Recently Dries had a blog post about how both Mollom and Acquia, are using a freemium business model. Drupal being a free product, you could argue that any company out there that contributes back to the community has some sort of freemium business model (often really watered down of course). The most recent "Change this" paper from Kevin Kelly: "Better than free" has some interesting thoughts on the types of freemium one can have. He starts from the statement: "The internet is a copy machine and the copies it makes are free". And then defines 8 uncopyable values, so-called “generatives” that add monetizable value to these free copies. In this post I will search some examples of how these 8 values are being deployed in the Drupal community.

  1. Personalization: Most Drupal shops have this as their key value generator. Drupal customization/webdevelopment, which requires a dialog with the customer is a form of personalization.
  2. Immediacy: I had to pain my brain to find an example of immediacy in the Drupal eco-system. I guess the best example is when a module is being developed for a customer, because of which the customer will receive early access and influence in the functionality that the module will have.
  3. Interpretation: Training companies such as Lullabot, authors of Drupal books and companies that provide a distribution of Drupal such as Acquia, help customers to interpret the dynamic behemot that Drupal is.
  4. Authenticity: This is another value that Acquia is banking on: customers are paying for support that guaranties that the software will be bug free, reliable, and in case things go bad warranted to be fixed.
  5. Accessibility: The services of Mollom are available for free. But if you need an uptime guaranty you will have to pay for the service.
  6. Embodiment: Hosting companies such as Raincity Studios leverage the installation profile functionality in Drupal to receive value from embodied copies of Drupal.
  7. Patronage: Many organizations and individuals will voluntarily donate out of gratefulness for the value that a software is providing to them. Examples of this in the community are the numerous donations for conferences and code sprints.
  8. Findability: An example of findability is the drupal modules website. Where ratings and reviews of Drupal modules bring in traffic that is monetized through advertisements.

Ever since I accidentally stumbled over the free online version of Kevin Kelly's book Out of control, I've been following this author. If you are interested in emergence, you should definitely read it. It has some interesting perspectives on eco-systems, some of which you could also map onto the Drupal community, but that's another blog post ;) Do you see any new ways how Drupal companies could receive value from one of these generatives?

About the author

Kristof van Tomme

CEO, Co-founder

Kristof is a Drupal strategist and architect with a degree in bioengineering. He started his career as a technology manager. At Pronovix, the company he co-founded, he’s been focussing on Drupal since 4.7. Recently his interest in DITA and reusable, single source documentation have culminated in the project, an open source project that aims to become the GitHub of website documentation.

He initiated and later became the co-organizer of an introductory Drupal course at the University of Szeged (Hungary). As a permanent member of the Drupal Association, he was at some point the lead for the selection task force for European Drupalcons and of the inaugural Nomination Committee. Among others, he was the initiator and (co-)lead of Drupalcon Szeged (2008), DrupalCXO Brussels (2010), Drupal Developer Days Brussels (2011) and Drupal Government Days (2011). Currently he is involved in the organization of the Write the docs unconference in Berlin (2014 July).