Acquia is a startup that will provide complements to Drupal. Drupal, in turn, is a content management platform supporting a variety of web sites from personal blogs on up. Drupal is free/open source software, released under the GPL.
One of the questions in the Acquia FAQ is: “Are there other open source companies that Acquia is modeled after?” Part of the answer provided is that: “Just like Red Hat, Acquia’s business model is based on an existing open source project with a broad base of existing GPL’d open source code.”
Acquia strikes me as rather similar to Automattic. Drupal, like WordPress, is a GPL’d platform on which blogs and other “social web” sites can be built. The lead developer of Drupal, Dries Buytaert, will be the CTO of Acquia; Matt Mullenweg is in effect CTO is Automattic. Each firm has an experienced CEO who sold his previous firm.
Of course, there are also many differences between Acquia and Automattic. Acquia has started with rather more venture capital: $7 million, as opposed to the million or so with which Automattic got under way.
If the name Acquia makes you think of a series of map-in-front fantasy novels (The Annals of Acquia?), then check out Mark Hopkins’ post at Mashable. “Only a few days ago did Dries Buytaert,” he starts, and goes on to remark that Drupal “has grown to no small respectability.”