Dries Buytaert

Acquia retrospective 2010

Yesterday I shared my 2010 retrospective on Drupal along with some predictions for the new year. Today, I want to recap Acquia's accomplishments in 2010, just like I did last year with my 2009 Acquia retrospective.

It doesn't always feel like it, but Acquia is still a very young company; 2010 was only Acquia's second full year in business (i.e. revenue-bearing year), but for a young company 2010 has been nothing short of remarkable. Our business grew by more than 400% and we went from 35 to 80 full-time employees. Drupal Gardens grew from 0 to 30,000 sites, we added over 100 large hosting customers to Acquia Hosting, and our subscription business has over 600 customers. Our client advisors solved more than 6,000 support tickets, and our hosting team now manages 500+ servers, up from 100 servers at the beginning of the year. Together with our partners, we hosted more than 40 webinars in 2010. 2010 is also the year were we started to see some great successes in our partner program. Throughout the year, we got coverage in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Forbes, Techcrunch, Mashable and more.

We beat our wildest expectations. Acquia is now one of the fastest growing start-ups in Boston. As a reward for exceeding our stretch goals, we're flying the entire company to Puerto Rico to celebrate. At the beginning of 2010, people doubted we'd even be able to get off of the ground, but by all accounts we're now soaring.

For me, a startup is a search for a scalable, repeatable business model. 2010 is the year where we arrived at several scalable, repeatable business models and as a result things started to really accelerate. In the summer of 2010 I moved to Boston so I could spend more face-to-face time with the team. By the fall of 2010 it was time to put the pedal to the metal and so we decided to raise additional capital. Much of the new capital will be used to help grow Drupal, to extend and improve our product offerings, and to grow our sales and marketing engine. In early 2011, Acquia will also expand to Europe.

I'm also particularly proud of Acquia's contributions to Drupal. We organized many code sprints, dedicated several of our best developers to Drupal 7, organized 4 free Drupal Business Summits to help promote Drupal in the enterprise, helped with the drupal.org redesign work, helped with the Drupal 7 upgrade and UX improvements of several contributed modules such as Media module and Webform module, created an open source social business software solution (Drupal Commons), and much more. The list goes on and on. Since Acquia's interests are so aligned with Drupal's, in everything we do, we try to raise the tide for the Drupal community at large. I'm proud of this because it is not trivial for a small company our size and stage.

Building a company is hard work and never without challenges. Fortunately, we have different challenges now than we had at the beginning of the 2010. When the first Acquia Network subscription renewals kicked in at the beginning of the year, renewal rates were below expectations. Today, our renewal rates are exceeding our expectations. Early in 2010, the rate of change of Drupal 7 APIs and number of critical bugs slowed down our progress on Drupal Gardens considerably. Today, Drupal 7 is almost ready to be released.

Going into 2011, there are two things impacting Acquia's future that still concern me; (1) the scarcity of great Drupal talent and (2) Drupal's growth. The demand for Drupal experts continues to be much larger than the supply — it limits the adoption of Drupal by our customers, the growth of our partners, as well as our own ability to hire Drupal talent. Fortunately, it is not unusual in a fast growing segment and the community is launching many training initiatives to combat this scarcity. Together with our partners, we delivered 30+ training classes worldwide in 2010. It is still something that warrants further attention. Regarding Drupal's growth, it's great that we power 1% of the web, but considering the overall growth of web sites, we have to dramatically increase the number of sites being built just to even keep a 1% share, and we shouldn't settle for even that.

In general, I'm very optimistic about Acquia's future in 2011. In fact, I'm much more optimistic about 2011 than I was about 2010. The wind is blowing in the right direction. Cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) continues to be on the rise. According to IDC, cloud computing will be a $55 billion USD market by 2014. I believe cloud computing and SaaS could be two of the most important changes in the history of computing — it fundamentally changes how both small and large organizations operate. If they do, we made the right decisions three years ago. I expect that by the end of 2011, Drupal Gardens (SaaS) and Acquia Hosting (PaaS) will take off big time. Open Source adoption continues to become more mainstream too. For example, at the current rate, Red Hat will be a $1 billion USD revenue company in 2011, a milestone that very few software companies ever reach, and certainly one no open source company has yet to accomplish. It's good news for all of us in the Open Source business.

In all, 2010 was a great year for Acquia and Drupal, and 2011 promises to be even better. In the next week or so, I'll provide more insight into Acquia's product strategy and the vision we've been working towards since Acquia's founding three years ago. If you're interested in our plans for 2011, keep an eye out for that blog post. That said, expect us to invest heavily in Acquia Hosting (e.g. additional self-service tools, friction-less release management and lifecycle management capabilities, etc), the Acquia Network (e.g. visual refresh, new services, marketplace for third-party services, etc) and Drupal Gardens (e.g. Views, partner tools, etc).

Needless to say, Acquia wouldn't have made it this far without our customers, our partners and our friends. We wouldn't be much of a company without you. Thank you for 2010!

— Dries Buytaert