Why did you want to acquire OA and MN?
Open source projects that are well-supported and led produce the vital ingredients for a company like ours to be successful. We’re not buying these products because we want to “own” the software. We believe in community driven innovative from open source. Phase2 is in the business of providing solutions, not the business of selling either software or services - we have to bring it all together for a client. Having strong, well-supported products we can extend in our arsenal to do that and drive services is key to our success. We also believe those products are best built publicly and with community input, rather than privately.
Purchasing the rights to the brands and assets around these distros and taking over the leadership of their development ensures that they’ll be in our toolbox for a long time to come and we can see that through.
Also, we see a real future in other business models in the Drupal space that are just starting to emerge. We could deliver a complete platform of products and services to a larger client and find interesting ways to do integration. For instance, for a large enterprise client we could combine consulting, distros, integration and development with a partner like Acquia to deliver a complete end to end fully managed solution for more than one application through the entire stack. Its a lot bigger than building websites with Drupal these days.
How much was the deal for?
We are not disclosing the financial details of the deal, but I dont blame you for asking.
Does the deal include any ongoing involvement from Development Seed? Developing new features, maintaining it in any way?
Absolutely we are viewing this as a long term relationship though they are not obligated to provide anything downstream to us. We will continue to work with Development Seed on new projects and new features, but probably a lot closer than ever before. For instance, we recently collaborated on the ideation tool they built for the Department of Education as a feature, which will be included in both OpenPublic (on D7) and Open Atrium(on D6).
The deal appears to mark a ‘stepping back’ of DevSeed from the main stage of Drupal to pursue projects on node.js. Do you want to pay tribute to their work? How important do you think they’ve been to Drupal?
Certainly there has been a lot of talk about that in leading up to this announcement and I would like to stay out of commenting for them, but I think people are reading it too dramatically. With regards to their impact, that cant be understated. Development Seed has been immensely important to the development of market changing products for the Drupal space. They are an amazing open source product team, so their contributions will continue to add value to the Drupal community whether they focus on maps, data visualization or open data areas - we need their help there too!
What does it mean for Drupal that such a prominent shop is moving their focus away from Drupal like this? Is it a setback?
Most of the commentary we have seen so far is recognition that this is what happens when ecosystems mature, the players specialize and things play out to serve customer needs. We definitely view this acquisition as a gain for the entire Drupal community because we can apply resources to these products and modules. Maintaining a distribution requires a substantial commitment of time and resources. We are more than happy to provide the support and maintenance to make Open Atrium and Managing News available to a large and growing market of Drupal adopters.
This was just a brief interview amid the emerging announcements yesterday. We hope to catch up with Jeff in more detail soon to find out more about Phase2’s plans for Open Atrium and other Drupal Distributions.