Dries Buytaert on the Idea of Acquia and the Greatest Regret in His Worklife

11 March, 2022

Dries Buytaert, the Founder and Project Lead of Drupal and co-founder of Acquia, at ‘Fireside chat with Dries Buytaert ‘held by Drupal India Association, talked about the evolution of Acquia through three different phases. 

From delivering Drupal support to now delivering digital experience platforms, these changes came naturally, as the customers’ requirements evolved with the need to focus on data.

Dries started Drupal as a project in college; it’s what he worked on in the evening or on weekends. It slowly started growing to the point where after seven years, when they had events, around 300 people started showing up. At that time, companies would send emails to him asking if Drupal would work for them. 

He remembers that MTV wanted to switch to Drupal. It was around 2006 or 2007, and their site crashed. They emailed Dries, and he spent a few nights helping them free of charge to scale Drupal to their traffic. He wanted to help them. If he failed, it would be bad for Drupal, but on the other hand, if he succeeds, it would be great as more organizations would switch to Drupal.

It made him realize that for Drupal to succeed ahead, they needed a company that could focus on such organizations and makes them successful with Drupal. It was when the idea of Acquia was born. 

He wanted Acquia to be for Drupal what Red Hat was for Linux. If one is to look at the history of Linux, it was also a hobby project until a commercial ecosystem arose. Linux gained momentum when companies like Red Hat pushed Linux into the enterprise and larger organizations, which gave Linux a lot of credibility. The rest, as they say, is history.

1st Phase - Drupal Support

For Dries, it was the learning from Linux as he witnessed that as an early user, and he remembers the Linux open-source community before Drupal. It was like a role model for him as it gave him a vision of what needed to happen for Drupal. It was why Acquia was created, and if you look at the history of Acquia, the initial product was to provide Drupal support. It was the first phase of Acquia. 

2nd Phase - Acquia Cloud

The second phase started after Amazon launched Amazon Web Services (AWS) after a year. Acquia was one of the first companies to deliver Drupal on AWS clouds. It proved to be very successful as it helped Acquia grow very fast with the Acquia cloud. It led to Amazon investing in Acquia, and even today, they are one of the few companies on Amazon’s advisory board. It’s their core business today, as they get the majority of their revenue from that.

3rd Phase - Digital Experience Platform

Around six years ago, Acquia entered its third phase, all about delivering digital experience platforms. Acquia moved from offering Drupal on the cloud to focusing more on the Digital Experience Platform or DXP. With Drupal at the core, they have added more technologies around the core to help the marketers, like email marketing and Customer Data Platform (CDP). 

Most companies online need tools like digital marketing or personalization, or e-commerce. Acquia wishes to offer them these tools to be strong digital businesses. It is the evolution of the market as it allows the customers to be digital winners. 

Dries believes each of these phases is on top of each other like Drupal support is still important, and the other DXP tools are in addition to what they do. Most of their revenue comes from Drupal related products and services, and they continue to invest and grow their investment in Drupal year over year. 

Content is the centre of every digital experience. But in today’s world, data is essential. You need to match the right content to the right user at the right time and through the right channel. To do this, you need to know about your visitors. You get CDP personalization to help drive business on the site. We do this because our customers ask for it. The requirements generally start with an IT-related need and shift to business and marketing conversations.

Remote Work Culture

Even before the Covid19 pandemic, one-third of Acquia’s workforce were remote. Although we had offices at multiple locations, some of us felt comfortable working from home. Covid made it more comfortable with us. We could close operations from specific locations, and everybody went remote. We are happy being remote now. We are a more remote company, more than before. 

The Greatest Regret

Dries Buytaert said that his greatest regret was closing down Drupal Gardens. It was a mistake he wanted to undo. 

Drupal Gardens to Drupal was like the wordpress.com for WordPress. It was a free Drupal SaaS version. We built it, launched it and gone pretty well. We had 150,000 websites built on it in a year and a half, generating half a million dollars in revenue. It was not bad in terms of revenue. But we had enterprise users asking for custom modules. It was hard to cope with. So we ended up shutting it down. 

It was the right decision in many ways. But still, I regret it. It was a good service. I wish I didn’t do that. If I kept investing in Drupal Gardens, it would have made Drupal accessible for many users. It would have helped the adoption of drupal. Financially it was a good decision. We didn’t have unlimited money. 

Note: The vision of this web portal is to help promote news and stories around the Drupal community and promote and celebrate the people and organizations in the community. We strive to create and distribute our content based on these content policy. If you see any omission/variation on this please let us know in the comments below and we will try to address the issue as best we can.

Advertisement Here
Advertisement Here

Latest Opportunities

Upcoming Events

Advertisement Here