Our Investment In Pantheon

by Ryan McIntyre

Today we are pleased to announce that we’ve led a $5M Series A investment in Pantheon, a cloud service for developing, deploying and scaling enterprise websites built upon the Drupal open-source content management platform.  Check out the company’s blog post and also Venture Beat and PE Hub, who have covered today’s funding announcement.

Pantheon fits into our Glue investment theme and represents a growing category of cloud-based application infrastructure providers in our portfolio including Awe.sm, Gnip, SendGrid, ObjectLabs, Standing Cloud and Urban Airship.

The emergence of SaaS as a delivery model for enterprise software over the past decade has transformed the enterprise software industry, disrupting incumbents and creating billion-dollar-plus market-cap pure-play SaaS companies such as Salesforce, Concur, Netsuite and RightNow.

While many traditional enterprise software verticals (CRM, expense management, customer service) have made the transition to true SaaS platforms, web content management system software has not yet made the transition to a true multi-tenant scalable SaaS model.  Traditional content management system vendors like OpenText, Documentum, FileNet, Hummingbird and Vignette have all been consolidated by large players like EMC and IBM and do not have true SaaS offerings.

Two widely adopted open-source web publishing and CMS platforms have emerged over the past several years: WordPress and Drupal.  WordPress is widely deployed by bloggers and small-scale publishers, while Drupal is favored by larger scale sites that required higher degrees of scalability, customization and more advanced publishing and workflow features typical of more sophisticated CMS platforms.

The Drupal core has been downloaded several million times and is used by over 7.2 million websites as of July 2010, including high-profile governmental deployments like whitehouse.gov and data.gov.uk and large-scale publishers like Economist.com.

The thriving Drupal ecosystem and the role that Pantheon’s founders play in the Drupal open-source community were among the key factors that attracted us to Pantheon, as did their growing customer base which includes NBC Universal, AAA and UC Berkeley.

While Drupal has made much headway in making large-scale, sophisticated websites easier to build and manage, many complexities remain when it comes to deployment, management and scaling of websites.  Operationalizing a website at scale is non-trivial and most IT departments lack the knowledge or personnel resources to do so effectively.  

Pantheon makes this simple:  developers can sign up for free and have access to best-in-class development, management and deployment tools running to build sites running on a platform that is highly optimized and horizontally scalable.  Website developers can focus on building sites instead of managing infrastructure.

We are looking forward to working with David, Zack, Matt, Josh, and the rest of the Pantheon team!