DNN's New CEO Discusses the Aftermath of ESW's Acquisition
The whole story began on Christmas Eve 2002 when Shaun Walker posted the announcement for the release of IBuySpy Workshop provided by Microsoft as an ASP.NET 1.0 reference application with full source code. As Walker puts in, making the post on Christmas Eve “had excellent symbolism in terms of the application being a gift to the community.” A few months after the release, the DotNetNuke application evolved out of this sample application for the .NET Framework, IBuySpy Workshop. Released in February 2003, according to the vendor, the application was named after the .NET Framework and the word “nuke” which was commonly used in open source web content management. In 2013, the company was renamed DNN Corporation, introduced Evoq, and took it to the cloud.
They say your life flashes before your eyes when you die. However, the reason why I have been giving a brief glimpse into DNN’s history is not that DNN is going away, conversely, the company is embarking on a new chapter by ending another era as the San Mateo, Calif.-based web content management provider has been sold to the private equity firm ESW Capital. As part of this acquisition, DNN has appointed Andy Tryba as new CEO while nine-year CEO Navin Nagiah is departing. Following these major occurrences within the organization, our media reporter Laura Myers caught up with newly appointed CEO to learn more about his background and his thoughts on the future of DNN:
Andy Tryba has a 15-year experience in the technology industry. Prior to joining DNN, he served as CEO of multiple successful startups, Director of Strategy at Intel Corporation, and advisor to the U.S. White House on the future of jobs and engineering talent. Andy is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded three successful technology startups— RideAustin, a nonprofit, community supported ridesharing company that is part of the Open Data movement, Crossover, one of the largest online talent marketplaces - spanning over 108 countries, and FuelMe, an app for the first on-demand gas delivery service. He still currently runs RideAustin and Crossover alongside Engine Yard, the leader in Ruby-on-Rails Full Stack and DevOps.
Being the founder, co-founder, and CEO of so many tech organizations, we wondered what attracted him to DNN as a career opportunity, and he said: “I looked at the ecosystem that started with DotNetNuke almost 15 years ago, and I believe that DNN has energized that open source community.” Additionally, he observed that DNN has positioned its platform perfectly as a simple, cost-effective solution to high-end, mid-market firms which continue to invest in content growth strategies. As a result, he decided to join as he has found these dynamics attractive from his personal growth perspective.
When it comes to the future direction of DNN, Andy divides the focus into the three main areas. Firstly, he believes that DNN’s existing customers are already “incredibly successful” with the product as it is. Considering even the best idea can be improved upon, the vendor, from a product development perspective, will work on simplification of their offerings to make sure that they deliver a value to their customers and make their business processes easier.
Secondly, DNN will be heavily investing in the open source community as a whole. There is already a very extensive developer community, where you can find thousands of available modules. Speaking from his first interaction with DNN’s community, Andy told us, “There is tons of energy there.” What he has in mind is, though, embracing that community even further and working all together in a collaborative open source model. Thirdly, he mentioned the plans of platform improvement. "We will continue to do great things on the .Net side of the world but also will expand it further by embracing the Microsoft ecosystem in an effort to develop the best CMS for its community."
Regarding the question asking if there is an area that he predicts we will see more innovation in the near future, Andy said: “When you look at the intersection between the IT and the marketing departments.” He believes, "there will always be a collaboration between them of course but due to the rise of digitalization, that relationship will get more important,' Andy states. Therefore, when it comes to the areas that should improve in this space, he contended: “The solutions should appeal to both sides and there has to be a collaborative solution that brings the marketing and IT sides together.” He sees this as mission critical for this industry to grow. In fact, this type of simplification seems to be DNN’s focus as the vendor offers an efficient way of creating and managing content pages without the need for IT assistance, to a degree. The platform also provides with a host of professionally made, reusable layouts, so that you can create a page in just a few clicks. With its latest upgrades, DNN allows IT Managers to configure settings and permissions in Liquid Content, then enables business users to manage content without concerns that they might “break the site.”
Joe Brinkman, VP of Technology & Community Relations and Co-Founder, DNN Corp, elaborated on Andy’s plans of embracing the community more in his blog post: “Andy and ESW are committed to changing how we engage with the community, and to invest in the success of our community and ecosystem members. As a result, you will see a markedly increased focus from us in this area. As part of this effort, we’ll be calling together a meeting of key community leaders to jointly discuss the best strategy for changing the way we engage with the community. Out of this meeting, we will develop a joint roadmap for improving community relations, improving the platform and helping to breathe new life and vitality into the ecosystem.”
The strong winds of change began to blow at DNN last December with the release of Evoq 9 which marked a milestone as the vendor moved from a monolithic Evoq content management system to a microservices, cloud-based, 'features as a service' architecture. Considering its solutions are the foundation for 750,000+ websites worldwide, DNN is the most widely adopted CMS for Microsoft.NET and the largest and most successful open source project for the Microsoft ecosystem. Many believe that the reason why its CMS is so widely adopted is not only its inclusion of rich features but also the company’s fearless approach to innovation.
ESW Capital plans to further invest in the CMS platform as well as the DNN open source ecosystem, so does the newly appointed CEO, Andy Tryba. Reenergizing the open source community is a smart and much-needed move for the vendor as there has lately been frustration arising from the disconnection with that community. While Microsoft has been making more and more frameworks, tools and solutions available as open source, DNN seems to have shifted the opposite direction. The vendor needs to re-embrace the latest .NET frameworks again. In fact, Joe Brinkman publicly admitted that DNN Corp has struggled to find a balance between the interests of the community and their commercial interests.That being said, he also pledged that they “absolutely” will change this situation by embracing and championing the community again. If you are interested in seeing how all these changes will shape DNN and the industry, stay tuned here at CMS-Connected as we will continue to approach the topic by providing unique content you won’t get anywhere else.