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Acquia Raises $15 Million, Plans Drupal Sales Push

The specialist in commercial support for open source content and community management will use the money to gain share in the social software market.

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Acquia, the leading provider of commercial support for the open source Drupal content and community management software, has raised another $15 million that it plans to invest in a big sales push.

Since it started in 2008 with Drupal creator Dries Buytaert as one of the co-founders, Acquia has been offering commercial support for enterprise users of Drupal, hosting and platform as a service options for Drupal websites, and pre-packaged distributions of Drupal for simplified installation with recommended add-on modules. Acquia Commons 2.0, the latest release of the social software version of Drupal, was released in June at Enteprise 2.0 in Boston, and Acquia has been positioning itself as a low cost alternative to social software providers like Jive Software.

This week's Series D financing brings the total Acquia has raised to $38.5 million with backing from Tenaya Capital, Northbridge Venture Partners, and Sigma Partners. Acquia will use the money for "more awareness and more sales presence" rather than investment in software products per se, CEO Tom Erickson said in an interview. "Remember, we have a whole community behind us to help with the product development side."

The software has grown very mature, and Acquia has worked to make it easier to install and configure. But where Acquia tends to win over competitors like Jive is still "where there's a slightly more techie view of things," Erickson said. "It's the perspective of the architect, where they are saying, 'This gives me the flexibility to do what I want with it,' and that's very powerful."

Acquia also tends to compete more with Jive as a platform for creating public social websites, as opposed to internal ones, Erickson said. That's true even though Drupal supports some very large intranet sites, such as a 90,000-user community for Verizon Wireless, he said. "It just has not been marketed that way historically. Until Acquia was created, Drupal was a viral adoption model only."

Acquia customers include the U.S. Department of Defense, which built a software development collaboration community on Drupal in conjunction with its source code sharing system, which is based on CollabNet technologies.

Earlier this month, Twitter re-launched its developer community website using a customized version of Acquia Commons, which replaced an earlier community Twitter's programmers had created themselves in Ruby on Rails.

"Their old community was a great place to get access to information, but it was not a collaborative environment," Acquia vice president of marketing Bryan House explained in an interview. Replacing their custom code with Acquia's software lets Twitter developers focus on product development, rather than recreating features Drupal can readily provide, he said. With richer discussion forums and collaboration features, the new community "provides more ways for developers to connect with one another," he said.

At the same time, the open source code allowed Twitter developers to modify the system to use Twitter authentication and other features of the Twitter platform, House said.

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