Dries Buytaert Open Source Rock Star / Entrepreneur?


In the world of technology we’re always looking for the latest ‘rock star’. Who is that next hot tech visionary that will build an adoring following of thousands?

In my opinion we can now add the founder of the open source content management system Drupal (and its commercial startup Acquia) Dries Buytaert to the rock star list. This week he launched Acquia with $7 million in funding. He also hosted a Drupal lovefest (DrupalCon Boston) which boasted over 800 attendees.  

It’s all a far cry from the humble beginnings in a  Belgian dorm room a few short years ago. I asked Buytaert about those humble beginnings and about the surprises he’s had along the way. This is what he had to say:

When I started working on Drupal I never expected this to happen. From that point of view it has certainly been a surprise and I have been rolled into this by accident.

But over past couple of years I have worked really hard on this and my goal was to advance Drupal and make it a really great platform and eventually a Drupal company.

So it started out as an accident and it was a surprise that people started using it more and more. Then I changed my mindset and it grew on me and then in the  last couple of years I  really wanted  to take it to the next level by starting a company.

I also asked Buytaert if there were any specific surprises that he has encountered.

For me the history of Drupal is a chain of interesting surprises. Initially many of these surprises were quite small but at the time they seemed big. For example three years ago we had the very first Drupal conference in Antwerp where I live in Belgium and we had 40 or 50 people show up and that was huge.

Finally I asked Buytaert if he considers Drupal to be a success at this point or if success is still in the making.

I think we’ve already been successful but at the same time depending on what you compare Drupal with there still are a lot of successes to obtain. So we have a lot more work to do to get Drupal where it needs to be.

Specifically where I would like to go is to further democratize web publishing to make it possible for people to really express themselves online without having to be a developer or a designer. We want to get Drupal to the point where it’s powerful and easy to use so a lot of people can create compelling and complex websites which I don’t think they can do today.

So is Buytaert open source rock star material? I think so. But what do you think?

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