Matt and Mike sit down with Drupal Project Lead Dries Buytaert, Drupal Association Board Member Suzanne Dergacheva, and Lullabot CEO Matt Westgate to discuss the current state of the Drupal Association,  the #DrupalCares initiative, and the future of DrupalCon.

Drupal will be fine in the end, but the Drupal Association may not.

This Episode's Guests

Dries Buytaert

Thumbnail

Founder and project lead of the Drupal project, and co-founder and CTO of Acquia. Most importantly, UID 1 on Drupal.org.

Suzanne Dergacheva

Portrait of Suzanne Dergacheva

Suzanne is a co-founder of Evolving Web. She's in charge of  design, user experience, and development work. She also provides in-depth Drupal training to clients and thought leadership to the Drupal community.

Suzanne is an elected member of the Drupal Association Board and frequently makes presentations at professional events about development best practices and user experience. She loves traveling around helping teams learn Drupal, and making friends and exploring new cities in the process. 

Transcript

Transcript

Matt Kleve:
For April 15th, 2020, it's the Lullabot Podcast.
Matt Kleve:
Hey everybody, it's the Lullabot Podcast, episode 248. I'm Matt Kleve, the senior developer at Lullabot. With me as always, cohost of the show, senior front end dev, Mike Herchel. Hey Mike.
Mike Herchel:
Howdy Matt, how you doing?
Matt Kleve:
Yeah, not too bad for a day, a month of a day. I don't know.
Mike Herchel:
Yeah?
Matt Kleve:
So the last podcast we talked about DrupalCon Europe, right?
Mike Herchel:
Yes. Yes.
Matt Kleve:
And when we talked about DrupalCon Europe we often had the caveat of yeah, this is the plan, right?
Mike Herchel:
Mm-hmm (affirmative), but plans change.
Matt Kleve:
Plans change and the world's kind of a wild place at this point. We're going to talk a little bit more in depth about that kind of thing. There were plans that have changed for DrupalCon Europe. The date has changed since we had our last podcast.
Mike Herchel:
Yeah, and things are changing at the Drupal Association. We have a number of people on the podcast to talk a little bit about that.
Matt Kleve:
Yeah, one of our guests, first we'll start with Drupal user ID one. He's the founder and project lead of Drupal, he's the CTO and founder and chairman at Acquia, founding director of the Drupal Association. Hey, it's Dries Buytaert. Hi Dries.
Dries Buytaert:
Hey, hey. Thanks for having me.
Matt Kleve:
Glad you're here.
Mike Herchel:
Also with us, we have the co-founder of Evolving Web, who also runs their Drupal training program. She is an elected board member of the Drupal Association, works in the Drupal admin user experience study, and with the Promote Drupal Initiative. From Montreal, which is the Great White North, up in Canada, welcome Suzanne Dergacheva.
Suzanne Dergacheva:
Hey, it's great to be here.
Mike Herchel:
Yeah, thanks for coming on.
Matt Kleve:
And Mike, also, our boss is here.
Mike Herchel:
Oh.
Matt Kleve:
We have the CEO and co-founder of Lullabot. He's been on drupal.org as a user for 16 years and 11 months. It's Matt Westgate. Hey Matt.
Matt Westgate:
Hey friends, good to be here.
Matt Kleve:
Glad to have you back on the podcast.
Matt Westgate:
Yeah, it's awesome. It needs to happen more often, not as the boss, but as a friend.
Matt Kleve:
Yeah.
Mike Herchel:
Yeah. Yeah. So let's jump into it, right? So it's ... What month is this here? Let me start this over again. Let's jump into it. It's April 2020, and-
Matt Kleve:
We can leave that in because this has just been a wild month, hasn't it?
Mike Herchel:
It's all kind of bleeding together right now. The COVID-19 virus is kind of going wild everywhere. Everyone's staying at home with social distancing. It's different, a little bit for everyone, and one thing that's being affected is conferences. There's a lot of Drupal Camps that are going virtual, remote, and DrupalCon is also being postponed. And that's affecting the Drupal Association because my understanding is that DrupalCon North America is the big money maker for the Drupal Association. Am I right in that?
Dries Buytaert:
You are. Obviously, it's a very scary time right now. We had DrupalCon Minneapolis scheduled for May, and obviously the Drupal Association as the organizer of DrupalCon, doesn't feel like it's okay to have an in-person event in May, so we are forced to postpone DrupalCon. We're still trying to figure out what that means exactly. We could either postpone it, or we could go virtual as an alternative option, and so we're looking into our options. But we are committed to try and doing something later in the summer, or early in the fall.
Mike Herchel:
Yeah, and as part of that, I saw that DrupalCon Europe, in Barcelona, was postponed from September to December. The first thought in my head is well, maybe that opens up the slot for Minneapolis to move into the September area, or something like that.
Dries Buytaert:
It might. We've actually been working a lot with the venue and the City actually, of Minneapolis, to try and figure this out. But it's hard because every single event wants to move. They all have to postpone, and so they're all like fighting I guess for the available time slots, and that's ... Obviously, a lot of these slots are already taken as well, so it's not like that was wide open. So it's hard to move an event, especially an event the size of DrupalCon.
Matt Kleve:
And nobody knows the future, so how far do we postpone these events, right? We don't really know when the right date would be anyway. I mean, it's a tricky time.
Dries Buytaert:
Very tricky.
Matt Kleve:
So handling the DrupalCon event is something that falls under the guides of the Drupal Association. Let's talk about the history of the Drupal Association, why it exists, why it was founded. Let's just kick off from there.
Dries Buytaert:
It was really founded, funnily enough, almost as a checking account. So way back in the early days of Drupal, I helped organize the first Drupal conferences and I took on organizing one along with some other people in Belgium, where I was living at the time, and so this was DrupalCon Brussels or DrupalCon Antwerp, in 2005. We didn't have a non-profit organization, or any kind of organization to be honest. And so, I accepted a bunch of sponsorship money and had to pay for the venue, and all of that happens to my personal checking account, which is not a best practice obviously. And also, it's complicated for tax reasons, because technically these sponsorships are income for me, personal income at that time.
Dries Buytaert:
And so, we really felt like we needed to get serious and get more organized, and have a checking account. And so, in response, we did launch the Drupal Association as a non-profit organization with basically one goal, which was to support the Drupal project by organizing DrupalCon, but also by doing other things, anything that would help the Drupal project and the Drupal community grow and flourish.
Mike Herchel:
So besides DrupalCon, what type of activities or what type of things does the Drupal Association take on?
Suzanne Dergacheva:
I think a lot of people see the DrupalCon and they know the Drupal Association fair, but of course drupal.org is one of the main things that the Drupal Association provides. There's a lot that goes into that as well, like the recent GitLab integration, a lot of things like automatic updates, that have been coming out recently, are actually coming from the Drupal Association engineering team.
Dries Buytaert:
And obviously it hosts a lot of our tooling, the tools that we use to develop Drupal, including composer endpoints, including our testing infrastructure, so we can automatically test all of the patches that have been contributed. All of these things are paid for and maintained by the Drupal Association. There's all sorts of other programs, even as part of DrupalCon, programs around diversity and inclusion that sponsor people to attend DrupalCons. There's partner programs, member programs, various marketing programs that the Drupal Association does, with the goal to help promote Drupal and to make the commercial ecosystem around Drupal function well or better, as well. So a lot of different things that the Drupal Association does, but it's all around this central theme of helping to grow and promote the Drupal project.
Mike Herchel:
Makes a lot of sense.
Matt Westgate:
What's great about it is, it can do it in a neutral way too. It's not tied to a company promoting Drupal, it's for the good of the community. So ideally, the association is acting on behalf of ... What you give out is what you receive kind of thing. I mean, I always think of, like Dries says, the Drupal itself, Drupal the software will survive. That's like the engine, we will always have that, continue to work on it, but I feel like what the association often times provides is like the car, the vehicle to which we put the engine in, to make things move, the doors that open to include and invite other people into the project.
Matt Westgate:
I mean, at least for Lullabot, what the association gives us is, isn't just a way to make Drupal better for all, but a lot of people that are not technical, that are not developers, my admin team, my marketing team, the association is one of the ways that they can contribute back, whether it's doing promotional materials, or just helping with events. There's a satisfaction that people receive in like, "Hey, I can contribute to Drupal in ways that don't involve code." But often times they do that through the association.
Matt Westgate:
And it'd be hard, it'd be difficult to imagine a Drupal without the association, to wake up tomorrow and know that the association had to be reduced to essential functions only. And even defining essential functions at this point is like, how do you that? I feel like there's probably already been rounds of optimizations and stuff. I wonder if we could talk a little bit about the impact of postponing DrupalCon, and what's gone in there and what that means right now for the community and where the Drupal Association is, in terms of the impact of not doing DrupalCon.
Dries Buytaert:
Yeah, I can tackle a little bit of that. So, as I mentioned, we started the Drupal Association because we wanted to have a checking account and an organization that can help us organize the DrupalCon events or conferences, and so historically, almost all of our revenue for the Drupal Association has come from events. Over the last years, we've worked really hard to try and diversify that revenue, because obviously we know if a DrupalCon would get canceled or something were to happen, that would put the organization at risk. While we have done a lot of work to diversify our revenue, still today, more than half of our revenue actually comes from a DrupalCon. Actually, it's around 62 or so percent of all of the revenue, that comes from DrupalCon.
Dries Buytaert:
Other sources of revenue, in case you're wondering, are things like our memberships, either individual or organizational memberships. We also sell some advertising on drupal.org. But these other things, they don't add up to be a significant of the revenue. Now, longterm, we want to continue to shift that, but today, the reality is that half of the revenue actually does come from a DrupalCon, and so when you have to cancel or postpone a DrupalCon, that is very painful.
Dries Buytaert:
It's painful in this case because the profits that come from a DrupalCon are actually used to pay for some of these services that we just talked about, including drupal.org, including the tooling, including marketing, and outreach, and security related programs. A lot of these tools are paid for by DrupalCon, and so with DrupalCon being canceled, those are now at risk.
Dries Buytaert:
And to put that in perspective, the total revenue of a DrupalCon is about 2.7 million or so. That's not the profits, but it is a lot of money that comes in through a DrupalCon, and so with DrupalCon being canceled we're looking at different options. We looked at completely canceling it, like a full cancellation, we've looked at postponing, we've looked at shifting to a virtual conference as we mentioned, but in all of these scenarios, there is losses.
Dries Buytaert:
When we cancel in full, it's over $1 million of money that would be lost. If we postpone it, it would be I think $850,000 in losses, and if we shift it to a virtual conference, and we assume that we're successful at organizing the virtual conference, it's still roughly $500,000 that we're short. And it's because of staff, it's because of contracts that we're under with the venues and hotels, and prepayments that we've made. So we've already paid some of the things that we have to pay, as we have to per the contracts. And so, it's kind of a tricky situation. All three options, full cancellation, a postponement, or a virtual conference, a successful virtual conference, today, actually do result in the Drupal Association losing money in 2020.
Mike Herchel:
So that's where that difference is between the Drupal Association ... I think they tweeted out at one point that they were going to have a shortfall between 1.1 million and around $400,000.
Dries Buytaert:
That's right, yeah.
Mike Herchel:
That's where the money gets from, yeah?
Dries Buytaert:
That's right, yeah. Because we have these multiple options and we don't know yet which option we're going to go with. We're still looking at what's happening in the world and what we can do.
Mike Herchel:
So we know by now it's 100% postponed. Is there a deadline on when we are going to make that decision on if it is postponed, when to, or if it is going virtual, when to?
Suzanne Dergacheva:
Part of that problem is that we're waiting on whether it has to be postponed because of a force majeure, and that would change some of the contracts that we're tied into. So part of it isn't just our own decision but waiting on external factors.
Mike Herchel:
So does that mean that right now, you are legally allowed to have the conference, there's nothing from stopping you except for the health of all the attendees? But what you're waiting for, as I'm understanding it, is an official law or decree coming from a government entity saying that you're not allowed to have this, is that correct?
Suzanne Dergacheva:
Yeah, as far as I understand.
Dries Buytaert:
Yeah, that is correct.
Matt Kleve:
I've seen some of those updates that have been very good, on the Drupal Association blog if anybody wants to follow along at home. Yeah, as I remember reading some of that was because the conference was a May conference and a lot of the April stuff has been officially canceled at this point. So they're still drawing the line because nobody knows how the future will be, right?
Dries Buytaert:
If they call force majeure, we can get out of some of our contracts and hopefully get our money back. Now, they actually did call force majeure but it's tied to a timeframe, or a window in time, like all the events in April qualify right now, but events in May don't qualify. So we're hoping that they will extend that window, so that we can also rely on force majeure to look at how we can postpone the conference.
Mike Herchel:
I remember reading a very long time ago, I'm kind of switching gears right here. I remember reading on Slashdot that there was a server crash or something and Drupal, as an organization, needed to take donations to get a new server or something like that?
Dries Buytaert:
Yeah, that's right, and that's way back when. I mean, I can tell the story. I've told, but I'll tell it again because I think it's an important story, especially in times like this, because it really tells you a couple of things. One is how resilient Drupal is and two, how amazing the Drupal community is, and what can happen when we come together as a community.
Dries Buytaert:
So the story goes like this. In the early days, I was a student and I didn't have any money. And because I didn't have any money had to ask a friend to give me what was called at the time, a shell account, which is basically a shared account on a server. I used that shared account to run the drupal.org website. So it basically ran on a server, alongside a whole bunch of other customer websites of this friend.
Dries Buytaert:
And it was fine, and it was free, and it was cheap, and so I was happy. But it's also around the time that Drupal started to grow really, really fast, and very quickly the server became overloaded, to the point where it almost literally melted. It went down and we were unable to keep it back up, because there was so much traffic coming through the drupal.org website.
Dries Buytaert:
And so, because I was a student and because I didn't have any money, my only idea, or my best idea I guess, was to replace every single page of drupal.org with an empty page, and to put on every page, just a PayPal button along with a little bit of text. That text said something like, "Please donate some money. We need $4,000 to buy a new server." I'd done some quick back of the envelope calculations and I felt like if we had $4,000, we could buy this amazing server and that would serve us for many, many, many years. I didn't have $4,000, and so all I could do was ask for help.
Dries Buytaert:
Something truly amazing happened. I think in 24 hours, people all the around the world, people in the Drupal community, contributed over $10,000, and that was amazing because I'd never had $10,000 in my life. And so, I immediately changed the PayPal password to be like 64 characters, because I was afraid people would hack it and I would lose all that money. PayPal blocked my account by the way, and they said, "We blocked it for suspicious traffic," because I think the first four or five years of Drupal, I had collected like $50 in all those years, and all of a sudden $10,000 streams into the account.
Dries Buytaert:
And then something else happened. One of the chief technology officers of Sun Microsystems, which was back then kind of a famous software and hardware company, which ended up being acquired by Oracle. But one of the CTO's, they said, "We actually use Drupal internally and we make servers, and so we will ship you a server." And literally a few days later, a $7,000 or $8,000 server showed up at the doorsteps. And so here we are, we needed a new server, and all of sudden we have $10,000 and a $7,000 or $8,000 dollar server.
Dries Buytaert:
And then one more thing happens, which was the University of Portland, Oregon, they said, "If you have a server, we will host it for you. We'll provide you electricity, we'll provide you bandwidth, and oh, by the way, we have a bunch of students at the university that as part of their curriculum, they have to work in a lab and help maintain those servers." And so, not only did they give electricity and hosting, but they also actually gave human help I guess, people that would help keep the servers up and running, and configured every piece of it.
Dries Buytaert:
And so, it's pretty amazing because here we are, in 24 hours or in a couple of days, we have collected all of this money. It was very special because it really showed how special I think the Drupal community is, and was at the time too. And one of the things that we did coming out of this, and some of you may remember, is we actually created this poster of a Drupal icon, and in it, we had all of the names of people and organizations that had chipped in money. And so we would print this poster, and we would take it with us around the world. And as we went to Drupal events and DrupalCons, we would hang it on the wall, as a thank you for all of the people that helped us survive.
Dries Buytaert:
It's a fun story, but it's an important story because I think it shows how resilient and strong the Drupal project is, and how we can come together and be creative and do things, like the poster and other stuff, to do the right thing, to help Drupal, to give back, and then also celebrate and be very grateful of everybody that helped. I think it defined our culture, and some of that culture, or all of that culture still exists today.
Matt Westgate:
Some really good community members came out of those connections too. Some people that we met in the Oregon labs that were maintaining the servers are still Drupal community members today. I was on the other side of that. I remember waking up one morning, loading drupal.org and going, "What happened? Where'd it go? Where's my software? Where's my community?"
Matt Westgate:
I remember sitting there, you had an ongoing monetary counter of like, "Hey, here's how much. Here's how much," and just refreshing that, and just seeing the donations go over that $4,000 mark was incredible. But it was also a wake up call. By not having drupal.org available, it showed me how much I relied on it, how much I needed it in order to do what I was doing. The documentation was there, the code was there, and I didn't have access to that.
Matt Westgate:
And I think this is where we are presently. When things work really well, it's easy to take it for granted and to remember where stuff comes from. We talk about the tooling and the infrastructure, and it's important. And, there was a time where it was, even after, it was difficult to keep Drupal up and running. There's been some serious growth in the past, and to even all of that out, to make it a reliable resource that we can lean on.
Matt Westgate:
I mean, just think for a moment if we didn't have people whose jobs it were to make all of that stuff available to us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. At this point we're grateful that we have a team of people whose job it is to keep the lights on for us all the time. It would be difficult to think that we couldn't fulfill that need because of a temporary moment in time. I think the ability for us to rally together again and keep Drupal and the Drupal Association together is really important.
Dries Buytaert:
And I will add to that a couple of things, if I may. First of all, we do have a dedicated team of engineers at the Drupal Association that keep the lights on and that keep innovating. They keep adding features to drupal.org every week, every month, and it's pretty amazing. They're like the most incredible team of people too. We've gone through these financial problems in the past and they've taken pay cuts and they've stayed on, and they've been so committed and so loyal. I don't know a more hardworking more loyal team than that team. They're so aligned with Drupal and its purpose and its mission. I mean, they work incredibly hard and it would be really sad to see that disappear, not just because it's a great team, but obviously for everyone in the world that benefits from having drupal.org. It's where we collaborate.
Dries Buytaert:
Actually, if you want to go back in time a little bit, Matt and I ... I forgot when we first started talking or emailing, Matt, but at the time, drupal.org was something very different. We were emailing patches back and forth. We had an email list where we would post patches, and I would take them from the email, and I would apply them and I would commit them to CVS. And so, in the early days we didn't have any of the tooling and we helped build the project queues and the ticketing system that we have and all of the testing. And we built all of that before GitHub was a thing. We literally built our own GitHub before GitHub was a thing, and we've inspired those projects like GitHub, based on the work that we did and that we pioneered.
Dries Buytaert:
And even today, we are ahead of many other solutions. I mean, the way we do testing is incredible. No other organization that I know of does testing like we do, where you upload a patch to a ticket, and then we apply the patch and we test before it gets committed. Like 99% of the organizations will commit a patch and then test it. But the system that we have around testing and even our security team and how we do security, I mean, it is world class. It is better than almost anything out there.
Dries Buytaert:
Sometimes I think we forget that, but it's really true if you think about it, and if you compare it to what other organizations are doing. And so, it is what helped us grow, it was helps us scale today, and it's also what helps us collaborate together, and so we have to protect that, we have to foster that, and we have to keep investing in that at all costs, in my mind.
Matt Kleve:
So here we are, 15 years later from the server story, and the financial need that we're talking about is add a couple of zeros and maybe even some more than that. The community of course has grown since then, significantly. Is the community up for it?
Dries Buytaert:
I think so, yeah. First of all, let me stress, and Matt said this in the beginning, I think Drupal is going to survive this for sure. There's no question in my mind that Drupal the project, the technical Drupal if you will, will come out of this strongly. We are going to ship Drupal 9, no question in my mind. And historically, these kinds of worldwide recessions have been actually pretty positive for open source. During an economic downturn, a lot of organizations will look to lower their expenses, their costs, and often they're forced to do more with less, and adopting open source helps these organizations.
Dries Buytaert:
And so, if you look back at previous recessions, like the dot-com crash in 2000-ish, or the great recession in 2007 to 2009 or so, in each of those recessions, we actually saw an acceleration of open source for the reasons that I mentioned. It helps organizations cut their spending without actually compromising their pace of innovation. And I think open source has come a long way since 2007, 2008, 2009. I think we've only become better. We've become more secure, more flexible, more stable than ever before, so I think open source is going to be a great solution.
Dries Buytaert:
And I think what we've seen, just in the last month or so, is this incredible crash in the markets, like faster than anything I think we've witnessed before and it has caused a little bit of panic reaction. But I think now that we're a month in, or three weeks in, I think organizations are going to start looking at how do we buckle up and how do we save money. And I think that's when organizations will look at open source for the reasons that I mentioned, like saving money.
Dries Buytaert:
But another reason actually I think, and it's important, is that it also gives these organizations a lot more control over their own destiny. One of the things that's a little bit tricky right now is that if you rely on a propriety vendor, that vendor could go out business. So if you have a propriety CMS, and if that vendor doesn't survive, you're kind of screwed, versus with open source, you don't have that problem. So there's a very compelling story that's not just about cost savings, but also about control over your own destiny and a whole bunch of other things, which I believe could result in open source doing well in the recession.
Dries Buytaert:
So I do believe Drupal will be fine in the end, but the Drupal Association may not. The Drupal Association is sort of an event organizing business really, if you look at if from a financial point of view. The Drupal Association may not be okay, and as a result, some of the things that the Drupal Association does may be impacted. And I don't think we want that to happen because even though Drupal will definitely survive, it may not survive the same way. There's a difference between surviving and thriving if you will, and I do believe that the Drupal Association helps the Drupal project thrive. So I think we have to come together and we have to help the Drupal Association.
Dries Buytaert:
And it's hard, because I understand, and in talking to people, I feel it too. I understand that a lot of people out there are also experiencing pain, it's not easy for anyone, and so it's a very difficult time to ask for help. And I definitely would encourage people to take care of themselves first. I do fly a lot, or I used to fly a lot, and in the backseats is this sheet with the safety instructions and it does say, "Put on your own safety mask before helping others," and I do believe in that in this case. And I think, while we're asking for help, we recognize that not everybody is in a position to help and that they may need to help their own organizations first.
Mike Herchel:
So what is the best way for people to help? I know earlier you mentioned that the Drupal Association was financially trying to not be as dependent on conferences.
Suzanne Dergacheva:
Last week the Drupal Association launched the Drupal Cares campaign, which you might have heard of, which is specifically to fill this gap that we've been talking about. There's many ways to contribute, so just straight up donating is something you can do. But at an individual level, if you want to become a member of the Drupal Association, now would be a great time to pledge your support.
Suzanne Dergacheva:
We've got a renewing membership, something that you can do monthly or yearly, and it's really inexpensive at the lowest level, so I encourage everybody to do that. It's amazing, there's actually 1.4 million users on drupal.org, and I think only less than 3,000 people are members of the Drupal Association. So if you're not sure if you're a member, go check now and that's sort of the baby step to get started.
Suzanne Dergacheva:
As an individual, you can donate, and then you can also encourage your company to become a supporting partner. There's a supporting partnership program that you can participate in, again, just to support the association longterm. So now would be a great time to join that program. And other ways to contribute, of course contributing to Drupal is also always a good time to start doing that.
Mike Herchel:
But right now, the Drupal Association needs money.
Suzanne Dergacheva:
That's right.
Mike Herchel:
Yeah. Yeah. It surprises me that there's less than 3,000 Drupal Association members. From my point of view, my main source of income is working at Lullabot, which is primarily a Drupal services company. If you are getting a significant portion of your money, of your income, from Drupal, you should be a member of this association, that's what I believe, assuming that you can financially afford it because as Dries mentioned, there are a lot of people that unfortunately cannot right now.
Matt Westgate:
With the goal, I think the goal that the Drupal Association set is $500,000, I'm curious, do we know ... I wonder if many of the listeners wonder if they just hear $500,000, and then the next question is what's that for? I know there's been a bunch of optimizations that the Drupal Association's already done and crunched the numbers and everything. But if the goal is raised, does that mean we get to keep everything that is the Drupal Association, or is that still after making cuts? Any insights into like if we don't get the $500,000 as the Drupal Association, these are the things that we are likely to lose, or is it we're likely to lose it all?
Dries Buytaert:
Yeah, it's a great question. It's a little bit tricky to answer because there is a bunch of variables. Are we going to postpone and have an in-person conference, or are we going to go to a virtual conference? Can we make the virtual conference successful, meaning we would still want to sell tickets and sponsorships in some form or fashion? And it also depends on can we get out of some of the existing contracts, or not? Do we get some of the help from the government or not? Because as I'm sure everybody knows, the US Government is launching various kind of relief programs. So, it's hard to really accurately model everything.
Dries Buytaert:
I can tell you that the Drupal Association already made the difficult decision to let a few people go to try and save money. That's obviously very painful to do because they were really good people, but it was also the responsible thing to do in making sure we can make our money last, I guess. So the Drupal Association has taken some important steps and then we are constantly tweaking these models to get to a number, but we think 500,000 is what we need at a minimum. But we think we can, if it's 500,000.
Dries Buytaert:
We've made so much assumptions that we hope they'll come true. For example, one assumption is that other programs are not affected. As I mentioned, the Drupal Association also makes money with drupal.org advertising. It's about 15% of the total revenue, like 15% of the total revenue. So one of the many assumptions is that specifically we assume that organizations in the Drupal ecosystem will continue to buy advertising and that, that 15% number stays 15%. But we don't know, maybe advertising goes down because of this, and so in that case, the $500,000 may not be sufficient.
Dries Buytaert:
So the way we arrived at the $500,000 is based on a lot of modeling looking at different options, and making a long list of assumptions, and some of them are quite optimistic to be honest. But we do think if we have $500,000, we'll be in a position to really weather this storm and to keep providing a lot of the essential services. Maybe some things will be affected, but it won't be drupal.org, it won't be some of these services.
Dries Buytaert:
And so I say all of that, and I should add a caveat that even that is a little bit up in the air, depending on how all of the different pieces fall into place, but we feel very confident that $500,000 closes the gap, or the majority of the gap, in a way that will allow us to come out of this on the other side, in a way that's not too battered.
Matt Kleve:
So as Drupal has matured and time has passed, it's no longer a group of people, but those people are in organizations, and as I understand it, organizations have stepped up to try and help close this gap some as well.
Suzanne Dergacheva:
Even before the announcement was made about DrupalCon being postponed or disrupted in some way, a lot of companies, including Lullabot, jumped up and said that they would pledge their sponsorships for the conference and that they wouldn't ask for a refund on those sponsorships. So that was the first wave of support that the Drupal Association got, which is really much appreciated and adds a lot of momentum I think to this cause, to make us feel like yes, we can get through this. And then, since then, more and more of those sponsors have stepped up to say the same thing and also to make donations of their own, or to pledge their supporting partnerships.
Dries Buytaert:
Yeah, it was actually amazing from Lullabot, to see you guys were first, and you did that without even really knowing the situation. You, I guess made an assumption that this would hard be hard for the Drupal Association based on all your years of experience and being involved with the Drupal Association. So that was pretty amazing to get that update that you proactively, without asking, had pledged your DrupalCon sponsorship, so a big thank you.
Dries Buytaert:
And that actually inspired a lot of others to do the same. Suzanne's company did the same, my company Acquia did the same and many others, and we're still inviting others to do the same. Not everybody has, not everybody can either, but there's still an opportunity for other organizations to pledge their sponsorship. I like-
Matt Westgate:
Maybe it would be helpful to talk a little bit about the why that was done, so people can understand maybe the logic behind it. The impetus for it, actually, it did not come from me, it came from my marketing team. So they came to me and said, "Hey, we want to do this," so I asked them why. And in addition to them feeling like it was something ... The Drupal Association's valuable to them, so for them it was kind of a no-brainer. It was the right thing to do, that's what they felt. But we were fortunate enough to be able to be in a position to do it.
Matt Westgate:
But our math looked like this. If DrupalCon isn't happening, if it's a virtual conference, it's most likely that all of the expenses that we would have had in flights and hotels and logistics and all of that, that at that point, if all of that money is returned, if you will, back into our budgets, well then, leaving our sponsorship on the table is a small drop in a bucket compared to what we would otherwise have to pay to fly everybody out and bringing them together.
Matt Westgate:
So in terms of looking at the numbers, leaving our sponsorship on the table to enable the Drupal Association to give them some breathing room, so they could help figure out how to recover, was a more straightforward decision to make, if you will. And it's such a great showing of support to see other companies rally and sort of come to the same conclusions, if you will, of the importance of the association and the role they play in their business.
Dries Buytaert:
Yeah, I agree.
Mike Herchel:
So a browse in drupal.org, I saw that we now have the big old modo that says, "We need your support." Has that been working?
Dries Buytaert:
It has to some extent. I liked how Suzanne phrased, like the first wave of support was the pledging of the sponsorships by the different sponsors. The second wave, which is the Drupal Cares program is kind of an appeal for donations or people signing up for memberships. And every day, I mean, if you go to the donate page, it's really heartwarming actually to see how many have contributed. We're up to almost $45,000 in individual donations or memberships I believe. So in just a couple of weeks, it may be only one week maybe since we launched the Drupal Cares program, we've seen a lot of people come to help.
Mike Herchel:
Something else that I saw that I've actually talked to Suzanne about this at one point is that the Drupal Association membership now has an option for monthly donations as opposed to yearly donations, which I was just kind of poking around at the podcast and I see that that is new, so that's kind of exciting. So as we're on the podcast, I switched my membership renewal over to monthly, so I can do monthly donations, as opposed to one large yearly donation. I would maybe recommend all of our listeners to do the same too. That's something that it's a little bit easier to give a little bit a month as opposed to once a year, and then you can usually give more too.
Dries Buytaert:
Something else that I'm actually planning to announce tomorrow, I haven't announced this yet, but I do think we need a second wave, we need to keep going. $45,000 is obviously a lot of money, but it's not enough to close a $500,000 gap. So Vanessa, which is my wife, and I, so we've been talking about how we could help contribute to the Drupal Association, and by extension, to the Drupal community as a whole. We have decided to basically match that $45,000 of individual donations that have come in so far, and we've also decided to keep matching people's individual donations up to $100,000. And so, if we all work together and we all keep donating, we can get to $200,000 that way.
Dries Buytaert:
So, if you're not familiar with matching, real quick, it means that if you give $100, we give $100. If you give $500, Vanessa and I will give $500. And so, we'll keep giving until Vanessa and I have given $100,000 total. And this applies to individual donations as well as individual memberships. So hopefully that will give another reason for people to contribute.
Matt Westgate:
That's incredible.
Mike Herchel:
Yeah. So I was thinking, as we're talking about the dire straits that the Drupal Association is in, and of course the hard times with the current pandemic and everything like that, it'd be nice to maybe have something maybe a little bit more upbeat. We could talk maybe about our favorite DrupalCon moments, our favorite DrupalCons. I have a couple in my head. Or maybe your favorite thing to do while you're at DrupalCon.
Matt Kleve:
I think we're all looking forward to a situation where we can all get together again.
Mike Herchel:
Yeah, I know. That's we're looking forward to. Yeah.
Matt Kleve:
Yeah.
Dries Buytaert:
Yeah. I think it would be a shame if we didn't have an in-person DrupalCon anymore. So many other companies, organizations, are switching to virtual events and there's a lot of good reasons for that I think, and there's some real advantages, like it's more inclusive in a way, right? Everybody can join, or it's more easy to join than having to travel. It tends to be more expensive to attend an in-person event. But having said that, I think there is something really special DrupalCon and meeting people in person. I mean, I've created lifelong friendships just by going to DrupalCon. There's something special about just the atmosphere and the feeling of togetherness and collaboration. I would miss that.
Dries Buytaert:
So it's up to the Drupal Association staff to decide obviously, and it will be driven by financials, but my hope is that we'll continue to have in-person events because they've been so valuable, and maybe we'll have a virtual component to every DrupalCon. But I would hope we still meet in person and hang out and talk in person, because everything else we do is virtual, pretty much, so it is nice to have that connection once in a while, that in-person connection, I should say, once in a while.
Mike Herchel:
Well, it seems like there's something invigorating about reaching out and seeing the people that you interact with in person.
Matt Kleve:
Well, I was sitting here trying to consider all of the things that DrupalCon is to all of the people. So as someone who's been in the community for a while, we talk about seeing the old friends. The people we see once a year, who have similar jobs or maybe we've crossed paths on a project, and we get together and we talk. Mike, I think you've called it the family reunion of people you actually want to see, right?
Matt Kleve:
But beyond that, within the Drupal community, there's the contribution sprints and the effort that gets put in on the project itself, as well as all of the education that happens within the sessions. If you want to learn something, the person that invented it is on stage and will tell you everything that you have to know. And even after they're done talking, you could probably continue talking with them.
Matt Kleve:
Also, the trade show, right? As a business we have a booth and we have the opportunity to meet potential clients and tell them our story and tell them Drupal's story, and it's great. It gets everybody together for many things, and I think DrupalCon is an important thing, and the DA supporting that is important as well.
Suzanne Dergacheva:
Yeah, I went to the MidCamp, which is a virtual camp two weeks ago, and it was great to see so many people there who might not actually have been able to make it to Chicago. So I saw that as a great experience, but trying to imagine a DrupalCon where you're able to do so much more. Every DrupalCon, I seem to get involved in some new initiative to help out with Drupal UX or some kind of promotion activities and I can't imagine that it would be as easy to make those connections through a virtual conference.
Suzanne Dergacheva:
And then when you talk about the educational opportunities, there's people who are brand new to Drupal and they don't get a sense of this community that we have just from their virtual experience of going to drupal.org, or maybe going to a session on Zoom, where that in-person experience is really going to bring that to life for them, that community. So I feel like maybe in the future, we'll be able to have virtual conferences that make all this possible, but at the moment I think it would be hard to replicate everything that we have.
Matt Westgate:
Yeah, you asked for favorite moments and I'm channeling the first Drupal conference, the 2005 one that Dries mentioned at the beginning of the podcast. I remember that well. It was pretty incredible because one of the first things ... So from the very first DrupalCon, we had scholarships. We had gotten Iowa State University to provide scholarships for people that were working on Drupal, to get their ticket paid for, to provide for their hotel. And so I was one of the lucky people that got to ping individuals and say, "Hey, we've got a ticket for you. We're all going to fly and get together and talk about this software. Are you in?" And it was pretty incredible because how many people were there, Dries? I want to say 30, 50, something like that.
Dries Buytaert:
Yeah. I think 30, 40-ish. It's pretty small.
Matt Westgate:
In the basement of a hotel more or less.
Dries Buytaert:
No, exactly a basement.
Matt Westgate:
The moment I want to recall is someone had the wisdom and foresight to bring name tags that we could write our names on. Instinctively, what we all did, is in big letters, we wrote our IRC handles, and then in small print underneath it, we would write our names, because for three years, four years, the only way we knew each other was the IRC handles. And I channel that feeling of seeing someone for the very first time, putting a face to the name, somebody that maybe had contributed on your patch, or helped you on a module, or helped you on an issue Q, and seeing them for the first time and being able to give them a high five or a hug, or just continue the conversation, I think that's the magic of DrupalCon that we want to try and retain.
Dries Buytaert:
Very true. My favorite movement, and it's hard to pick one, but one that I'll never forget ever in my life, is DrupalCon San Francisco. I think it was 2010 maybe? It could have been. Yeah, I think 2010 and I was doing my Dries note or keynote, and I kind of went off script off a little bit because I didn't really intend to ask this. But I, in the middle of my keynote I asked, "Please stand up if Drupal changed your life." And literally everybody, 3000 people stood up, and I had goosebumps like crazy.
Dries Buytaert:
It was unexpected because I went off script, and then it was unexpected that literally everybody, or almost everybody stood up. And so, I don't know, it's amazing to think about how many people make a living with Drupal or even started a Drupal business because of DrupalCon, like Matt, and how it helps them provide better lives for their families, and so that's some of the power of DrupalCon.
Dries Buytaert:
And even if you go back, Matt, to the first DrupalCon that you just mentioned, so many people that were there ended up starting Drupal businesses like Boris Mann started the very first Drupal company called Bryght. I think maybe Neil Drumm was there, I forgot. But Neil obviously ended up at the Drupal Association, is one of those people that works every day to keep the lights on. Chris Messina was there, who ended up contributing a lot to Drupal's usability, but then also ended up inventing the hashtag. He was one of the first Drupal people, if you recall. Zack Rosen was there, ended up starting, well first, Chapter Three, I think, right? And then Pantheon. A lot of people that we're at these early, early DrupalCons really ended up doing a lot of great things for Drupal, which is kind of amazing. I don't think that would've happened without an in-person event.
Matt Kleve:
I'm so glad you mentioned the please stand up moment, Dries. That was actually, when Mike was asking for favorite DrupalCon moments, I've written down three of them and that was on my shortlist, because I was amazed to be a part of that crowd of everybody feeling the same way I did. It was how much I had been able to change my career because Drupal existed, and there was this great community out that was able to support my learning it and getting involved. It was great, amazing, so thank you.
Dries Buytaert:
Yeah. Well, thank you. No doubt Drupal has had a very big impact on my personal life, but obviously also on the lives of thousands of others. I think it's important to reflect on that, and then I think that you put that in the context of the current situation, and so I feel it's something that we need to protect, the impact that Drupal has, and our collective purpose almost, especially when things get a little tough. I don't think we would want to lose that.
Mike Herchel:
Absolutely not. Suzanne, any favorite DrupalCon moments?
Suzanne Dergacheva:
One that comes to mind I guess is DrupalCon Asia, a couple of years ago. It really stands out because it had a lot of that new enthusiasm. There were such a high percentage of people there who were new to the community, new to Drupal, and there was just so much excitement. And I actually see a lot of that on the training days at DrupalCon, because a lot of those people are at their first DrupalCon. They don't know what to expect. They're kind of expecting like a corporate conference, which DrupalCon has become to some degree, but I think that there's something special that stands out for those people, that it is more than that, and they actually see the contributors. So that to me, DrupalCon Asia, really stood out to me in that way.
Suzanne Dergacheva:
And then I think recently DrupalCon Nashville a couple of years ago. Actually, the Drupal Association had organized a round table. And I don't know, maybe these have been going on for years, but I had never been invited to a round table before. It was a leadership session and there were all these people there talking about how they wanted to contribute. I was actually able to connect two people together who were working on similar projects, and it was just kind of amazing to me that at that point I knew enough people that I could make connections that would actually make a positive contribution to the project. Yeah, but lots of moments like that, just so many connections, so much motivation and enthusiasm comes from meeting all these people in person.
Mike Herchel:
Yeah. Yeah, definitely.
Matt Kleve:
Mike, I'm curious, you've been to a bunch, what's your favorite moment?
Mike Herchel:
I have probably a bunch, yeah. So my first was in San Francisco, so I was in the crowd standing up.
Matt Kleve:
What were you doing at that point? Had you started your own web development stuff or what were you doing?
Mike Herchel:
No, I was working at my previous job, which was at the Florida High School Athletics Association. I was doing a little bit of everything, but I was in the process then of transitioning their static issue mail website into Drupal 6, which is still running.
Matt Kleve:
That says something about Drupal, right?
Mike Herchel:
Yeah. Yeah, it totally does.
Matt Kleve:
Solid.
Dries Buytaert:
Solid.
Matt Kleve:
Hopefully it's been upgraded.
Mike Herchel:
It hasn't.
Dries Buytaert:
It says something about Mike too.
Mike Herchel:
Yeah.
Dries Buytaert:
Solid work.
Mike Herchel:
Yeah, right? I think when I first started getting involved in the community, I remember it was prior to DrupalCon Portland. I was involved with organizing for the Drupal Camp and I was starting to make friends in the Drupal community, et cetera. I put this thing on groups.drupal.org, and I said, "Hey, let's organize this cool hiking trip in the mountains of Oregon, prior to DrupalCon Portland. So I put that on there and I tweeted it out, and I think Ryan Price mentioned in the DrupalEasy Podcast.
Mike Herchel:
We ended up getting like 10 people or so, and meeting at the airport. We rented a couple vans, we went up, deep into the mountains, and rented two cabins. A bunch of really amazing people that are fairly prominent in the Drupal community, now, I was getting to meet them, and it was just amazing. It was just so much fun meeting people and becoming friends.
Mike Herchel:
I feel like I have all these lifelong friends from the community. But yeah, it's obviously been pretty special. And I said, like Matt Kleve, the way I would phrase it is that Drupal events are a high school reunion of people that you want to actually see. So it's not quite like family, but high school.
Matt Kleve:
High school reunion? Okay, I got it wrong. I'll get it right next time.
Mike Herchel:
Yeah, take notes. Anyway. But yeah. Well, the hashtag is #DrupalCares, and if folks want to donate, they can just go to what, drupal.org/association, correct? And there's a couple of buttons right there that says "Become a member", "Make a donation", or however else that you would like to help out.
Matt Westgate:
And don't forget the incredible donation matching opportunity Dries announced on this podcast.
Mike Herchel:
Yeah, that's very generous.
Dries Buytaert:
You're welcome. It felt like the right thing to do. So yeah, I think you go to the donate page, and if you're not a member yet, it might be a good starting point actually to consider a membership. If you're already a member, there's obviously an opportunity to donate. If you've already donated, you can donate again if you want. There's a lot of different options. If you want to be creative, do something creative. If you have an idea that you want to explore, even making a poster or something like we did back in the day, by all means, reach out to me or Suzanne who's obviously on the board of the Drupal Association as well, or directly to the Drupal Association. Or, just do it, no need to reach out per se. But we can use all the help that we can get.
Suzanne Dergacheva:
Yeah, I'll just mention, feel free to come up with other creative ways if you have other ideas. My company, Evolving Web, we're donating half of the funds from our Drupal training program to Drupal Cares in the coming months. So if you have an idea like that of how to encourage other people to donate, or if you're an all-star marketer and you want help us with the campaign itself, I think it's something that we could use some help promoting. So if you want to contribute in that way, that would be really appreciated.
Matt Kleve:
Dries, Suzanne, Matt, thanks for coming on. We appreciate your time.
Matt Westgate:
Thanks for having us.
Suzanne Dergacheva:
Thank you.
Dries Buytaert:
Yeah, thank you.

Published in

About host Matt Kleve

Portrait of Matt Kleve
Matt Kleve has been a Drupal developer since 2007. His previous work in the media sparks a desire to create lean, easy to use workflow processes.

About host Mike Herchel

Thumbnail
A senior front-end developer, Mike is also a lead of the Drupal 9 core "Olivero" theme initiative, organizer for Florida DrupalCamp, maintainer for the Drupal Quicklink module, and an expert hammocker