Departing Mansueto Digital Head Forms New Drupal-Based Social Publishing Firm

We reported earlier today about Fast Company’s merging digital with print operations, and Ed Sussman, the president of Mansueto Digital, leaving as a result. He is now starting a new company, as yet unnamed, that will take the Drupal publishing platform, build on top of it, and help other online publishers develop sites. I spoke to him a bit earlier on this today.

He is tying up with two other companies in the sector: Lullabot, a web dev company working with Drupal, and Bond Art + Science, a web design agency based in NYC and founded by Jeff Dachis, the former founder of Razorfish. For now, the project is self funded among these partners.

Both companies partnered with FC on the development of the new site, which was relaunched on Drupal earlier this year with an intent to make it more social. Taking lessons from that experience, the new company will be launching a platform for groups, individuals and businesses to create social websites. The intent is taking the power of the rather complex module structure of Drupal, and develop easy drag-and-drop tools on top of them, for users to develop beyond blog sites. He told me it will take another three months for the project to go into private alpha, so this is a bit far out.

Of course the competition in this rather generic sector is fierce, from all kinds of social networking and web publishing plays, including Ning, Kickapps, WordPress, and plenty of others. With an economy in a tailspin, who needs another easy-to-use web publishing tool, powerful or otherwise? Too early and easy to say without actually testing out the platform, but we’ll find out…

It’s also not the first time someone’s trying to commercialize the Drupal platform. Late last year Acquia raised a $7 million first round to commercially develop Drupal, though that is more on the enterprise side of things.