Acquia Acquires Mollom for “Community-Backed Content Moderation Platform”

8/14/12Follow @xconomy

Burlington, MA-based Acquia, a provider of enterprise-level software and services for the open source, social Web publishing system Drupal, is revealing this morning that it has acquired spam-blocking software maker Mollom. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, but it appears that the deal is more of a strategic play for both companies than a big startup exit, given that Mollom was co-founded by Acquia CTO and co-founder Dries Buytaert, also Drupal’s original author.

Mollom is a machine-learning play that evaluates user-submitted content—like comments, videos, or software code—on websites and determines the trustworthiness of the source based on parameters a company has set. It requires a CAPTCHA authentication of submissions that look suspicious, and learns from previous instances.

Much of the acquisition is about streamlining operations of the two companies. Dries Buytaert will stay on as general manager of Mollom, which will function as a business unit of Acquia, and Mollom co-founder Benjamin Schrauwen will also stay on board. ”By bringing Mollom in, [Buytaert] can remain close to it,  but still remain focused on his primary job,” which is running Acquia and the Drupal community, Acquia vice president of marketing Bryan House says. “Obviously he’ll have an important critical influence on Mollom, but part of this is to release some of the day-to-day burden of managing that.”

House says the union is also an important product strategy play for both companies. Acquia, which now has 240 employees, hopes to transition Mollom from a spam blocker to a so-called community-backed content moderation platform. The goal is to help companies with a large number of Web properties track and moderate conversations across their sites without having to hire legions of employees to manually do it. House pointed to Acquia client Warner Music Group as an example; the business operates independent websites for hundreds of its music artists, and moderating comments across all of them is onerous. The company could instead pull all those comments across different websites into one easily digestible dashboard view, and even plans to offer its services moderating those conversations, House says.

Currently, Mollom isn’t just for websites run on Drupal, though, and this acquisition won’t cut off any of those other publishing systems, House says. (Its pricing model won’t change, either). This expansion beyond Drupal enhances Acquia’s mission of helping “organizations build Web experiences to help them meet their digital marketing objectives,” says House.

“This is us testing our first foray beyond Drupal into extending those experiences,” House adds.

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