First Impression: Liferay Grows Up

For a second year in a row, I along with CMS Report was invited to cover Liferay's North America Symposium which is being held this year in San Francisco. During this morning's keynote speech by Bryan Cheung, Liferay CEO and founder, I couldn't walk away from the presentation without recognizing the difference a year can make for one company. Something has changed for Liferay and the many partners and associated vendors that are represented here at this conference. Liferay has grown up, people are ready to talk business, and they're once again ready to talk about the importance of open source and community which makes this all happen.

This morning, Liferay released some startling numbers on just how good business is in terms of growth for the Liferay ecosystem. Consider some of these highlights related to the announcement:

  • Liferay ended 2011 with a 55 percent jump in revenue over the previous year, an increase that continues the pattern of double-digit year-over-year growth.
  • Liferay expanded this year to 350 employees in 12 countries with notable growth in the support, business development, and sales teams. 
  • Liferay has also responded to increased international interest in its products with key hires in regions such as Benelux, France, Ireland, Japan, and the UK. With openings of more international offices planned to be announced in forthcoming months.
  • Liferay was in the leading quadrant of the Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portal Products in both 2010 and 2011

For a company and open source project such as Liferay it is with these numbers that you would expect Liferay's CEO to lead off this morning's keynote speech. After all, one of the hallmarks of open source based companies in these type of conferences is a declaration that they are ready for business and honestly that is where much of last year's Liferay symposium seemed to be focused. This year though, Bryan Cheung led off with the symposium by emphasizing a simple theme, "Open: For Business". Open source companies pushing discussion on the benefits of open source is nothing new in this industry, but for Liferay, I think it's an important milestone signifying that they're comfortable in the shoes they wear as they interact with their customers.

Bryan Cheung's focus on the value of both open source and community as the means to respond to the cultural, geopolitical, and technological changes taking place worldwide is deliberate. This Liferay founder started his keynote speech saying that he understood a talk on the benefits of open source development might sound "cheesy' and yet to him it was an important speech to give. There is a particular reason that Liferay has chosen not to forget its roots in open source as they deliver the tools business users need for their portals, social enterprise, and mobile content. While Liferay strives to be good for business and business is good for Liferay there is recognition by Bryan Cheung's choice of topic that both are a result of openness in the Liferay community.

In this industry, open source companies constantly try to balance the needs of their business community with their development community. At this Liferay Symposium, Lifeay appears to have declared that they have found that balance and are fully ready to help solve the business and organizational problems of today with the backing of their community. Perhaps it is also cheesy or presumptuous of me to say that Liferay has "grown up", but that's the perspective I take ownership of here at this symposium. If you haven't already, it's time to take Liferay seriously as a major player in the portal business. Liferay appears to have hit their stride working with the portal and content industry as growth for their business and their software continues to look promising.