Acquia Lands $30 Million Series E To Scale Out Its Enterprise Drupal Development Platform

Acquia, the company that makes a suite of software tools for the open source web development and content management system Drupal, has secured $30 million in a fresh new round of funding.

The round, which serves as Acquia’s Series E, was led by Investor Growth Capital with the participation of Goldman Sachs, Accolade Partners, North Bridge Venture Partners, Sigma Partners, and Tenaya Capital. This brings the total amount invested in the Massachusetts-based Acquia to $68.5 million.

Acquia, which counts Drupal creator Dries Buytaert as its co-founder and CTO, was first formed five years ago in December 2007. Since then, the company has grown to 250 employees and it is well on its way to posting around $44 million in annual revenue this year on some $60 million in bookings.

Those are some impressive figures, but what exactly is the bigger opportunity here that investors are betting so much money on? According to Acquia CEO Tom Erickson, who stopped by TechCrunch TV this week to talk about the new funding, this could just be the beginning for the Drupal platform and services that surround it. While Drupal has surfaced as one of the best ways for companies and organizations to build their own web presences, tools like those provided by Acquia have become increasingly necessary to help make sense of the system.

You can watch my entire talk with Erickson in the video embedded above (and hear the story behind his moustache), but below I’ve excerpted some of his key points. Here is the handy way that he explained Acquia’s value proposition:

“There are well over a million and a half Drupal websites used for content and community around the world, sites from [ones run by] the White House, to Harvard, to the Economist magazine. And Acquia acts as a company to make sure that companies deploying Drupal are successful with it.

Drupal is an open source platform, meaning anybody can have access to it. But it has 16,000 plug-ins, so it can be a bit daunting as you come in and try to say, ‘Where do I start’ and ‘What happens if something goes wrong.’ And that’s where Acquia comes in to help.”

In terms of the new funding, Erickson said it will be put toward fueling more growth — at home and abroad:

“We have quite aggressive plans to expand internationally, to build out larger teams in the US in the field, that allow us to meet with more folks who are deploying Drupal.”

A big part of the growth will be in terms of staffing, Erickson said, noting that Acquia expects to double its staff count over the next year. Acquisitions, such as the deals Acquia has closed in the past, will also be a focus going forward.

Erickson also took some time to delineate why an open source software like Drupal can still support real companies — and why contrary to some long-held beliefs, free software doesn’t have to always mean that the developers involved are free of profit:

“It’s really not about being free software; in fact, it’s really not free by the time you deploy it [because] you know, you’re going to work with a company like Acquia, and you’re going to pay us. It’s really about the speed of innovation. In the open source model, the Drupal community is very large, and the innovation that happens in the Drupal community happens out in the community.

It’s not controlled by a relatively small group of engineers. There are over 10,000 people who have contributed code to Drupal, innovating in ways that cannot be paralleled in proprietary models and that is really what we’re counting on. So it’s less about free, than it is about freedom. freedom to innovate, freedom to do what you want, and the speed of innovation.”