around adoption and enthusiasm for Drupal, from Martha Stewart.com, to the University of Colorado, how Drupal is transforming government, how Zagat.com went from .NET to Drupal, and even a session on using Drupal in the emergency room to improve patient experience.

A co-located event for those evaluating Drupal called "Drupal Means Business," is on Thursday, March 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will include a full day of business-focused content and is designed for colleges, universities, businesses and government agencies that would like to know more about Drupal.

Code sprints will take place throughout the week on various topics, with Friday being a full day code sprint.

DrupalCon is also the place where companies that build their businesses around Drupal come to meet others within the community, speak at sessions, look for prospective employees and showcase their offerings. Sponsors include Diamond: Acquia; Platinum: Blackmesh, Forum One Communications, Four Kitchens, Lullabot, Phase2 Technology, Trellon, Workhabit; Gold: Aten Design Group, Chapter Three, Commerce Guys and more.

What are Drupalers and why are they descending on Denver? [March 16, 2012]

Submitted on
Friday, March 16, 2012
,
The Denver Post

The Mile High City will host about 3,000 “Drupalers” next week for a three-day geekfest.

Though just a mid-sized conference, the so-called DrupalCon will attract attendees from around the world as members of the ultra-passionate Drupal community are slated to visit from as far away as Australia.

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