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History in the making: Acquia article in the Boston Globe

on Tue, 05/26/2009 - 14:39

Today in the Boston Globe there's an article in the business section about Acquia. It's gratifying to see our company start to get visibility outside the close-knit Drupal community. I just wanted to take a moment to expand on it a bit.

The article led with a key point about Acquia / Drupal: free software is disruptive. "Free" both as in the Free Software Foundation's "liberty" definition, as well as in Free Beer definition. The fact that Drupal costs nothing, and is open to contribution by website developers everywhere means Drupal has reached a critical mass that many other open source projects never achieve. It has done so in many aspects: size of community, capability & maturity of the software, deployment in production sites, and many others.

Dries & I both strongly believe that this means Drupal can become the single most dominant platform on the Web for developing websites and applications - making many other web platforms just so much history. Reaching this goal was (and is) a big part of Dries' and my motivation in starting the company. At Acquia, we've added the commercial underpinnings required by many organizational customers, and we've built partnerships both with the existing community as well as vendor relationships with companies like Microsoft, Alfresco, and WoodWing. We'll also continue to invest in the community & the project at large to help it continue its traditional doubling-every-year growth.

But there's just one more thing: Acquia itself - not just Drupal - is intended to be disruptive, too. We're part of the grand open source experiment designed to show that successful companies can be built around software that costs no money. We aren't the only company trying to accomplish this. RedHat was the first big "commercial open source" success. MySQL was the most recent one. Both open source projects - Linux and MySQL - benefitted from the success of the company that emerged to provide commercial support for it. We want to be the next big success that disrupts an industry via free and benefits its community in the process.

What does this success require? Hopefully we're getting all kinds of things right — a really terrific team, the use of proven open source business models, and so on. But one more thing is necessary:

Both those companies openly sought their communities support not merely to accept them, but to help them achieve success - and weren't bashful in asking for it.

Why point this out? Because we (Acquia) have lots in store for this year, and like RedHat & MySQL, I don't want to be bashful in asking for your help in our quest to succeed. We (Acquia) are working hard to build the right set of new products & services for you. If we get them right, cool - we'll succeed! If we don't get it right at first, we hope you will stick with us, and help us iterate and create the right mix of stuff you want.

Anyway, we're happy people outside the Drupal world are starting to take notice. Today, it was the Boston Globe. Tomorrow, it'll be those other Web CMS / development platforms that will start feeling the disruptive Drupal / Acquia heat.