$50m fundraising boosts Acquia's IPO chances

A new US$50 million funding round will see Drupal "enterprise facilitator", Acquia, boost its big data marketing, personalised engagement, sales, and marketing, and its chances for an IPO this year or next.

Drupal self-styled "enterprise facilitator", Acquia, has received a massive boost to its IPO chances, securing a US$50 million funding round it says will allow it to scale its sales and marketing, increase channel investments, and "double down" on big data marketing.

The financing round, led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and new investors, Split Rock Partners, brings Acquia's total investment tally to US$118.6 million. The deal sees Ravi Viswanath, general partner at NEA, join Acquia's board of directors.

"With the new funding, Acquia will scale its sales and marketing, increase investments in the channel, and double down on key growth areas including big data marketing, personalised engagement, and commerce," the company said in a statement.

The new cash injection is also likely to help the company, which was co-founded by Drupal creator Dries Buytaert, along its path to an initial public offering (IPO) this year or next, which its chief executive, Tom Erickson, alluded to as early as November last year.

New appointments to Acquia's executive team also suggest the company is readying for an IPO. Last week, Acquia announced the appointment of software industry veteran, Bill Sorenson, as its new chief financial officer. 

Sorenson, who will oversee all financial functions for the company, is known for guiding the IPO of Qlik Technologies, helping it grow from US$118 million to almost US$400 million in revenue, while holding its CFO role.

Additionally, Michael Cayer who managed the IPO process for BladeLogic, along with its US$870 million sale to BMC Software, has also joined Acquia's executive as its new general counsel.

"Acquia is at the forefront of the digital revolution. Enterprises increasingly rely on Acquia to drive business impact and escape obsolescence," said Erickson. "As Acquia accelerates its momentum, we've brought in Bill and Michael, both of whom have a proven track record of taking fast-growth companies public, and with these new hires, we're well positioned for continued growth."

For Chris Harrop, Acquia's regional director for Asia Pacific, the new funding round is set to accelerate the growth the company has already seen in the region, while edging it closer to a potential IPO.

"We're driving towards that [an IPO] and this funding allows us to continue with the growth we've seen," Harrop told ZDNet. "I'd say that the potential opportunity is much broader than what we've already seen. Having this level of funding will only accelerate that growth."

The Australian federal government is currently working to expand its agencies' use of Drupal's open source software-as-a-service platform as part of its drive to shift services to the cloud. Earlier this month, the Department of Finance tabled the prospect of a government content management system — GovCMS — employing Drupal.

"Our preference is for software-as-a-service on public cloud, using Open Source Drupal software," Australian government CTO, John Sheridan, wrote in a blog post earlier this month. "Many small agencies do not have the resources to ensure that Commonwealth website standards around security accreditation and accessibility obligations are maintained."

According to Harrop, Drupal is already a popular CMS platform among government agencies in Australia and overseas.

"You do have a lot of agencies that currently run Drupal sites, including the Department of Industry, the Department of Employment, the Department of Social Services, and other agencies exploring moving to the cloud.

"This has been mirrored internationally, with a lot of governments moving to Drupal, because the sites enable collaboration and participation. We're seeing a wide spread of adoption, with Australia following suit," he said.

The new funding round will likely result in an increase of Acquia's Australian workforce, according to Harrop, along with stronger ties to its enterprise delivery partners nationally and in the region.

"We'd be looking to increase our team here on the ground," said Harrop. "We're focused on working with delivery partners here to provide services around enterprise support, engage further with our channel, and foster relationships with the large digital agencies."