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dries buytaert

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.

Drupal start-up Acquia competes on community [March 15, 2012]

Submitted on
Thursday, March 15, 2012
,
Information Age

Dries Buytaert, founder of open source web content management system Drupal, says his company helps enterprises tap innovation from the Drupal community

Drupal adoption has never been higher [March 11, 2012]

Submitted on
Sunday, March 11, 2012
,
The Marketing Blog

London, UK – March 8, 2012 – Aquia the enterprise guide to Drupal, today announced another remarkable year of growth in 2011, as its revenue has grown to nearly 150 percent, more than doubling the previous year. Acquia also tripled its client base to nearly 2000 customers including Twitter, eBay, Maxim Magazine, Brit Awards, Mercedes-Benz and the United States Department of Energy.

According to Drupal.org, since 2001 Drupal has grown into a global phenomenon with more than 777,980 registered community members in 228 countries speaking 181 languages. The open source social publishing platform has seen widespread adoption, primarily in the publishing, education, government, arts, media and entertainment, as well with a number of community, product and corporate company web sites.

Company News

  • Revenue more than doubled in 2011, growing nearly 150 percent over the year
  • Doubled employees to 200 around the world, successfully opening new offices in Oxford, UK, and Portland, OR
  • Secured $15 million Series D funding with Tenaya Capital, Northbridge Venture Partners, Sigma Partners
  • Added two Board of Directors members and industry veterans Thomas Bogan, current Chairman of the Board for Citrix and Paul Sallabery, former VP at Oracle and current board member for Quest Software
  • Acquired Cyrve, Drupal migration services provider, and Growing Venture Solutions, Drupal security services provider, and introduced Acquia Migration Services and Acquia Security Services

Customer and Partner Expansion

  • Acquia has tripled its customer base in the last three quarters with more than 2000 customers, adding Twitter, eBay, Mercedes-Benz, Brit Awards, Maxim Magazine, the U.S. Department of Energy and more
  • Greatly expanded partner network to 400 partners, adding more than 100 new developer and technology partners such as Alfresco, Engine Yard, Lingotek, New Relic and VML
  • Launched Acquia U, a program to employ and train recent and upcoming college graduates, as well as career changers, in Drupal
  • Sponsored 70 Drupal community events like camps, summits, meet ups, conferences and code sprints around the world

Product Innovation and Industry Recognition

  • Launched Acquia Dev Cloud and Acquia Managed Cloud packaging options for Acquia’s Drupal cloud hosting platform, which now boasts more than 600 customers in total, serving more than 5 Billion http requests per month
  • Released Acquia Insight, an application management suite that assesses Drupal performance, security and configuration in real time, providing code level analysis and clear, actionable recommendations to address system issues
  • Enhanced the Acquia Network – an unparalleled collection of knowledge, tools, and support for assembling extraordinary web experiences with Drupal – with the following:
  • A new user experience and a content rich knowledgebase — the Acquia Library with more than 500 articles
  • Acquia Apps Market availability, with more than a dozen third party services available to operate and extend Drupal websites, including Mu Dynamics, uTest, Yottaa, LingoTek, Drupalize.Me and more
  • Announced Drupal Gardens general availability with powerful site building and WYSIWYG design capabilities; more than 80,000 sites were created in the last year
  • Unveiled Acquia Commons 2.0 – next generation ready-to-use open social business software based on Drupal with rapidly evolving social web features
  • Acquia received numerous awards and notoriety in 2011, including:
  • Forbes 100 Most Promising Companies
  • Gartner Magic Quadrant Visionary for External Facing Social Software
  • Premiere Silicon Valley TiE50 Awards Winner, one of 50 most enterprising startups
  • KMWorld’s Trend-Setting Product of the Year
  • Enterprise 2.0 Conference Launch Pad Award Finalist
  • #1 Ranking on Momentum Index Top 20 List of top open source companies
  • EContent 100 – Drupal among Top 100 in Digital Content Industry for 2011-2012

Acquia Commentary

“2011 was another banner year for Acquia, as we continued to aggressively expand and bring the innovative power of Drupal to enterprises that want to assemble extraordinary web experiences,” said Tom Erickson, CEO of Acquia. “We are proud of accomplishments both at Acquia and within the Drupal community, and will continue to work together to expand Acquia’s reach and further accelerate Drupal growth internationally in 2012.”
“Drupal adoption has never been higher, and the community is stronger than it ever has been,” said Dries Buytaert, co-founder and CTO of Acquia. “And I am pleased to see the surge of interest among enterprises to standardize on Drupal for their specific web and content management needs. I expect to see more growth within the community and look forward to working with them to revolutionize today’s web experience.”
About Acquia™, the enterprise guide to Drupal

About Acquia™, your enterprise guide to Drupal // Acquia empowers enterprises with the open-source social publishing system Drupal. Co-founded by Drupal’s creator in 2007, Acquia helps customers manage their growth and scale their online properties with confidence. Acquia’s products, cloud infrastructure, and support enable companies to realize the full power of Drupal while minimizing risk, as it’s done for nearly 2,000 enterprise customers including Twitter, Al Jazeera, Turner, Intuit, World Economic Forum, Stanford University, Mercedes-Benz and NPR.

See who’s using Drupal at http://www.drupalshowcase.com, and for more information please visit www.acquia.com or call 888-9-ACQUIA.

Opinion: It’s time to open-source the Big Society [March 2, 2012]

Submitted on
Friday, March 2, 2012
,
Computing

The government’s Big Society initiative has much in common with the philosophy that underpins the open-source community, which has delivered innovative solutions through collaborative working.
This empowerment for the greater good fits perfectly with the government’s agenda to enable individuals, charities and communities to work together to improve society. So it is ironic that the open-source community involvement in the UK public sector is lagging so far behind other European countries, such as France.

Granted, there are some examples of open-source adoption: Drupal is the chosen platform for the Cabinet Office and the london.gov.uk site. But these are still in the minority when compared to the use of proprietary software vendors.
To its credit, the government recently launched the first formal open-source toolkit of guidance and advice to help decision makers weigh up the pros and cons of open-source adoption. This level playing field should enable developers to gain a foothold in delivering public-sector projects and allow them to be evaluated equally against the more traditional software providers.

Read more: http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/opinion/2156381/opinion-it-s-source-society

Drupal: from dorm room to global hit [Feb 20, 2012]

Submitted on
Monday, February 20, 2012
,
ZD Net

While open-source content-management system Drupal now underpins a huge number of websites around the world, it was created, according to its founder Dries Buytaert, "sort of by accident".

Drupal: How a dorm room tech project became a global phenomenon [Feb 15, 2012]

Submitted on
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
,
Tech Republic

The creator of the CMS Drupal reveals how the platform got started by accident and why being open source is the key to its success.

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