The business of Acquia Drupal

A few hours ago, Acquia announced public release of its first two products: Acquia Drupal (the software) and Acquia Network (the services). I plan to migrate tomgeller.com to Acquia Drupal, and will (probably) post my impressions of the products themselves then.

But for now, let's consider the business side of Acquia. A few numbers:

  • $7,000,000: Initial private investment the company received in December, 2007. (Merry Christmas!)
  • 27: Its current number of employees.
  • $260,000: The amount of initial investment per current employee -- a useful figure (together with burn rate) to understand how soon Acquia needs to either become profitable or receive further funding.
  • $3,750: The median price quoted for Acquia services per site/year. Note that this doesn't include Acquia's top-level "Elite" services, which are priced by individual quote and are likely to go into six figures. (Guessing the true average and median sales ticket would be a fun exercise, but one whose answer we outside the company would have no way of checking.)

So: Can Acquia make it?

Well, the numbers ain't bad. Assuming the company delivers on its promises, I have to say I'm optimistic for it. The site clearly defines its products, proposes realistic prices, and offers packages that encourage engagement -- including a free "Community" level for a single-server site with "forum-based" support. At first glance, it all comprises a strong value proposition.

Just as importantly, Acquia offers a migration path to rope in people like me who want to "upgrade" an existing "Drupal.org Drupal" site to Acquia Drupal. Smart! (Put simply, the migration is done by merging your existing sites directory, .htaccess file, and robots.txt file to a special Acquia Drupal package that leaves out these pieces.)

At the moment, Acquia stands alone. If Drupal continues to grow -- and particularly if it experiences breakthrough success -- it will attract other commercial suitors in areas where Acquia is now treading. But from what I can see, Acquia has gained first-mover advantage with its confident and solid entry into the market.

No, Acquia's greatest challenges won't come from competitors, but rather from two other places. First, the company could have misjudged market need -- an easy thing to do when you're defining a new market. Second, it's in that tender stage when relatively small mistakes can affect them in big ways. To act boldly under such circumstances takes courage, making the strength of its first steps all the more impressive.

So congratulations to the Acquia team! I can't wait to see what's next.

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Comments

all i say is sing and shake your head in the tune of "Get your money for nothin get your chicks for free" cool especially in these times economical 'Dire Straits' cool guys they all deserve it :)

Can a person who is not a web developer really use Acquia Drupal or is it way beyond their capability? from such a person

Hey, Judy. Ultimately, Acquia Drupal is really no harder or easier for a beginner to use. It installs in pretty much the same way, and is administered in pretty much the same way. Acquia Drupal adds features to "base" Drupal, which is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you can do more right out of the box; on the other, there's more to understand. But until you have an intermediate understanding of Drupal, there's not much difference.

Tom I really do thank you I have followed drupal.org - I wrote to Dries asking if I (a non coder) could use it and he was honest. (Now he doesnt answer his messages like this) then I heard of Acquia and I know the connection and I hoped I talked by email with two Acquia people in Germany and they were ready to sign me on even tho I explained I dont write code and I certainly dont do mysql and I know that is not for a newbie. I then read part of their pdf as I had earlier read on Drupal 5 and I know this was way beyond me. I wrote him this morning. I realy dont think its responsible to get someone signed up for something they dont have the capability to use. I do photography film and print in a darkroom. Its complex. I wouldnt try to sell a tool for the darkroom as if they could just glide right into it I do want a website and it needs at least two DB and a content management system and I dont have the money to hire someone for $1000+. I think I can find a tool to do the site the key tho is the mysql database Im in SF - do you know anyone I can talk to here? I hear only excellent things about drupal and thats why I wanted it and there is reality thank you Judy

Hey, Judy! Are you signed up to go to BADCamp this weekend? If not, that's too bad... it sounds like it would be perfect for you. I'm teaching two "beginner's" courses. I'd strongly recommend you simply download and install Drupal on your laptop and see how you like it. If you want guidance, sign up for the free 24-hour pass to my Lynda.com course. (It's $25/month if you want to continue after that, or $50 for the DVD.) The "Getting Started" handbook on drupal.org is less user-friendly IMHO, but fills in a lot of the gaps not covered by the video course. If you do want to hire someone, feel free to send me a private message: If I can't do it myself, I'll try to recommend someone. Cheers, --Tom

How can I buy the handbook? I couldnt go this weekend - a friends birthday party Are you in Bay Area? Judy

The handbook is online -- just follow the link in my previous post. I live in San Francisco.

Hello, Acquia has posted a short video on creating a small biz website using Drupal. The website includes ecommerce using Ubercart. The problem I see is that Ubercart is not yet released for D6. I posted a comment about this on Acquia's site but no response. I see you are using Ubercart. Is it running on D5? Thanks Eric

Hey, Eric. The main tomgeller.com site is in D6, but I'm running the store as a separate installation in D5.