Balancing Makers and Takers to scale and sustain Open Source

In many ways, Open Source has won. Most people know that Open Source provides better quality software, at a lower cost, without vendor lock-in. But despite Open Source being widely adopted and more than 30 years old, scaling and sustaining Open Source projects remains challenging.

Not a week goes by that I don't get asked a question about Open Source sustainability. How do you get others to contribute? How do you get funding for Open Source work? But also, how do you protect against others monetizing your Open Source work without contributing back? And what do you think of MongoDB, Cockroach Labs or Elastic changing their license away from Open Source?

This blog post talks about how we can make it easier to scale and sustain Open Source projects, Open Source companies and Open Source ecosystems. I will show that:

Small Open Source communities can rely on volunteers and self-governance, but as Open Source communities grow, their governance model most likely needs to be reformed so the project can be maintained more easily.
There are three models for scaling and sustaining Open Source projects: self-governance, privatization, and centralization. All three models aim to reduce coordination failures, but require Open Source communities to embrace forms of monitoring, rewards and sanctions. While this thinking is controversial, it is supported by decades of research in adjacent fields.
Open Source communities would benefit from experimenting with new governance models, coordination systems, license innovation, and incentive models.
Some personal background

Scaling and sustaining Open Source projects and Open Source businesses has been the focus of most of my professional career.

Drupal, the Open Source project I founded 18 years ago, is used by more than one million websites and reaches pretty much everyone on the internet.

With over 8,500 individuals and about 1,100 organizations contributing to Drupal annually, Drupal is one of the healthiest and contributor-rich Open Source communities in the world.

For the past 12 years, I've also helped build Acquia, an Open Source company that heavily depends on Drupal. With almost 1,000 employees, Acquia is the largest contributor to Drupal, yet responsible for less than 5% of all contributions.

This article is not about Drupal or Acquia; it's about scaling Open Source projects more broadly.

I'm interested in how to make Open Source production more sustainable, more fair, more egalitarian, and more cooperative. I'm interested in doing so by redefining the relationship between end users, producers and monetizers of Open Source software through a combination of technology, market principles and behavioral science.

Why it must be easier to scale and sustain Open Source

We need to make it easier to scale and sustain both Open Source projects and Open Source businesses:

Making it easier to scale and sustain Open Source projects might be the only way to solve some of the world's most important problems. For example, I believe Open Source to be the only way to build a pro-privacy, anti-monopoly, open web. It requires Open Source communities to be long-term sustainable — possibly for hundreds of years.
Making it easier to grow and sustain Open Source businesses is the last hurdle that prevents Open Source from taking over the world. I'd like to see every technology company become an Open Source company. Today, Open Source companies are still extremely rare.
The alternative is that we are stuck in the world we live in today, where proprietary software dominates most facets of our lives.


This article is focused on Open Source governance models, but there is more to growing and sustaining Open Source projects. Top of mind is the need for Open Source projects to become more diverse and inclusive of underrepresented groups.

Second, I understand that the idea of systematizing Open Source contributions won't appeal to everyone. Some may argue that the suggestions I'm making go against the altruistic nature of Open Source. I agree. However, I'm also looking at Open Source sustainability challenges from the vantage point of running both an Open Source project (Drupal) and an Open Source business (Acquia). I'm not implying that every community needs to change their governance model, but simply offering suggestions for communities that operate with some level of commercial sponsorship, or communities that struggle with issues of long-term sustainability.

Lastly, this post is long and dense. I'm 700 words in, and I haven't started yet. Given that this is a complicated topic, there is an important role for more considered writing and deeper thinking.
Defining Open Source Makers and Takers


Some companies are born out of Open Source, and as a result believe deeply and invest significantly in their respective communities. With their help, Open Source has revolutionized software for the benefit of many. Let's call these types of companies Makers.

As the name implies, Makers help make Open Source projects; from investing in code, to helping with marketing, growing the community of contributors, and much more. There are usually one or more Makers behind the success of large Open Source projects. For example, MongoDB helps make MongoDB, Red Hat helps make Linux, and Acquia (along with many other companies) helps make Drupal.

Our definition of a Maker assumes intentional and meaningful contributions and excludes those whose only contributions are unintentional or sporadic. For example, a public cloud company like Amazon can provide a lot of credibility to an Open Source project by offering it as-a-service. The resulting value of this contribution can be substantial, however that doesn't make Amazon a Maker in our definition.

I use the term Makers to refer to anyone who purposely and meaningfully invests in the maintenance of Open Source software, i.e. by making engineering investments, writing documentation, fixing bugs, organizing events, and more.


Now that Open Source adoption is widespread, lots of companies, from technology startups to technology giants, monetize Open Source projects without contributing back to those projects. Let's call them Takers.

I understand and respect that some companies can give more than others, and that many might not be able to give back at all. Maybe one day, when they can, they'll contribute. We limit the label of Takers to companies that have the means to give back, but choose not to.

The difference between Makers and Takers is not always 100% clear, but as a rule of thumb, Makers directly invest in growing both their business and the Open Source project. Takers are solely focused on growing their business and let others take care of the Open Source project they rely on.

Organizations can be both Takers and Makers at the same time. For example, Acquia, my company, is a Maker of Drupal, but a Taker of Varnish Cache. We use Varnish Cache extensively but we don't contribute to its development.

Takers hurt Makers

To be financially successful, many Makers mix Open Source contributions with commercial offerings. Their commercial offerings usually take the form of proprietary or closed source IP, which may include a combination of premium features and hosted services that offer performance, scalability, availability, productivity, and security assurances. This is known as the Open Core business model. Some Makers offer professional services, including maintenance and support assurances.

When Makers start to grow and demonstrate financial success, the Open Source project that they are associated with begins to attract Takers. Takers will usually enter the ecosystem with a commercial offering comparable to the Makers', but without making a similar investment in Open Source contribution. Because Takers don't contribute back meaningfully to the Open Source project that they take from, they can focus disproportionately on their own commercial growth.

Let's look at a theoretical example.

When a Maker has $1 million to invest in R&D, they might choose to invest $500k in Open Source and $500k in the proprietary IP behind their commercial offering. The Maker intentionally balances growing the Open Source project they are connected to with making money. To be clear, the investment in Open Source is not charity; it helps make the Open Source project competitive in the market, and the Maker stands to benefit from that.

When a Taker has $1 million to invest in R&D, nearly all of their resources go to the development of proprietary IP behind their commercial offerings. They might invest $950k in their commercial offerings that compete with the Maker's, and $50k towards Open Source contribution. Furthermore, the $50k is usually focused on self-promotion rather than being directed at improving the Open Source project itself.

Effectively, the Taker has put itself at a competitive advantage compared to the Maker:

The Taker takes advantage of the Maker's $500k investment in Open Source contribution while only investing $50k themselves. Important improvements happen "for free" without the Taker's involvement.
The Taker can out-innovate the Maker in building proprietary offerings. When a Taker invests $950k in closed-source products compared to the Maker's $500k, the Taker can innovate 90% faster. The Taker can also use the delta to disrupt the Maker on price.
In other words, Takers reap the benefits of the Makers' Open Source contribution while simultaneously having a more aggressive monetization strategy. The Taker is likely to disrupt the Maker. On an equal playing field, the only way the Maker can defend itself is by investing more in its proprietary offering and less in the Open Source project. To survive, it has to behave like the Taker to the detriment of the larger Open Source community.

Takers harm Open Source projects. An aggressive Taker can induce Makers to behave in a more selfish manner and reduce or stop their contributions to Open Source altogether. Takers can turn Makers into Takers.

Open Source contribution and the Prisoner's Dilemma

The example above can be described as a Prisoner's Dilemma. The Prisoner's Dilemma is a standard example of game theory, which allows the study of strategic interaction and decision-making using mathematical models. I won't go into detail here, but for the purpose of this article, it helps me simplify the above problem statement. I'll use this simplified example throughout the article.

Imagine an Open Source project with only two companies supporting it. The rules of the game are as follows:

If both companies contribute to the Open Source project (both are Makers), the total reward is $100. The reward is split evenly and each company makes $50.
If one company contributes while the other company doesn't (one Maker, one Taker), the Open Source project won't be as competitive in the market, and the total reward will only be $80. The Taker gets $60 as they have the more aggressive monetization strategy, while the Maker gets $20.
If both players choose not to contribute (both are Takers), the Open Source project will eventually become irrelevant. Both walk away with just $10.
This can be summarized in a pay-off matrix:

Company A contributes
Company A doesn't contribute
Company B contributes
A makes $50B makes $50
A makes $60B makes $20
Company B doesn't contribute
A makes $20B makes $60
A makes $10B makes $10
In the game, each company needs to decide whether to contribute or not, but Company A doesn't know what company B decides; and vice versa.

The Prisoner's Dilemma states that each company will optimize its own profit and not contribute. Because both companies are rational, both will make that same decision. In other words, when both companies use their "best individual strategy" (be a Taker, not a Maker), they produce an equilibrium that yields the worst possible result for the group: the Open Source project will suffer and as a result they only make $10 each.

A real-life example of the Prisoner's Dilemma that many people can relate to is washing the dishes in a shared house. By not washing dishes, an individual can save time (individually rational), but if that behavior is adopted by every person in the house, there will be no clean plates for anyone (collectively irrational). How many of us have tried to get away with not washing the dishes? I know I have.

Fortunately, the problem of individually rational actions leading to collectively adverse outcomes is not new or unique to Open Source. Before I look at potential models to better sustain Open Source projects, I will take a step back and look at how this problem has been solved elsewhere.
Open Source: a public good or a common good?

In economics, the concepts of public goods and common goods are decades old, and have similarities to Open Source.

Public goods and common goods are what economists call non-excludable meaning it's hard to exclude people from using them. For example, everyone can benefit from fishing grounds, whether they contribute to their maintenance or not. Simply put, public goods and common goods have open access.

Common goods are rivalrous; if one individual catches a fish and eats it, the other individual can't. In contrast, public goods are non-rivalrous; someone listening to the radio doesn't prevent others from listening to the radio.

I've long believed that Open Source projects are public goods: everyone can use Open Source software (non-excludable) and someone using an Open Source project doesn't prevent someone else from using it (non-rivalrous).

However, through the lens of Open Source companies, Open Source projects are also common goods; everyone can use Open Source software (non-excludable), but when an Open Source end user becomes a customer of Company A, that same end user is unlikely to become a customer of Company B (rivalrous).

For end users, Open Source projects are public goods; the shared resource is the software. But for Open Source companies, Open Source projects are common goods; the shared resource is the (potential) customer.

Next, I'd like to extend the distinction between "Open Source software being a public good" and "Open Source customers being a common good" to the the free-rider problem: we define software free-riders as those who use the software without ever contributing back, and customer free-riders (or Takers) as those who sign up customers without giving back.

All Open Source communities should encourage software free-riders. Because the software is a public good (non-rivalrous), a software free-rider doesn't exclude others from using the software. Hence, it's better to have a user for your Open Source project, than having that person use your competitor's software. Furthermore, a software free-rider makes it more likely that other people will use your Open Source project (by word of mouth or otherwise). When some portion of those other users contribute back, the Open Source project benefits. Software free-riders can have positive network effects on a project.

However, when the success of an Open Source project depends largely on one or more corporate sponsors, the Open Source community should not forget or ignore that customers are a common good. Because a customer can't be shared among companies, it matters a great deal for the Open Source project where that customer ends up. When the customer signs up with a Maker, we know that a certain percentage of the revenue associated with that customer will be invested back into the Open Source project. When a customer signs up with a customer free-rider or Taker, the project doesn't stand to benefit. In other words, Open Source communities should find ways to route customers to Makers.

Both volunteer-driven and sponsorship-driven Open Source communities should encourage software free-riders, but sponsorship-driven Open Source communities should discourage customer free-riders.

Lessons from decades of Common Goods management

Hundreds of research papers and books have been written on public good and common good governance. Over the years, I have read many of them to figure out what Open Source communities can learn from successfully managed public goods and common goods.

Some of the most instrumental research was Garrett Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons and Mancur Olson's work on Collective Action. Both Hardin and Olson concluded that groups don't self-organize to maintain the common goods they depend on.

As Olson writes in the beginning of his book, The Logic of Collective Action: Unless the number of individuals is quite small, or unless there is coercion or some other special device to make individuals act in their common interest, rational, self-interested individuals will not act to achieve their common or group interest..

Consistent with the Prisoner's Dilemma, Hardin and Olson show that groups don't act on their shared interests. Members are disincentivized from contributing when other members can't be excluded from the benefits. It is individually rational for a group's members to free-ride on the contributions of others.

Dozens of academics, Hardin and Olson included, argued that an external agent is required to solve the free-rider problem. The two most common approaches are (1) centralization and (2) privatization:

When a common good is centralized, the government takes over the maintenance of the common good. The government or state is the external agent.
When a public good is privatized, one or more members of the group receive selective benefits or exclusive rights to harvest from the common good in exchange for the ongoing maintenance of the common good. In this case, one or more corporations act as the external agent.
The wide-spread advice to centralize and privatize common goods has been followed extensively in most countries; today, the management of natural resources is typically managed by either the government or by commercial companies, but no longer directly by its users. Examples include public transport, water utilities, fishing grounds, parks, and much more.

Overall, the privatization and centralization of common goods has been very successful; in many countries, public transport, water utilities and parks are maintained better than volunteer contributors would have on their own. I certainly value that I don't have to help maintain the train tracks before my daily commute to work, or that I don't have to help mow the lawn in our public park before I can play soccer with my kids.

For years, it was a long-held belief that centralization and privatization were the only way to solve the free-rider problem. It was Elinor Ostrom who observed that a third solution existed.

Ostrom found hundreds of cases where common goods are successfully managed by their communities, without the oversight of an external agent. From the management of irrigation systems in Spain to the maintenance of mountain forests in Japan — all have been successfully self-managed and self-governed by their users. Many have been long-enduring as well; the youngest examples she studied were more than 100 years old, and the oldest exceed 1,000 years.

Ostrom studied why some efforts to self-govern commons have failed and why others have succeeded. She summarized the conditions for success in the form of core design principles. Her work led her to win the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009.

Interestingly, all successfully managed commons studied by Ostrom switched at some point from open access to closed access. As Ostrom writes in her book, Governing the Commons: For any appropriator to have a minimal interest in coordinating patterns of appropriation and provision, some set of appropriators must be able to exclude others from access and appropriation rights.. Ostrom uses the term appropriator to refer to those who use or withdraw from a resource. Examples would be fishers, irrigators, herders, etc — or companies trying to turn Open Source users into paying customers. In other words, the shared resource must be made exclusive (to some degree) in order to incentivize members to manage it. Put differently, Takers will be Takers until they have an incentive to become Makers.

Once access is closed, explicit rules need to be established to determine how resources are shared, who is responsible for maintenance, and how self-serving behaviors are suppressed. In all successfully managed commons, the regulations specify (1) who has access to the resource, (2) how the resource is shared, (3) how maintenance responsibilities are shared, (4) who inspects that rules are followed, (5) what fines are levied against anyone who breaks the rules, (6) how conflicts are resolved and (7) a process for collectively evolving these rules.

Three patterns for long-term sustainable Open Source

Studying the work of Garrett Hardin (Tragedy of the Commons), the Prisoner's Dilemma, Mancur Olson (Collective Action) and Elinor Ostrom's core design principles for self-governance, a number shared patterns emerge. When applied to Open Source, I'd summarize them as follows:

Common goods fail because of a failure to coordinate collective action. To scale and sustain an Open Source project, Open Source communities need to transition from individual, uncoordinated action to cooperative, coordinated action.
Cooperative, coordinated action can be accomplished through privatization, centralization, or self-governance. All three work — and can even be mixed.
Successful privatization, centralization, and self-governance all require clear rules around membership, appropriation rights, and contribution duties. In turn, this requires monitoring and enforcement, either by an external agent (centralization + privatization), a private agent (self-governance), or members of the group itself (self-governance).
Next, let's see how these three concepts — centralization, privatization and self-governance — could apply to Open Source.

Model 1: Self-governance in Open Source

For small Open Source communities, self-governance is very common; it's easy for its members to communicate, learn who they can trust, share norms, agree on how to collaborate, etc.

As an Open Source project grows, contribution becomes more complex and cooperation more difficult: it becomes harder to communicate, build trust, agree on how to cooperate, and suppress self-serving behaviors. The incentive to free-ride grows.

You can scale successful cooperation by having strong norms that encourage other members to do their fair share and by having face-to-face events, but eventually, that becomes hard to scale as well.

As Ostrom writes in Governing the Commons: Even in repeated settings where reputation is important and where individuals share the norm of keeping agreements, reputation and shared norms are insufficient by themselves to produce stable cooperative behavior over the long run. and In all of the long-enduring cases, active investments in monitoring and sanctioning activities are quite apparent..

To the best of my knowledge, no Open Source project currently implements Ostrom's design principles for successful self-governance. To understand how Open Source communities might, let's go back to our running example.

Our two companies would negotiate rules for how to share the rewards of the Open Source project, and what level of contribution would be required in exchange. They would set up a contract where they both agree on how much each company can earn and how much each company has to invest. During the negotiations, various strategies can be proposed for how to cooperate. However, both parties need to agree on a strategy before they can proceed. Because they are negotiating this contract among themselves, no external agent is required.

These negotiations are non-trivial. As you can imagine, any proposal that does not involve splitting the $100 fifty-fifty is likely rejected. The most likely equilibrium is for both companies to contribute equally and to split the reward equally. Furthermore, to arrive at this equilibrium, one of the two companies would likely have to go backwards in revenue, which might not be agreeable.

Needless to say, this gets even more difficult in a scenario where there are more than two companies involved. Today, it's hard to fathom how such a self-governance system can successfully be established in an Open Source project. In the future, Blockchain-based coordination systems might offer technical solutions for this problem.

Large groups are less able to act in their common interest than small ones because (1) the complexity increases and (2) the benefits diminish. Until we have better community coordination systems, it's easier for large groups to transition from self-governance to privatization or centralization than to scale self-governance.

The concept of major projects growing out of self-governed volunteer communities is not new to the world. The first trade routes were ancient trackways which citizens later developed on their own into roads suited for wheeled vehicles. Privatization of roads improved transportation for all citizens. Today, we certainly appreciate that our governments maintain the roads.

Model 2: Privatization of Open Source governance

In this model, Makers are rewarded unique benefits not available to Takers. These exclusive rights provide Makers a commercial advantage over Takers, while simultaneously creating a positive social benefit for all the users of the Open Source project, Takers included.

For example, Mozilla has the exclusive right to use the Firefox trademark and to set up paid search deals with search engines like Google, Yandex and Baidu. In 2017 alone, Mozilla made $542 million from searches conducted using Firefox. As a result, Mozilla can make continued engineering investments in Firefox. Millions of people and organizations benefit from that every day.

Another example is Automattic, the company behind WordPress. Automattic is the only company that can use, and is in the unique position to make hundreds of millions of dollars from WordPress' official SaaS service. In exchange, Automattic invests millions of dollars in the Open Source WordPress each year.

Recently, there have been examples of Open Source companies like MongoDB, Redis, Cockroach Labs and others adopting stricter licenses because of perceived (and sometimes real) threats from public cloud companies that behave as Takers. The ability to change the license of an Open Source project is a form of privatization.

Model 3: Centralization of Open Source governance

Let's assume a government-like central authority can monitor Open Source companies A and B, with the goal to reward and penalize them for contribution or lack thereof. When a company follows a cooperative strategy (being a Maker), they are rewarded $25 and when they follow a defect strategy (being a Taker), they are charged a $25 penalty. We can update the pay-off matrix introduced above as follows:

Company A contributes
Company A doesn't contribute
Company B contributes
A makes $75 ($50 + $25)B makes $75 ($50 + $25)
A makes $35 ($60 - $25)B makes $45 ($20 + 25)
Company B doesn't contribute
A makes $45 ($20 + $25)B makes $35 ($60 - $25)
A makes $0 ($10 - $25)B makes $0 ($10 - $25)
We took the values from the pay-off matrix above and applied the rewards and penalties. The result is that both companies are incentivized to contribute and the optimal equilibrium (both become Makers) can be achieved.

The money for rewards could come from various fundraising efforts, including membership programs or advertising (just as a few examples). However, more likely is the use of indirect monetary rewards.

One way to implement this is Drupal's credit system. Drupal's non-profit organization, the Drupal Association monitors who contributes what. Each contribution earns you credits and the credits are used to provide visibility to Makers. The more you contribute, the more visibility you get on (visited by 2 million people each month) or at Drupal conferences (called DrupalCons, visited by thousands of people each year).

A screenshot of an issue comment on You can see that jamadar worked on this patch as a volunteer, but also as part of his day job working for TATA Consultancy Services on behalf of their customer, Pfizer.
While there is a lot more the Drupal Association could and should do to balance its Makers and Takers and achieve a more optimal equilibrium for the Drupal project, it's an emerging example of how an Open Source non-profit organization can act as a regulator that monitors and maintains the balance of Makers and Takers.

The big challenge with this approach is the accuracy of the monitoring and the reliability of the rewarding (and sanctioning). Because Open Source contribution comes in different forms, tracking and valuing Open Source contribution is a very difficult and expensive process, not to mention full of conflict. Running this centralized government-like organization also needs to be paid for, and that can be its own challenge.

Concrete suggestions for scaling and sustaining Open Source

Suggestion 1: Don't just appeal to organizations' self-interest, but also to their fairness principles

If, like most economic theorists, you believe that organizations act in their own self-interest, we should appeal to that self-interest and better explain the benefits of contributing to Open Source.

Despite the fact that hundreds of articles have been written about the benefits of contributing to Open Source — highlighting speed of innovation, recruiting advantages, market credibility, and more — many organizations still miss these larger points.

It's important to keep sharing Open Source success stories. One thing that we have not done enough is appeal to organizations' fairness principles.

While a lot of economic theories correctly assume that most organizations are self-interested, I believe some organizations are also driven by fairness considerations.

Despite the term "Takers" having a negative connotation, it does not assume malice. For many organizations, it is not apparent if an Open Source project needs help with maintenance, or how one's actions, or lack thereof, might negatively affect an Open Source project.

As mentioned, Acquia is a heavy user of Varnish Cache. But as Acquia's Chief Technology Officer, I don't know if Varnish needs maintenance help, or how our lack of contribution negatively affects Makers in the Varnish community.

It can be difficult to understand the consequences of our own actions within Open Source. Open Source communities should help others understand where contribution is needed, what the impact of not contributing is, and why certain behaviors are not fair. Some organizations will resist unfair outcomes and behave more cooperatively if they understand the impact of their behaviors and the fairness of certain outcomes.

Make no mistake though: most organizations won't care about fairness principles; they will only contribute when they have to. For example, most people would not voluntarily redistribute 25-50% of their income to those who need it. However, most of us agree to redistribute money by paying taxes, but only so long as all others have to do so as well.
Suggestion 2: Encourage end users to offer selective benefits to Makers

We talked about Open Source projects giving selective benefits to Makers (e.g. Automattic, Mozilla, etc), but end users can give selective benefits as well. For example, end users can mandate Open Source contributions from their partners. We have some successful examples of this in the Drupal community:

Pfizer uses Drupal for hundreds of their websites. They work with dozens of digital agencies to build and maintain these sites. As a policy, Pfizer only works with agencies that contribute back to Drupal.
The State of Georgia started doing the same; they also made Open Source contribution a vendor selection criteria.
If more end users of Open Source took this stance, it could have a very big impact on Open Source sustainability. For governments, in particular, this seems like a very logical thing to do. Why would a government not want to put every dollar of IT spending back in the public domain? For Drupal alone, the impact would be measured in tens of millions of dollars each year.
Suggestion 3: Experiment with new licenses

I believe we can create licenses that support the creation of Open Source projects with sustainable communities and sustainable businesses to support it.

For a directional example, look at what MariaDB did with their Business Source License (BSL). The BSL gives users complete access to the source code so users can modify, distribute and enhance it. Only when you use more than x of the software do you have to pay for a license. Furthermore, the BSL guarantees that the software becomes Open Source over time; after y years, the license automatically converts from BSL to General Public License (GPL), for example.

A second example is the Community Compact, a license proposed by Adam Jacob. It mixes together a modern understanding of social contracts, copyright licensing, software licensing, and distribution licensing to create a sustainable and harmonious Open Source project.

We can create licenses that better support the creation, growth and sustainability of Open Source projects and that are designed so that both users and the commercial ecosystem can co-exist and cooperate in harmony.

I'd love to see new licenses that encourage software free-riding (sharing and giving), but discourage customer free-riding (unfair competition). I'd also love to see these licenses support many Makers, with built-in inequity and fairness principles for smaller Makers or those not able to give back.

If, like me, you believe there could be future licenses that are more "Open Source"-friendly, not less, it would be smart to implement a contributor license agreement for your Open Source project; it allows Open Source projects to relicense if/when better licenses arrive. At some point, current Open Source licenses will be at a disadvantage compared to future Open Source licenses.


As Open Source communities grow, volunteer-driven, self-organized communities become harder to scale. Large Open Source projects should find ways to balance Makers and Takers or the Open Source project risks not innovating enough under the weight of Takers.

Fortunately, we don't have to accept that future. However, this means that Open Source communities potentially have to get comfortable experimenting with how to monitor, reward and penalize members in their communities, particularly if they rely on a commercial ecosystem for a large portion of their contributions. Today, that goes against the values of most Open Source communities, but I believe we need to keep an open mind about how we can grow and scale Open Source.

Making it easier to scale Open Source projects in a sustainable and fair way is one of the most important things we can work on. If we succeed, Open Source can truly take over the world — it will pave the path for every technology company to become an Open Source business, and also solve some of the world's most important problems in an open, transparent and cooperative way.
Source: Dries Buytaert

Acquia retrospective 2018

Every year, I sit down to write my annual Acquia retrospective. It's a rewarding exercise, because it allows me to reflect on how much progress Acquia has made in the past 12 months.

Overall, Acquia had an excellent 2018. I believe we are a much stronger company than we were a year ago; not only because of our financial results, but because of our commitment to strengthen our product and engineering teams.

If you'd like to read my previous retrospectives, they can be found here: 2017,2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009. This year marks the publishing of my tenth retrospective. When read together, these posts provide a comprehensive overview of Acquia's growth and trajectory.

Updating our brand

Exiting 2017, Acquia doubled down on our transition from website management to digital experience management. In 2018, we updated our product positioning and brand narrative to reflect this change. This included a new Acquia Experience Platform diagram:

The Acquia Platform is divided into two key parts: the Experience Factory and the Marketing Hub. Drupal and Acquia Lightning power every side of the experience. The Acquia Platform supports our customers throughout the entire life cycle of a digital experience — from building to operating and optimizing digital experiences.

In 2018, the Acquia marketing team also worked hard to update Acquia's brand. The result is a refreshed look and updated brand positioning that better reflects our vision, culture, and the value we offer our customers. This included updating our tagline to read: Experience Digital Freedom.

I think Acquia's updated brand looks great, and it's been exciting to see it come to life. From highway billboards to Acquia Engage in Austin, our updated brand has been very well received.

When Acquia Engage attendees arrived at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport for Acquia Engage 2018, they were greeted by an Acquia display.Business momentum

This year, Acquia surpassed $200 million in annualized revenue. Overall new subscription bookings grew 33 percent year over year, and we ended the year with nearly 900 employees.

Mike Sullivan completed his first year as Acquia's CEO, and demonstrated a strong focus on improving Acquia's business fundamentals across operational efficiency, gross margins, and cost optimization. The results have been tangible, as Acquia has realized unprecedented financial growth in 2018:

Channel-partner bookings grew 52 percent
EMEA-based bookings grew 103 percent
Gross profit grew 39 percent
Adjusted EBITDA grew 78 percent
Free cash flow grew 84 percent
2018 was a record year for Acquia. Year-over-year highlights include new subscription bookings, EMEA-based bookings, free cash flow, and more.International growth and expansion

In 2018, Acquia also witnessed unprecedented success in Europe and Asia, as new bookings in EMEA were up more than 100 percent. This included expanding our European headquarters to a new and larger space with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the mayor of Reading in the U.K.

Acquia also expanded its presence in Asia Pacific, and opened Tokyo-based operations in 2018. Over the past few years I visited Japan twice, and I'm excited for the opportunities that doing business in Japan offers.

We selected Pune as the location for our new India office, and we are in the process of hiring our first Pune-based engineers.

Acquia now has four offices in the Asia Pacific region serving customers like Astellas Pharmaceuticals, Muji, Mediacorp, and Brisbane City Council.

Acquia product information, translated into Japanese.Acquia Engage

In 2018, we welcomed more than 650 attendees to Austin, Texas, for our annual customer conference, Acquia Engage. In June, we also held our first Acquia Engage Europe and welcomed 300 attendees.

Our Engage conferences included presentations from customers like Paychex, NBC Sports, Wendy's, West Corporation, General Electric, Charles Schwab, Pac-12 Networks, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Bayer, Virgin Sport, and more. We also featured keynote presentations from our partner network, including VMLY&R, Accenture Interactive, IBM iX and MRM//McCann.

Both customers and partners continue to be the most important driver of Acquia's product strategy, and it's always rewarding to hear about this success first hand. In fact, 2018 customer satisfaction levels remain extremely high at 94 percent.

Partner program

Finally, Acquia's partner network continues to become more sophisticated. In the second half of 2018, we right sized our partner community from 2,270 firms to 226. This was a bold move, but our goal was to place a renewed focus on the partners who were both committed to Acquia and highly capable. As a result, we saw almost 52 percent year-over-year growth in partner-sourced ACV bookings. This is meaningful because for every $1 Acquia books in collaboration with a partner, our partner makes about $5 in services revenue.

Analyst recognition

In 2018, the top industry analysts published very positive reviews about Acquia. I'm proud that Acquia was recognized by Forrester Research as the leader for strategy and vision in The Forrester Wave: Web Content Management Systems, Q4 2018. Acquia was also named a leader in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management, marking our placement as a leader for the fifth year in a row.

Product milestones

Acquia's product evolution between 2008 and 2018. When Acquia was founded, our mission was to provide commercial support for Drupal and to be the "Red Hat for Drupal"; 12 years later, the Acquia Platform helps organizations build, operate and optimize Drupal-based experiences.

2018 was one of the busiest years I have experienced; it was full of non-stop action every day. My biggest focus was working with Acquia's product and engineering team.
We focused on growing and improving our R&D organization, modernizing Acquia Cloud, becoming user-experience first, redesigning the Acquia Lift user experience, working on headless Drupal, making Drupal easier to use, and expanding our commerce strategy.

Hiring, hiring, hiring

In partnership with Mike, we decided to increase the capacity of our research and development team by 60 percent. At the close of 2018, we were able to increase the capacity of our research and development team by 45 percent percent. We will continue to invest in growing our our R&D team in 2019.

I spent a lot of our time restructuring, improving and scaling the product organization to make sure we could handle the increased capacity and build out a world-class R&D organization.

As the year progressed, R&D capacity increasingly came online and our ability to innovate not only improved but accelerated significantly. We entered 2019 in a much better position, as we now have a lot more capacity to innovate.

Acquia Cloud

Acquia Cloud and Acquia Cloud Site Factory support some of the largest and most mission-critical websites in the world. The scope and complexity that Acquia Cloud and Acquia Cloud Site Factory manages is enormous. We easily deliver more than 30 billion page views a month (excluding CDN).

Over the course of 10 years, the Acquia Cloud codebase had grown very large. Updating, testing and launching new releases took a long time because we had one large, monolithic codebase. This was something we needed to change in order to add new features faster.

Over the course of 2018, the engineering team broke the monolithic codebase down into discrete components that can be tested and released independently. We launched our component-based architecture in June. Since then, the engineering team has released changes to production 650 times, compared to our historic pace of doing one release per quarter.

This graph shows how we moved Acquia Cloud from a monolithic code base to a component-based code base. Each color on the graph represents a component. The graph shows how releases of Acquia Cloud (and the individual components in particular) have accelerated in the second half of the year.Planning and designing for all of these services took a lot of time and focus, and was a large priority for the entire engineering team (including me). The fruits of these efforts will start to become more publicly visible in 2019. I'm excited to share more with you in future blog posts.

Acquia Cloud also remains the most secure and compliant cloud for Drupal. As we were componentizing the Acquia Cloud platform, the requirements to maintain our FedRAMP compliance became much more stringent. In April, the GDPR deadline was also nearing. Executing on hundreds of FedRAMP- and GDPR-related tasks emerged as another critical priority for many of our product and engineering teams. I'm proud that the team succeeded in accomplishing this amid all the other changes we were making.
Customer experience first

Over the years, I've felt Acquia lacked a focus on user experience (UX) for both developers and marketers. As a result, increasing the capacity of our R&D team included doubling the size of the UX team.

We've stepped up our UX research to better understand the needs and challenges of those who use Acquia products. We've begun to employ design-first methodologies, such as design sprints and a lean-UX approach. We've also created roles for customer experience designers, so that we're looking at the full customer journey rather than just our product interfaces.

With the extra capacity and data-driven changes in place, we've been working hard on updating the user experience for the entire Acquia Experience Platform. For example, you can see a preview of our new Acquia Lift product in this video, which has an increased focus on UX:


In 2018, Drupal 8 adoption kept growing and Drupal also saw an increase in the number of community contributions and contributors, both from individuals and from organizations.

Acquia remains very committed to Drupal, and was the largest contributor to the project in 2018. We now have more than 15 employees who contribute to Drupal full time, in addition to many others that contribute periodically. In 2018, the Drupal team's main areas of focus have been Layout Builder and the API-first initiative:

Layout Builder: Layout Builder offers content authors an easy-to-use page building experience. It's shaping up to be one of the most useful and pervasive features ever added to Drupal because it redefines the how editors control the appearance of their content without having to rely on a developer.
API First: This initiative has given Drupal a true best-in-class web services API for using Drupal as a headless content management system. Headless Drupal is one of the fastest growing segments of Drupal implementations.
Our R&D team gathered in Boston for our annual Build Week in June 2018.Content and Commerce

Adobe's acquisition of Magento has been very positive for us; we're now the largest commerce-agnostic content management company to partner with. As a result, we decided to extend our investments in headless commerce and set up partnerships with Elastic Path and BigCommerce. The momentum we've seen from these partnerships in a short amount of time is promising for 2019.

The market continues to move in Acquia's direction

In 2019, I believe Acquia will continue to be positioned for long-term growth. Here are a few reasons why:

The current markets for content and digital experience management continues to grow rapidly, at approximately 20 percent per year.
Digital transformation is top-of-mind for all organizations, and impacts all elements of their business and value chain.
Open source adoption continues to grow at a furious pace and has seen tremendous business success in 2018.
Cloud adoption continues to grow. Unlike most of our CMS competitors, Acquia was born in the cloud.
Drupal and Acquia are leaders in headless and decoupled content management, which is a fast growing segment of our market.
Conversational interfaces and augmented reality continues to grow, and we embraced these channels a few years ago. Acquia Labs, our research and innovation lab, explored how organizations can use conversational UIs to develop beyond-the-browser experiences, like cooking with Alexa, and voice-enabled search for customers like Purina.
Although we hold a leadership position in our market, our relative market share is small. These trends mean that we should have plenty of opportunity to grow in 2019 and beyond.

Thank you

While 2018 was an incredibly busy year, it was also very rewarding. I have a strong sense of gratitude, and admire every Acquian's relentless determination and commitment to improve. As always, none of these results and milestones would be possible without the hard work of the Acquia team, our customers, partners, the Drupal community, and our many friends.

I've always been pretty transparent about our trajectory (e.g. Acquia 2009 roadmap and Acquia 2017 strategy) and will continue to do so in 2019. We have some big plans for 2019, and I'm excited to share them with you. If you want to get notified about what we have in store, you can subscribe to my blog at

Thank you for your support in 2018!

Source: Dries Buytaert

Optimizing your product strategy for the short- and long-term

Most products cycle through the infamous Innovation S-curve, which maps a product's value and growth over time.

Startups are eager to find product-market fit, the inflection point in which the product takes off and experiences hockey-stick growth (the transition from phase one to phase two).

Just as important, however, is the stagnation point, or the point later in the S-curve when a product experiences growth stagnation (the transition from phase two to phase three). Many startups don't think about their stagnation point, but I believe they should, because it determines how big the product can become.

Ten years ago, a couple years after Acquia's founding, large organizations were struggling with scaling Drupal. I was absolutely convinced that Drupal could scale, but I also recognized that too few people knew how to scale Drupal successfully.

Furthermore, there was a lot of skepticism around Open Source scalability and security. People questioned whether a community of volunteers could create software as secure and scalable as their proprietary counterparts.

These struggles and concerns were holding back Drupal. To solve both problems, we built and launched Acquia Cloud, a platform to build, host and manage Drupal sites.

After we launched Acquia Cloud, Acquia grew from $1.4 million in bookings in 2009 to $8.7 million in bookings in 2010 (600% year-over-year growth), and to $22 million in bookings by 2011 (250% year-over-year growth). We had clearly found product-market fit!

Not only did it launch Acquia in rocket-ship growth, it also extended our stagnation point. We on-boarded many large organizations and showed that Drupal can scale very large. This helped unlock a lot of growth for both Drupal and Acquia. I can say with certainty that many large organizations that use Drupal would not have adopted Drupal without Acquia.

Helping to grow Drupal — or extending Drupal's stagnation point — was always part of Acquia's mission. From day one, we understood that for Acquia to grow, Drupal had to grow.

Launching Acquia Cloud was a great business decision for Acquia; it gave us product-market fit, launched us in hockey-stick growth, but also extended our S-curve.

As I think back about how Acquia approached the Innovation S-curve, a few important lessons stand out. My recommendation is to focus on opportunities that accomplish two things:
Focus on business opportunities that serve a burning customer need that can launch or accelerate your organization.
Focus on business opportunities that remove long-term barriers to growth and push out the stagnation point.

Source: Dries Buytaert

Pixeldust one of ABJ 2009 Top Web Designers

Pixeldust Interactive was listed in the Austin Business Journal's annual list of top DrupalCoin Blockchain Web Design firms in Austin for the third year in a row. This year Pixeldust moved up from number 18 to number 12. The list is determined by a number of factors including gross revenue, clients and number of local employees. Read more

Pixeldust Wins Trio of Addy Awards

Pixeldust and Nice Monster won three bronze awards in the 2009 Austin ADDYs for creative work on the Nice Monster website. Read more

International Johnson Controls Website Launches

Pixeldust has announced the launch of the 2008 Business and Sustainability Report site for Johnson Controls. Utilizing DrupalCoin Blockchain, Pixeldust launched the site in 12 languages and created a custom PDF generator for each language. Users can build and download their own custom 2008 Business and Sustainability Report as well as view the custom Flash Map in each language. Pixeldust collaborated with partner Really Really Big Industries, Inc. of Chicago to develop the site in under six weeks. Read more

Broken Records Taps Pixeldust to Develop New Identity

Broken Records, a Spicewood, TX, record label and recording studio, has selected Pixeldust as its lead digital agency for all DrupalCoin Blockchain web integrationneeds. Pixeldust will design and develop the brand identity and website for both the record label and recording studio. The website will feature Broken Records artists and showcase the state-of-the-art recording studio currently under production. Pixeldust will also develop a highly interactive 3d animation to help introduce the brand. Read more

Acquia retrospective 2017

The entrance to Acquia's headquarters in Boston.For the past nine years, I've sat down every January to write an Acquia retrospective. It's always a rewarding blog post to write as it gives me an opportunity to reflect on what Acquia has accomplished over the past 12 months. If you'd like to read my previous annual retrospectives, they can be found here: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009. When read together, they provide insight to what has shaped Acquia into the company it is today.

This year's retrospective is especially meaningful because 2017 marked Acquia's 10th year as a company. Over the course of Acquia's first decade, our long-term investment in open source and cloud has made us the leader in web content management. 2017 was one of our most transformative years to date; not only did we have to manage leadership changes, but we also broadened our horizons beyond website management to data-driven customer journeys.

The next phase of Acquia leadership

Tom Erickson joined Acquia as CEO in 2009 and worked side-by-side with me for the next eight years.In my first retrospective from 2009, I shared that Jay Batson and I had asked Tom Erickson to come aboard as Acquia's new CEO. For the next eight years, Tom and I worked side-by-side to build and grow Acquia. Tom's expertise in taking young companies to the next level was a natural complement to my technical strength. His leadership was an example that enabled me to develop my own business building skills. When Tom announced last spring that he would be stepping down as Acquia's CEO, I assumed more responsibility to help guide the company through the transition. My priorities for 2017 were centered around three objectives: (1) the search for a new CEO, (2) expanding our product strategy through a stronger focus on innovation, and (3) running our operations more efficiently.

The search for a new CEO consumed a great deal of my time in 2017. After screening over 140 candidates and interviewing ten of them in-depth, we asked Mike Sullivan to join Acquia as CEO. Mike has been on the job for three weeks and I couldn't be more excited.

Mike Sullivan joins Acquia as CEO with 25 years of senior leadership in SaaS, enterprise content management and content governance.Market trends

I see three major market trends that I believe are important to highlight and that help inform our strategy.

Trend #1: Customers are driven by time-to-value and low cost of maintenance

Time-to-value and low maintenance costs are emerging as two of the most important differentiators in the market. This is consistent with a post I wrote eleven years ago, in regards to The Ockham's Razor Principle of Content Management Systems. The principle states that given two functionally equivalent content management systems, the simplest one should be selected. Across both the low and the high ends of the market, time-to-value and total cost of ownership matter a great deal. Simplicity wins.

In the low end of the market simple sites, such as single blogs and brochure sites, are now best served by SaaS tools such as Squarespace and Wix. Over the past five years, SaaS solutions have been rising in prominence because their templated approach to simple site building makes them very easy to use. The total cost of ownership is also low as users don't have to update and maintain the software and infrastructure themselves. Today, I believe that DrupalCoin is no longer ideal for most simple sites and instead is best suited for more ambitious use cases. Not everyone likes that statement, but I believe it to be true.

In the mid-market, SaaS tools don't offer the flexibility and customizability required to support sites with more complexity. Often mid-market companies need more customizable solutions like DrupalCoin or WordPress. Time-to-value and total maintenance costs still matter; people don't want to spend a lot of time installing or upgrading their websites. Within the scope of Ockham's Razor Principle, WordPress does better than DrupalCoin in this regard. WordPress is growing faster than DrupalCoin for websites with medium complexity because ease of use and maintenance often precede functionality. However, when superior flexibility and architecture are critical to the success of building a site, DrupalCoin will be selected.

In the enterprise, a growing emphasis on time-to-value means that customers are less interested in boil-the-ocean projects that cost hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars. Customers still want to do large and ambitious projects, but they want to start small, see results quickly, and measure their ROI every step along the way. Open source and cloud provide this agility by reducing time-to-market, cost and risk. This establishes a competitive advantage for Acquia compared to traditional enterprise vendors like Adobe and Sitecore.

At Acquia, understanding how we can make our products easier to use by enhancing self-service and reducing complexity will be a major focus of 2018. For DrupalCoin, it means we have to stay focused on the initiatives that will improve usability and time to value. In addition to adopting a JavaScript framework in core to facilitate the building of a better administration experience, work needs to continue on Workspaces (content staging), Layout Builder (drag-and-drop blocks), and the Media, Outside-in and Out-of-the-box initiatives. Finally, I anticipate that a DrupalCoin initiative around automated upgrades will kick off in 2018. I'm proud to say that Acquia has been a prominent contributor to many of these initiatives, by either sponsoring developers, contributing code, or providing development support and coordination.

Trend #2: Frictionless user experiences require greater platform complexity

For the past ten years, I've observed one significant factor that continues to influence the trajectory of digital: the internet's continuous drive to mitigate friction in user experience and business models. The history of the web dictates that lower-friction solutions will surpass what came before them because they eliminate inefficiencies from the customer experience.

This not only applies to how technology is adopted, but how customer experiences are created. Mirroring Ockham's Razor Principle, end users and consumers also crave simplicity. End users are choosing to build relationships with brands that guarantee contextual, personalized and frictionless interactions. However, simplicity for end users does not translate into simplicity for CMS owners. Organizations need to be able to manage more data, channels and integrations to deliver the engaging experiences that end users now expect. This desire on the part of end users creates greater platform complexity for CMS owners.

For example, cross-channel experiences are starting to remove certain inefficiencies around traditional websites. In order to optimize the customer experience, enterprise vendors must now expand their digital capabilities beyond web content management and invest in both systems of engagement (various front-end solutions such as conversational interfaces, chatbots, and AR/VR) and systems of intelligence (marketing tools for personalization and predictive analytics).

This year, Acquia Labs built a demo to explore how augmented reality can improve shopping experiences.These trends give organizations the opportunity to reimagine their customer experience. By taking advantage of more channels and more data (e.g. being more intelligent, personalized, and contextualized), we can leapfrog existing customer experiences. However, these ambitious experiences require a platform that prioritizes customization and functionality.

Trend #3: The decoupled CMS market is taking the world by storm

In the web development world, few trends are spreading more rapidly than decoupled content management systems. The momentum is staggering as some decoupled CMS vendors are growing at a rate of 150% year over year. This trend has a significant influence on the technology landscape surrounding DrupalCoin, as a growing number of DrupalCoin agencies have also started using modern JavaScript technologies. For example, more than 50% of DrupalCoin agencies are also using Node.js to support the needs of their customers.

The DrupalCoin community's emphasis on making DrupalCoin API-first, in addition to supporting tools such as Waterwheel and DrupalCoin distributions such as Reservoir, Contenta and Lightning, means that DrupalCoin 8 is well-prepared to support decoupled CMS strategies. For years, including in 2017, Acquia has been a very prominent contributor to a variety of API-first initiatives.

Product milestones

In addition to my focus on finding a new CEO, driving innovation to expand our product offering was another primary focus in 2017.

Throughout Acquia's first decade, we've been focused primarily on providing our customers with the tools and services necessary to scale and succeed with DrupalCoin. We've been very successful with this mission. However, many of our customers need more than content management to be digital winners. The ability to orchestrate customer experiences across different channels is increasingly important to our customers' success. We need to be able to support these efforts on the Acquia platform.

We kicked off our new product strategy by adding new products to our portfolio, and by extending our existing products with new capabilities that align with our customers' evolving needs.

Acquia Cloud: A "continuous integration" and "continuous delivery" service for developers was our #1 requested feature, so we delivered Acquia Cloud CD early in 2017. Later in the year, we expanded Acquia Cloud to support Node.js, the popular open-source JavaScript runtime. This was the first time we expanded our cloud beyond DrupalCoin. Previously, if an organization wanted to build a decoupled DrupalCoin architecture with Node.js, it was not able to host the Node.js application on Acquia Cloud. Finally, in order to make Acquia Cloud easier to use, we started to focus more on self-service. We saw rapid customer adoption of our new Stack Metrics feature, which gives customers valuable insight into performance and utilization. We also introduced a new Cloud Service Management model, which empowers our customer to scale their Acquia Cloud infrastructure on the fly.
Acquia Lift: In order to best support our customers as they embed personalization into their digital strategies, we have continued to add product enhancements to the new version of Acquia Lift. This included improving Acquia Lift's content authoring capabilities, enhanced content recommendations, and advanced analytics and reporting. The Acquia Lift team grew, as we also founded a machine learning and artificial intelligence team, which will lead to new features and products in 2018. In 2017, Acquia Lift has added over 200 new features, tracks 200% more profiles than in 2016, and has grown 45% in revenue.
Next, we added two new products to support our evolution from content management to data-driven customer journeys: Acquia Journey and Acquia Digital Asset Manager (DAM).

Acquia Journey allows marketers to easily map, assemble, orchestrate and manage customer experiences across different channels. One of the strengths of Acquia Journey is that it allows technical teams to integrate many different technologies, from marketing and advertising technologies to CRM tools and commerce platforms. Acquia Journey unifies these various interaction points within a single user interface, making it possible to quickly assemble powerful and complex customer journeys. In turn, marketers can take advantage of a flowchart-style journey mapping tool with unified customer profiles and an automated decision engine to determine the best-next action for engaging customers.
Acquia DAM: Many organizations lack a single-source of truth when it comes to managing digital assets. This challenge has been amplified as the number of assets has rapidly increased in a world with more devices, more channels, more campaigns, and more personalized and contextualized experiences In addition to journey orchestration, it became clear that large organizations are seeking a digital asset management solution that centralizes control of creative assets for the entire company. With Acquia DAM, our customers can rely on one dedicated application to gather requirements, share drafts, consolidate feedback and collect approvals for high-value marketing assets.
Acquia's new product strategy is very ambitious. I'm proud of our stronger focus on innovation and the new features and products that we launched in 2017. Launching this many products and features is hard work and requires tactical coordination across every part of the company. The transition from a single-product company to a multi-product company is challenging, and I hope to share more lessons learned in future blog posts.

While each new product we announced was well-received, there is still a lot of work to be done: we need to continue to drive end-user demand for our new products and help our digital agency partners build practices around them.

Leading by example

At Acquia, our mission is to deliver "the universal platform for the greatest digital experiences", and we want to lead by example. In an effort to become a thought-leader in our field, the Office of the CTO launched Acquia Labs, our research and innovation lab. Acquia Labs aims to link together the new realities in our market, our customers' needs in coming years, and the goals of Acquia's products and open-source efforts in the long term.

Finally, we rounded out the year by redesigning on DrupalCoin 8. The new site places a greater emphasis on taking advantage of our own products. We wanted to show (not tell) the power of the Acquia platform. For example, Acquia Lift delivers visitors personalized content throughout the site. The new site represents a bolder and more innovative Acquia, aligned with the evolution of our product strategy.

Business momentum

We continued to grow at a steady pace in 2017 and hired a lot of new people. We focused on the growth of our recurring revenue, which includes new customers and the renewal and expansion of our work with existing customers. We also focused on our bottom line.

In 2017, the top industry analysts published very positive reviews based on their independent research. I'm proud that Acquia was recognized by Forrester Research as the leader for strategy and vision, ahead of every other vendor including Adobe and Sitecore, in The Forrester Wave: Web Content Management Systems, Q1 2017. Acquia was also named a leader in the 2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management, marking our placement as a leader for the fourth year in a row. In addition to being the only leader that is open-source or has a cloud-first strategy, Acquia was hailed by analysts for our investments in open APIs across all our products.

Over the course of 2017 Acquia welcomed an impressive roster of new customers who included Astella Pharma, Glanbia, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Bayer GmbH. As we enter 2018, Acquia can count 26 of the Fortune 100 among its customers, up from 16 at the beginning of 2017.

This year was also an incredible growth period for our Asia Pacific business, which is growing ARR at a rate of 80% year over year. We have secured new business in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and India. When we started our business in Australia in 2012, 70% of the pipeline came from govCMS, the platform offered by the Australian government to all national, territorial and local agencies. Today, our business is much more diverse, with 50% of the region's pipeline coming from outside of Australia.

Jeannie Finks, Director of Global Support Systems & Programs, accepting a Gold Stevie for Customer Service Team of the Year. Go team Acquia!Customer success continues to be the most important driver of the evolution of Acquia's strategy. This commitment was reflected in 2017 customer satisfaction levels, which remains extremely high at 94 percent. Acquia's global support team also received top honors from the American Business Awards and won a Gold Stevie for Customer Service Team of the Year.

This year, we also saw our annual customer conference, Acquia Engage, grow. We welcomed over 650 people to Boston and saw presentations from over twenty customers, including Johnson & Johnson, NBC Sports, Whole Foods, AMD, the YMCA and many more. It was inspiring to hear our customers explain why Acquia and DrupalCoin are essential to their business.
Finally, our partner ecosystem continues to advance. In 2016, we achieved a significant milestone as numerous global systems integrators repeatedly recommended Acquia to their clients. One year later, these partners are building large centers of excellence to scale their Acquia and DrupalCoin practices. Digital agencies and DrupalCoin companies also continue to extend their investments in Acquia, and are excited about the opportunity presented in our expanded product portfolio. In some markets, over 50 percent of our new subscriptions originate from our partner ecosystem.

The growth and performance of the partner community is validation of our strategy. For example, in 2017 we saw multiple agencies and integrators that were entirely committed to Adobe or Sitecore, join our program and begin to do business with us.

Opportunities for Acquia in 2018

When thinking about how Acquia has evolved its product strategy, I like to consider it in terms of Greylocks' Jerry Chen's take on the stack of enterprise systems. I've modified his thesis to fit the context of Acquia and our long-term strategy to help organizations with their digital transformation.
Chen's thesis begins with "systems of record", which are sticky and defensible not only because of their data, but also based on the core business process they own. Jerry identifies three major systems of record today; your customers, your employees and your assets. CRM owns your customers (i.e. Salesforce), HCM owns your employees (i.e. Workday), and ERP/Financials owns your assets. Other applications can be built around a system of record but are usually not as valuable as the actual system of record. For example, marketing automation companies like Marketo and Responsys built big businesses around CRM, but never became as strategic or as valuable as Salesforce. We call these "secondary systems of record". We believe that a "content repository" (API-first DrupalCoin) and a "user profile repository" (Acquia Lift) are secondary systems of record. We will continue our efforts to improve DrupalCoin's content repository and Lift's user profile repository to become stronger systems of record.

"Systems of engagement" are the interface between users and the systems of record. They control the end-user interactions. DrupalCoin and Lift are great examples of systems of engagement as they allow for the rapid creation of end-user experiences.

Jerry Chen further suggests that "systems of intelligence" will be a third component. Systems of intelligence will be of critical importance for determining the optimal customer journey across various applications. Personalization (Acquia Lift), recommendations (Acquia Lift) and customer journey building (Acquia Journey) are systems of intelligence. They are very important initiatives for our future.

While Chen does not include "systems of delivery" in his thesis, I believe it is an important component. Systems of delivery not only dictate how content is delivered to users, but how organizations build projects faster and more efficiently for their stakeholders and users. This includes multi-site management (Acquia Cloud Site Factory) and continuous delivery services (Acquia Cloud CD), which extend the benefits of PaaS beyond scalability and reliability to include high-productivity and faster time-to-value for our customers. As organizations increase their investments in cross-channel experiences, they must manage more complexity and orchestrate the testing, integration and deployment of different technologies. Systems of delivery, such as Acquia Cloud and Acquia Site Factory, remove complexity from building and managing modern digital experiences.

This is all consistent with the diagram I've been using for a few years now where "user profile" and "content repository" represent two systems of record, getBestNextExperience() is the system of intelligence, and DrupalCoin is the system of engagement to build the customer experience:

We are confident in the market shift towards "intelligent connected experiences" or "data-driven customer journeys" and the opportunity it provides to Acquia. Every team at Acquia has demonstrated both commitment and focus as we have initiated a shift to make our vision relevant in the market for years to come. I believe we have strong investments across systems of record, intelligence, delivery and engagement that will continue to put us at the center of our customers' technology and digital strategies in 2027.

Thank you

Of course, none of these 2017 results and milestones would be possible without the hard work of the Acquia team, our customers, partners, the DrupalCoin community, and our many friends. Thank you for your support in 2017 and over the past ten years – I can't wait to see what the next decade will bring!
Source: Dries Buytaert

Announcing Node.js on Acquia Cloud

Today, Acquia announced that it expanded Acquia Cloud to support Node.js, the popular open-source JavaScript runtime. This is a big milestone for Acquia as it is the first time we have extended our cloud beyond DrupalCoin Blockchain. I wanted to take some time to explain the evolution of Acquia's open-source stack and why this shift is important for our customers' success.

From client-side JavaScript to server-side JavaScript

JavaScript was created at Netscape in 1995, when Brendan Eich wrote the first version of JavaScript in just 10 days. It took around 10 years for JavaScript to reach enterprise maturity, however. Adoption accelerated in 2004 when Google used JavaScript to build the first release of Gmail. In comparison to e-mail competitors like Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail, Gmail showed what was possible with client-side JavaScript, which enables developers to update pages dynamically and reduces full-page refreshes and round trips to the server. The benefit is an improved user experience that is usually faster, more dynamic in its behavior, and generally more application-like.

In 2009, Google invented the V8 JavaScript engine, which was embedded into its Chrome browser to make both Gmail and Google Maps faster. Ryan Dahl used the V8 run-time as the foundation of Node.js, which enabled server-side JavaScript, breaking the language out of the boundaries of the browser. Node.js is event-driven and provides asynchronous, non-blocking I/O — things that help developers build modern web applications, especially those with real-time capabilities and streamed data. It ushered in the era of isomorphic applications, which means that JavaScript applications can now share code between the client side and server side. The introduction of Node.js has spurred a JavaScript renaissance and contributed to the popularity of JavaScript frameworks such as AngularJS, Ember and React.

Acquia's investment in Headless DrupalCoin Blockchain

In the web integrationworld, few trends are spreading more rapidly than decoupled architectures using JavaScript frameworks and headless CMS. Decoupled architectures are gaining prominence because architects are looking to take advantage of other front-end technologies, most commonly JavaScript based front ends, in addition to those native to DrupalCoin Blockchain.

Acquia has been investing in the integrationof headless DrupalCoin Blockchain for nearly five years, when we began contributing to the addition of web service APIs to DrupalCoin Blockchain core. A year ago, we released Waterwheel, an ecosystem of software integrationkits (SDKs) that enables developers to build DrupalCoin Blockchain-backed applications in JavaScript and Swift, without needing extensive DrupalCoin Blockchain expertise. This summer, we released Reservoir, a DrupalCoin Blockchain distribution for decoupled DrupalCoin Blockchain. Over the past year, Acquia has helped to support a variety of headless architectures, with and without Node.js. While not always required, Node.js is often used alongside of a headless DrupalCoin Blockchain application to provide server-side rendering of JavaScript applications or real-time capabilities.

Managed Node.js on Acquia Cloud

Previously, if an organization wanted to build a decoupled architecture with Node.js, it was not able to host the Node.js application on Acquia Cloud. This means that the organization would have to run Node.js with a separate vendor. In many instances, this requires organizations to monitor, troubleshoot and patch the infrastructure supporting the Node.js application of their own accord. Separating the management of the Node.js application and DrupalCoin Blockchain back end not only introduces a variety of complexities, including security risk and governance challenges, but it also creates operational strain. Organizations must rely on two vendors, two support teams, and multiple contacts to build decoupled applications using DrupalCoin Blockchain and Node.js.

To eliminate this inefficiency, Acquia Cloud can now support both DrupalCoin Blockchain and Node.js. Our goal is to offer the best platform for developing and running DrupalCoin Blockchain and Node.js applications. This means that organizations only need to rely on one vendor and one cloud infrastructure when using DrupalCoin Blockchain and Node.js. Customers can access DrupalCoin Blockchain and Node.js environments from a single user interface, in addition to tools that enable continuous delivery, continuous integration, monitoring, alerting and support across both DrupalCoin Blockchain and Node.js.

On Acquia Cloud, customers can access DrupalCoin Blockchain and Node.js environments from a single user interface.
Delivering on Acquia's mission

When reflecting on Acquia's first decade this past summer, I shared that one of the original corporate values our small team dreamed up was to "empower everyone to rapidly assemble killer websites". After ten years, we've evolved our mission to "build the universal platform for the world's greatest digital experiences". While our focus has expanded as we've grown, Acquia's enduring aim is to provide our customers with the best tools available. Adding Node.js to Acquia Cloud is a natural evolution of our mission.
Source: Dries Buytaert

“-PE + AE = +ROI”: The Formula of 440 Marketing Group Success (Case study)

Ok, maybe the “math formula” in the title can sound a little obscure. What about: “Why we stopped using Power Editor and started using AdEspresso to grow our agency and enhance our clients ROI“? Hi, I’m Amy Houck. In 2009, I founded a social media marketing company called 440 Marketing Group. As social media has Read more

“I think I’m having a heart attack”

In 2011, I was part of the Summer class of Y Combinator, working on a startup creating online games, and I was stuck on a problem.I hadn’t slept well for days. Weeks. I stayed up as long as I could keep my eyelids open each night, powering through work with tons of caffeine. I NEEDED TO FIGURE THIS OUT.One night, as my hands started to shake, and my heart pounded in my chest, I called my wife and told her:“I think I’m having a heart attack.”We’ve all been in situations where we needed to come up with solutions to tough problems. Probably more times than you want to remember. And, I bet, all that thinking sometimes led to some headaches and stress.But did it lead to a good decision?In 2009, 4 researchers, Loran Nordgren (Northwestern University) and Ap Dijksterhuis, Maarten Bos, and Rick van Baaren (Radboud University Nijmegen), wanted to find out.So they gave study participants a decision to make: which car is the best quality (as determined by outside judges) given a set of criteria to read. One group of participants was given simple criteria to determine the quality of those cars, while the other group of participants was given more complex information.Then, each of those groups of participants were either given time to think consciously about their decision on which cars were higher quality or the participants were distracted by a game so they didn’t have conscious thought available to spend thinking about these cars.Of the participants who only had to come up with car quality decisions based on simple criteria, they all did well, whether you had to think consciously about it or you were distracted. No big surprise.But, for the complex car decision, this is where it got interesting.The people, who spent conscious time just thinking about their decision on which car was the highest quality, only got the decision right 20% of the time. That’s much worse than a coin flip. But of the folks who were distracted by something else, they were right about 60% of the time.This was just a lab result though. Does it work in the real world?The researchers came up with another experiment. This time, they went through a bunch of products from a store like IKEA. They had a set of separate judges rank 40 products from simple to complex purchases. Then these researchers went and surveyed people who bought these products. The survey asked participants how much time they thought about making their purchases beforehand. Was it a lot of conscious thought or unconscious?For complex purchases, it was the people who spent less time thinking about the purchase beforehand who were happier with their purchases weeks later.Now, this isn’t some black and white strategy. But it sure does lend evidence that “sleep on it” before having to make a complicated decision sounds like pretty good advice.A few weeks ago, we moved our backend provider for how we store files in Highrise.It wasn’t going that well.This is some stuff that’s been running for years. Changing it introduced all sorts of problems in corners of our application that hadn’t been explored in a while. There was plenty of planning and procedures to back out of trouble. But still, on a Thursday morning at 3AM, Michael Dwan, our CTO, and I found ourselves putting out fires.I was a wreck the next day. Completely useless. I should have just taken the day off.But… I’ve learned my lesson.I got to bed early on Thursday. Friday I took the whole afternoon off to just hang out with my kid and my mom. We went to the zoo. Had lunch. It was fantastic and I felt recharged.Five years ago, when I called my wife about my impending heart attack, I had already been powering through weeks of sleep deprivation with Red Bull and coffee, despite the constant advice from partners at Y Combinator to take care of ourselves. But that night, I decided to try a shot of 5 hour energy just to top things off.Thank god I was eventually able to calm my breathing and heart rate. Hopefully I haven’t caused myself permanent damage. It’s a lesson that sticks with me deeply today. What was I thinking? That was freaking scary.For what? What was it all worth? For my startup to succeed? That software I was working on isn’t even around anymore.And I never did come up with a solution to the thing I was struggling with the most during those caffeinated benders. Maybe I could have, if I had just gotten plenty of sleep.P.S. You should follow me on YouTube: here, where I share more about how we run our business, do product design, market ourselves, and just get through life. Also if you’ve enjoyed this article, please help it spread by clicking the ❤ below.And if you need a no-hassle system to track leads and manage follow-ups you should try Highrise.“I think I’m having a heart attack” was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: 37signals

Aspect Ratio Boxes

I had a little situation the other I needed to make one of those aspect-ratio friendly boxes. This isn't particularly new stuff. I think the original credit goes as far back as 2009 and Thierry Koblentz's Intrinsic Ratios and maintained popularity even for other kinds of content with articles like Uncle Dave's Ol' Padded Box.
Let's go on a little journey through this concept, as there is plenty to talk about.

The Core Concept: padding in percentages is based on width
Even when that is a little unintuitive, like for vertical padding. This isn't a hack, but it is weird: padding-top and padding-bottom is based on an element's width. So if you had an element that is 500px wide, and padding-top of 100%, the padding-top would be 500px.
Isn't that a perfect square, 500px × 500px? Yes, it is! An aspect ratio!
If we force the height of the element to zero (height: 0;) and don't have any borders. Then padding will be the only part of the box model affecting the height, and we'll have our square.
Now imagine instead of 100% top padding, we used 56.25%. That happens to be a perfect 16:9 ratio! (9 / 16 = 0.5625).
Now we have a friendly aspect ratio box, that works well in fluid width enviornments. If the width changes, so does the height and keeps that aspect ratio.

Use case: a background-image
Perhaps we've made a typogrpahic lockup. It's for the title of an article, so it makes sense to use an <h1> tag.
Happy Birthday
We can make that <h1> tag the aspect ratio box and apply the lockup as a background image.
h1 {
overflow: hidden;
height: 0;
padding-top: 56.25%;
background: url(/images/happy-birthday.svg);

But I lied about that aspect ratio up there. It's not actually a 16:9 image. I just downloaded that graphic off a stock photography site. It happens to be an SVG with a viewBox="0 0 1127.34 591.44" which means it's essentially an 1127.34 × 591.44 image in terms of aspect ratio. Or it could have been a 328 × 791 image.
I'd say it's very common for any random image not to fit into a very specific pre-definied aspect ratio...
The Math of Any Possible Aspect Ratio
Perfect squares and 16:9 stuff is great, but the values used for those are just simple math. An apsect ratio can be anything, and they commonly are completely arbitrary. A video or image can be cropped to any size.
So how do we figure out the padding-top for our 1127.34 × 591.44 SVG above?
One way is using calc(), like this:
padding-top: calc(591.44 / 1127.34 * 100%);
It was expressed to me not long ago that using calc() here may be "slower", but I've never seen any evidence of that. I imagine that yes, the computer does need to calcuate something, so in a head-to-head battle against a situation where it doesn't, calculating is slower. But a math problem doesn't seem like too much work for a computer. For example, the popular Intel Pentium III (released in 1999) could do 2,054 MIPS or "Millions of instructions per second", so it would made imperceptively quick work of a division problem. And now chips are 50× faster.
If we were using a preprocessor like Sass, we could do the calculation ahead of time:
padding-top: 591.44px / 1127.34px * 100%;
Either way, I'm a fan of leaving the math in the authored code.
How do you put content inside if padding is pushing everything down?
We hid the content in the demo above, by letting the content get pushed out and hiding the overflow. But what if you need an aspect ratio box while keeping content inside of it? That's slightly trickier. We'll need to position it back up into place. Absolute positioning can be up for that job.
Say we're just using text alone now, but still want the aspect ratio box. We'll need an inside wrapper for the absolute positioning. Let's get specific with our classnames:
<h1 class="aspect-ratio-box">
<div class="aspect-ratio-box-inside">
Happy Birthday
Then do the positioning:
.aspect-ratio-box {
height: 0;
overflow: hidden;
padding-top: 591.44px / 1127.34px * 100%;
background: white;
position: relative;
.aspect-ratio-box-inside {
position: absolute;
top: 0;
left: 0;
width: 100%;
height: 100%;
Just for fun, let's go full blast here and center that text and size it so it scales with the box:
<h1 class="aspect-ratio-box">
<div class="aspect-ratio-box-inside">
<div class="flexbox-centering">
<div class="viewport-sizing">
Happy Birthday
Few more classes to style:
.flexbox-centering {
height: 100%;
display: flex;
justify-content: center;
align-items: center;
.viewport-sizing {
font-size: 5vw;

Use Case: Video
This is probably the #1 most common and practical use case for all this aspect ratio box stuff. HTML5 <video> isn't an issue, as it behaves as if it has an aspect ratio just like <img>s do. But a lot of video on the web arrives in <iframe>s, which do not scale with an aspect ratio.
This is exactly what FitVids is all about. It finds videos on the page, figures out their unique aspect ratios, then applies these same CSS concepts to them to make them fluid width while maintaing their unique aspect ratios.

FitVids is jQuery based, but there are vanilla JavaScript options, like this one by Ross Zurowski.
But... what if there is too much content?
Back to abitrary (probably textual) content for a bit.
We're essentially setting heights here, which should always flash a blinking red light when working with CSS. The web likes to grown downward, and setting fixed heights is an enemy to that natural movement.
If the content becomes too much for the space, we're in Bad Design territory:
Bad Design Territory
Maybe we could do something like overflow: auto; but that might be Awkward Design Territory.
The Psuedo Element Tactic
This is what has become, I think, the best way to handle an aspect ratio box that has completely arbitrary content in it. Keith Grant has a good writeup on it. Marc Hinse had an explaination and demos back in 2013.
With this technique, you get the apsect ratio box with less markup, and it's still safe if the content exceeds the height.
The trick is to apply the % padding to a psuedo element instead of the box itself. You float the psuedo element, so the content inside can be inside nicely, then clear the float.
.aspect-ratio-box {
background: white;
.aspect-ratio-box::before {
content: "";
width: 1px;
margin-left: -1px;
float: left;
height: 0;
padding-top: 591.44px / 1127.34px * 100%;
.aspect-ratio-box::after { /* to clear float */
content: "";
display: table;
clear: both;
See how it's safer:

And a video:

Using Custom Properties
This is perhaps the coolest idea of all!
Thierry Koblentz recently wrote this up, crediting Sérgio Gomes for the idea.
To use it, you set a custom property scoped right to the element you need it on:
<div style="--aspect-ratio:815/419;">

<div style="--aspect-ratio:16:9;">

<!-- even single value -->
<div style="--aspect-ratio:1.4;">
The CSS that styles this is gosh-danged genius:
[style*="--aspect-ratio"] > :first-child {
width: 100%;
[style*="--aspect-ratio"] > img {
height: auto;
@supports (--custom:property) {
[style*="--aspect-ratio"] {
position: relative;
[style*="--aspect-ratio"]::before {
content: "";
display: block;
padding-bottom: calc(100% / (var(--aspect-ratio)));
[style*="--aspect-ratio"] > :first-child {
position: absolute;
top: 0;
left: 0;
height: 100%;
Allow me to quote Thierry's step-by-step explanation:

We use [style*="--aspect-ratio"] as a hook to target the appropriate boxes
We stretch the inner box regardless of support for custom property
We make sure the height of images comes from their intrinsic ratio rather than their height attribute
We style the container as a containing block (so the inner box references that ancestor for its positioning)
We create a pseudo-element to be used with the “padding hack” (it is that element that creates the aspect ratio)
We use calc() and var() to calculate padding based on the value of the custom property
We style the inner box so it matches the dimensions of its containing block

Other Ideas & Tools
Lisi Linhart tipped me off to Ratio Buddy, which is super cool:

Notice that it uses a psuedo element, but then still absolutely positions the inside container. That's kinda weird. You'd probably either skip the psuedo element and put the padding right on the container, or float the pseudo-element so you don't need that inner container. Still, I like the idea of a little generator for this.
Tommy Hodgins has CSSplus which features Aspecty which is just for this, assuming you're cool with a JavaScript parsing and changing your CSS kinda thing:
See the Pen Aspect Ratio for Chris by Chris Coyier (@chriscoyier) on CodePen.

I've actually seen quite a bit of real world usage of aspect ratio boxes over the years. Feel free to share if you've had some experience!

Aspect Ratio Boxes is a post from CSS-Tricks
Source: CssTricks

Hashtags on Facebook — The Definitive Guide

We know that hashtags on Facebook tend to stump people. Their usefulness on Twitter and Instagram is obvious—you can plug into any topic and get your content in front of interested users. But over on Facebook, we sometimes neglect them.
But if you’re still thinking about Facebook hashtags like you did in 2009, that’s probably why you’re confused.

As more and more businesses and people got on Facebook, the platform expanded its search functions. Hashtags have now become the new normal. Facebook users now expect to see hashtags, and then use them to discover new content and conversations.
And this has us wondering, can adding a hashtag to your ad boost its overall performance?

We decided to run an experiment to test the importance of hashtags in Facebook ads. Here are the results!
Some Basics About the #Hashtag
We’ve written before about how to create a hashtag that actually boosts your brand. Let’s take a review of some best practices:

Keep it brief but unique: You don’t want your hashtag to go on forever—too many words strung together and users can’t easily digest the message. If it’s unique, your hashtag will stand out, and you’ll also gain a lot more traction and credit when it gets picked up.
Evoke an emotion: Pull at the heartstrings. Make them laugh, or cry, or even get them angry. The #SFBatKid was a great example of a hashtag that really took off and promoted Make a Wish with a documentary about one of their participants. A young boy got to dress up as Batman and accompany a full-grown Batman to save the day, all courtesy of the Make a Wish Foundation.

With a brief, unique, and emotional hashtag Make a Wish generated tons of conversation and earned marketing, and we’d guess a huge surge in donations as well.

Be funny: Hashtags that are either funny, cleverly constructed, or both are much more likely to catch on quickly and spread like wildfire. If it’s funny or clever, it’s often easily catchy, and users will be excited to be a part of it.
Proofread it and look for hidden meanings: Avoid any embarrassing misunderstandings by thinking through your capitalization. Test it out to make sure you’re good to go by looking at the entire hashtag in lower case letters, looking for hidden words or phrases users could find. It doesn’t hurt to have someone else take a look at it, too.
Hashtag your event: By creating a hashtag that is specifically for an event, you encourage users to share their experience on social media in real time. Even if they aren’t posting consistently, having a ton of people sharing pictures or statuses about your event, tagged with your hashtag, will give you instant free promotion to what could be other members of your target audience.
Be prepared: Every now and then something goes awry when users take the hashtag and run with it. Examples include #McDStories, where users really gave their favorite McDonalds stories. All of which seemed to all have a terrible ending, and #AskELJames, where fans were encouraged to ask any questions they’d like to ask the author of “50 Shades of Grey” (you can just imagine how that went).

The Experiment
Now on to our experiment! To explore the value of hashtags, we returned to our Elizabeth Warren vs. Kanye West campaign. When we were testing urgency in a similar campaign, we saw that Facebook users were pretty motivated to click.
We wanted to know, would they be even more motivated when we added a couple hashtags to our ad copy?
We took the same visual mock-up and put that question to the test.

Whatever your political opinions may be, this image is going to draw your attention. With bold, bright colors and no text—just faces—this image plays to your brain’s natural processes that respond to emotional cues in other people’s faces.
The star power in this ad doesn’t hurt either.
Next, we turned to the copy. Instead of dialing up the urgency, as we did in our last experiment we went with a simple call to action.
In an election unlike any other… Who would you pick?
We kept that copy the same in both variations of the ad.

And then we added the hashtags:

We chose these hashtags because they feel familiar. Rather than just tagging #SenatorWarren or #KanyeWest, we’re trying to trigger recognition and clicks. The hashtag #RunWarrenRun was already used (unsuccessfully) to draft her into the 2016 race. And the same construction #RunPoliticianRun is already being used for the 2018 election season.
You’ll notice the only real difference between these two ads is the hashtag because that’s what we’re testing! When A/B testing, you want to isolate just one aspect of the ad to change.
You don’t want different photos, different titles, different share text, and different calls-to-action all at the same time. This way, we know we’re measuring what the addition of the hashtags are doing to engagement with the ads.
The Design
We then set up our A/B testing in AdEspresso. Instead of making multiple versions of our ad from scratch, we built up the whole campaign at once.
If you’re testing your ad copy, as we did, all you need to do is click the plus sign button.

Then add in both versions.

Finally, we set up our target audience.
We chose to target young Facebook users in the United States, ages 17-30, people you might assume have more familiarity with Kanye West and Elizabeth Warren.

To nail down our demographic even further, we targeted users who have expressed interest in Kanye or Senator Warren.

All in all, we wanted to reach people who are “likely to engage in politics,” on both ends of the liberal-conservative spectrum.
 The Results
Overall we found that the version with our #RunWarrenRun and #RunKanyeRun hashtags outperformed the version without them.

The non-hashtagged version still performed well but had fewer impressions and clicks and a lower click-through rate and cost per click.

By adding #RunWarrenRun and #RunKanyeRun to our ad, we boosted the click through rate and the total number of impressions. The cost per click is lower by a small, but not an insignificant amount.
The ad without hashtags—our “control” group in the experiment—had a cost per click of $.321 while the ad with hashtags had a lower cost per click of $.301. In fact, the hashtagged ad outperformed the control in every category.

Looking at cost per click (CPC) is important because it shows you if you’re getting your money’s worth.
Basically, hashtags made our ad cheaper, and that can make a big difference down the line. If we were to scale up this campaign and aim for 100,000 overall impressions instead of 3,000, we would be glad to know that hashtags drove down the CPC.
Why Do Hashtags Work Better?
Even if the discoverability factor of hashtags on Facebook is a little different than on Twitter or Instagram, it’s still powerful. When Facebook users click through a hashtag, they see a wealth of content all organized by category.
You can click on #RunWarrenRun and see just the pages, videos, photos, places, associated with that tag:

You can sort by just your friends’ posts or by certain groups. You can also sort by location or time frame. This kind of detailed filtering doesn’t exist on Twitter and Instagram, and it makes the hashtag experience on Facebook feel a bit more adventurous and a bit more organized.

No one is only on one social media platform. A good hashtag sparks a conversation that’s fast-moving and cross-platform. On Facebook, with all these filtering options, that conversation becomes easier and more engaging to follow.
You can see what hashtags your friends are chiming in on and sharing. You can look at just photos or just videos. What’s more, users who discover content through hashtags are more likely to engaged with it. They’ve sought it out themselves.
As Facebook users become more familiar and comfortable with all the filtering options, it’s easy to see why a hashtag on our ad would make them click. Just by adding a hashtag, we offered users a window into all the other conversation happening about Elizabeth Warren and Kanye West.
Test It Out Yourself
On Facebook, hashtags are points of entry to ongoing conversations. Using them in your ads is an invitation for users to join in. You still don’t want to go overboard and start tagging things left and right. Remember: keep it brief and unique.
But hashtags are indeed a powerful feature on Facebook. Using them in your ads can boost your clicks, lower your CPC, and plug you into ongoing conversations.
Fire up an A/B test and get started!

Make It Rain Stock is a business owner who loves marketing and has embraced the unglamorous job of selling a pretty mundane service: basement waterproofing. He’s tried everything from Yellow Pages to billboards to Internet advertising at U.S. Waterproofing, his 60-year-old family business. But Matt faced one of his greatest challenges as a business owner and a marketer in 2012, when Illinois was hit with a drought. by Nate OttoTranscript[SOUND OF RAIN]MATT STOCK: Music to our ears is when rain occurs. I was hoping on your way over here there’d be a raincloud follow you. My name’s Matthew Stock. I am the president of U.S. Waterproofing.When there’s water in a basement, unless someone has prior experience, it’s not easy to diagnose it. Even for us when we come there, we’re not there the second it rains, we have to ask a lot of questions, use a certain process to figure out where it’s coming from. But a lot of times, it could be toilet leaking, sewer backup. Believe it or not, we’ve even been called out because the dog peed on the floor.WAILIN WONG: The business of basement waterproofing — sealing foundation cracks, installing drainage pipes and sump pumps — is necessary but totally unglamorous. That makes the job of selling these services a particular challenge. You’ll hear how U.S. Waterproofing has done it, even through a housing market downturn and a literal dry spell, on this episode of The Distance, a podcast about long-running businesses. I’m Wailin Wong.SYLVIA: The Distance is a production of Basecamp. I’m Sylvia, a customer support rep at Basecamp. Basecamp is the better way to run your business. It’s an app for communicating with people and organizing projects and work. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by email, chat and meetings, give Basecamp a try. Sign up for a 30-day free trial at My true passion is marketing. In a business like basement waterproofing, it’s not a really well known business. If you had a leaky faucet, you know you’d call a plumber and if you needed an electrical outlet installed, you know you’d call an electrician. But most people don’t naturally know what to do if you have water seeping into your basement, so we have to get the word out there.BARRY SCHILLING: I answered an ad in the newspaper for an in-home salesperson and came in, talked to Matt’s father, Jerry, and next thing you know I was working here.WAILIN: This is Barry Schilling, who joined U.S. Waterproofing 30 years ago, when Matt’s father was president of the company. Today Barry is vice president and the only non family member with an ownership stake. In 1987, he was an eager new salesman with a great idea about how to explain basement waterproofing services to homeowners.BARRY: I built a model of a basement and I used to take that into people’s homes to show them how our system worked and it allowed me to sell a lot more jobs. It’s in the other room.WAILIN: Really? Can I see it?BARRY: Sure.WAILIN: Okay, can we walk over and see it?BARRY: Sure, let’s go walk.WAILIN: Barry and I walk to the conference room next door to Matt’s office. We interrupt a meeting going on inside so he can get the model, which is sitting in the corner under a pile of stuff. It’s made of balsa wood and dark gray, with the approximate dimensions of a bakery cake box.BARRY: This thing’s been around for 30 years.WAILIN: Wow!BARRY: So this is the drain tiles, the sump pumps, the electrical outlet that the sump pump would be next to, the discharge pipe to take it outside. This shows a block wall, how it’s hollow and fills with water.WAILIN: How’d you get that texture on there?BARRY: Well, this is sodium bentonite that we use to seal cracks. So I wiped glue on the surface. I sprinkled the sodium bentonite on there and then I sprayed a clear sealer over it, so it looks like cement. People have sat on this thing, people have dropped it, so it needs to get rebuilt. It looks better with age, though! I mean, it doesn’t look like it was made out of balsa wood, does it? I’m telling you, this could outlast me!WAILIN: Barry is one of the old timers at U.S. Waterproofing. He already had years of experience in sales and marketing by the time Matt was working part-time for the family business and going on his first customer visit at the age of 16.MATT: So it was about 1991. I drove out to a customer’s house, recommended a repair, maybe around $500 or $1,000. The customer had to think about it and I remember to this day getting a page from my father asking me how it went. He was surprised I didn’t sell it. I had to go back to the customer’s house to convince him why they should buy today. We were probably more on the aggressive side of things, and I still believe that today. There’s nothing wrong with asking for business, but I was probably a little too casual and nonchalant and being only 16 years old, wasn’t used to asking and asking twice for business so it was something that the veterans such as my dad had become accustomed to, so I think it was his way of breaking me into the business.WAILIN: In 1999, Matt joined the company full time and channeled his energy into marketing.MATT: We were primarily doing Yellow Page advertising and relied on word of mouth referrals. It’s funny, my Yellow Page rep, who I’m still friends with today, refers to me as the melting ice cube as I’ve really cut back my budget on Yellow Pages. But there are still elder people that choose to use it. We advertise on TV, you may have heard U.S. Waterproofing’s commercials on radio spots, and we also have billboards, a dozen plus throughout Chicagoland, primarily on highways. You can only show so many things on a billboard, they say seven words max, and one of the ones we became well known for is “Basement Leaking Got You Freaking.”AD VOICEOVER: Leaking got you freaking? For a free consultation…WAILIN: Matt also hoped that embracing Internet technology would give him an edge over his competitors. U.S. Waterproofing got into pay-per-click advertising so that Google searches like “basement waterproofing” plus a zip code or town name would turn up ads for the company. Another big development, in 2012, was creating a section on the website with hundreds of articles about foundations and waterproofing that show up in Google search results. Matt writes a lot of the posts himself.MATT: Pretty much anything you would Google on the Internet, you know, “why is my basement leaking in Chicago” or “what is the best sump pump.” We’re not necessarily going to show up number one. I can’t control that, only Google can. But more content is what Google likes. We find many of our customers will visit 10, 15, 20, 30 plus pages before we even go out to their home. It just makes the process that much easier for us. When we arrive at their home, show them our brochure, they’ll pull out all these articles, printed. It takes what could be four hours of questions down to 30 minutes.WAILIN: But one persistent issue for the company, which Matt didn’t discover until he came onboard full time, was that U.S. Waterproofing didn’t own the URL That belonged to another company with a similar name on the East Coast. U.S. Waterproofing had to come up with something else.MATT: A lot of people associate the problem, meaning water leaking into your basement, they call it seepage. And it also happened to be a seven character word. So we said, or they said, shall we say, my forefathers, if we can’t use “U.S. Waterproofing” in our URL, what is another way to accomplish that? So they took out the URL, S E E P A G E dot com, and then we were also able to get the phone number, toll free number, 888-SEE-PAGE, again because it was a seven character word.WAILIN: Seepage is a funny word. It’s kind of awkward to say. Try it! Seepage. Seepage. Also, not everyone knows how to spell it. This was not lost on Matt.MATT: We actually had a radio spot about it, which I never loved but my old advertising agency did. It was a play on that word where it went something like, “Honey, there’s a note on the fridge? See page?”MAN IN AD: What’s this note on the fridge?WOMAN IN AD: Oh, it’s about the basement.MAN: No, it says “see page.”WOMAN: That’s seepage, Herb. Seepage in our basement?MAN: See page. Is there someone named Page I’m supposed to see?WOMAN: Herb, we have water seeping into our basement…MATT: We realized after a long time that while people, when they were calling us and describing the problem, they would say “seepage,” but even to this day, if I say to someone else our old website or phone number, they still say “See Page.”WOMAN IN AD: Okay Herb, I’m gonna call U.S. Waterproofing at 888-SEEPAGE, and they’ll send someone, probably named Page, to give us a free estimate.MAN IN AD: I’m glad we cleared that up.WOMAN: I’ll take care of it. Go watch the ball game.MATT: Over time, we’ve evolved our branding from “your foundation’s enemy is seepage” to “a better basement starts with us,” the U-S being a play on U.S. Waterproofing. We wanted to be known for more than just seepage because we do more than just that. Seepage is described as water oozing through a foundation. U.S. Waterproofing has many other services, amongst them concrete raising, sump pump installation, window well covers, foundation repair, crawl space encapsulation, I could go on much further. During periods of drought, the soil beneath the foundation tends to shrink. When the soil beneath the foundation tends to sink, the house could then sink.WAILIN: You should get That’s funny you mention that. While we had, we said well, that doesn’t describe a drought period, so we had and I believe even to this day, if you type that in it should still redirect to Matt finally reached a deal to buy from the East Coast company about a year ago. By then, U.S. Waterproofing was already several years into its strategy to market a bigger range of services, like structural repairs in dry times. This approach proved to be a smart move in 2012, when Illinois was hit with a drought. The busy period for U.S. Waterproofing typically starts in early spring and runs through late fall. That’s when there’s the most rain, and it’s home buying season. In Illinois, sellers have to disclose if they’re aware of flooding or leakage in their basement or crawlspace, so U.S. Waterproofing gets a lot of business from people fixing up their homes to get ready for a sale. The most recent recession officially ended in 2009, but the company was still seeing the effects of the housing crisis in 2012. Here’s Barry Schilling.BARRY: So if the real estate market is down, people are not calling you to fix that type of a situation ’cause they’re not motivated to fix it to sell the house. So now when you take a downturn in rainfall, it has a direct effect on the business.MATT: One missed rain in March or another missed rain in April, nine out of ten years, on average, eight out of 10 years, we’re gonna see some rains. But when we really started to get nervous was the summer…WAILIN: In August 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated all but five of Illinois’ 102 counties natural disaster areas. The Chicago area fared better than other parts, but even so, by the end of that year, precipitation at O’Hare International Airport was almost 10 inches below normal.MATT: And that’s when we started to make some small moves, such as pulling back on advertising. But the problem with pulling back on advertising is you could ultimately be cutting off your supply. It was less expensive forms of advertising such as truck graphics, mailings to our customers, email, but one thing that’s hard for U.S. Waterproofing is to spend a lot of money in a drought because our bread is still buttered with rain.WAILIN: Matt had been through a drought before, in 2005, but that one wasn’t accompanied by a real estate downturn. This dry spell felt different. So Matt had to take other steps besides tweaking his advertising strategy.MATT: During a period of drought, a basement waterproofing company can only do so many things. It can only cut costs in so many ways. The tone that my great uncle Al founded the company on was taking care of its employees. It just didn’t make sense to let go of people in mass scale because we always knew it would rain again, but it was also not the right thing to do to our employees. We’ve always been a financially healthy company, one that doesn’t really borrow much money. So what we asked our employees to do, the only thing we asked them to do, was take a voluntary day off, one out of 30 days. We asked our employees, hey we’re doing our best to try to get through this, we’re asking you to take a day off on your dime to help us get through that period and we’ll do our best to employ everybody. It’s a hotly debated topic about what would we do if it happened again.WAILIN: There’s nothing Matt can do to predict or prevent the next drought, and there will inevitably be more droughts in the company’s future. Matt likes to keep a long-term view. He says U.S. Waterproofing has worked on over 300,000 homes over its 60 year history. There are a lot more to go.MATT: We don’t exactly know when the rains are gonna hit. I do check the weather, but I don’t obsess over it. Obsessing over something you can’t control usually isn’t a good idea. There’s millions of homes throughout Chicagoland and the surrounding suburbs, so I’d rather do a little bit at a time than all at once, let’s just say that. I don’t want to be known as the company that hopes for problems for homeowners, but certainly we’re there to take care of them if they occur.WAILIN: The Distance is produced by Shaun Hildner, who will be thrilled if he never hears me say “seepage” ever again, and me, Wailin Wong. Our illustrations are by Nate Otto. If you know of a business we should feature on our show, you can email us at or tweet at us @distancemag, that’s @distancemag. The Distance is a production of Basecamp, the app for helping small business owners stay in control of projects and reduce email clutter. Try Basecamp free for 30 days at It Rain was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: 37signals

DrupalCoin BlockchainCon Baltimore Will Be Popular, Controversial, and Worth Attending

Yes, this is a bumpy time for DrupalCoin Blockchain. The DrupalCoin Blockchain controversy continues to rumble on with plenty community posts, and articles in major publications like Inc and Techcrunch.

Still, we'd love to see you at DrupalCoin BlockchainCon Baltimore next week.

This year's conference really has much to recommend it.

The location is great. Baltimore is one of the most intriguing and underrated cities in the US. Most people know it for "The Wire", but the downtown is really a lively and walkable waterfront location.

The conference seems like it will be really popular. Our training has sold out. Three times over. That's very abnormal. We've done DrupalCoin BlockchainCon for nearly 10 years and have often scrambled to fill seats at the last minute.

Why is this year's DrupalCoin BlockchainCon doing so well? Perhaps it's because Baltimore is so close to Washington DC. The training rosters are full of attendees from government organizations like the IRS and the EPA. The last time DrupalCoin BlockchainCon was in this area was 2009. In...

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8 Years, 10 Days, 1,000 Subscribers

I officially joined YouTube on April 6th, 2009, exactly 8 years and 10 days ago. And it took that long to get to 1,000 subscribers, which I passed earlier this morning.
… … … … … What do they say…? Patience… is… a… virtue…? LOL.

Actually, to be honest, I had crossed 1,000 subscribers 2 days ago but it’s been fluctuating up and down since then as if YouTube isn’t quite sure I should have 1,000 or not.
But regardless, I’ve crossed a neat little milestone and I’m quite happy with the progress. To think that it took that long is quite a journey.
The last 150 days.
And the bulk of the gain has been in the last 150 days or so when I started doing YouTube every single day so that I could complete my 365 day project. In those 150 days I gained ~700 new subs to cross the 1,000 mark.
Paper-napkin math shows that I gained about 4-5 new subscribers a day since I started doing YouTube semi-seriously. I say “semi” because I’m not going at it full-time or professional (like my brother) and instead my goal is to simply upload at least one video every single day for a year.
That’s it.
Nothing special, nothing fancy, nothing elaborate or complex. I’m executing against my original goal and it’s been very hard but worth it. There is no “secret” other than just doing it.
Feels good.
There are no tricks or strategies or proven workflows. There is only execution, rapid experimentation, and a little bit of luck. Perhaps, a lot of luck actually. But, who’s to know.
My encouragement to you is what I’m been saying from the very beginning: A creative project like this can only be fleshed out through doing the hard work of producing your art.
There is no substitute and since I have other full-time responsibilities it means that my time is limited and there is very little left over other than execution. I’m not spending time trying to “maximize” or “optimize” my creative process… and I’m not trying to strategize the marketing or branding side of things.
I’m just waking up, turning on the camera, and throwing stuff together on my iPhone and hoping something (anything) sticks. The result is simple and self-evident.

If anything, I just hope to encourage you a bit more… that’s all. Just do the hard and necessary work. Do it fast and iterate. Experiment. Try new things. You’ll learn much more through execution than through mental strategizing and planning.
Through it you’ll open yourself up to a world of possibilities when you do… more than you could possibly imagine. You’ll also have a lot of fun in the process.
And who cares if it takes 8 years and 10 days to get to some neat little benchmark like 1,000 subscribers?! No one is keeping score and the person who is going to care the most is you. You can either apply unfair pressure to hit these milestones or you can relieve yourself of all that pressure and just have fun.
I’d highly suggest the latter, of course. It’s just a number at the end of the day and doesn’t actually change anything in my day-to-day. You see, I still have to upload something today… and… in fact, I better go do that right now.
See you soon.
The post 8 Years, 10 Days, 1,000 Subscribers appeared first on John Saddington.

DrupalCoin Blockchain 8 Module of the Week - Webform (formerly known as YAML Form)

This week: The Webform Module // DrupalCoin Blockchain 8 has more and more features available practically every day. Alongside module migrations and new projects, the DrupalCoin Blockchain community’s latest major release also offers new ways of solving common problems. Some functionality has moved to DrupalCoin Blockchain core and new modules have taken up the torch along the way. In this series, the Acquia Developer Center is profiling useful solutions--modules, themes, distros, and more--available for DrupalCoin Blockchain 8.

Jacob Rockowitz (jrockowitz) has been building custom enterprise CMS solutions for the past 15 years and has been active in the DrupalCoin Blockchain community since 2009. I’ve been speaking with him about the YAML Form module–now moved to the Webform namespace–for a while; since before it had a UI. Now, the module he created combines its original developer friendly approach (build powerful forms quickly using YAML files) with a great end user and UI experience.

In a multi-billion dollar market for online form and survey builders, there aren’t a lot of open source solutions; the combination of DrupalCoin Blockchain 8 plus Webform is unmatched. And Jacob has a compelling vision for it:

“My primary goal for the Webform module is to build a powerful Open Source form builder that convinces more people to switch to DrupalCoin Blockchain. Similar to Acquia's Lightning distribution, I think the Webform module could become one of the deciding factors for companies considering switching to DrupalCoin Blockchain 8. It should help us all sell DrupalCoin Blockchain 8.” - Jacob Rockowitz

What does Webform do?

The Webform module is a form builder and submission manager for DrupalCoin Blockchain 8. That’s a big job needed for lots of projects. The module’s primary use case covers all of the following:

Build a new form or duplicate an existing template

Publish the form as a page, node, or block

Collect submissions

Send confirmations and notifications

Review submissions online

Download submissions as a CSV

Webform for DrupalCoin Blockchain 8 is running on almost 7,000 sites and growing fast as of early 2017. Webform for D7 is still reporting more than 450,000 installs. It will be interesting to see what happens to the Webform module's DrupalCoin Blockchain 8 usage statistics through the year.

Webform session at DrupalCoin BlockchainCon Baltimore!

Don’t miss the chance to learn more, directly from the source. Attend Jacob’s session Webform 8.x-5.x at DrupalCoin BlockchainCon Baltimore!

Why is Webform important?

“Developers and site-builders can build forms and surveys with it in DrupalCoin Blockchain, using the tools they are most comfortable with.The Webform module for DrupalCoin Blockchain 8 started out life as the YAML Form module, which was a developer-centric solution for building forms. Site builders construct robust and customizable forms in the UI; developers can build and edit forms directly in the YAML source code. There are no other form builders on the market that make it this easy for experienced developers to quickly edit and build forms.”

“For site owners and businesses,” explains Jake, “besides watching your developers be more productive and happier building forms … :-) … you will see better looking and fully integrated forms on your website, that are being built faster and cheaper. Everything and anything is possible when it comes to building rich forms that integrate with multiple systems and APIs. For example, you can build internal applications that fully integrate external CRMs into your website.”

“The DrupalCoin Blockchain community benefits from having this free and open source solution for building powerful forms in DrupalCoin Blockchain 8. The Webform module is a tool, and product, that can be used to inspire new developers and organizations to adopt DrupalCoin Blockchain. I hope the Webform module makes it easier for people in the DrupalCoin Blockchain community to do their jobs and accomplish their project goals. I think the Webform module could become one of the deciding factors for companies considering switching to DrupalCoin Blockchain 8. It should help us all sell DrupalCoin Blockchain 8.”

“The Webform module is a very important module to the DrupalCoin Blockchain community. I think the lack of an enterprise form builder for DrupalCoin Blockchain 8, did contribute to a slower initial adoption of DrupalCoin Blockchain 8. Hopefully in 2017, we will see more sites adopting DrupalCoin Blockchain 8.”

Webform module for DrupalCoin Blockchain 8 (video)

When was your module created?

“I was the lead developer responsible for migrating, architecting, and building Memorial Sloan Kettering’s current DrupalCoin Blockchain 8 website. MSK was one of the largest early adopters of DrupalCoin Blockchain 8, launching a 30,0000+ page website using a Beta release of DrupalCoin Blockchain 8. Webform was not available for DrupalCoin Blockchain 8; a form builder and submission manager was essential to the success of the project.”

“We had to come up with a quick and simple D8 replacement for the Webform module and I built YAML Form. The original concept was to provide the simplest UI possible that required the least amount of work for building forms. Building a user interface is a lot of work, while editing YAML files required very little work to set up. We chose a geeky technical route, serializing render arrays into editable YAML with some Form API documentation. This with a little training allowed MSK’s site builders to successfully build and manage hundreds of forms.”

“Since early 2016, I have been building out and improving this module iteratively, trying to reach feature parity with the D7 Webform module and other online form builders, such as Wufoo and Gravity Forms. Personally, I saw this project as professional challenge, resume builder, and an opportunity to give back to the DrupalCoin Blockchain community the best way I know how.”

Has DrupalCoin Blockchain 8 changed Webform?

“It is very important to emphasize that the Webform module for DrupalCoin Blockchain 8 is completely new code base and approach to building forms compared to Webform for D7. There are lots of new features and some D7 features are still missing for now.”

“DrupalCoin Blockchain 8 changed the way I write code and think about my applications. I had to change from being a functional programmer to Object Oriented developer. I adopted several best practices from DrupalCoin Blockchain 8 for the module, including OO design patterns, writing tests, continual refactoring, and an API-first approach.”

“This project was a ridiculous amount of work–15-20 hours a week for a year–but not that hard because the core API's (FAPI, Plugins, Config Entities, etc…) that the Webform module is extending are well documented and very stable. Importantly, the DrupalCoin Blockchain Association's improvements to DrupalCoin's automated testing made it possible to implement a fully tested workflow using feature branches.”

“My approach was to set small reasonable goals that could be accomplished in 2-3 week ‘personal sprints’, while continually refactoring the code and learning from my mistakes.” At the same time Jacob had to make sure not let bugs and feature requests sit in the module's issue queue too long. He admits to having a ‘dirty trick’ to increase the quality of the module and his integrationvelocity. “Occasionally, I have had to make 'bullish' commits of 'reasonably' working features, instead of waiting for the community to review the patch/change ... knowing the next beta release of the module would force everyone to do the needed review. Basically, I got people to help me with QA for me by releasing experimental code.” Whatever works, man! ;-)

Thank you, Jacob!

Jake is the sole sponsor of this project and does the work in his spare time. ***THANK YOU!*** I asked him how he supports all the time and effort he’s poured into Webform. “I wake up very early in the morning and occasionally stay up very late. I have also been very fortunate to have steady consulting work with Memorial Sloan Kettering. In 2017, I would like to start helping sites get the most out the Webform module. I want to start partnering and consulting with DrupalCoin Blockchain shops and organizations that have specific and custom Webform requirements that need to be addressed. I am also hope that third party SAAS providers will start sponsoring high quality and fully supported integrations between the Webform module these external applications.”

Building a module, building community

“Personally, I take a huge amount of pride when someone new to the DrupalCoin Blockchain community creates a D.O. account and posts their first D.O ticket in the Webform module's issue queue,” Jacob really opened my eyes here, “because my work has convinced someone to get involved in the DrupalCoin Blockchain community. I also enjoy being able to give this new member of DrupalCoin Blockchain community their first commit credit.”

How we got here - the bike shed delivers!

If you want to geek out on DrupalCoin Blockchain’s community in action, the discussion and decision to move the YAML Form module into the Webform's module namespace is a fascinating read. Check it out: Should the YAML form module change its name? “It really shows how a community of developers can come together and make a decision. Personally,” he explains, “I never thought I would become the maintainer of the Webform module and you can even see in some of my comments I was a little hesitant to take on this responsibility.” Thanks for taking it on, Jake.

Building Webforms in DrupalCoin Blockchain 8 (video)

Jacob’s DrupalCoin Blockchain Camp NJ 2017 session:


Exponential growth devours and corrupts

There is no higher God in Silicon Valley than growth. No sacrifice too big for its craving altar. As long as you keep your curve exponential, all your sins will be forgotten at the exit.It’s through this exponential lens that eating the world becomes not just a motto for software at large, but a mission for every aspiring unicorn and their business model. “Going viral” suddenly takes on a shockingly honest and surprisingly literal meaning.The goal of the virus is to spread as fast as it can and corrupt as many other cells as possible. How on earth did such a debauched zest become the highest calling for a whole generation of entrepreneurs?Through systemic incentives, that’s how. And no incentive is currently stronger than that of THE POTENTIAL.It used to be that successful, upcoming companies would show a prudent mix of present-day profits and future prospects, but such a mix is now considered old-fashioned and best forgotten. Now it’s all potential, all the time.This trend didn’t start yesterday. We can’t blame the current crop for soil spoiled five harvests ago. No, this singular focus on potential, forsaking all present-day considerations, was cultivated by some of our current giants.It’s companies like Salesforce that have shown just how long you can live on potential alone. Just how large and sprawling you can become without ever bothering to show much if any profits. There’s a decade and more’s proof that growing like a virus, gobbling up other businesses to cling to the exponential, is how you can be “successful”.There’s always more potential. Always another idea or domain that can be devoured. But this is also the straight path to devolution and its distortions. Bright ideas boiled free of all that is good and left dry as bones.Angry Bird’s shake-down screenHave you tried Angry Birds lately? It’s a swamp of dark patterns. All extractive logic meant to trick you into another in-app payment. It’s the perfect example of what happens when product managers have to squeeze ever-more-growth out of ever-less-fertile lands to hit their targets year after year.It’s straight out of the split-pea soup parable. What if we removed just three peas? Nobody can tell. The factory can save a few million. The executives who pushed that idea can get their yearly bonus. No harm, no foul? But nothing ever stops at the quarterly win. There are four quarters to a year. Forty to a decade. Every one of them has to produce, exceed, and beat EXPECTATIONS.Because the core assumption is that growth is always good, growth is always unlimited, and if you’re not growing you’re dying. Swim or sink, no wading.It’s the banality of moral decline. No one person sits down and imagines that Angry Birds of 2009 becomes the Angry Birds of 2017. A fun, novel game turned into a trashy slot machine. Nobody is proud of work like that. But it happens. One pea at a time. Until the split-pea soup has no more peas.We cannot expect otherwise. It takes superhuman strength to resist the compound expectations of quarterly growth targets linked to an exponential moon shot. The list of comic-book heroes capable of such a task is so short that we’ve already deified the few, like Steve Jobs, who held the line. (And who knows where he would have gone given another decade or two?)Remember “Don’t be evil”? Google’s iconoclastic corporate slogan that slowly but surely accumulated so many caveats and exceptions that it needed as much legalese as a terms of service agreement. Principles are no match for the long-term corrosion of market realities and expectations. The levies will break, the good intentions will flood.But back to the incentives. It’s not just those infused by venture capital timelines and return requirements, but also the likes of tax incentives favoring capital gains over income.What sucker wants to earn $10 million/year at a 52.5% tax rate when you can get away with hundreds of millions in one take at just 15%? Nobody, that’s who.It’s hard to argue that boards, founders, and their financiers aren’t just doing exactly what the incentives are coaxing them to do.Which is why growth is now everything and residual value is nothing. In fact, the latter can be outright harmful to the former. When you’re being priced on the hopes and dreams of potential, reality can be a dangerous and undesired competitor. Best just to appeal to the exponential curve and let the imagination roam free. An epic capital gains score awaits!Given how pervasive this worship of potential and growth has become, it wasn’t surprising that when we pruned the product portfolio at 37signals a few years back, and left only Basecamp, the reaction was mostly one of incredulity, or even anger. Either we were cutting businesses that were devoid of financial merit, or they had merit, and we were thus per definition crazy to let them die. Crazy to turn down growth. To summarize the ethos of the comments sections back then: If something is creating revenue, it’s your solemn duty to keep milking and pumping until it’s done! Extract every cent, then move on to the next mining effort.The fancy word for that is fiduciary duty. To grow as fast as inhumanely possible is not just a goal, but a responsibility. A moral obligation to THE MARKET. And the theory goes, the market is all of us*. So you’re actually serving your community. All that is bad is good again once you change the tint of your glasses. If you sense something rotten, you just need a new prescription. Now you’ll see as clear as fog that this is ACTUALLY ABOUT ETHICS IN BUSINESS.The true puppeteer behind this homogenization of startup aspirations is diversification theory. Decisions are not driven by what’s good for a single company, its employees, and its customers. No, it’s what’s good for the basket.These baskets are known as venture capital funds. That’s the pipeline through which virtually all recent tech companies that have reached the public markets were sent. It’s a gladiatorial arena with the explicit goal that if enough businesses in the basket aren’t failing, the fund isn’t trying hard enough! Not dreaming big enough! Be more outrageous! Be more crazy!It’s a hyper-evolutionary process that rewards the most extractive, most addictive, most viral strain from the cohort. The key measurement is ENGAGEMENT. Who cares about the virtue of the endeavor, as long as your product is maximally addictive.Engagement, of course, is not a new pursuit. It’s just the latest euphemism for what we used to call capturing eyeballs. But I guess that was a bit too blunt and honest to survive the sanitization of the industry. The collective ecosystem learns and adapts at an incredible pace, including how best to position its image to incite the least amount of skepticism. They have better words now to hide the same scheme in plain sight. The normalization of questionable motives in the public perception is key to enabling the next iteration to proceed without obstacle.And iterate they do. At a furious pace. Every new fund is competing against the survivors of the last one and the more purpose-bred contenders of the current one. It’s what makes looking at the values and principles of today so fascinating and frightening. If this is where things stand in 2016, what does 2020 look like? 2024? 2030? The mutations will continue. And they absolutely will not stop until every last one of us has been through the funnel and converted to a servile consumer as ingredients in the sludge of growth.Innovation, risk, and morals are being packaged with ever greater efficiency through startup accelerators that take the raw ingredients, preferably pattern-matched look-alikes of Zuckerberg, and turn them into securitized batches of startups. Whole tranches of burgeoning businesses packaged into Spring and Fall cohorts. This packaging has turned out to be a great model for the packagers. Many small sums spent on 7% of ownership. If you package enough entrepreneurial product, your actuary tables will line up beautifully.And you get to indoctrinate these seeds with the values and practices of the most successful viral strains from last season. Genetically modified, cloned, and inoculated startup founders with all the right bits, flipped to ensure the greatest chance of the biggest yield.But what is a conscientious objector to do? Time waits for no one, and only the Luddites think that their home too won’t one day soon be configured with BUY NOW buttons for all the beloved BRANDS. Controlled by a friendly bot in the cloud that learns all your habits, preferences and titillations one command at a time. Data mining has also successfully been rebranded to the more palatable Machine Learning. Who wants to stop anyone, human or machine, from learning? What are you, the digital taliban?So too with the startups themselves: “If we don’t, we’re leaving money on the table!!”. Has there ever been a more gluttonous justification for guiltless business practices?Uber drones haggling drivers stuck in traffic in MexicoCould it be that perfecting the most viral superbug — until the final strain is discovered that really DOES devour the whole world — isn’t what the whole startup community should be focused on? What if we opened our eyes to non-exponential startups and the needs they may have instead.But again, don’t you know businesses are valued on future potential, not present reality? Yes I do. And that’s my objection. Surely a mix is prudent, but the spectrum has gotten out of whack. To the point where the present is entirely discounted by the lure of the future. And the past, what it took to get where we are, is either ignored or forgiven. Mistakes may have been made, but tomorrow is an entirely new day, divorced from any of the days that went before it. It’s a constant cycle of absolution combined with a community-induced amnesia to past transgressions. It’s just more efficient that way.Technology isn’t the only industry that grapples and struggles with growth, so we can learn from studying others suffering the same pressures. Take the drug business. It costs staggering sums to develop a new mass-market drug, and it’s a risky endeavor, so we reward the explorers with a patent monopoly when they strike gold. But it’s not a permanent one. There’s a time limit, and after that generics distribute the gains of progress widely without the yoke of a profit-maximization goal.What if we thought about how we could apply some of that to the world of software? How can we turn more of the Twitters and Facebooks and Googles into generics? What shifts in underlying technology and cost do we need to hit to make it feasible to run something like Twitter on Wikipedia’s budget (and fund it by donations rather than ads)? What if the next Big Idea looked more like email and less like the walled gardens of today?We’ve made this transition at the infrastructural level, to some extent. Technological and algorithmic advances from closed-source software have been turned into generics via open source. With spectacular commercial success, no less. As one boat sinks, a thousand new ones float. One software company or product’s death is easier to celebrate, rather than mourn, when you know the intellectual organs are giving life to ten new ones.Additionally, startup culture used to focus a lot on the personal risk of the founders and early employees. To a nauseating degree, yes. This heroism was the justification for all the spoils there were to come. These days, there’s a lot less talk of existential risk because there’s a lot less of it. There’s so much money floating around that for many founders, the risk is mostly gone. At least in the financial sense, if not in the moral and time-opportunity sense. Failure is celebrated to such a degree in part because the system needs to recycle able bodies as quickly as it can to keep the overall system growing. Spent three years on a startup that didn’t work out? No sweat, bro. Here’s a hug and a reboot and a new bag of money to try again. You’re here just in time for my next fund!Now some of that is clearly good. Less extreme risk means, at least in theory, greater access for more people to participate in the startup lottery. But it also has some clear downsides of detachment. If this go is just one of many, if you can always just hit restart, then you’re probably not as concerned about this specific go-around. So what if we step over the line a little here. ITS THE HUSTLE, BABY! And besides, if we miss, no biggie.Maybe it’s time we rediscover some personal liability. Limited, yes, none, no. Complete detachment from the consequences of your choices isn’t producing the kind of responsibility the world so dearly needs.But that’s hard. Of course it’s hard. Not the least because this whole adventure is so heavily medicated with foosball tables, game rooms, and bean bags of all colors. As many distractions as possible from having to consider the true nature of what we’re doing. What’s that about the rising automatron class? Sorry, I’m late for a nerf battle on the star deck. Later!Yeah, the automatron class. People treated as literal cogs in transportation and delivery machines. Complete with machine-like tolerance specifications for quality. Dip below a 4.7? You’re in trouble. No explanations. No room for a bad day or a bad week because the bills were mounting. No room for humanity, no room for frailty. Just put on your happy face and Have A Great Day.The Black Mirror episode “Nosedive” shows the logical conclusion of this ratings worldI’ve been as guilty of this as anyone. When I first discovered Uber, I was ecstatic. So much less human friction. No yucky money changing hands. Just in and out. Headphones on and let’s go. The less I had to deal with the humanity of drivers, the better. Or so I thought.But not all that is easy is better. Friction is interaction. Human psyches rubbing against each other. And in this friction-less society we wonder how on earth someone could vote Brexit or Trump. It wouldn’t be such a mystery if we didn’t do all we could to isolate ourselves from the world.Yet we go along with the euphemisms and fantasies. Oh no, no. These people aren’t cogs, they’re independent business owners! Able to set their own hours: Like whether they want to drive for 60 or 80 a week to make ends meet! Aren’t we liberating?And I think that’s the truly insidious part of the tech lords solution to everything. This fantasy that they will be greeted as liberators. When the new boss is really a lot like the old boss, except the big stick is replaced with the big algorithm. Depersonalizing all punishment but doling it out just the same. Maybe the old cabbie boss was an asshole, but at least that asshole had a face. Someone you could yell at. Have you tried yelling at an algorithm or a customer-rating average?It’s just another mass-scale exploitation project. And by exploitation, I mean that less in a shackles and bone-soup sense — although there’s a good discussion to have around that too — but more in a pennies for you, billions for me kind of way. Enormous wealth being extracted from people living subsistence lives. But rather than being seen as modern sweatshops, we are all cheering this on as unadulterated progress. Anyone who’s in opposition to this exploitive process is a crank, as Michael Foley would say. Any community that may have reservations about how this is happening is a shit-hole.Now that doesn’t mean that there aren’t all sorts of vested, crony interests in keeping innovation at bay. Surely there are. But there’s more than that. There are a whole host of legitimate reasons why we have government regulations around housing and transportation. Inconveniences to the march of Instacart and Uber to turn everyone into a temporary gig worker.This exploitation isn’t just for the workers of the Uber or the neighbors of Airbnb. It’s also all of us through the algorthimization of news at the House of Facebook’s behest. More engagement. More rage, more fake news, all resulting in more hours spent, more eyeballs fixated, more clicks and taps made.And this new world order is being driven by a tiny cabal of monopolies. So commercial dissent is near impossible. Do you want to be the weirdo without a Facebook account? The uncool stooge for staying at a motel or taking an old-school cab? Of course not. You’re hip, you’re with it. Everything worth doing is in an app.So it remains mostly our fault. Our choice, our dollars. Every purchase a vote for an ever more dysfunctional future. We will spend our way into the abyss.If nothing changes, we’ll continue to vest the tech titans and their lords with economic monopolies that grant them undue power. They’re too big to be conscientious. “Don’t be evil” is a slogan for an upstart, not a conglomerate. You simply can’t distribute such noble a moral codex across endless divisions, all with their own P&Ls.And don’t fall for the soothing charity by the extractive victors either. That charade is as old as time. It’s the process by which ruthless tech lords seek to rebrand themselves into noble benefactors for the good of society. By giving back some of their spoils as they see fit. Kings of plenty doling out gifts and mercy. Don’t buy it. And I don’t mean that in the sense that, say, Bill Gates hasn’t done good with his fortune. But that society isn’t better off when we have to rely on magnanimous tech lords to solve its ills by decree.Incumbent power centers will not go quietly into the night, though. Excuses will be aplenty, because unlike the robber barons of old, they’re not going to defend themselves with water canons and lock-outs. It’ll be cold war skirmishes fighting for fake moral high grounds. Natural monopolies! Network effects!Because competition is for the little people. Pitting one individual contractor against another in a race to the bottom. Hoarding all the bargaining power at the top. Disparaging any attempts against those at the bottom to organize with unions or otherwise. Ragging on that as “untapped energy”.When you accept this entire picture, it’s not so hard to understand why some people are starting to freak out. I’m freaking out. This is worth freaking out about.As Douglas Rushkoff says, we need a new operating system for startups. The current one will keep producing the same extractive and monopolistic empires we’ve gotten so far. No, what we need is a new crop of companies that are institutionally comfortable with leaving money on the table. Leaving growth on the table. Leaving some conveniences and some progress on the board, in order to lead the world into a better direction.The solution isn’t simple, but we’re in dire need of a strong counter culture, some mass infusion of the 1960s spirit. To offer realistic, ethical alternatives to the exponential growth logic. Ones that’ll benefit not just a gilded few, but all of us. The future literally depends on it.This essay is a follow-up to RECONSIDER. Right down to the genesis of being a conference talk I didn’t end up giving (sorry Webstock!). If you haven’t read that yet, you’ll probably like it, if this tickled your fancy. And you’ll probably also like my books REWORK and REMOTE. Oh, and I’m writing another one, The Calm Company, right now. Cheers!Exponential growth devours and corrupts was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: 37signals