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Acquia, Woburn company that helps Web publishers build social sites, raises $8.5 million C round

Posted by Scott Kirsner  November 1, 2010 08:36 AM

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Drupal.

Drupal drupal!

Drupal?

Drupal sounds like one of those words that Beaker the Muppet might say, with a dozen or so different inflections.

Techies know that Drupal is more than just fun to say; it's also an open source software platform that people use to build and manage Web sites — especially sites where users can contribute content and participate in online communities. Drupal was originally created almost a decade ago by Dries Buytaert, a Belgian computer scientist.

Buytaert is now a co-founder of the Woburn start-up Acquia, which, like RedHat before it, sells services and technical support to companies large and small that deploy Drupal. Today, the company is announcing an $8.5 million C round of funding from North Bridge Venture Partners and Sigma Partners; that's on top of $15 million Acquia had raised previously.

CEO Tom Erickson says that as companies seek to add more sophisticated and more social features to their Web sites, such as reviews and ratings, wikis, tags, video, blogs, and comments, Drupal has been gaining momentum as a solution for managing Web site content— and Acquia along with it. In 2009, the company introduced a hosted (or "cloud-based") Drupal offering, and earlier this year Acquia launched Drupal Gardens, a site-building tool that is offered free (at least in its plain vanilla incarnation.) Already, about 25,000 sites have been built on Drupal Gardens. "I like to say we're 100 percent buzzword compliant," Erickson quips. "We're social, open source, cloud, you name it."

Acquia's customers run the gamut from National Public Radio to The Economist to Fox News Channel. The company has about 70 employees.

Thirty percent of Acquia's research-and-development team works on enhancing the open source Drupal platform, "helping to ensure that Drupal stays at the forefront of social publishing," according to the company.

Buytaert tells me that he finally moved from Belgium to Boston over the summer, about three years after co-founding the company with Jay Batson.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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