Squirrel Notes Issue #35

This issue was published on Tuesday, October 1, 2019.

Acquia and Automattic Both Take Investments: It was a big week in vendor news, as Acquia sold to Vista Equity Partners at a valuation of just under $1 billion. That seems to be the going rate for a top-end vendor, with both Episerver and Sitecore selling for just north of that number.

We don't know how much Vista actually bought. It was a “majority investment” which valued the company at the $1 billion number. So, it could have been 51% for $510 million. Still, a lot of money.

Also in the news was Salesforce Ventures pouring $300 million into Automattic, makers of WordPress. This was not a majority stake, but it supposedly valued the company at $3 billion.

These are two big investments, which shows the force of the market is still there, despite all the naysayers predicting doom for traditional WCM.

(But, on the other side of the market, GatsbyJS managed to raise $15 million in Series A money, so there's enthusiasm all over.)


ContentStack's Headless CMS Article: ContentStack published an article on the virtues of headless:

How Headless CMS Is Killing the Buy vs Build Decision

ContentStack is a headless CMS company, so take it all with a grain of salt. I like headless, but it's not the right solution for everything.

The era of the static, custom CMS is drawing to a close.

... perhaps? The guys at GatsbyJS have said the same thing – the future is in “active” componentized DOM manipulation, which would clearly tilt toward headless as a backing store.

If you want other perspectives, there's a companion thread over at Hacker News that has some good comments, most of which are moderating the article's claims somewhat.


My New Content Modeling Book: I accidentally wrote another book. It started as a post, but ran long, eventually topping out at 50,000 words: “Real World Content Modeling: A Field Guide to CMS Features and Architecture.”

I'm using Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, which I've been impressed with. I tweeted a short video of a proof that I got.

It's a 220-page book, and my printing cost is $3.45. I actually wrote the book in Markdown, which is transformed by MarkDig with a few custom extensions. I used Scriban for block-level templating, Wyam/Statiq for assembly, then transformed to PDF via Prince using the W3C Paged Media Spec (my thanks to Rachel Andrews for this great article). Amazon takes the PDF, and I get a proof in a couple days.

It's priced at $9.99. Otherwise, it should be on Amazon by November.


Content Modeling Roundtable: A couple of months ago, Cruce Saunders from [A] got a dozen or so people on a conference call about content modeling. He called it a “Content Modeling Roundtable,” and that's basically what it was – we all got to air our grievances and concerns at the state of content modeling in the industry today. It was wonderfully cathartic.

Cruce took notes and recorded it, and he's published an edited video and notes from the talk. I'm in there exactly at the 1:00 mark.

My thanks to Cruce, both for convening the group, running the call, and publishing the results.


Challenges of Moderating /r/cms: I've mentioned the /r/cms subreddit here before, but I spouted off on Twitter about some of the challenges. I kept adding responses, which turned it into a thread. Some of the issues:

  • “a constant battle to define line between (1) obvious spam, and (2) just low-value content”
  • “vendor-generated content that's not obviously spam, but is clearly pushing a parallel agenda”
  • people “trying to reduce a complicated question to 2-3 sentences of description”

There's more in the thread, which you might find interesting.